I had my last lesson for this year last Thursday. It was embarrassing to come there, after three weeks, and not having made any progress whatsoever since last time, all thanks to my job. And my upcoming injury (which is getting better now, thank God). But at least I had done a lot of mental practicing and memorizing. As this memorizing thing is so new to me, I was very proud to demonstrate my progress in this field.
As I told my patient teacher, I feel it is good to have some pieces memorized. It is always so embarrassing to suddenly be in a venue where there is a piano and is there anyone who can play anything? And there is me, who can play both this and that but … only with the score. So without that book or that paper, I cannot play anything at all except Heart and Soul, and half of Für Elise, sooorry … There was a time when I could play Ballade Pour Adeline too, but that was many decades ago.
So I am working hard to change this, I told my teacher this. She came with an excellent comment – I don’t understand why I haven’t thought about it myself before! She said: “when people spontaneously ask you to play something, they don’t want something long and complicated. They just want to hear something short and easy-going. Why don’t you learn a few simple pieces for such situations?”
It was so very true. I believe most of us piano students tend to underestimate the “easy” little pieces. First, when you have practiced something to death, you tend to forget that the audience is not as fed up with this piece as you are yourself. Second, we are deeply entangled in our latest project most of the time, and for a student the latest project is often also the hardest we have ever played so far. That is quite natural.
But thing is, that we then sort of forget the easy repertoire, which of course is much below our present level. It may feel a bit shameful to play such easy pieces. If we struggle to learn the Fantasie Improptu, that is what we think everybody expect from us, as it is our best shot (and we spend soo much time with it at the moment, right? It fills up our whole world …) But my teacher reminded me that it is a good thing to have some easy repertoire “in store” as well. So now I have got some short works as Christmas assignment, to be learnt and memorized.
So here is my latest project, and I hereby proudly announce that I have almost memorized it completely now. Just a few bars of the left hand accompaniment to go … Yes, I memorize one hand at a time, I just cannot do both simultaneously.
It is also nice work when you need to restrict your piano practice a bit. (Oh, and I bravely admit that I cannot play one single note of Fantasie Improptu.)