How Much Wood Would a Woodchuck Chuck?

As I alluded to in my last post, I’m learning some challenging contemporary pieces:

PREVIN Sonata for Bassoon and Piano (1999)
BOLCOM Over the Piano (1979)
MENOTTI Canti della lontananza (1967)

I’ve spent most of the past week woodshedding, i.e. painstakingly drilling note by note. Quite frankly, it sucks. These are the reminders that keep me going:

Take a break. Whether you cleanse your musical palate with Mozart or physically step away from the practice room, taking periodic breaks will prevent brain meltdown. Signs that you need a break: a) You’ve stopped making incremental progress; b) You’ve lost count of how many times you repeated that !^$@& passage; c) You’re swearing at your score.

Stop slouching. It’s easy to slouch while you’re woodshedding, either because you’re so intently concentrating on notes and rhythms, or because you’re getting frustrated. Bad posture will just add physical fatigue to an already-challenging process. (Confession: I’m such a sloucher that my husband calls me “shrimpy.”)

This is easier than statistical thermodynamics. OK, maybe this last reminder only works for me. However, I’m sure at some point in your life, you mastered something incredibly difficult in which you can take pride. Think positively! I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…

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