After only one session this week due to a busy schedule and being out of town for 4 days, I realized that I need to work on building my face muscles up to sustain a good embouchure. After about 20 minutes of practice, I start to struggle with my breathing, the air is escaping through the sides of my mouth, my cheeks are inflating like a blowfish, and there is inevitable squeaking. All of these are signs of poor embouchure due to my face falling or my face muscles weakening. The video below helped me realize that this is something that needs work and it can be done in slices. This means taking my practice time and slicing it into four manageable pieces with short breaks in between. This will allow me to give my face a rest but also build up my stamina and strength.
I also feel that I need to practice more often, but perhaps in shorter periods. I wonder if working in smaller chunks more often throughout the week would work better to help build my stamina and strength.
Aside from this realization, I’ve been very happy with my ability to label the notes on sheet music (however, I did notice an error during my practice session this week while playing). I had my daughter look over my work, for which she exclaimed, “This is weird. I’m the teacher correcting your work as a student. It seems backward.” I know that when I continue to practice labeling, it will help me eventually be able to read notes without them having to be identified. I actually tried this with my daughter’s music book, which isn’t labeled, but I struggled to be fluent while reading and playing. I’ll keep plugging along.
I have started to attempt playing several songs with minimal difficulties. I’m finding that I’m still needing to use my metronome app on my phone (courtesy of Soundbrenner) to keep the beat. I tend to be eager and speed up while playing, which results in more of a 4/8 time signature than 4/4. The songs demonstrated in the video below consists only of the notes E, D, & C but there is a mixture of whole and half notes, which takes some getting used to.
Again, I brought in my daughter as the expert to help give me feedback as I felt I wasn’t sounding right. She confirmed my progress and then showed me up by playing songs that not only consisted of the 8 notes used by the left hand, but she is starting to play note B with her right. After watching her play, I started to feel less progressive. It took me right back to Matteo‘s comment that in his experience, adults are slower learners. I’m going to hold that comment tight and use it to justify my progress compared to my daughter’s.
This week’s goals:
- Play more often in smaller time chunks that are sliced to allow for my facial muscles to have a rest yet build stamina.
- Play songs that incorporate all eight notes played by the left hand (A-G).
- Continue to practice labeling notes (A-G) on sheet music to build fluency in recognizing and reading.
- Attempt to play songs without the use of labeled notes using only notes C, D, & E.