Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Wednesday 13th February - Labyrinths and Bach

I was teaching an adult (retired) piano student this afternoon. Although he plays at an advanced level, he had taken a year off playing last year, as so his fingers were nearly as stiff as mine had become, through lack of practise (perhaps I should add daily piano practise to my list of Lent resolutions - but that might be a penance that my fellow family members would not want to pay!)

Because of the break, we have returned to the Anna Magdalena book. These little pieces are deceptive - there is a lot of technique hidden inside the simple melodies and short dances.

We are working on this menuet in B flat major, with a steady "walking bass" leading us all the way through. It reminded me of walking a labyrinth; this steady, measured progression all the way into the centre of the dance, and then back out again. There are no fireworks, no surprises, no sudden shocks - just a satisfying journey through well known paths...

We used to "do" the local maize maze every year. I always found this a little too frightening. I suppose, if  I got desperate, I could have just forced my way through the towering plants and got out that way, but I was always scared that we would get lost (well, thinking about it, we WERE lost) and wouldn't be able to get out for hours and hours and hours.

Labyrinths aren't like this. There is just the one path in, and you retrace your steps to get out. Simple.
The Bach menuet is just the same; a gentle walk to the centre, and then a steady return journey. At least, that's the long term plan....

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