I thought I’d share with you some brief thoughts today on an observation I’ve had in recent days.
In the last couple of months or so I’ve been practicing, working out niggles and challenging little transitions and fingerings and generally burnishing up a piece of music that I had originally learnt to about a 90% level a couple of years ago. The piece is the Fugue from Bach’s Lute Suite in A Minor BWV 997, the second movement from the Lute Suite that I’m aiming to have learnt to play in its entirety this year.
And the observation I’ve made in the last few weeks of getting to real grips with the piece again and really getting it under my skin, is that whilst I’m continuing to use the music when practicing and playing it I’m not “reading” the sheet music as such.
I’ve definitely not got the music embedded in memory for playing with out the sheet music – I’ve tested that. I get so far, but there are still big holes in the memory.
When I play the piece, with the sheet music, it feels a little like reading words in a book (or a blog site!). When we read words on a page we don’t tend to read every single letter, we recognise the shapes of words and collections of words. So I feel it’s a little like that – not having memorised the music but recognising and having embedded the shapes and sounds and flow of the piece, not reading every single note or chord, yet still relying on the shapes on the page, connecting the shapes on the page with the movements of my left and right hands and fingers.
I find it an interesting observation, and perhaps a step that I’d not been really mindful of before in really learning a piece of music.