Day 113 – January 21st – Snow!

I woke up this morning to some proper snow, though it was in the air rather than on the ground. My morning practice accompanied the flurries and eddies playing round the dairy. Sadly, I couldn’t persuade it to settle, and by lunchtime any little traces at the side of the road had all melted.

It reminded me of another long practice day I spent accompanying snow, five years ago now. I was in Helsinki on my exchange year, and ended up in one of the big practice rooms in the ‘P-talo’ (P-house) with two grand pianos, a couch and a wall of windows. It had snowed for months, and the fluffy morning whiteness no longer astounded me the way it had at first. Yet that day the snow danced as it fell, whipped up by the wind into great swirls and currents of fairy floss. I was practising scales, and remember trying to make them ebb and flow in the same way the snow did, flourishing effortlessly as I ascended. Today wasn’t quite as magical as five years ago, but I tried to capture the same feeling nevertheless.

Tomorrow is a studies class rather than repertoire, as we’re still getting back on track after Trevor’s illness. This time yesterday, I was trying not to panic too much about my studies, the two Altès in particular. I find both of them difficult – no. 18 for the combination of a tricky 6/8 articulation pattern and lots of leaps, and no. 19 for the speed at which I’m required to triple tongue! However, as often happens on the final day before class I really felt like I made a lot of progress today, and am now playing both at something approaching the marked speed. I dealt with the triple tonguing one by playing it every twenty minutes in all my practice sessions today – I probably drove the others a bit mental but it’s working. As for no. 18, I’ve learned the notes and will probably play it better tomorrow in class if I take a step back and trust myself rather than being too pedantic about trying to get every single note.

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