Ooof, busy week! No recording today, as I’m preparing a slightly bigger piece and want to wait until I know how to play it well. 🙂

  1. What has been my most difficult mentoring challenge so far?  Why?

My most difficult mentoring challenge so far was probably on the piece 高山流水, as so much of the score is implied or unwritten. I don’t deal well with not being told what to do, as:

  1. It means I can’t anticipate beats while sight-reading, as the beats simply aren’t there. It’s like trying to read a book out loud but parts of it are written in French: there is extra delay just to decipher the text.
  2. Having deciphered the extra parts, I then also have to play them with the correct fingering, which all must be known instinctively and quickly AND accurately. Fun! 

However, this is really good for practice, as the piece I’ve worked on past that is a great deal easier + faster to learn. Guess I’ll just bear through this one! 

  1. What is working well? Why?

Practicing at home, playing it for her to check, and then fixing errors/going to the next piece. It gives me time to perfect it at home, then taking it to be “mini-performance” ready. It helps a lot to mostly practice at home, as if I mess up playing in front of a teacher I quickly devolve into a vicious cycle of playing something wrong > slowing down to fix it > realizing I’m too slow > HECK > playing something wrong.

Her style of teaching is tremendously helpful and probably the only reason I’m actually doing well at this instrument!

  1. What could be working better?  How can you make sure this happens?

I need to ask more questions to clear up the obscure technical riffs. They’re my greatest source of errors, and as long as I make sure to know them before practicing I won’t have to spend half an hour digging incorrect ones out of my muscle memory. It’s easy to ask more questions, and I’ll keep a reminder note on my guzheng repertoire book!

I’ve been trying to decide on what piece we’ll perform at In-Depth Night, considering we have approximately 3 but 3 very busy months ahead. Originally, I was tempted to try one of the following ideas:

  1. Senbonzakura
    1. This is a piece that is normally played incredibly fast, with repetitive motifs and a really long run time. The melody is gorgeous, and I found piano sheet music I converted into numerical notation. However, I discovered very quickly that something written for piano is absolutely unsuited for the guzheng, considering chords of above two are already annoying as hell to play. The fast motifs are too risky to perform, as a slip of the nail could ruin the rhythm. The piece doesn’t make much use of the gorgeous guzheng riffs, which is the whole point of the instrument really.
  2. Mashup of Senbonzakura, Bad Apple!, and Lost One’s Weeping
    1. Between us, I felt that we had enough knowledge of music theory to combine three classically Japanese-weebish pieces into a monstrously amazing performance score. However, all three of the works mentioned above are known for their beautiful yet breakneck melodies, and that’s just not possible if we want to both write, learn, and perfect our performance piece.
  3. Everlasting Love
    1. This is a well-known guzheng duet, but quite slow and pensive. I’d rather something appropriately flashy for show-off than waste our two minutes of fame onstage. Everlasting Love has an air of a piece better played on the guqin, which values meditation and internal reflection when played.
  4. [solve for x]
    1. X needing to be flashy yet not too fast, traditional but not boring, long but not too long. We didn’t have time today, but will consult our mentor on possible duet pieces next week. If worst comes to worst, I feel that with enough determination we could pull off option b!