Sunday, March 28, 2010

First post

This is a blog. While I do not expect millions of people to read it, my fiancee probably will, and I'll be thrilled. All readers and commenters are welcome, although I have unfortunately already attracted one insane religious troll (pardon the layers of redundancy). I'm going to write about my adventures studying the piano, playing chess, and playing poker, and probably occasionally write about atheism and related topics, views on current events, and a little of my personal life. The prose may frequently be quite dry: I can write well, but that is a time-consuming process for me, and I am a *very* busy person, so to save time this may sometimes read like a list of facts. Fortunately, those sentences will describe events which I find interesting, so it's not a total waste.

I am a classical piano student at Pasadena City College with an eye on USC or the Colburn Conservatory, I am a USCF expert, and I supported myself successfully for three years playing poker, mostly massively multi-tabling low stakes SNG's on PokerStars. I've been an atheist since age 16, but it took me a while before I realized that was the proper word to describe my lack of superstition.

Woke up this morning and worked on three songs from Winterreise, on which I am collaborating with a baritone, Nate. We have a rehearsal Tuesday. We meet every other week. This is our second rehearsal, and the last one was very short (15 minutes ish?), and I was not very prepared, so this is like our first real rehearsal. I worked out fingerings for Erstarrung (Numbness) and Der Lindenbaum (The Linden Tree), and worked on touch, articulation, dynamics, and voicing in Tränen (Tears). I worked with the metronome on some parts of Erstarrung, but some things still need to get clarified. I am doing a little redistribution in a couple measures to avoid the quick arpeggio B-flat, B-flat, D in the bass; I'm adding the D to the right-hand figuration instead. I worked the first two pages of Der Lindenbaum with the metronome. So I must do the same with the longer dramatic D minor section in sixths in Der Lindenbaum, and I still need to slowly work out some of the tricky rhythmic interaction in a couple measures in Erstarrung. I have been studying the texts since Thursday. Erstarrung is deeply moving for me, enough to cause tears. My favorite of the songs we're working on.

I am rehearsing with a violinist, Rebekah, for the first time, at 8:00 this Monday morning, then we are meeting together with the coach (Stivers) for the first time on Tuesday as well. We also meet every other week. The first movement of Saint-Saëns' violin sonata no. 1 is on the menu for our Monday get-together. The first two movements have no break, so eventually we will work on the Adagio together as well. This is a virtuosic piece and I am glad we both like the tempo on the Sarah Chang recording, because I doubt I could credibly play it much faster. I need to work some of those sixteenth groups with practice rhythms to get them cleaner. I have trouble with synchronization when I get them up to a quick tempo. I think we should shoot for around dotted quarter = 108.

My private lessons are on Wednesdays, but in California, this Wednesday is Cesar Chavez day, so I have two weeks to prepare to play some Beethoven for the first time for Dr. Petitto. She is expecting the Sonata in E-flat opus 7, but I have decided to work on "Les Adieux" Sonata in E-flat instead. I think she will be okay with that. I like it a lot more. I believe Brendel thinks the opus 7 first movement is the most difficult Beethoven sonata movement. While I'm not sure I agree with that, there are certainly some parts in it that are quite awkward. And I love the music of Les Adieux, all three movements. It's more romantic, less classical. More my style. And it has a properly rousing last movement, so a good recital work.


  1. oh my gosh does that little thing mean dotted quarter?

  2. It's a quarter note. I should have said dotted quarter. I'll change it.