I kept the focus on the basics again today — more open Gs and French Folk Song. I also tried two new things, one aimed at improving how she starts pieces, and the other to help her isolate the right-hand technique we’ve been working on.
M’s focus consistently lags behind her behavior — that is, she starts playing before she’s paying attention to what she’s doing. This leads to a lot of wrong notes; it also means that she doesn’t always wait for her accompanist.
So I talked about two ways to shoot a bow and arrow (we’ve done it on the Wii):
- Ready, aim, shoot; or
- Ready, shoot, aim.
She does the second; I thought putting it this way might help her become more aware of it. And when practicing today, I consistently had her say “ready” (check posture and feet), “aim” (check hands), and wait for me to say “shoot.”
This was only partly successful. Often, it seems like her idea of checking her hands is to look at them and see, “Yes, I still have hands.” But it’s worth a try.
It’s a big job to get M to play louder yet without tension. She understands what to do (place – pressure – release, per the Pumping Nylon segment we’ve watched over and over), but it’s not her habit.
So when playing French Folk Song, she’d consistently play the first few notes with good finger pressure and then fall back to brushing the strings in one lazy motion, rather than placing, pressing, and releasing.
To help her focus on her right hand, I did something I haven’t done before: I got behind her and fretted the left-hand notes. She then did a much better job focusing on her right hand.
I got the idea from Ed Kreitman, who described helping his violin students learn pieces by taking over the bowing to allow them to focus only on the left-hand (which is responsible, as on the guitar, for establishing the notes).