In this edition of Practice Tracks, we look at a tune in a more advanced stage of development. Previously, you've heard me practice to get notes under my fingers, but in this case they're already there (for the most part). Now I'm trying to get to the place where playing the tune is second nature.
This is an Art Tatum rendition of 'Blue Moon,' and mercifully it's easier than 'Tiger Rag.' I've been performing it for about a year, but it can still prove to be tricky. Memorization in particular is a challenge because so many parts of this arrangement are similar to each other without being exactly the same.
So how am I practicing it? By focusing on one section per day and thinking about three things: memorization, tension and character. For memorization, I reference the score to make sure I'm playing the right notes. If I notice tension, I practice to make that section easier.
As for character, I'm experimenting with what I can communicate through the music. What happens when I make a crescendo versus a diminuendo in a certain section? How does it sound to bring out an inner voice below the melody? This is where I get to say something through the notes rather than just playing them.
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