Clouds for Alma – practice log (before break)

For the past few weeks, we have been working on a piece called “Clouds for Alma” by Hiroshi Yoshimura. There are 4 movements in this piece and here are 3 sections that I want to improve on the most. In these parts, I have focused on rhythm, counting and the technique for playing the piece nicely.

2nd movement: Line 4 ~ Line 6:

For this part, I wanted to work on my rhythm. I find this part hard because the rhythm suddenly changes from the 三六九十六 and that always makes me speed up the tempo. The 九十  part is the most challenging for me because I need to wait a longer time to play these notes and it is tempting to play faster since I already know how to play it. To work on this, I will use a metronome and try to keep it the same so that I would be able to keep track of my tempo. After I feel like I have improved on this, I will try playing with the recording and see if my speed is the same and also see if I can exactly finish the part at exactly the same time as the first koto and the recording.

Another goal that I was facing in this section was to not touch the strings in between each note so that it would sound prettier. This is a challenge for this section because you have to wait a long time to play the next note and in relation to the explanation of rhythm, that makes it tempting for the players to touch the strings and make sure that they are ready to play. To improve this, I should start playing the section slowly and carefully and gradually increase the speed so that I would be playing the same way but just at a quicker speed.

3rd movement: Last 5 lines:

In this section, I focused on my counts and not touching the strings before playing the next string. I always find the counting hard in this section because I often think that there are 4 lines instead of 5. To fix this problem, I should first write on my music, the number of times I need to play each section that is repeated a number of times. This is so that I can look at my score and immediately see how many times I need to play each part. Then, I will practice with the recording so that I can end at the same time. I will also need to make sure that I fade out at the end but make it seem like the movement is endless.

I also focused on playing the notes cleanly for this section because there is a lot of up and down movements along the koto, and so I might accidentally touch the strings in between the movements. To improve on this, I would start slowly and make sure that I play the notes exactly when I am suppose to and then gradually increase the pace up to match the recording.

4th movement: pg. 2 Line 16 ~ Line 19:

In this section, I needed to improve on my transition and making sure that I only play the notes that I am suppose to play. For my transitioning, I need to improve on the transition between 八斗八 七  and  八斗 四五. This part is challenging for me because 八斗 四五 is a set of 2 notes on each hand and usually the notes come in sets of 3 in the 4th movement. To work on this part, I would just have to repeat the transitioning part over and over again until I get used to it.

For making sure that I only play the correct notes, I focused on how I always touch the strings around it when I play 八斗八 continuously. I think this is challenging for me because I often tend to focus more on the notes I play with my right hand. To improve on this, I should know what to play on my right hand well so that it will be easier to focus on my left hand more.