On March 11, we had the Hougaku Concert and the 9th graders played a minimalist piece called ‘Cloud for Alma (アルマの雲)’ by Hiroshi Yoshimura(吉村弘). This was our first piece that consisted of only using our fingers instead of using picks. Here is a video of our performance:
My areas of focus were tempo, synchronization, and listening to others. Firstly, I think I improved on tempo quite a lot because although I played in an inconsistent tempo since I found some parts easier or harder than some parts at the beginning when we started to play the piece, I think was able to play at a steady tempo for most of the parts when I looked at the video. I think practicing with the metronome and recording for preparation was helpful because I was able to tell whether if I was rushing or not which helped me reflect where I should be careful at. Playing in a steady tempo also helped me synchronize with my peers. When we started working on this piece, our group was not able to synchronize especially when transitioning from a pattern/movement to another. However, as we practiced as a group for the past few months, we were able to synchronize with each other since we had gotten used to the patterns and also because we were able to listen to each other which allowed us to make small changes when we were slightly out of sync. Using the metronome and recording also helped me listen to others because whenever I used them, I had to listen to them carefully to hear where I had the most improvements to make. However, it took me some time to be able to listen while playing since I got confused at the beginning. I think listening to each other helped us during the performance because at one time when we were out of sync, we were able to sync with each other quickly by listening to each other and everyone finished at the exact same time.
Next time, I would work on memorizing the piece at an earlier time because this time, I completely remembered it around a week before the performance. This will give me more time to focus on dynamics so that the piece will sound more interesting and pleasing and additionally, it can help me and my peers to clarify where we are playing when we get confused or unsure which is especially helpful in minimalist pieces since it includes a lot of repetition of patterns which are hard to keep track of. Memorizing the piece earlier will also lead me to have more confidence especially with the transitions because I will feel more ease and be sure of playing the correct strings at the correct timing. This will make the piece sound better because I will be able to play the strings clearly without any hesitation especially when I am supposed to play the strings loudly.
I think our group performance was successful since we hardly made mistakes and were quite synchronized. Although we rushed sometimes and were slightly out of sync sometimes, we were able to listen to each other to check if we were in sync or not, and make changes such as adjusting our tempo to get back in sync with each other. Additionally, I think we did well on dynamics especially in the second movement because when I looked at the video, it was clear and easy to identify where it was supposed to be played loudly or quietly. I think that the areas of improvement are wrong notes and unnecessary sounds caused by grazing strings unintentionally. Since the piece is quite fast, I sometimes found it a little hard to play the correct strings. As an example, when we played ‘八斗’ repeatedly, I heard some wrong notes a few times. Overall, I am very happy about how our performance turned out and I am proud of the fact that everyone did not lose concentration throughout the performance.
Individually, I think I did quite well in the performance and met my expectations since I hardly made mistakes and did not lose concentration throughout the performance. Additionally, although I sped up sometimes, I was able to adjust the timing quickly and get back in sync by listening to others. I think this skill will be very helpful for me in the future such as when I play a different piece because it is essential to synchronize or harmonize in group performances to sound beautiful and pleasing. For next time, I will work on playing strings accurately with clear dynamics without having to look at music. I will do this by using time efficiently during class and memorizing the piece earlier so that I will have time to remember and focus on the dynamics. I will also like to focus on playing the piece at a steady tempo by using a metronome.