Yesterday, we had our spring concert and we 8th graders performed the piece “Hikaru Umi (Sparkling Sea)” by Hikaru Sawai on the koto. We got our piece 3 months ago and started working on it. I didn’t really practice the first 2 months and relied on the time we got at class. However, around the last week of May, I gradually started to practice the piece at home. Also, I went to practice during lunch recess two times, and in the morning yesterday.
The technique that was hard for me was the sukui. In the piece, we had a part when we had to play the sukui at a fast tempo, and whenever I tried to play it, I kept on messing up. Another challenge was when the strings we had to play were apart from each other and there was awase-zume after the certain note. For example, in page 4, 5th line, 4~5 measure, the last note in measure 4 is 六 and after the 六 is an awasezume with 十 and 巾. I had to play the 十 and 巾 right after 六 and sometimes, I wasn’t able to play the awasezume in time or only played one note, either 十 or 巾.
In the performance, I didn’t really make any mistakes, however I felt that my tsume was going to fall off a several times, so I had to push my tsume back onto my finger, which made me miss playing some parts. As a group, I found some people forgetting to change their tunings. Also, in some parts, people were rushing and I heard the delay of some people. Out of 10, I would give myself an 7 because I could have played some parts better, and also I remembered the piece the day before, which should have been memorized around a week before the concert. Overall, by experiencing this concert, I learned that even though, playing an instrument doesn’t need much communication, we have to communicate with each other so we know the speed we’re going to play the piece and when we have to come in. Also, I learned that knowing the situation of others is important too because when I saw some people who didn’t memorize the piece until the moment before our performance, I was a bit nervous if they can play the piece without making a big mistake. From this, I thought that if I found some people having trouble with the piece, we should notice that they need help and ask them if we can do something to help them.
I wanted to practice section 1 (0:05~0:29) because when the tempo gets faster, I sometimes mess up, and forget where I am, so I want to be able to play the section accurate even though, the tempo is fast. I used the metronome to keep the tempo in my head.
I practiced section 2 (0:30~0:54) because I’m not ready for my presses sometimes. Also, I sometimes mess up with the notes. I focused on my presses for today’s practice, however, it sometimes makes the weird noise when I lift my hand after doing the press.
I practiced section 3 (0:55~1:10) because I mess up with my fingering most of the time. Also, I forget about the press on 「六」and 「斗」. I counted the rest between the two patterns so I will be able to match the other koto part with the rhythm.
In music class, we came into small groups and wrote our own songs. The member of my group was Kanna, Emma and I. First we had to choose the instruments to play. As a result, our group came up as Kanna as a vocal and the pianist, Emma as a pianist, and I as a guitarist.
As we started making the songs, first we tried to come up with the theme and the structure because the song will differ with the theme and the structure. Consequently, Emma came up with our theme which was “winter”. Our structure was first [verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus] but afterwards we added a pre-chorus before the chorus so it became [verse, pre-chorus, chorus, verse, pre-chorus, bridge, chorus]. Theme is important to decide the tone of the song and the structure is important to create songs more effectively and to show the contrast between the different parts. After coming up with the theme, we decided to choose the chords we’re going to use. Our group took a lot of time to come up with the chord sequences for the whole song. We were quite quick with choosing the chords for the chorus, but we couldn’t come up with the verse. Few weeks before the due date, we finally came up with the chords for the verse. I didn’t really need chords for the bridge and the pre-chorus because I didn’t play the two sections. Then we came up with the lyrics. I came up with most of the lyrics and I tried to relate it to the first day it snowed. I tried to use some imagery and metaphors. Finally, we came up with the melody. I came up with most of the melody of the song because at this time, we changed the vocal from Kanna to me. I based the melody on the chords because it is easier to sing. For example, when the chord changes the first note of the melody becomes the chord (When the chord changes to A, then the note that hits the chord change becomes A).
My role in my group was a follower at the first because I didn’t really share my ideas and followed what my group came up with. However, as I get to the end, I gradually became more responsible and shared my ideas with my group. Things that went well in my group was getting together quickly because we were able to play the part we created in a few tries. Things that went bad in my group was being motivated and actually coming up with ideas. Our group took time to be motivated as long as we don’t become motivated, we didn’t actually try and practice. We couldn’t come up with any ideas because no one barely shared each other’s ideas until the second semester. This lead us not being able to finish our song quickly.
Things I found challenging was to memorize the piece. Also few weeks before the concert, I was focusing more on the last part of the piece and didn’t practice the first parts so I sometimes forgot those parts. I overcame these problems by playing the whole piece many times the week before the concert.
I think the peformance was quite good and I think it was the best performance overall. However, I think we did speed up in the middle a little bit. Personally, I forgot to place my hands on the koto before playing, but I remembered at the last second and made it in time to be able to play the first note.
Next time, I think I will practice more and also I would make sure that my tsume is on really tightly so that it won’t fall off. Eventhough, my tsume didn’t fall off in the performance, I felt that it was going to so I want to be careful with that.
I am working on this part by using the metronome sometimes and playing it in a certain rhythm. Also, I seperate the parts into small parts and focus on each part. Until the concert, I will practice the piece and make sure I can play it smoothly without making mistakes.
I chose to practice the first part (0:04~0:24) because there are two other places that have the same pattern as this part but with a different note. I sometimes mess up with the notes so I wanted to make sure that I can play this part completely well. If I practice this part, there are more chances to not make a mistake with the other two parts with the same pattern.
I chose to practice the second part (0:25~0:45) because it is the very last pattern of this piece. It is also the part that has the same pattern with the first part in this video. I wanted to make sure that I can play both parts smoothly, so I won’t make mistakes at the last part of the piece.
Overall, I think I was able to achieve my goal, and my task write now is to memorise the piece completely. To achieve this, I need to practice a lot and also look at the music many times until I remember it.
I chose to practice the first part (0:04~0:30) because I think it is a very important part since it’s the pattern at the very last. Also there are going to be two parts for each koto which makes it 6 parts in total. There are only 3 people playing this part so if one person makes a mistake, it will give a quite big damage to the piece. I was able to play it smoothly at the end.
I chose to practice the second part (0:31~0:53) because the transition between the first pattern which ends with 四、九、九 and the second pattern which starts with 五、ヲ九 is really hard for me. I think it is hard for me because I play the last 九 for the first pattern with my left hand and then I need to quickly bring my left hand so that I can press the 九 in the second pattern. I need to do this really quickly.
Overall, I think I used my time wisely so that I can play some parts that I needed more practice. Since I didn’t practice the koto for a while I thought that I should practice more so that I can be ready for the winter concert. I also need to memorise my piece.
I chose to practice the first part (0:04~0:14) because I sometimes play the wrong string for the last 「七＆十」. My goal for today was to be able to play the part smoothly and not making mistakes 5 times in a row.
I chose to practice the second part (0:14~0:35) because I thought that if I remember this part, I can memorize the part before because it has the same pattern. Also, my picks sometimes get off when I’m playing this part so I needed to come up with an idea of how to play this part without the picks getting off. Now, most of the time I play this part, my picks doesn’t come off.
Overall, I think I used the time effectively during today’s practice and I mostly can play the part I couldn’t last time. Next time, I would look a little ahead from the place we’re playing as a group now because I play most of the parts we already practiced now.
I chose to practice the first part in the video (0:04~0:32) because the transitions are quite hard. I sometimes play the wrong string. My goal for today’s practice was to be able to play it at least 5 times without making a mistake.
I chose to practice the second part in the video (0:33~0:50) because it is hard to play the right hand. It is hard for me because there are many strings between the two strings I’m playing with my right hand and whenever we move strings, I sometimes play the wrong string. Also, sometimes I mess up the rhythm and I play the 3 strings in different timings. I used the metronome to keep in track of the rhythm.
I used the metronome for the first time today. I think it is very useful whenever I mess up the rhythm or don’t know the rhythm. If I practice more, I think I will be able to play the two parts more smoothly.
I chose to practice the first part in the video (0:05~0:35) because I sometimes mess up. For example, I sometimes play 「九」between 「十」&「八」eventhough, there aren’t any in the first two measures. Also, I sometimes forget to press for 「斗」for second line measure 1. My goal for today’s practice was to play the part without forgeting to skip 「九」and press for 「斗」. To play this part successfully, I needed to memorize how many times each pattern repeats.
I chose to practice the second part in the video (0:36~1:06) because when we play it fast, I can’t play it well and I sometimes skip some strings. I also sometimes play a different string with my left hand. I wanted to play this part in the correct rhythm and play it fast without making mistakes until the end of today’s practice. To play this part successfully, I played it slowly at first and gradually played it faster.
Overall, I think I did well on practicing the piece. Especially, the second part because now I can play it fastly. I think by practicing, I can memorize the piece a little by little.