Hiyaku Concert Performance Reflection |MUSIC

Grade 8 Koto have performed the piece ‘Hiyaku’ on a concert, and we have been working on this piece for few months. Here is my reflection for the whole piece, including my practices and the actual performance.

During the past few weeks and months, I have been practicing Hiyaku at school and at home. I thought the piece it self was fairly simple and easy to play song. Some parts I had trouble switching my fingers or just remembering which finger to play. For those ones, I wrote a note on my music sheet which finger to be using and made sure I always played them with the right ones. This helped me to read the music sheet clearer and more efficiently, and I was able to play the hard lines easily. Whenever I practiced at home, I was always careful not to go fast. I thought this was something important especially for this piece and needed more focus, since I tend to play easy lines fast and that would make everyone else had to play. I used a metronome to keep a steady pace. It worked and I was able to practice in a steady slow pace. The metronome also helped me to count in my head accurately and not go too fast when I’m performing without any metronomes.

Some improvements to make when I’m practicing next time is not to always start practicing from page 1. Whenever I practiced at home, I always started playing from page 1, all the time. This made me remember the piece at a one whole thing, and not into 3 different sections. This was quite inconvenient, since if I suddenly forget what to play, It would be harder for me to remember what to play next and I would have to recall the whole piece rather than remembering one section. Next time whenever I practice, I would practice from different sections so I would be able to remember them through sections.Also another thing I would do next time for sure, is to read and remember the music sheet while listening to the recorded piece. One of the way I tried to remember the piece was to listen to it whenever I have time. This really helped me remember the piece easily, but because I remembered it through sound and not the notes itself, sometimes whenever I’m performing I forget what string to play next even though I know how the piece would go next. I had trouble articulating the sounds and the string and I sometimes had to stop playing, like I did in 2:56~2:59 in the video.

Overall for the performance, I thought everyone did a good job of keeping ourselves together. This piece would only sound good if koto 1 and 2 are in harmony. In the middle we had part that we fell apart (like in section 2) but we were able to end together in sync. I thought it was impressive, and something we should be proud of, since we went far faster than we practiced, but we were able to keep it up together as a class. I thought the most improvement needed was section 2, since koto 1 and 2 fell apart on that section and I had parts that I forgot to play. I guess to improve for next time we should focus hard on playing the piece slowly so everyone would be together in harmony. As an individual, I thought I could’ve done better. Being at the very front, I could’ve slowed the pace of the piece for everyone to play comfortably, but I was too focused on trying not to fall apart and playing strongly. If I had practiced more and became more comfortable playing the piece, I would’ve had the room in my mind to intentionally slow down the piece. Next time I would improve by practicing more on the piece and being extra confident on what I play. I was able to play the piece strong and confidently though, which I thought was good, since not only people would be able clearly hear my sound, but the students in the back could listen to it and follow my lead. By playing confidently, I was able to bring back koto 1 and 2 together when it was about to fall apart. I thought this concert was a success, but for me individually, I have some parts I could improve on next time.

Hiyaku Focus Areas | Music

Here are my 3 focus area for our koto piece, ‘Hiyaku’

Focus Area 1: Page 3 line 2 measure 3 to line 4 measure 2

I thought I needed to focus on this part since the rhythm is different from other parts of the piece and I thought it was hard for me to play the note at the right timing. First it is very slow compared to other pages, so I had to count in my head to play the note on time. I focused on counting the beats every time I played this area, since it helped me a lot to play on beat. I also used the metronome to help me keep a steady beat while I was practicing. This helped me a lot for me to remember when to play at what timing.

Focus Area 2: Page 3 line 4 measure 2 to page 4 line 2 measure 2

I thought I needed to focus on this part since this part had a lot of presses and skipping notes while playing. This area one of the hardest thing I thought was switching my fingers to play different parts. I had to be quick on the transition from my thumb to my second finger, and that sometimes made it difficult for me to play the piece fluently. I tried to practice slow at first so I would be able to understand all the finger switches and presses, and then gradually speeding up so I would be able to play this area fluently. Presses were another problem where sometimes its a hard press and some times its a half press. By playing it slow at first again helped me to read my sheet ahead and place my left on the next press.

Focus Area 3: Page 5 line 3 measure 3 to page 6 line 2 measure 5

Since this part is pretty easy for me to play, I tend to play it very fast. To help me slow down at this area, I used a metronome to keep a steady pace for me when I play. By doing this I was able to remember how to play the area slow and steady.  I also broke and highlighted the parts I easily get fast and tried to be extra careful at those parts not to play fast. One of them is line 3 measure 1 and 2, where all I just do is go down from 12 to 7. Because its so easy, I tend to speed up but I tried extra aware of not playing too fast. Also by both listening to the metronome and counting in my head works very well too, since my brain would remember the correct beat and rhythm.

Aki no Hi- Concert Reflection | Music

I believe that the biggest problem were not getting too fast at playing the piece, that we stop synchronising with koto 1. ‘Aki no Hi’ was a fairly easy piece to play, it had simple, but fast patterns. Because of that we tend to go fast during the performance, and if it becomes too fast, we might go out of sync with koto 1. In rehearsals, we didn’t do very well job on synchronising. I was worried that we would stop playing during the performance, and everyone being confused and not knowing where to play. At the actual performance, we did went pretty fast, but we were all able to catch up on the beats, and we were able to play it fluently and synchronised. When we are going to perform it again, I will practice my part using a metronome to help me keep the steady beat. I used metronomes back in 7th grade, and I might use them again to stay slow and steady.

Another challenge was the dynamics. There was a lot of dynamics in this piece and it was a little challenging to play the dynamics while playing the fast rhythm. I would get too focused on the dynamics that I will stop listening to koto 1, and can lead to getting out of sync. Also we had a lot more students than in 7th grade. This would mean that we had to over exaggerate the dynamics so the audience can hear them clearly. I took videos of my self playing the dynamics and I listen to them and see if I could hear them. This helped me a lot to find out which part I need to work or fix on. I was able to play the dynamics well during my practice, but when it came to the actual performance, I couldn’t hear much of the dynamics. I believe everyone was a little nervous, and most were too focused on playing the koto, they forgot about the dynamics.

I always practiced twice a week, from 30 min to 45 min. The warm up really helped me to play one of the fast patterns.  I will continue with my warmups. I think I should pick out the hardest parts of the piece, and use them as the warmup, since you have to endlessly play the pattern you are struggling with, and gradually got better at them. Also next time to improve, I will use a metronome to keep my beats steady. I believe when I practice, I should practice not only memorising them and playing the right strings, but practice with the dynamics and plying them smoothly.

I think the concert went well than I thought it would be. The bows were perfect and in synced very well. Koto 1 has done a tremendous job to keep up with koto 2. We did speed up a little too much in the end, But all of us were able to play the whole piece, and we were able to play the piece very fluently. Next time, I will try to be more aware of the speed and dynamics since those two things didn’t turn out well during the performance. Over all, I didn’t make any big mistakes while playing the pie, and I was able to play the piece smoothly with koto 1