Tag Archives: Practice

Creative Juice #89

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Creative Juice #89

Just in time for weekend reading:

Creative Juice #86

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Creative Juice #86

Indulge in the arts:

My Love/Hate Relationship with Rachmaninoff

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My Love/Hate Relationship with Rachmaninoff

Once again I am working on the Rachmaninoff Prelude in C# Minor.

I first “learned” it as an eighth grader. I was never able to play it fluidly, instead stopping over and over to decipher the ledger lines. I think Sister Mercy, my piano teacher, decided the most merciful thing to do was assign me a different piece.

I revisited it every few years as an adult, resolving that this time I’d master it, but finally giving up.

It’s now come into my hands again, and I alternate between loving it and despising it.

If you don’t know the prelude I mean, here it is, from a piano roll Rachmaninoff created himself; the visual is the actual sheet music.

The piece has three sections: a slow introduction, a frantic middle section that moves in triplets, and an ending similar to the beginning that is marked tempo primo, although Rachmaninoff’s piano roll plays it faster.

Years ago it occurred to me that I could listen to the piece on YouTube. I was shocked to discover that the melody of the first and third sections in not the bell-like chords, but the deep bass octave three-note motifs. Each of those sections also includes a run of nineteen overlapping chords, in which the right thumb sometimes crosses over the left, then under the left.

The agitato section in the middle has the most beautiful Russian harmonies in chromatic arpeggios—that is, they’re beautiful as you’re learning them at a slow tempo. Played as intended, the first notes of each triplet form a step-wise motif of four or two notes; the rest of the notes disappear in mud.

Mom's piano

The final section recalls the beginning, except it’s more complicated. Now the pianist must read four staves instead of two, and the third staff changes from bass clef to treble clef and back to bass clef again. Each hand plays four-note chords that are quite discordant. I often recheck my chords only to find that I forgot about an accidental that occurred earlier in the measure, but sometimes the sour-sounding notes are absolutely correct. Some of those chords are virtually impossible for a small hand to play—a wide stretch between the second and third fingers, with an e# next to a f# with the index finger and thumb in the left hand. Honestly, who writes chords like that? To understand how I feel, look at the drawing of the hands below Rachmaninoff’s name in this illustration.

I think you need a creative solution to playing these impossible notes:

(Actually, I am impressed that Joo can even correctly position those sticks.)

Have you mastered the Rachmaninoff Prelude in C# Minor? Do you have any tips for me? Please share in the comments below.

Creative Juice #62

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Creative Juice #62

Thirteen articles to help you get your creativity on:

  1. Cute little paintings.
  2. A trip to the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.
  3. What playing the piano does for your brain.
  4. Wildlife photography in black and white.
  5. Beautiful waterfalls.
  6. Lovely ceramics.
  7. What happens when you let seniors wear costumes for ID picture day.
  8. I love this artist’s sketches.
  9. Award-winning quilts. (Click on the small images for enlargements.)
  10. Instead of aimless surfing, read these websites to increase your knowledge.
  11. Quotes to ponder.
  12. Amazing paper sculptures by Nguyễn Hùng Cường.
  13. Something you can do to exercise your creativity.

Creative Juice #61

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Creative Juice #61

Oh boy! Lots of inspiring stuff to jumpstart your creativity this weekend!

#ALCGC2017 May Check-In

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#ALCGC2017 May Check-In

“The ARHtistic License Creative Goals Challenge for 2017” is quite a mouthful. I’ve created a shorthand nickname for it. Let’s use the Twitter hashtag #ALCGC2017 to tweet about our goals.

Another month down. How are you doing on your creative goals?

I missed a few days of Scripture reading. I’m back on track now.

I haven’t gotten a handle on the clutter in my study. ARG!Palette bing free commercial

I’ve written no poetry in National Poetry Month.

I’ve done no artwork.

I’ve focused on getting a month ahead on my blog. I’m close.

I finished my rewrite of The God of Paradox into a Bible study, just working on it on Saturdays since the first of the year. I’m planning to test-drive it with my Bible study group, when we finish our current book (Hebrews).

al-goal-2017

I’ve made good progress on rewriting The Unicornologist this past month.

And I received two paychecks for articles this month—my first writing paydays in seventeen years. “How to Hold a Writers Retreat” is in the May-June 2017 issue of Christian Communicator. (I forgot about that one—submitted it eighteen months ago.) And Primary Treasures bought my article, “Putting on Full Armor” for a future issue. (I originally wrote it twenty years ago. I’ve been spending my Sunday writing time rewriting and submitting manuscripts in my file cabinet from back in my freelancing days.)

guitarI’m up to page 42 in Essential Elements for Guitar and Unit 12 in The Sweet Pipes Recorder Book. Making slow but steady progress on guitar, recorder, and piano.

So, I’ve had some successes and some failures this month—par for a creative’s life.

If your progress this year has been mixed, it’s okay to reevaluate your goals and adjust them. I set ambitious objectives this year, and I’m not doing as much as I think I’m capable of, but I am working my little buttinsky off.

Now it’s your turn. ARHtistic License was created to help foster growth among the creative community. I’d love to know how all of you are doing so far in 2017, so I (and ARHtistic License readers) can encourage you. Don’t be shy! If you’re keeping accountable on your blog, paste a link into the comments below. Or if you don’t have a blog, just tell us your successes and your challenges this past month. Check in on June 1, 2017 to share your progress during May.

Creative Juice #38

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Creative Juice #38

Nine articles, mostly art-related.