Getting down to practice

Well day one on the Kenneth van Barthold Piano Course – held in Edinburgh – is over. A fascinating day of first performances by all of us undertaking the three weeks of sessions with Kenneth and his assistant Nicholas Pope. There is plenty of variety of repertoire and having multiple copies of the music was a brilliant way of engaging actively with the performances and the comments made by Kenneth. Each of us is presenting a group of works that we will explore in the daily sessions – the ‘play throughs’ – with the ultimate goal of performing in the University of Edinburgh Reid Hall at the end of the three weeks.

I chose a rather challenging set of pieces – though perhaps not exactly war horses of the piano repertory they present particular demands for a pianist of my experience! I picked the second Prokofiev sonata, a nocturne by Faure (I can’t add the accent) and the second scherzo by Chopin. All of them represent something of a personal ambition and after today I wonder how much I will be able to achieve as with writing the musical over the last few weeks not much time has been devoted to preparing the repertoire for Edinburgh. I have prepared mentally, and I know the pieces well and feel I have grasped the technical aspects that I need to address during the ensuing weeks of practice. I just hope I can work on them and achieve some results. The intensity of the course – a daily play through and individual session – is exactly what I need.

So much to absorb today – everyone’s performance brought up a unique message and Kenneth brilliantly makes all the issues relevant to the group. I made some mental notes taking away a keener awareness of pedalling, rhythmic structures and harmonic understanding. Three rather major components of one’s playing – and my first attempt at practice in some time this evening seemed more productive in light of the work I heard today. I look forward to tomorrow with some nerves as I will be playing through the first movement of the Prokofiev.

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