Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"i'm not finished!"

i've blogged about this before. please don't shoot me.

without sounding vain and crass, i'd like to say that i'm a decently smart individual. i graduated in the top three percent of my class. i am planning on conquering a foreign language in four years. i have a very bright plan for my hopefully very bright future. i'm going to college and getting over half of my thirty-eight thousand dollar tuition paid for because of academic prowess.
and i'm trying to reinstate the word terrific all on my own.

so i'd like to think i'm a decently smart individual.

therefore, i am smart enough to know that perfection does not exist.

however, i am not smart enough to realize that i cannot achieve said perfection, because i sure as hell am trying to achieve it.

once again, i've started a blog with a seemingly pointless introduction (and with worthless things about myself, even!) just to finally get to the actual point of my blog and that point is three words: rondo. alla. turca.

mozart's turkish march.

i've been in concert band long enough to know what a march is, and i spent all of those years playing trumpet, of all things. i'm still trying to figure out how rondo alla turca is a march. to my ears, it doesn't sound like a march. the time signature is fine, but it really does seem to jump around. A minor. A major. F sharp minor (same key signature as A major!) and finally it just hangs out for a while in A major and ends there on a happy flourish.

i think it's part of a movement in A major. i'm not going to complain. A major is my favorite key. i'm nerdy enough to have a favorite key. to listen to and to play in.

if you read my previous blog way back in my go! challenge about how practice makes perfect and how nobody likes to practice unless you're the epitome of musicianship, then you know that i have been teaching myself this godforsaken march since may.

this is, in fact, a lie.

i know. how could i lie to you, my faithful reader? i sincerely apologize.

my mother stopped giving me piano lessons at the tender age of fourteen or fifteen, most likely fifteen, but she did point me in the right direction with rondo alla turca. we had been working on it. i had loudly rejected a terrible piece by bach after refusing to practice it for three months (she finally said to me, "FINE. DON'T PRACTICE. DON'T PLAY IT. I GIVE UP ON YOU.") and thus we moved onto rondo alla turca. i got a good page in. that's the part that people recognize, the A minor part, and then it moves smoothly into the three times repeated A major part that is the most fun to play.

then she stopped giving me lessons.

i had the first page memorized. one of my few and far between skills is memorizing music at an incredibly quick rate. i kept it lodged in my brain. when somebody talked about rondo alla turca, i'd sit down and blast my way through the first page, playing it fast enough that nobody would notice that i could hardly play it at all. i could play the right hand (incorrectly, i later learned) of the second page, the part that nobody knows exists. (if you don't even know what rondo alla turca sounds like and feel stupid right now, don't. some people just aren't mozart people. and of course i'm going to post a video of it at the end of this blog... if it ever ends.)

so i've had the first page of rondo alla turca up my sleeve for a good five years. at least four and a half. occasionally, during my busy high school years, i would sit down at the piano and plink around on that nasty second page, the F sharp minor that disguised itself as A major through key signature, and i thought, hmm. this looks increasingly difficult.

octaves from hell.
 the third page is the exact same as the first except for the beautiful A major repeated part. that had a slight change. and it turns out that it was the hardest part of the damn song. i thought, well, i'll never be able to play this, those are some nasty octaves from hell.

and then, this past may, i sat down and told myself that i would do this.

i have since memorized the song. i rarely look at the music, only if i want to directly pinpoint an accent or make sure that my dynamics are exactly correct. i have conquered those octaves from hell. i can sit down and play rondo alla turca.

but i can't feel good about it.

this is where the part about perfection comes in. i've been teaching myself this song all stinkin' summer and i won't quit practicing it. the other day, after playing it for nearly an hour, i said in a very exasperated voice, "i absolutely hate this song." my father replied, "then why do you keep playing it?" to which my response was, "it's not finished!"

when it will be finished, i have no idea.

if i am indeed trying to achieve perfection, i'm going to be playing this song for the rest of my life. perfection does not exist. i will never achieve perfection. but i do believe that i can always play it better than i did last time, and that there is some magic thing i can do to make this happen.

there are so many variables that affect my ability to play it better than last time. my fingernails can be too long and clack on the keys. my hand can itch. my fingers might not be sufficiently warmed up. they might be freezing. they might be too warm and sticky. i might have to pee halfway through the song. my foot can slip off the pedal. i might lean too far forward at a certain point (i do tend to move with the music).

there's also another variable i did not foresee. i know the song well enough i can think about other things while i play it. this works well for other songs, in fact, it's rather fun. i can be playing and then look down and say, "oh look, i'm almost done, how did that happen?" it's a different story with rondo alla turca. the first two lines are repeated twice. then the next three twice. then the second page is repeated in chunks. then the third page. the only page that doesn't have a single repeat is the last page.

occasionally i will lose my train of thought and then think to myself: how many times have i played this? once? twice? god forbid three times? then i know i'm not practicing correctly.

music has so many variables that depend on the musician. i am not perfect. therefore the piece cannot be.

i am not a professional pianist. i'm not a prodigy. i will never play it as well as a professional or a child prodigy. i'm just a twenty year old girl who took piano lessons from her mother and suddenly became manic when she returned from her first year of college with the conviction that she would learn mozart's turkish march.

i'm not sure what i was thinking.

for those of you who are still saying, "was i really supposed to have heard of rondo alla turca and i just missed that part of my education?" here is what it sounds like. i've posted this on my previous blog. hopefully, by the time i'm ninety-eight, i'll be able to play it this well.

for your listening pleasure. :)

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