my practicing routines are very similar to my workout routines

Surface Drifts

Warmup/technique – SI exercises; SA exercises = P4-M2 leading with both inside and outside mallets, up and down keyboard; DV exercises

5s (hands separate) – worked both RH/LH (separately) at 62-73bpm; decided on a few sticking changes (!!!!!) that includes more reliance on the inner mallets – needed for the faster tempo due to the striking angle needed for hands together; I also toyed with the idea (early on in determining stickings, and again this week) of using alternating 3434 or 1212 sticking, but the volume and accuracy is extremely difficult at the needed tempo (and I am assuming that I can get the whole piece to at least 80bpm, even though the composer calls for 100bpm!); so, the resulting stickings for the 5s are unison SI strokes played mostly with the inner mallets… it is a workout, for sure, but at the moment this seems like the best solution. BUT, as we know, solutions to problems change over the course of learning a piece (especially learning a piece that has never been played before), so the ending solution may yet to be determined.  😉

5s (hands together-with new sticking) – worked together without metronome, but around 35-40bpm (only measure still giving me trouble at this tempo is m. 58, beats 2-5)

FYI – 5s hands together is totally memorized!!

40-end – hands separate at 70bpm, playing unmetered SA rolls throughout. Both hands were a bit fatigued (from the constant rolling) by the end of this exercise, so endurance is still an issue – at tempo it won’t take as long, but the issue will likely still be present, so it is good to play through slowly for now. I am also (intentionally) practicing with slightly softer mallets today, which makes it harder to get the high notes to resonant with a full sound. Practicing a instrument is very similar to coordinating a good workout routine… push a little here and there, work different muscle groups, sometimes push a lot for short bursts, sometimes take it easy for long bursts, etc.)

QUESTION FOR MICHAEL: Sometimes  you indicate (same, or differing) dynamics for treble and bass clef parts; sometimes you indicate dynamics only under the treble clef part; twice there are parenthetical reminders under the bass clef part that indicate it either does or does not follow the treble clef dynamics (mm. 66-does not, and 132-does). So, the question is… are the dynamics for each clef completely isolated, to be played as indicated below each staff? Or, are there instances (such as mm. 62-64, 80-84, 100-107, 131-136) that I should apply the dynamics to both clefs?

40-end (hands together) – 70bpm; really good…. I am leaning towards playing mostly SA rolls, but utilizing ripple rolls (especially in the longer rolls) when the volume needs to be pushed to enhance/vary the textures. (I am curious about Michael’s preference… he has indicated that he definitely has preference for one of the versions I sent him, but has not yet told me which he prefers. I have a feeling that we are probably on the same page, but not sure, so I look forward to hearing from him!) Also, it is great to note that playing with two hands is actually much less taxing than playing through each hand separately… likely the hands don’t have to work so hard when they are together, so the fatigue I mentioned earlier isn’t really a problem.

To end this session, I did a final run of 40-end with the soundscape field recording of China Lake that Michael sent me last week… I like the result, both sounds are so beautiful. I’m afraid, though, that one would distract from the other. One idea I had was to have the recording fade in as the marimba part reaches forte in the last few measures, and remain softly in the distance until maybe 20-30 seconds after the last note is played.


Rip Tide

Worked on problem measures identified two days ago (hands separate and together at 90-100bpm). It seems that these measures are much easier to play when taken out of context and played alone. I think the issue is more with mental visual focus in these more dense and constantly changing sections of the piece. However, I think working them isolated is helpful to make my brain and arms think they are easy. 😉


6 Replies to “my practicing routines are very similar to my workout routines”

  1. Julie, a quick comment about the soundscape; I was mixing it in with your soundclound recordings, but at a level much lower than your marimbas sound – the soundscape as a da lontana or backgound effect, so that when you reach the end of the piece – without raising the volume – it becomes to the foreground for the listener after you end your last note. Does this make sense? I dont want to through out this option just yet, unless you feel the idea absolutely wont work.

    1. I think that would create the affect I was thinking of… I as probably just playing it too loudly when I tried it because I wanted to actually hear it while I was playing. What you are suggesting makes much more sense. So, yes, let’s keep playing with it!

  2. Gotcha.

    Yes, at m. 126 the LH should remain at mp; a decr in the LH to the pp in m. 129 should begin (or coincide with) the decr that begins in the RH at m. 127.

  3. Hi. I will try to clarify your questions about dynamics. Landing into m.61 both LH and RH should be at p. Both hands should cresc to the f at m.63, followed by a decr in both hands to p in m.65. At m.66, only the RH should attack the f and decr so that both hands are at p dynamic in m. 67. So in 62-64 both hands are following the same dynamic markings.
    In mm. 80, the RH marked mf should be just above the making mp for the LH. Then both hands should cresc to p together.
    In mm. 82-84, dynamic marks apply for both hands.
    In m. 86, the LH should enter at mp, just above the RH which remains at pp. However, as the cresc begins to take place in the LH, the RH should cresc near the end of the bar so that each hand reaches the f marking at m.87.
    In mm.100-107, both hands should make the cresc to ff in m. 101 followed by decr.
    In mm. 131-136, both hands should follow the dynamics indicated in between the two staves.
    Julie, do you think that in order to avoid ambiguities I should have simply marked the dynamics for each hand below each staff consistently throughout the entire movement? Or would that be too much information, since the instances of each hand and separate dynamics are not so widely spread in Surface Drifts?

    1. Hi Michael,

      Thanks for your reply. All of that is very clear.

      I think that the best option for notating would be to not duplicate the dynamics if they are the same in both hands, only including it between the two staves.

      That would mean simply removing the duplicate markings at 93-97, and 120-125 (also, does LH remain at mp in 126? if so, parenthetical reminder would be good); the parenthetical reminder at 66 is good; but, there is no need for parenthetical reminder at 132. I think that is it. So, really the inclusion of the duplicates listed above were the impetus behind my question. Those gone, I would definitely assume that dynamics in the middle applied to both.

      Thanks Michael! Let me know if that needs further clarification.

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