The recording was due on Wednesday and I started practicing on Friday the week before. I learned from previous experience from last year that I shouldn’t wait until the last minute to practice and record. I had 5 days to complete this assessment, so I wasn’t very stressed about time. On the first night, I practiced way too much (for 1 hour) and I had already started recording for some reasons. Looking back at it, I shouldn’t have practiced for that long as my embouchure and muscles around the mouth became weaker, causing my performance to drop as well. Additionally, I shouldn’t have started recording on the first day at all. I was being very impatient to get it all done so I could move on and work on other assessments. It was only the first day and I should’ve used this time to plan ahead and figure out what I needed to focus on in the remaining days. On day 2 and 3, I practiced 20 minutes each and each day I sped up the tempo of the scales and thirds. As for line #104, I worked on playing the high notes as well as the slurring and phrasing. I continued to record after I thought I was “good to go”, but obviously, it didn’t turn out with good quality at all.
The first part of this assessment was quite easy because we had already played and recorded the concert Bb scale and the thirds last year in grade 7 as one of our assessments. I only had to work on speeding the tempo up to 120 BPM in which I was successful because, after a few practices with the metronome, I could play it up to 120 BPM independently. However, the songs were slightly more challenging, especially the line that I chose (#104). Playing this song required more skills and techniques because the range of this song was quite wide, the transition from the high notes to lower notes was immediate, there was a certain dynamic requirement, specific phrasing throughout the song and articulation (legato) for some parts. I wanted to challenge myself by choosing this song because I could strengthen my skills and I thought that I was going to learn more instead of playing other lines that are relatively easier.
I learned that I should not rush through and try to get everything done on day 1 of practicing. I definitely didn’t try my best if I did so, I was not going to be successful and the quality of the recording was going to be poor. I also needed to set a fair amount of time to practice and try to get a balance between music and other work I need to do. On the first day, before I began practicing, I should work out what I needed to work on each day and set plans for myself to achieve. I should also make sure that I didn’t spend too much time each day for practicing because the muscles would become too tired and my performance level was going to decline with a tired muscle. Next time, I will need to make sure I don’t overdo my practicing on the first day and try to get it all done. I have to understand that this process requires moderate and high-quality practices every day in order to be successful.
I am not very satisfied with my performance. I squeaked when I played line #104 and I think that the difference in dynamics was not played very obviously (from piano to mezzo forte). Dynamics is always one of my strengths, however, this time I felt that I didn’t do as well. Some of the phrasing and articulation (slurring) was incorrect. Sometimes, I played slightly earlier than what was written on the music and sometimes I was late. If I had more time, I would definitely fix this part by practicing each phrase or each combination of slurred notes slowly first and then speeding it up once I get the hang of it. The scales and thirds were quite steady overall, but I could include a slight crescendo or decrescendo as I move up and down the scale. I also struggled a bit in the thirds with the pairs involving high B and C. I had to move my fingers really quick to play these two notes and the breathing had to be quicker for the high notes. Something that I did well was the note and rhythm accuracy as well as the appropriateness of the tempo. This was probably because I practiced using a metronome and I practiced by gradually increasing the tempos each day.
The most important thing I took away from this process is that the short practices with high-quality each day will benefit me by improving and building up my techniques. It will also make me a stronger performer in the long term. Practicing is the key to being successful at whatever instrument. Additionally, I have also become more aware on some of my strengths and weaknesses on playing with this assessment. My strengths are definitely on note accuracy, rhythm accuracy and occasionally a coherent dynamic. My weaknesses are probably the precision of the articulation and phrasing and sometimes the tone quality with the higher notes.