Saturday, January 19, 2008

Practice doesn't makes perfect

I have been trying to play this piece, I don't have a splendid archlute that can poke your eye out, David Taylor's here, is a bit on the short side. I have a liuto attiorbato, which is about two thirds the size, which became possible when string technology developed, and the long strings could be made thicker, by winding them with wire. My instrument is based on the one in the photograph but without any of the decoration, nice sound though. The longer strings are not fretted, they are played like a harp and also vibrate in sympathy to the plucked six courses on the fret board, it takes me a good ten minutes to tune the instrument.

I have been struggling with this Bach Prelude in D minor for a few days, and it sounds nothing like the video, the occassional bar, maybe. I have never been a great lute player, I just like the sound. I used to delight in finding pieces in ancient books that hadn't been played for years, and trying to transcribe them and then play them.

I tell anyone with any musical knowledge that I make it a rule never to play in front of anyone. I know that however much I practice I will never be perfect, my fingers are the wrong shape, my hands a bit stiff, my ear imperfect. At times it is tempting just to give up, hang the lute up on the wall and just appreciate its craftsmanship, but its maker, Stephen Haddock, made it to be played.

Moral: In the Christian life we know we are never going to be a great saint but it is important to practice and also to have a vision of what could or should be. God doesn't mind if we get things wrong. He does mind if we just leave our instrument hanging on the wall.

St Theresa of Avilla says, "He doesn't judge our actions, he judges our intentions".


Anonymous said...

Can't you just play some Eagles for us Fr? lol

gemoftheocean said...

I expect however comfortable you got with the fingering, notes etc. it would sound a little different, given it's a different sized instrument, etc.

I do hope you put these thoughts into a sermon! I forget exactly what I was reading some time ago, an essay of sorts I think, but the main thrust of it is that too many adults stop trying to be creative because they don't do as good a job as the professionals, and they are the poorer for it. Ask a group of five year olds "do you paint?" "Can you sing?" And it's always "sure!" But they grow up and acquire the bad habit that if it's not as good as a pro can do it, then they're silly for trying. The Sainted Fr. S. always says you do much better when you are trying to create than destroy, it keeps people from despair. And Msgr. Kearney of late and happy memory in my diocese said "Show me someone who never made a mistake, and I'll show you someone who never made anything."


leutgeb said...

To continue the analogy with practising a musical instrument, the more I practise the more I am aware of my short comings as a musician, the same with the Christian life.

Anonymous said...

It is not me who plays this piece; I am only a channel for spirit.

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