It’s finally time. We’re done with the season, Dake is over, we’ve had our vacation, and there’s nothing standing between me and recording my first professional CD, except the actual preparation of the actual music.
So here we go. I’ve got all of the repertoire I’m considering up on my stand. (Most is set, there are just a few question marks at the very end.) I’ve scanned all the piano scores to Paul. I’ve been practicing and making reeds enough in the last week that I no longer hate myself. All I need to do now is learn all of my music, to an incredibly high degree of accuracy and awesomeness, so I can lay these tracks down WHEN IT COUNTS and come up with a product I can be proud of.
But I’ve never tried to do this before, not to this extent, not all by myself. I know how to prepare a recital’s worth of music, and I know how to perform for an hour in front of an audience. But my preparation needs to be a little different to make a CD.
In a live performance, I am always working on managing my energy and my embouchure so that I can get all the way to the end of the program feeling strong. Inevitably, I choose a reed for its functionality over the one that might sound the best, and I choose a reed that’s a little too easy so I don’t exhaust myself early on. I plan breaths that will get me through long passages with enough reserve oxygen to go forward into the next page and next movement, though in the privacy of my practice room I might prefer different, riskier choices. And although I always strive for technical perfection, I know in my heart that an hour long live performance will not be perfect, and I can forgive an error or two as long as I am performing excitingly.
But in a recording studio, when perfection is possible, when I can always go back and do it a little better, or I can change reeds to give me a different sound or level of resistance for the slow movements or the French pieces, and when I can stop and start to give my embouchure a rest in various places – well, I’m not totally sure how to work on that. I’m excited about the possibilities, but I’m not sure how to optimize my time.
Thus, I have a chart. I love a whiteboard, and I’ve made a chart. I’ve broken up my longest movements into chunks, and I’ve noted every movement, and I’ve considered all the aspects of each work that I want to have thought of and worked on. I figure if I can check all of these boxes before I meet my pianist, three weeks from now, two weeks before my session, I should be in pretty good shape. Our rehearsals will illuminate more details for me to work on, and if I keep at it all the way through the end of August we should have a great product to put out there.
That, anyway, is my hope.