Libra Music Has Verve and Drive to Spare. The month of Libra takes place September 23 – October 23. Some sources have a give or take of a day or two. The following is based on my upcoming book, Music Under the Zodiac. Hopefully, it will overall intention is to make musical therapy more pointed. However, much is also written in the spirit of fun.
Composers born during the month of Libra music include: George Gershwin, John Philip Rameau, Dmitri Shostakovich, Paul Dukas, Heinrich Schutz, Camille Sain-Säens, Giuseppe Verdi (Joe Green translated to English), Ralph Vaughan Williams, and our featured composer: Franz Liszt.
What was Liszt’s thought process that made him a great virtuoso? It was his approach to piano practice. This I gleamed from my own teacher, Mischa Kottler. He didn’t say “practice, practice, practice.” Many used to say, the way to Carnegie Hall was directed by this repeated word. Mischa rather said, practice slowly and one hand at the time. Kottler learned the art of piano practice from Emil von Sauer. In turn, Sauer studied with Franz Liszt.
Liszt not only practiced slowly. He would practice each element of the music slowly. He would practice being rhythmically precise with each hand. He would work the dynamics that he wanted. If two notes were to be played by the right hand, he would strike them exactly together. Playing as close as possible to exact togetherness was most important. It makes each note resonate more beautifully. A 10th of a second brake between even two notes was not to be tolerated. He developed a special technique for playing the ubiquitous two note phrase.
So why am I not touring the world as a great pianist? Like so many, I was too impatient. Slow and hands separate practice was not for me. I thought I was better than “slow”. Now I’m older. This type of practice is making all the difference in the world.
Libra Music in the Balance of Fast and Slow
Finally, let’s tie all this into the scales of Libra. The opposite of very slow is ultra fast. By slow practice, you acquire precise and accurate speed. One extreme rocks the other. You can “practice, practice, practice” and never get good. As Mischa would said to me: “David, you are only perfecting your mistakes!” If practice takes hours upon hours, it’s because of the requited painfully slow tempo of meaningful practice. I changed my mode of practice late in life. It’s making all the difference in the world. And yes, I have room for a couple of piano students in Sarasota.