Last week I had the opportunity to play 3 pieces from my recent ‘Glimmerings’ CD on a grand piano at our Nawruz (Baha’i New Year) celebration. It was the first time I had played them for such a large gathering and was excited to be able to share the pieces after just releasing the album. About a month ago I started preparing and practicing the songs. I had been asked to shorten them to about a minute each to play in between readings and prayers. For two of them, it wasn’t too challenging to figure out where to end them and adapt them. For the last piece, ‘Final Journey’, I had to actually learn it from scratch. Let me explain…
I composed ‘Final Journey’ the day my mother-in-law passed away two years ago in May. That morning I sat at the piano and spontaneously recorded whatever came to my heart in honor of her passing. ‘Final Journey’ was composed on the spot which meant that I never actually practiced it in advance so I had to learn all the notes in order to perform the piece.
In order for a performance to be seamless, a musician has to know the pieces very intimately and play them without even thinking about the notes – that’s how much one has to practice. I was a bit nervous with only a month to perform ‘Final Journey’ as I wanted it to be engrained in my mind. I didn’t want to have to think about what my fingers were doing – just wanted to be on autopilot! So I set out to practice the piece everyday to become familiar with it. It felt a little odd learning one of my pieces from scratch because I’m so used to practicing them a lot before I record them. This was the other way around so it was a fascinating experience working backwards.
The performance went very well but best of all was having the opportunity to play on a beautiful, open grand piano that resounded throughout the room!