February’s challenge, and music of the month

January’s 30 day challenge was a great exercise in small, enduring habit changes. I committed to touching two guitar pieces every day for 30 days. I ended up playing about 6 out of 7 days overall, and am okay with that. It got me into the habit of practicing every single day, and that made practicing more of a joy than a chore. If I’m not playing frequently, every time I pick up the instrument there is a fairly unpleasant hump to be surmounted as my fingers remember how to work properly. Daily practice ensures I can essentially pick up where I left off. My sight reading has progressed noticeably, too, something that needs daily repetition for learning.

Now, what to do for February? I’m sorely tempted to set a physical activity goal, say 30 continuous minutes of activity – even walking – every day for February (okay, it’s a 28-day challenge). This goal is more on the “it’ll be good for me” end of the spectrum. I bicycle for pleasure and fitness, and there are days when it just doesn’t work to ride. Can I get a half hour walk or (shudder) gym workout in on those off days?  I guess I’ll find out.

Meanwhile, I’m going to set musical goals for each month, under the assumption that I’ll continue to practice every day. I pretty much learned the shorter of the two Back preludes that were January’s focus, and the longer of the two is pretty close to under my fingers.  I’m picking two more preludes for February, a relatively short one by Ponce and a longer piece by JS Bach (BWV 1006a – originally for harp). I’ve played through the Ponce before, but took a lot of shortcuts with the fingering – I want to relearn it properly and fix some of the mistakes I’ve memorized along the way.

The Bach is long – 139 bars. I’ve been wanting to pick up a joyous piece, though (I’ve been gravitating to the darker regions of the emotional spectrum) and this fits the bill. I’m essentially starting from scratch on this one, so it’ll be a good test of how far I can come in a month. (I’m only learning the prelude of the video below, not the rest of the movements).

In related news, I’m seriously considering picking up a guitar teacher to keep me on track. I’ve got a little too much on my plate currently, but if I keep playing consistently I’m going to start hitting a plateau pretty soon, and will need that nudge to break through.

I missed my wood shop time this weekend – family illness took precedence, so the necks are still in the same shape they were a week ago. I’m hopeful my work commitments will be slightly more relaxed this week and I’ll be able to take an evening or so at the bench.

That’s all for now – nothing deep or profound, just an update on activities. I do have some more ideas floating around (remembering some threads I started back in November for NaBloPoMo) that I’ll want to write about, but again need to find the time and space to do so.

PS. Dang, the video below is the 1st place winner of the Guitar Foundation of America International Youth Competition, Junior Division. I believe he’s 13 years old. This piece is on my bucket list.


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