There's a great (young) cellist, Joshua Roman, who just completed an amazing Popper Project, posting a video on youtube of all 40 Popper Etudes, one every week. I'm very impressed. I must admit I wondered why...but I think I get it now. The process is important, and intent changes the process.
As students taking lessons, we play technical studies (etudes), to our teachers, who hold us accountable for notes, rhythms, styles, correct technique, flow etc. We learn to perform musical pieces and so we learn accountability in performance also. But the etudes usually stay within the confines of the student-teacher relationship, at the most we share them within the studio. Unless you are Janos Starker or Erling Blondal Bengtsson, in which case you record them for the world to hear. After school, who cares if we never play another etude ever again? Well...playing etudes is kind of like taking your vitamins. In the summertime when the sunshine is plentiful, you can get away with not taking them so much, but when the winter-funk strikes you better take them regularly or else...you risk loosing things. Without a teacher, though, nobody holds me accountable but myself - and I find that after ten years of no school, I'm slacking. I blame it on life and job, but it doesn't make me play better. We've already started a practice diary shared as a google doc with some school friends, with the hope of more discipline coming out of peer-pressure and semi-public humiliation for not practicing. This week I'm adding my own Popper self-challenge in two parts.
Part one, a two week challenge in which I play through the book. This translates to roughly three etudes every day. I've studied most of them (I think?), and so there are a couple of reasons for starting with a "play through". I want to identify the ones that I need to really learn (or re-learn as the case will be). But first and foremost, I want to map out the fingerboard on the HC.
Part two, learn the ones that I don't know. These are all the ones that are 5 pages long, have 6 flats and are played on the thumb, mostly. This is the hard part: I don't know what platform to use to humiliate/motivate myself to learn them well enough to "perform". One option is to record them for myself - ugh. Or ask friends and children to listen - double ugh. Ideas? Let me know... definitely no youtube though. That has been done.
Anyway, I already learned from contemplating this challenge that the process will be different because it's a formal challenge with specific, stated goals and some kind of performance (ie public or private humiliation) at the end of it. Now I get why, Joshua Roman.