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A month to go, and staleness creeps in

In just over a month, I’ll be sitting what will hopefully be my last graded piano examination.  I say “hopefully” because it can be somewhat disconcerting when, a month off the day, I seem to have lost the ability to play any of my pieces with both accuracy and fluency, let alone expression.  I say “lost the ability” because, at the risk of blowing my own trumpet, I did once have that ability.  I just don’t seem to anymore.

Hopefully, it will be temporary thing.  I’ve noticed that I’ve had good days and bad days in the past; it’s not that unusual.  This, though seems to have lasted for almost the entire duration of the school holidays.  And, whereas most of my bad days lack expression and fluency, this bad streak seems to lack accuracy as well, and—more importantly—the capacity to last the entire three pieces.  Yep, for some reason, my arms seem to run out of energy before I even get to my third.

It’s worrying.  Having gained some respectable scores in my last two examinations, I’d like to be able to continue the streak—and if I screw up this one (but pass marginally), I won’t have another chance to redeem myself.

I suppose that I must admit here that I’ve had a rather slack year.  Complacency, perhaps; personally, I like to blame the overfilled life that drains me of so much time.  The result is my scales are still, well, getting there, my sight-reading, well, I’ll start on it soon (really), and aural tests… I get them right most of the time, but the “candidates should be prepared for open-ended questions, like ‘comment on aspects which you found interesting’” thing still overwhelms me a bit.

But anyway, this sudden inability to play my pieces.  A possible explanation is what is known as “staleness”: when a piece has been played too often, thereby clawing its way too far into finger memory and getting, er, tired, I guess.  It can be comforting to think this way, but not with just five weeks left to prepare, and not when I’ve just been told that my pedalling in my third piece is incorrect, and that my note lengths in my first piece are incorrect, and obviously I need to fix them and be used to them before the examination.

Ah, well.  Five weeks.  Things’ll turn around within that time.  Right?

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