Gareth Montanarello

Weekly Practice Log: November 17-23, 2019

Updated: Nov 28, 2019

Finally back on a normal schedule after about 10 days of madness. I realized on Monday that I should start recording the amount of time I spend practicing more accurately... No practice log from last week because I was just too busy to get much done. Sorry, y'all.

I also realized that on paper it looks like I barely practice (true last week!). I tend to get in around 2 hours of individual practice time each day but that is augmented by another 2+ hours of rehearsals, lessons, and the several hours worth of mental practice I do at other times. The two hours I on the instrument is usually deep practice, too, so I get a lot done in that time.


Sunday: 11/17/2019

Mostly solo rep today.

1. Persichetti Parable: 30 minutes

Finally started page 3. I haven't worked much on this piece for the past week and a half, but today I got in a good "deep practice" session. I am having relatively few left-hand issues so most of the work was on rhythms. The biggest help with getting them to stick has been forcing myself to count out loud as I play. I count the rhythms as notated, subdivide to the smallest countable note value, and play a bunch of metronome games to help internalize everything as much as I can. I also revisited the first two pages before moving on to the next piece.

2. Arpeggione Sonata: 40 minutes

Part of the whole "deep practice" thing I have been doing so much lately involves breaking down difficult passages into fundamentals and approaching them from as many angles as possible. Sometimes I might not even play the difficult part as written. I make use of metronome games, technical exercises, drones, tuners, and notebooks to give myself as much to hold on to come performance time as I can. For today, I worked on these two parts:

I set my metronome at quarter note = 60 drone for Eb and broke each section down into individual shifts. I first played the parts with 4 beats per note; then 2, 1, etc. I also worked each shift with different rhythms and subdivisions, all with a soul-crushing Eb drone, to make sure my intonation and shifts were spot-on. I finally put everything together and played the parts successfully at tempo.

One of many exercises I did to work the Ab Arpeggio.

This type of practice is something I do for a lot of music these days. It works wonders.

3. Bottesini Mvt 1, page 2: 30 minutes

Back on this after a 10-day hiatus. It sounded pretty good given how long it has been since I touched it. Did a lot of similar work on sections in this as I did with Arpeggione and Persichetti.

4. Other stuff: 20-30 minutes

I spent the last chunk of my session playing other stuff, noodling around, and testing my memory with some excerpts. Did I get anything done during this time? Not really, but it was fun.

5. Big Band Charts: 20 minutes

Ran them with a metronome. Worked out a couple tricky sections then called it a day.


Monday: 11/18/2019

Another productive day.

1. Scale warm-up: 20 minutes

Warmed up with Bb Major and F minor, then had a strange desire to play Eb Major in five octaves. Why? I have no idea. The fifth octave I played the same way as the third octave (if you start the first octave on the extension), but each note was an artificial harmonic. It was a fun challenge and I was really happy with my pitch accuracy.

2. Parable: 25 minutes

Similar work as yesterday but for the next three lines of the third page. I ran the first 2.5 pages successfully but there is still a lot of work I need to do on this one.

3. Bottesini: 20 minutes

Finally wrote in fingerings. Whoops. Nothing major to report. Slow and steady...

-2 Hour Rehearsal-

4. Big Band Charts: 35 minutes

Running with metronome games because I don't want to be the bass player that rushes.


Tuesday: 11/19/2019

I think for today's entry I will talk about what I did to practice without my bass since I only had a short session on the instrument before my rehearsal.

1. Metronome work

I had 20 minutes free this evening so I did some metronome games to work on my internal metronome. I basically set my metronome to a few random tempos and forced my self to count aloud. I set the metronome to only click on certain beats which I changed every few minutes. Examples: Metronome set to quarter note = 140 with clicks on every beat 2. Metronome set to click on beats 4 and 1 every two measures, etc. Not the most exciting thing in the world but it's certainly helpful to build focus and your internal time-keeping skills.

2. Mental Practice, several hours cumulative

I worked through tricky spots in the music I am currently working on. I treated it as if it were a real practice session and did all the chunking I would normally do only without my bass. The only problems were that I didn't have music with me and that I wasn't in the most distraction-free environment.


Wednesday: 11/20/2019

Slowly piecing together all my solo music. Still no major breakthroughs to report and no exciting practice techniques to share.


Thursday: 11/21/2019

Same as yesterday. Thinking I need to reevaluate how I write these posts. Maybe I will just take a photo of my practice journal and upload it here since finding time to write when I get home can be tricky, especially during my long days.


Friday: 11/22/2019

The most playing I have done in one day in a long time. I think I did a total of 7-8 hours between practice session 1, a dress rehearsal, practice session 2, and a concert. Practice session 2 was in an empty hall and it was an illuminating and great use of my time.

Read about it here.

Practice session one entailed several runs of my solo rep, a few excerpts, and lots of metronome work on different scales.


The Weekend: 11/23-24/2019

I spent the weekend in Phoenix and played a lot of piano and wrote some music. I have decided to take the next week off from writing practice logs because I will be busy with the holidays and I also want to find a better format for my logs. I need to find a way to update them in real-time as I practice so the content I put out is fresh and worth reading.


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