Learning Bach
I am learning the Bach Invention No.15 in B minor. I never spent a lot of time working on classical music as I got into piano–my focus had always been jazz and pop, composing and improvising. But I did learn a handful of classical works growing up. I wish I would've spent more time at it. But now I have so much interest in classical music. I am interested by the mechanics of performing difficult passages at high velocities, and the ways these composers of old made transitions and subtle suggestions of harmonic motion with elegant motifs and cadences. I hear jazz musicians incorporating the stylistic fingerprints of classical music into their compositions and improvisations as well. There are so many books on technique and exercises that were written by these same composers, who were sharing their secrets to better piano performance.

For me, learning a classical piece like this is difficult. I generally memorize everything I play, especially if it is more advanced and quite challenging. Having it memorized puts me at ease when I perform. To do this, when I am learning a piece, I divide and compartmentalize measures into small phrases, and repeat until what I am playing sounds good enough for performance. Sometimes I'll start with a measure, and repeat it a dozen or so times. I create a loop out of the material I am examining. I try to understand the mechanics of the passage; what is the best fingering? How are these rhythms supposed to be interpreted? Once that measure is solid, I'll add on another measure. If it is too complicated, perhaps I'll only add on a beat. Or only a single note. The loop grows slows as I add more material. One measure becomes two measures becomes ten measures becomes sixteen. When I finally reach the last measure and learn it, the entire piece is already memorized. It works for me.

I am very happy to have eighteen students now, and to teach music with five schools. I can tell people now that I make a living as a musician, full-time. Being able to focus only on music, not having to work any odd jobs at all, I consider that success. Although I only graduated less than one year ago, I am here at this point. At last.

I suppose perseverance is key. Keep at it.