In preparation for solo performance I will often have my students tell me the story of the piece. For some this is difficult and the most I can get from them is “It’s a dance.” For others, stories come much easier.
I was working with my bass clarinet student on the Arpeggione Sonata, and trying to help her figure out what the piece was about. Once she has a topic in mind, she has no problem coming up with a story. She decided the story was of her going to solo contest (how meta), and the piece is full of nerves and walking and relaxing and more nerves. She finally starts to play (in the story) around 6:31 in the video in the link above. And not a lot happens until 10:05.
This part is probably one of my favorite things that she has ever said. She has synesthesia, so she sees music in color. Different keys and different notes are different shade. Letters do too since music uses letters to name the notes. My name is roughly the same color as e harmonic minor. (So cool!) So in the story, she’s playing her solo until we get to 10:05, at which point she said, “Well, that’s long and green so it must be an alligator.” This alligator approaches menacingly until 10:48. This mournful part clearly means it ate the judge. It’s all very sad until 11:27 when she realizes that with the judge gone, her score has to be good. ”Yay! I can’t lose!”
And she didn’t; she’s going to state and I am super proud!