Studio711

Bach’s Italian Concerto

In 2007, I purchased a Korg C303 digital piano. It was a good size for the condo that I lived in and the ability to plug in headphones was a huge bonus. The headphones are still paying off since most my playing is done while Elijah is in bed.

Anyway, when I bought that piano, I didn’t have any music so I headed to Half Price Books. I somewhat randomly picked a book of some classical favorites. I got home, opened to page 1 and it was the first movement of Bach’s Italian Concerto. Umm… way over my head. At some point, I struggled through the first page and got to where I could sort of play it.

Fast forward to May 2019 and I was watching a video from Mike Boyd about how to stick with really hard learning challenges. He used learning a difficult guitar song as his example and for some reason the whole thing reminded me of that Bach piece. I decided to actually learn the entire first movement well enough to play it in church. How hard could it be, right? As Randall Munroe said in his latest book, “Playing the piano is easy. The keys are in order and easy to reach. All you do is memorize which keys make what notes, then play them in the order written on the sheet.”

The good and bad thing about the internet today is that you can fire up YouTube and see tons of examples of people doing all kinds of things extremely well. This piano piece is no different, so after watching videos of 10 year olds playing the song in a little over 4 minutes (from memory), I set a timer to see how long my first attempt would take. 25 minutes and it didn’t sound even remotely like Bach. I had a long way to go.

For six months, I’ve played that song almost exclusively nearly every day. I played and I played and I played. And then I played and played and played some more. I think it’s fair to say that I averaged about 20 minutes of practice per day for 6 months.

This had clearly become an obsession for me, but no matter how many times I hit a wall and eventually broke through it, I could never get the level of polish that I wanted. Eventually I decided that me learning this song was like the average person sitting on their couch and deciding to run a marathon. They’re not going to win the marathon but finishing alone is a huge achievement.

So I set up a date to play it in church and went for it. Was it perfect? Nope. Not even close. If you want to hear how it’s supposed to be played, there are lots of other YouTube videos that are perfect renditions. But I feel like I’ve accomplished my impossible goal. Not only am I proud of the accomplishment… I’m very excited to start playing something else!

While not unique to learning this specific song, a few things struck me:

  • At least early in the learning of the piece, I felt like I retained more if I practiced close to bedtime than if I practiced earlier in the evening or in the morning. There are some scientific studies that back this up as well.
  • It’s a really weird feeling when you realize that you made a huge leap in learning from one day to the next. It’s hard to explain but there are some days where a previously difficult passage suddenly feels dramatically easier.
  • There’s some sweet spot of concentration that is difficult to maintain. I often find that I play worse in public than I do when practicing because I’m concentrating too hard. But if I don’t concentrate enough, all of a sudden I’ll find that I’ve lost my place on the sheet music and my fingers ran out of notes to play. And if I think about not concentrating too much, that doesn’t work either.
  • Through the process of playing the song over and over, I memorized probably 90% of it, but aside from the first page (and the last page which is a repeat), I’m not confident enough to play without music. I think to totally polish off the song, I’d need to memorize it completely and not be staring at music along the way.
  • If I was going to really get serious about this, I’d need some serious therapy around playing with other people present. Just trying to have Tyla stand next to me and turn pages brought out tons more flubs in my playing even when she wasn’t doing anything. And when I finally get to the point of playing it in church, I end up a bit sweaty and shaky by the end of the song.

Fantasy Football 2019 – Week 9

It was fun to watch the Seahawks pull out a close game despite Wilson having to win the game for them multiple times before he could finally do it without the kicker involved. It sure is fun watching Wilson and Lockett work together though!

We only have 5 weeks left in our league and we’re probably not too far away from the first team clinching playoff berth. Tyler, Logan, Tim and Luke have been in the top half all season but Tyler and Luke have swapped places with Tyler winning four in a row and Luke losing four in a row. Luke and Tim are still crushing the rest of us in terms of point totals but they’re stuck in a tie for third. Other than those two, the point totals are more even this year than I remember them being in the past. Let’s see what happens in week 10 as we pretty much half the top half of the league take on the bottom half of the league. Who’s ready for an upset?

Tim keeps his top spot in the power rankings this week, but the big mover is Andy who jumped up four spots!

1. Tim (Beer-me)
2. Andy (RAAAWWWRRRRR!!!) +4
3. Luke (Helmetheads) -1
4. Tyler (Krazy Kanuck) -1

On to the weekly awards…

This Week This Season All Time
Highest Team Score Andy had 151.25 Luke had 202.63 (Week 5) Luke had 202.63 (2019)
Lowest Team Score Logan had 91.99 Andy had 79.13 (Week 6) Andy had 41.29 (2015)
Biggest Blowout Tyler beat Logan by 31.06 Logan beat Andy by 66 (Week 6) Luke beat Andy by 113.02 (2010)
Closest Win Dad beat Ben by 8.42 Andy beat Tyler by 0.56 (Week 5) Tyler beat Nick by 0.01 (2018)
Longest Active Winning Streak Tyler has a 4 game winning streak Luke has a 5 game winning streak (Week 5) Micah (2011) and Ben (2015) had 8 game winning streaks
Longest Active Losing Streak Luke has a 4 game losing streak Nick has a 6 game losing streak (Week 6) Kyle had a 14 game losing streak (2011)
Highest Scoring Player Russell Wilson had 49.22 for Andy Aaron Rodgers had 53.76 on Ben’s bench (Week 7) Drew Brees had 60.54 on Tim’s bench (2015)
Lowest winning score Tyler won with 123.05 Tyler beat Nick with 92.63 (Week 4) Tim beat Jim with 79.34 (2015)
Highest losing score Tim lost with 128.55 Tim lost to Luke with 169.11 (Week 5) Tim lost to Luke with 169.11 (2019)

Fantasy Football 2019 – Week 8

The Seahawks logged another win to move to 6-2, but those pesky 49ers are still undefeated. Football Outsiders says that the 49ers have an 86% chance of winning the division and the Seahawks have a 43% chance of winning the wild card. (Minnesota and Phildelphia have similar wild card chances.) As for the Super Bowl, the best odds are that it will be New England vs the 49ers or the Saints. Don’t worry, they say there’s only a 4% chance that the 49ers will go undefeated…

Our league rebounded from our lowest scoring week of the season to the highest scoring week of the season. Our low score this week would have easily beaten everyone (except Tyler) last week. Logan is getting hot as we move through the middle of the season. His 4 game win streak has him in a tie for first. Luke and Tim still have huge point totals but they’re a game behind in 3rd. After next week we’ll have someone in sole possession of first place because Logan and Tyler are facing off. Only 6 weeks left until the playoffs!

Tim might be hanging out down in 4th place in the standings but the power rankings say he’s the toughest opponent right now.

1. Tim (Beer-me) +1
2. Luke (Helmetheads) -1
3. Tyler (Krazy Kanuck)
4. Logan (Goat Roapers) -1

On to the weekly awards… but wait… there are two new awards this time! I went back through all the data since 2007 and dug up the “Lowest winning score” and “Highest losing score”. Interestingly Tim holds the all time records for both ends of that stat.

This Week This Season All Time
Highest Team Score Tim had 171.35 Luke had 202.63 (Week 5) Luke had 202.63 (2019)
Lowest Team Score Dad had 115.77 Andy had 79.13 (Week 6) Andy had 41.29 (2015)
Biggest Blowout Tim beat Ben by 35.95 Logan beat Andy by 66 (Week 6) Luke beat Andy by 113.02 (2010)
Closest Win Tyler beat Dad by 0.42 Andy beat Tyler by 0.56 (Week 5) Tyler beat Nick by 0.01 (2018)
Longest Active Winning Streak Logan has a 4 game winning streak. Luke has a 5 game winning streak (Week 5) Micah (2011) and Ben (2015) had 8 game winning streaks
Longest Active Losing Streak Luke has a 3 game losing streak. Nick has a 6 game losing streak (Week 6) Kyle had a 14 game losing streak (2011)
Highest Scoring Player Aaron Jones had 38.10 for Andy Aaron Rodgers had 53.76 on Ben’s bench (Week 7) Drew Brees had 60.54 on Tim’s bench (2015)
Lowest winning score Tyler beat Dad with 116.19 Tyler beat Nick with 92.63 (Week 4) Tim beat Jim with 79.34 (2015)
Highest losing score Dad lost to Tyler with 115.77 Tim lost to Luke with 169.11 (Week 5) Tim lost to Luke with 169.11 (2019)

Fantasy Football 2019 – Week 7

The Seahawks couldn’t handle Lamar Jackson. He looked like a younger Russell Wilson. It kind of makes you wonder why Russell isn’t getting 100 yard rushing games anymore. The last one he had was 2014. He’s had four of them and now Lamar Jackson has had four as well. The next couple weeks look pretty easy against the Falcons and and the Buccaneers, but then come the improbably undefeated 49ers. What’s going on with that!? Can we just pretend it’s not happening and it will go away? I can’t handle Sherman smug face.

The times were lean in our league with the average score barely topping 100. There were a lot of important matchups though and even though Tyler was the only one with a respectable score, we still record the wins and losses. Logan took down first place Luke for a share of the lead and Tyler is tied for the lead as well after beating Tim. I beat Andy and Nick got his first win of the season against Dad. I’d like to point out two things:

  • The Scherschel brothers have the two highest point totals in the league and they have ONE ROSTER MOVE between them. How is that possible?
  • Tyler’s New England defense now ranks #9 among all players in our league for most points scored. The New England defense has more points than Tom Brady!

Luke is still on top of the power rankings as we head into week 8:

1. Luke (Helmetheads)
2. Tim (Beer-me)
3. Tyler (Krazy Kanuck) +1
4. Logan (Goat Roapers) -1

On to the weekly awards…

This Week This Season All Time
Highest Team Score Tyler had 132.79 Luke had 202.63 (Week 5) Luke had 202.63 (2019)
Lowest Team Score Andy had 70.80 Andy had 79.13 (Week 6) Andy had 41.29 (2015)
Biggest Blowout Ben beat Andy by 31.52 Logan beat Andy by 66 (Week 6) Luke beat Andy by 113.02 (2010)
Closest Win Logan beat Luke by 7.46 Andy beat Tyler by 0.56 (Week 5) Tyler beat Nick by 0.01 (2018)
Longest Active Winning Streak Logan has a 3 game winning streak Luke has a 5 game winning streak (Week 5) Micah (2011) and Ben (2015) had 8 game winning streaks
Longest Active Losing Streak Andy has a 2 game losing streak Nick has a 6 game losing streak (Week 6) Kyle had a 14 game losing streak (2011)
Highest Scoring Player Aaron Rodgers had 53.76 on Ben’s bench Deshaun Watson had 51.74 for Tyler (Week 5) Drew Brees had 60.54 on Tim’s bench (2015)

Campus Update

If you live in the area and haven’t driven through the Microsoft campus recently, take a little time to drive down 156th and prepare for a shock. An enormous chunk of the main campus is now a giant hole. There is a main project page that shows the overall project vision, but a few weeks ago, they also published an aerial time lapse showing the demolition. It’s hard to get a real sense of the progress from street level so it’s neat to see this from the sky.

It’s going to take years for this to complete but it’s not for lack of effort. There are a constant stream of trucks going in and out. Click that link above for the full story because it has some very interesting stats at the bottom. When we walk around campus, I like to see how many dump truck loads of dirt people think are being removed. That article says it was around 1 million cubic yards which comes out to something like 60,000 truck loads!