April ArtStart Reflection

A very belated ArtStart blog for April, as I have been off travelling then settling into my new place. That said, a lot has happened, and the next two months will tick a lot of things off the to-do list for this year. Here’s the digest:

I started my Practical Financial Management for Small Businesses course at City University London on April 28th, and have now completed two out of ten classes. Though not obviously the first thing I would spend arts development money on, I do think it’s probably one of the most important sets of skills I’ll be filing away from this year. A basic understanding of finance, I hope, will set me in good stead for managing chamber ensembles in the future, and presenting clear budgets for funding applications. That said, I’m definitely not the typical student in my class – most are starting out as small business entrepreneurs. So far we have covered double entry, income statements and balance sheets, The maths isn’t difficult, and I’m managing the concepts quite well. I’ve managed to get all my ‘homework’ done on the train home after class!

Now that I’m following my own plan with practice, I’ve had a bit more time to start working with the AirTurn foot pedal and my iPad. I’ve learned that I can’t just upload PDFs as they come because scrolling down a page with the foot pedal makes me loose my place. Instead, after reading this excellent blog by UK clarinetist Heather Roche on using an iPad in performance, I’ve been using MS powerpoint to do a bit of a cut and paste job. If possible, I’d still prefer to turn the page during rests, thought am finding that I’m getting used to the footpedal. Some scores are also really small, and so putting then into powerpoint allows me to blow them up a bit! The best thing I’m finding about this set-up is that I can change things quickly, and without having to worry about printing at all. However, it does mean that I need to make sure my iPad is charged before practice sessions!

This week I’m starting my lessons with UK alto and bass flautist extraordinaire Carla Rees, which I’m very excited about. Back in October I escaped up to Windsor for a day, and I’ve been revisiting the notes and advice from that lessons. We talked a lot about alto flute sound, and making sure that I was producing the biggest possible sound on the instrument. Carla suggested I play Bach, and so I’ve been playing quite a bit in the last week. Rather than return to flute music (I’m keen to play it, but with a little more distance from Trevor’s course), I found a transposed version of the 3rd violin partita for treble recorder, and have been particularly enjoying the Gavotte and Rondeau movement. The prelude is a great exercise for intervals, but not great for playing all the way through on flute – there really is nowhere to breathe!

In the coming lessons, I want to work both on alto flute fundamentals, and get my teeth into some good contemporary music. There is so much wonderful music out there that my wish list is probably already too long!

Things are also starting to look exciting for the SoundSCAPE Festival in July. As well as the commission pieces for ensembles that we work on there, I’m also working with some composers on solo flute pieces that I’m hoping to perform. Last year at the festival, I did some work on the method book The Vocalization of the Flute by US flautist Jane Rigler. It’s a good step-by-step guide to singing and playing, which gives lots of exercises and studies. Ordering it has been on my to-do list for the last nine months, and I’ve finally got round to that. I should have done it much earlier – in PDF form the book is only US$10! I’m hoping to prepare some of the trickier studies to work on at the festival.

As for my US trip…it’s still at the same stage it was last month, waiting on the results of things back in Australia. I’m trying not to get too frustrated by this, and rather to enjoy what I’m up to at the moment and get everything I can out of the experience!

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