Day 62 – December 1st – Advent

All of a sudden it’s the start of December! Following my lovely weekend away (I’ve added some pictures to the posts now), I’m back in to the swing of things here and feeling that there’s a lot to get done in the lead-up to Christmas. Here’s what the next month looks like:

Thursday 11th – Masterclass with Rachel Brown

Saturday 13th – Day trip to London

Tuesday 16th – Submit flute history project and Christmas concert for the local gardeners’ association

Saturday 20th – Christmas concert in the Hastingleigh church

Monday 22nd – Final class, in the evening I’m leaving to stay with family for Christmas

That’s in addition to the regular classes and all that needs preparing for them. Phew!

After my misgivings yesterday, I played a little better in class than I thought I would. Part of it, I think, was that each time I stood up, I committed to playing as expressively as possible, enjoy it and enjoying myself. It didn’t work every time, and I was told told off for being “too scared of making a mistake” when I played Moyse Little Melodic Study No. 14. i have to admit to getting frustrated with Trevor over this one, as he kept telling me to both not hold the first too long and to play it expressively. I knew that he wanted something along the lines of a nice shimmery bit of vibrato, but I wasn’t managed it, and so he interpreted it as me wanting to play with poor rhythm. Study no. 15, however, went quite well, as did the two Altes studies I’d prepared. Andersen No. 7, which was the one I was most fearful about, came across better than I had hoped, though did prompt further discussion of my inability to play loudly. I’ve been told anew to practice tone exercises for a really loud, resonant sound, and will have to make some time for that in the coming days!

I’ve been doing some bits and pieces of reading on different ways to practice, and saw a link to this blog, which gave me some food for thought. The article suggests that it’s better to practice in small chunks so that we are better at re-setting and (hopefully) producing under pressure. It argues that this method of practice avoids mindless repetition and gets things into the fingers and memory in a way that makes them stick a bit better. I’m going to have a try starting tomorrow, as preparing the number of studies Trevor wants a week is still tricky!

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Day 61 – November 30th – Best-laid plans

Beautiful autumn colours in the garden at the Dunk's

Beautiful autumn colours in the garden at the Dunk’s

Today I headed back down to Kent after a lovely weekend with the Dunks. I’ve had a lovely time, with wonderful company, conversation, food and wine, as well as some little trips down memory lane. However, there were also a few amusing twists and turns along the way, and today didn’t quite go as planned…

This morning, Ali invited me along to the children’s choir rehearsal at church, since there was a little-known Australian carol on the rehearsal list. The plan was to be there for the rehearsal, then for us to sneak off before the service proper so that I could practise and Ali could work in her garden. But then Ali realised it was the first Sunday of advent, and that she hadn’t done the advent wreath, so there were the two of us frantically constructing and decorating this wreath as the service was going on! Once we’d finished, brought it out and lit the first candle, escape was impossible, and we stayed for the rest of the service.

So a morning of practice turned into an hour before lunch. I was surprised how much I got done actually; though the Reichert exercises aren’t exactly raring along quite yet, they are increasingly fluent, and all from memory. Sequences, I’m proud to say, now sound quite good and are across the whole flute range.

Then came getting home. The plan was trains St Neots – St Pancras – Ashford – Wye and then a taxi from Wye to Elmsted as five miles was a bit too far to walk in the dark. But it turned out there were train-replacement buses from Ashford to Wye and that the next one wasn’t for another fifty minutes, so I buddies up with a few other travellers and caught a group taxi to Wye with them before carrying on to Hastingleigh myself. For som reason, I then thought it was a good ideas to get some exercise and save a bit by walking from Hastingleigh back to Elmsted. While it was a nice walk, and still quite mild, I probably should have just caught the taxi all the way and done a big more practice. Though what I have got done today has been focused and perhaps more productive than some days, I’m still feeling somewhat under-prepared for class tomorrow!