Day 139 – February 16th – Studies and more studies

Once again a mixed bag in studies class today. I started out by accidentally modulating in the warm-up tune The Ash Grove, which wasn’t greeted with much enthusiasm but got through the rest of the morning unscathed.

Rather unusually, I ended up playing last in the day. They Moyse studies were ok but not fantastic, and Trevor spent quite a bit of time analysing my articulation. On the up side, it was analysis along the lines of making my tongue move faster and not solving rhythmic problems. Andersen No. 14 went down quite well, and while I thought it was a bit harsh to say that it was the “first time in four months” I’d used dynamics, at least they were heard. Altès No. 23 started off too slowly, which was a pain. The Altès studies are duets and Trevor plays the second part. I spent most of the first two pages trying to push the tempo to the one I’d learned it at, but clearly wasn’t communicating this well or something, so then got a ticking off about starting too slowly.

Finally, the Drouet studies. No. 6 was fine, then No. 7 a disaster because I started out too slowly and Trevor was decidedly unimpressed. Things went downhill from there, and while I was allowed to play both No. 7 (at the correct tempo) and No. 8 (another slow study) everything was commented on venomously.

As always, I have to learn from the mistakes and comments, and also work with renewed vigor on my articulation this week. However, it is a little disheartening when I know I’ve done a lot of hard work, and the final impression of the class is once again a negative one.

Day 138 – February 15th – White Cliffs of Dover

Rather distant view of Dover Castle

Today was a mixture of practice and sightseeing, as Trevor took us for a spin round Dover and then on to Dungeness for fish and chips.

I would have liked to spend more time exploring Dover, both the castle and the natural park above the white cliffs, but the plan was very much to see things and move on. No time to go hiking unfortunately. As for fish and chips, after last night’s extravaganza I opted instead for a veggie wellington, and was pleased I did! Then we once again took a walk out across the pebbled beach to find the tide was way out and there was still a huge beach of wet sand in front of us! All said, it was nice to get out and see a bit of the countryside.

Flute Studio group selfie at Dungeness!

As for practice…it was a bit of a mixture today. I did an hour before we went out, and was really quite impressed how well I was playing all the technical exercises. They were fast, even and with very few wrong notes. This afternoon, though, was a bit of a different story, and I felt like I’d made reverse progress with Andersen No. 14. I’m hoping it’s because I’m tired after a few late nights in a row, and so really tried to play through things slowly and deliberately a few times before putting the flute away.


Day 137 – February 14th – Fish, Chips and Mrs Brown

I got a bit more done today than yesterday, and enjoyed my practice more, which was a relief. This coming week of classes is thankfully going to be a bit of a break for me. Trevor heard so little of what I’d prepared (not brilliantly) last week that I’ve been able to sit back and consolidate on the same studies over the last few days. Andersen No. 14 is now sounding quite good, which is exciting!

After a short run in the afternoon, I headed over to the Hastingleigh village hall again for fish and chips, and a film. The fish and chips were yummy and top notch, though with not one but two pieces of fish I’m still feeling rather full! Then they showed the film Mrs Brown with Judy Dench and Billy Connolly, which I rather enjoyed. It was lovely to get out, do something a little different, and take a bit of a break from my flute.

Day 133 – February 10th – Walksies

I’m still not sure how to interpret Trevor’s attitude to me lately, and it in an attitude. This morning’s trip to Tesco continued in the same vein – everything I said earned some sort of backlash or negative comment. This was despite me having learned the usual good selection of composers (beginning with K and L)! The saving grace of the morning’s trip was a stop off at Perri Court Farm, where we haven’t been since Christmas due to Trevor’s cold and the bad weather. I took the opportunity to stock up on lots of apples and dark chocolate ginger.

Alas, after yesterday’s negativity I wasn’t feeling terribly inspired to practice today. Instead I had a long and lovely Skype with some friends before revisiting the flute in the afternoon. I got in about 3 1/2 hours but felt that the only really good session was the one just before dinner. I managed to spend half an hour doing some really solid and focused work on Andersen No. 14 – mostly making sure that I could play through each line without any wrong notes and with all the marked dynamics.

I did get in a bit of work on the excerpts and piece for Thursday: Overture to The Thieving Magpie (Rossini), Wur durfen niemand toten from St John Passion (Bach) and the Godard Suite de Trois Morceaux. I’ve played both the excerpts before, but want to make sure that I can play them even under pressure in class, and need to spend a bit more time tomorrow on both. As for the Godard, I’ve played the Valse before and so am in that annoying situation of remembering exactly how I want to the music to sound but my fingers not always remembering where to go quickly enough! But then I’ll play a passage or run flawlessly because it’s all the scales and arpeggios which are now so comfortable. I think slow practice tomorrow is the key – slow, steady and calm.

For the first time in ages, we returned to walking tonight, though it was only a short one. All of a sudden, Trevor was being friendly again, and invited me to walk with him and Ching Ting where I would have been quite happy to fade into the background and stay out of the way. He was conversational, even jovial, chatting about a baroque flute maker in Australia, asking some questions about degree structure there. I confess that I don’t get his mind games at all.

Tomorrow morning I’m going running again. It’s been too long, and now that it’s no longer icy and there’s a little less on class-wise, I really have no excuse.

Day 127 – February 4th – Getting in the hours

Not much to report today other than that I practised a lot. Six hours playing flute and then some time listening and studying scores. What with two trips to London in the next few days and Trevor’s zeal for more studies, I felt like there weren’t many options but to knuckle down and really do as many hours as I could manage.

Compared with yesterday, I felt like all the practice sessions were productive. The Reinecke Ballade isn’t terribly difficult note-wise, and I could focus on the music, which was nice. As for studies…they’re happening. Andersen No. 14 is a lovely piece of music but being in D#/Eb minor makes it a bit of a minefield for notes!

In the afternoon, I took myself off on a long walk across the fields and round the back way to Bodsham. The fields were still half-covered in snow, and the air was crisp and delicious. We’re heading up to London tomorrow, and to be honest I’m glad of a day free from playing!