Day 173 – March 22nd – Baroque

Just a short one tonight, as it’s all of a sudden late and time for bed. I spent the day alternating productive flute activities and semi-productive procrastination! Along with Syrinx tomorrow we’re playing Telemann sonatas in F major and F minor, and I had a lovely time this afternoon practising them. My time here has really rejuvenated my love of playing Baroque music.

This evening, I bit the bullet and did a good session proofreading my flute history project. I’m making sure to use language suitable for fifteen year-olds this time, and have been sure to include some nice clear pictures. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish it all off after class tomorrow.

As for the procrastination….I went for a run, did some sorting in preparation for moving out, and baked bread again! It wasn’t as good this time unfortunately. It seems like I got the one good kick from the out-of-date yeast when I opened it a few days ago. This time it didn’t activate at all, and I had mostly self-raising flour to use up. The result was a pair of rather pretty but solid loaves that have the consistency of scones rather than bread. Oh well, I just enjoyed kneading the bread! And it didn’t taste too bad with my carrot soup either.

My rather solid bread

My rather solid bread


Day 168 – March 17th – Looking ahead

Still with no flute lessons in sight, today became a day of sorting out bits and pieces, looking ahead and a spot of baking. In the morning, Paul was kind enough to take us on the penultimate Tesco trip, though without the regular composer quiz! Trevor being unwell is always a reminder of just how isolated we are here. While a walk to the shop in Wye would have been possible, we couldn’t have carried everything back, and the next option was Tesco online.

In the spirit of using up things in the cupboard (and because I felt like doing something different) I attempted to make bread this afternoon. I left the dough to prove while walking to Trevor’s to collect some extra flutes for tomorrow’s concert. I’m not sure whether it was because of this long proving time, or because of the size of the loaf, but it was still a bit doughy on the inside despite being perfect on the outside. Most important thing, though: I had great fun!

For the rest of the day, I spent some time thinking about everything that’s coming after my time here. First off, I’m off on holiday to France with my mum, which I’m looking forward to immensely. Then I’m visiting my grandparents in Grimsby for a few days, and then l’ll be boarding in Surrey (close to Hampton Court) for a few months. Plus, after being unsuccessful with my Bang on a Can application, I need to re-think some of my ArtStart plans for the summer, and also start thinking about when and how I’m heading back to Australia in July/August. All need work, and I’ve sometimes forgotten to stay on top of it all when there’s always another study round the corner. So I’ve been sending emails, clearing my inbox, making some lists. Hopefully all adding up to me being a little more organised.

Looking forward to our Bodsham Primary concert tomorrow. Complete with the extended flute family, some fun pieces and a bike pump, hopefully we’ll inspire the kids to get into some music!

Day 99 – January 7th – In a good rhythm

After feeling a bit lethargic yesterday, today was really quite wonderful for a whole combination of things. Rather than trying to convince myself that running was a good idea in the dark, I went at the much better time of 9am after my first hour of practice. I ran a long way, right round to the church then up into Hastingleigh the back way and coming back to Elmsted in one big loop. Alas, I didn’t manage to run all the way, as the road was really icy down by the church and then the final hill up to our dairy was a real killer. Still, it was a lovely time of the morning to be out, and I had a great time despite the sore legs.

Muffins - not my prettiest baking creation but still quite yummy.

Muffins – not my prettiest baking creation but still quite yummy.

In the afternoon, I finally got round to baking some muffins, which I’ve been meaning to do for a while. Grandma gave me a rather nice flexible tray at Christmas, and so I made dark chocolate and raspberry muffins with the hope of taking them to class tomorrow. I’ve got slightly mixed feelings about the result – they taste nice but didn’t come out of the tray terribly well and have misshapen bottoms – but had lots of fun in the process. There is something infinitely relaxing about rubbing butter into flour!

I still managed to fit in a good five and a half hours of practice around all this, and it was much better than last week. It’s my turn to propose a warm-up tune tomorrow, as well as directing the exercises that follow. I think I’m ready! My warm-up tune is the opening flute solo (2nd passing to 1st) of Ravel’s Ma mère l’oye, since I’m currently writing a program note for it for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s 2015 Discovery program.

Then there’s all the rest of the things to prepare. Our repertoire for tomorrow is Schubert’s Trockne Blumen Variations, which are monumental as flute works go. While yesterday’s practice on it was rather average, today went quite well. I’m not sure whether it’s my fingers remembering the work I did on it three years ago, all the scales we’ve been doing or a combination of both, but it all felt quite comfortable and I’m not too stressed about playing it in class tomorrow. I just need to remember to be expressive and play dotted rhythms correctly!

Finally, I spent an hour before our walk doing some of my listening project for the week. My chosen topic is the American flautist (or should I say flutist since he’s American?) William Kincaid, and amoung Trevor’s CDs I found an absolute gem. It’s a retrospective of Kincaid’s career with the Philadelphia Orchestra, originally for radio, with lots of really old recordings of him playing orchestral, chamber and solo works. Despite the presenter being awful (something of an old recordings collector by the sound of it, but really needed a script), the musical snapshot was fantastic, and the background information helped to put it all into context. Kincaid’s playing is stunning, particularly in the orchestral pieces. There was the Entr’acte from Bizet’s Carmen, Debussy’s Après-midi d’une faune, a really rather delicious rendition of the Daphnis and Chloe (Ravel) flute solo. I can easily say it’s the best CD I’ve listened to so far from Trevor’s collection.

Now I’m sitting here with a cup of chamomile tea, listening to David Francey’s Belgrade Train (it’s awesome!) and thinking that it’s days like today that really make the experience here at the flute studio. I don’t know if I’ll ever have a time and space like this again, so need to make the most of it. And of course practice scales!

Day 85 – December 24th – Mince pies and carols

Making mince pies...

Making mince pies…

Christmas Eve, and my ‘Christmas Day’ celebrations with the Johnson side of the family. We skyped with all the Australian family this morning, catching them rather tipsy near the end of Christmas catch-up dinner. Then I made mince pies under the watchful eye of grandma. Though I do know how to make pastry, I think she was just quite anxious that I get it all right, and kept wandering into the kitchen to remind me of what to do next! With our combined efforts, though, the mince pies tasted fantastic – not quite like mum’s, but also not far off! I had so much fun that I really didn’t mind too much how they tasted, and was pleasantly surprised that they turned out so well. Yum.

....and the end result!

….and the end result!

As for the afternoon, we had a bit of a relax, some presents and I played some Christmas carols. I now have a huge supply of chocolate-coated ginger, some warm socks and another jumper. Christmas time is family time, and it feels so lovely to be up here spending time with my grandparents. Round two begins tomorrow!

Day 78 – December 17th – Mince Pies and Enescu

I have to admit to not feeling terribly prepared for tomorrow’s class, as until two days ago we all thought there wasn’t one! However, Trevor confirmed that there indeed is, and our repertoire piece is Enescu’s Cantabile et Presto. Lovely piece, but a lot of notes for those of us like me who haven’t played it before!

I certainly won’t be putting my hand up to play in class tomorrow, and if possible I might take my turn at sitting out on this one, since I’ve played every other repertoire piece and excerpt so far. That said, I was pleasantly surprised how much of the piece I could get at least nominally under the fingers in today’s practice session – all the work on scale pattern over the last few months is definitely paying off.

This afternoon I finally got round to making some mince pies, though I wasn’t terribly pleased with the result. I bought mince meat ages ago, but never got round to making pastry, so then got some frozen pastry at Tesco on Tuesday. Anyway, the pastry was rather too thick and puffy despite my best efforts at rolling, and didn’t taste like mum’s at all. So I’m treating them as a practice batch for making proper ones and my grandparents’ next week, and will probably finish up the rest of the mince meat with my porridge in the morning!