Day 156 – March 5th – Lambs

Lambing has started at Elmsted Court Farm! This evening, we all went out to the barn behind our dairy, and there were already several new arrivals. The lambs ranged from active and bouncy to sleepy little bundles who looked a bit bemused by their new world. Andy was amazingly calm and jovial, telling us all about the process and answering my reams of questions. We saw two ewes give birth, immediately setting to work to clean up their offspring. The lambs are amazing – often up and on their feet in a matter of minutes, and with voices to match. The barn was full of bleating, though mostly the sheep getting excited about the thought of food. Once the lambs are born, Andy puts them and their mother into a private pen for a bit so they can spend time together, and so the ewes seemed quite relaxed. I’ll definitely be back for a visit soon!

We had another chamber music rehearsal this evening, and things are starting to sound quite good. As I said the other day, our ensemble intonation has improved a lot , but we still need to work on settling into a tempo straight away and then maintaining it through the entire piece. We’ve been making sure that there is a lot of dynamic contrast to make the music really exciting…hopefully Trevor approves.

I promise a proper reflection on Julie’s class in the coming days, but for now need to head for bed. I’m off to London tomorrow to hear a piccolo masterclass, and will need to be up early.

Day 153 – March 2nd – Tempo

We had a bit of an unusual Monday class today, and spent the morning working on Doppler’s Airs Valaques rather than studies. One of the pieces on the list for Juliet Edwards’s class on Friday, Trevor was keen to work through it in more detail. Now we all have to learn sections of it by next Monday! The notes aren’t terribly difficult, but there are a lot of them. One more thing on the to-do list.

When we did get onto studies, we rather powered through them. I finished off the Moyse 25 Melodic Studies with only a few comments – mostly that my articulation still needs a lot of work. I got through three Drouet without too much trouble, but Altès No. 24 wasn’t fast enough and I need to do a bit more work on it. The main feedback on my playing today was that I don’t always start out at the right tempo, tending to end up on the slow side even when things are marked allegro. I think some of it is that I’m erring on the safe side and trying to make sure that I get all the notes right! Trevor wants both correct notes and correct (fast) tempos, which I’ll keep in mind when preparing all the studies for next week.

This evening we got together to rehearse pieces for the Bodsham Primary concert. While it was only a first read-through, it was great to notice how much our intonation has improved as an ensemble since December.

Day 151 – February 28th – Five out of Six!

The last day of February makes it five months down and only one to go. I meant to write a slightly longer reflection on how the past five months have gone, but then got caught up with my ArtStart reflection, so might save that for another day. The next month is going to go quickly; we have a little concert at Bodsham primary school on March 18th, our second flute history project is due on the 25th, Julie Wright is coming to give us a class on teaching this Wednesday and there are two more masterclasses to attend up in London. Next weekend, a friend is down from London, and we’re going to do some proper hiking either on the Downs or along the coast at Dover.

Trevor dropped off our parts for the Bodsham concert this afternoon, and there are a few notes to be learned there. I’d already spent two hours on studies by the time the parts came, so didn’t manage more than a quick read-through this evening, but will dive into them tomorrow morning.

Following yesterday’s class I was feeling a little flat again this morning. A long run (before the heavy rain started) helped, but I have found over the past week that I’m increasingly feeling the need for some flute-free time. Friends are wonderful, and several have reminded me that my time here is both a unique experience and a unique learning opportunity. Yes, it’s full-on, and certainly not easy, but I need to make sure I get the most out of the month I have left.

Day 73 – December 12th – Whist

Another late night and with it no desire to write a long post! We’re just back from the monthly whist drive, which was good fun. I didn’t do as well as last time (back in October), but did manage to come away with a packet of Sainsbury’s Turkish Delight Thins for getting the highest score in the first half of the evening. More importantly, though, I had a lovely time chatting with some of the other villagers, and supper there was a lovely treat!

The rest of the day wasn’t terribly productive – I did a few hours practice in the morning, though it felt like I was just showing myself how much work I have to do rather than really achieving much. One of my Altès studies for this week is all slurred octaves, and I need to remember not to cut the second note of the slur but to make it softer. Easy in theory, but whole strings of them at speed is rather doing my head in! In the afternoon we had a rehearsal for Tuesday’s concert, though I think it’s got to the point where everyone is mentally a sick of the repertoire. Hopefully our excitement will reignite in time for the concert itself.

Tomorrow we’re off bright and early to London – there’s a coach going from the village and it means we get a day there for £10 return. I’m looking forward to it; catching up with friends, Christmas shopping, hopefully some time for the National Gallery. I think it’ll be good for everyone to let off some steam.

Then hopefully I’ll find a bit of time to write about the Rachel Brown masterclass!

Day 42 – November 11th – Tea

More composer-naming on the way to Tesco today, and Trevor decided to return to ‘B’. We were directed to the Flute Ark  website yesterday for a rather exhaustive list of composers and flute repertoire, with the clear instruction to have learned some by this morning. While the group is slowly getting better at volunteering information, I think Trevor still got a bit frustrated at the lack of enthusiasm for his game! On the plus side, I now know a lot more repertoire by composers beginning with B.

Otherwise, my practice today was rather scant. A family friend, Beryl, is holidaying near Lyminge, and I walked over in the afternoon for a cup of tea and a catch-up. While four miles is actually quite a long way, I enjoyed the walk over – is was a sunny day and remarkably mild for this time of year. I walked past fields and farmhouses, through a big wood, and up a couple of big hills. Beryl is just the same as I remember her eight years ago, and along with her lovely friends we had a good chat. I was, however, somewhat relieved to be offered a lift back.

In the evening, we rehearsed some of the jazz pieces for our Christmas concert. They’re cute and fun, but I’m worried that as a group we’re not using our rehearsal time very well. Though I know there are still some passages that I haven’t got under my fingers yet, on a group level there are tempo incongruities where there really shouldn’t be at our level. I’m not sure what to do to change this either, especially when several individuals’ foot-tapping is clearly not lining up! Hopefully Trevor will give some guidance on Thursday.