Day 175 – March 24th – History

Today was both the last Tesco trip and the date for submitting the second part of our flute history projects. Trevor made sure that we got in a full session of composers in the car, and we made it through to S. While it has definitely been a good exercise – my knowledge of flute repertoire has increased dramatically – I won’t miss the awkward silences as everyone thinks of what to say!

I spent a few hours in the afternoon proofreading my project. This time round it had much more accessible language for fifteen year olds, no tables and no sentences longer than a line. However, I’m not expecting any glowing feedback, or even any good feedback for that matter. At this point in the course, I think Trevor would actually give each of us the same feedback no matter what we submitted to him, which is a pity.

That same feeling continued through my practice time, which is a pity as I really like both the pieces that we’re preparing for Thursday. I didn’t know either the Vasikenko Suite – Spring or Muthel’s Sonata in D major before coming, and both are really lovely. I spent quite a bit of time on the Muthel, which is very decorative Baroque sonata. I feel like I’ve got the skills and knowledge to really get into this music now, but yet am lacking any confidence in my ability to play it in class on Thursday.

My mum’s arriving tomorrow, and I’m heading up to London to meet her at the airport. I’m looking forward to it!

Day 174 – March 23rd – Daffodils

These were always my favourite daffodils as a child!

These were always my favourite daffodils as a child!

I’ve been meaning to go and take some more photos of the beautiful Kentish Downs for a a few days now – spring is well and truly here and it is gorgeous. Today was stunning, and I took advantage of an early end to class to go on a long walk up across the fields to Bodsham. My strongest memories of England as a child were of spring, particularly the hoards of daffodils that covered the village. Today’s walk didn’t disappoint!

Class itself went quite well. I’ve always enjoyed the way that Trevor teaches Baroque music, and once again felt like I learned an awful lot from the lesson on the Telemann sonatas. We talked a lot about trills (which must always be measured), but also about ornamentation in a broader sense and relative tempos between movements.

DSCN6264Then came Syrinx, which we were all a little nervous about. We had heard some stories from past students about Trevor being rather picky with this piece, and not liking the way that anyone played it! So we had all been slaving away with a metronome to make sure that everything was correct. It didn’t turn out too badly, though the session did start with us each getting up one after the other and playing it through. My feedback was that I was “slurring all the way through” (so not articulating clearly), that I wasn’t doing all the subito pianos, and that my rhythm was wrong in the second theme. Fair enough, especially with the second theme. I was being rather too enthusiastic with my rubato, and the second and third beats of the bar were almost the same as the first. Whoops!

Trevor went on to tell us about the history of the piece, its writing for the play Psyche, and its performances by Louis Fleury and Marcel Moyse. Originally the piece was called La Flûte de Pan, but the publisher already had a piano piece by that name and didn’t want to confuse his customers.Trevor talked about the ideas he sees in the music, and the way that it reflects the story of Pan in Psyche – it is his last reflection before he dies, and perhaps a remembrance of all the pretty girls he has pursued! Then some of us got up and worked on it a little more. Once again, I felt I learned an awful lot from this session, and it has inspired me to work on the piece again in the near future.


More lambs – they’re everywhere now. This pair were definitely twins. They moved as one, and were quite inquisitive.

Finally, we talked through Trevor’s method books for teaching beginners,and a little of our own teaching experiences. Though the topic isn’t top of my priority list, it’s all good to know.

Back to my walk, and in some ways I’m sorry to be leaving Kent just as spring arrives. While there have been many frustrations about my time here, I have also enjoyed the head space. Before coming away, I would rarely have gone on a long walk just for the sake of it, mostly because I just kept filling my time! Here, I have been on numerous long rambles across the countryside, exploring just about every road, laneway and footpath I could find (along with a couple of un-marked fields) in the area around Elmsted. It has given me time to think, and hopefully also to grow.

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 143 – February 20th – Tonguing

After last night’s festivities I had a bit of a lazy morning, but needed to get in plenty of practice in preparation for the coming week of classes. Rather than having a repertoire class on Thursday, we’ve got Juliet Edwards coming back for the last time on Friday 27th. I’m playing the first two movements of the Copland Duo for flute and piano, and am keen to perform a lot better than last time! I’ve spent quite a bit of time already studying the score, and focused today on making sure that all the tricky fingering passages weren’t going to come as a nasty shock later in the week. Though a bit boring, I decided that some good solid lots of repetition with the metronome was the best solution.

My other big focus this week is articulation, since I didn’t do a terribly good job with the Moyse studies in class on Monday. I know that articulation can’t be totally fixed in a week, but am keen to show that I can make some improvement and have strategies for making it better. Trevor’s advice was not just to focus on the things I’m finding hard, but to work all aspects of articulation, which was my mantra for today. Every ten minutes, I’d stop what I was working on and do a bit. Some of the things I worked on were:

– Articulating with the abdominal muscles alone and no tongue. Reichert No. 2 is ideal for this, and I’m still not totally happy with how F major (my starting key) sounds. The middle F and E in particular are likely to crack, and I need to increase my air speed as well as making the hole in my lips a little smaller to stop this. I do not need to move my lips or head to achieve the articulation!

– Dotted rhythms, which are my own personal difficult patch. The second variation of no. 16 from Moyse’s 25 Melodic Studies is giving me particular grief, and I spent quite a bit of my time today trying to make short sections of it sounds as clear and crisp as possible. It needs to sound almost over-dotted (definitely preferable to sounding like triplets!), but at that speed my tongue still isn’t moving fast enough.

– Double tonguing, in particular playing k-t k-t so that the weaker back stroke of the tongue gets a work out. Interestingly, I can do this really quite clearly for a bar or so, and then it totally falls apart. There seems to be no middle ground at all! Definitely in need of more work.

Perhaps thanks to the rainy weather I’m now just over halfway with my flute history project. After the last one, I’m making sure to write in short sentences and non-academic prose!

Day 83 – December 22nd – Christmas break

Today was our final class before the Christmas break, and I have an hour to finish packing before I’m off on the train to Grimsby to stay with my grandparents. As ever, the class had some ups and downs, though not quite the ones I was expecting!

I fared quite well with warm-ups – it seems that Trevor was being a bit kinder to us because one of his former students was visiting for a few hours. As I’d guessed, he did get us to play scales, and for some reason I’m much better at that than all the exercises we usually play.

Then can feedback on our projects, and Trevor was not happy with mine in the slightest. It turns out that he doesn’t like academic papers, and went on a small rant about how verbose mine was and how tables aren’t accessible to young students. Fine, but maybe if he’d told me beforehand that the project was supposed to be written for fifteen year olds I could have chosen my language more appropriately! He couldn’t find much I was missing in terms of content, though wanted me to talk more about how the instruments sound rather than their construction, and thought my pictures were lovely. So next time I just need to write it in a different style, which I probably should have guessed anyway. Oh well, I learned a lot about flutes and flute history, which is the most important thing in the end.

As for playing, we all agreed that Moyse 24 Melodic Studies were the only things we’d go through today. Mine were “rather good”, I just need to keep remembering to be expressive from the start rather than warming into it after five minutes. And my high Ds are still flat. Anyway, I have ‘finished’ the 24 Melodic Studies and will be starting on the 25 Melodic Studies (more of the same thing, but more notes and look harder) after the break. As I said a few days ago I need to keep revisiting the 24 as well – there is still a lot I can learn from them.

Right now, though, I need to go and finish packing. My flute is coming along with me, but mostly to play Christmas carols. For the next five days I’m officially on holiday, and will not be tempted to go anywhere near a scale!