Day 158 – March 7th – Fatigue

It’s only 8pm, but once again I’m feeling exhausted and this won’t be a terribly long post. I’ve been spending a lot of time over the last few days weighing up some things about the next step I take on my musical journey, and the process isn’t easy. I feel like it’s taking up a lot of mental energy, energy which I should probably still be spending on the flute. But decisions need to happen some time, and better sooner with less stress than rushed right at the last minute. 

I did get in some good practice today, especially on technical work. As I was tired, I noticed I was playing semiquavers unevenly in some of the scales and technical exercises. I haven’t done this for a while, and think it’s probably to do with being tired. However, I think the difference now is that I notice it quickly, and once I’ve noticed I can revert back to nice even playing quite easily. 

No class until Tuesday this week, which means I have another (very welcome) day to work on studies. 

Day 147 – February 24th – Flute-free time

I decided pretty early on today that I was going to have a break from actually playing the flute. Part of me was pushed on by yesterday’s positive feedback, but another (slightly bigger) part realised that I needed a little respite.

Despite that, or maybe because of it, I ended up getting an awful lot done. I went for a morning before our Tesco trip this morning, and really enjoyed being out early again despite the cold. For the rest of the day, I wrote a focused to-do list (I have a longer one on my iPad, but it can be a bit overwhelming) and worked by way through it with plenty of cups of tea. Along with flute-related jobs, it included things like vacuuming and applying for some jobs, which I’ve been putting off for a few days now. Most of them are done, though I’ve still got some emails to reply to.

I did spend time on the Copland¬†Duo¬†in preparation for Friday’s class, just not with the flute. I listened to some recordings, but then spent about an hour and a half with the piano score conducting and singing through sections. As I’ve said before, the notes aren’t particularly hard, but the challenge in fitting it together with piano is the changes of tempo and meter. I need to know the piano score inside-out, and that was today’s goal. There are still some corners that I need to return to, but overall I’m much more confident with it now. With all the scramble to prepare studies, excerpts and pieces for class each week, it is this sort of clear, focused practice that I think I’m not doing enough of at the moment.

Day 67 – December 6th – Productive procrastination?

Today I alternated being really productive and really unproductive, both with flute practice itself and with writing my assignment. My practice sessions were generally good, though I’m not doing a great job of memorising the pattern for Taffanel and Gaubert-style minor scales. Reichert No. 2 is sounding quite good now though, I just need to trust myself and not start questioning what the next note is!

This afternoon I went for a run, which was definitely procrastinating about writing. The day was stunning though still cold. At 2pm, the sun hung low and glaring in the sky, casting long shadows but rendering other objects lush and green. Some fields had not seen the sun at all, and still sat under a layer of thick glistening frost. By the roadside, some of the puddles had a thin coating of ice, and the little English child in me took great pleasure in the crack of my foot on the surface. The winter air at once caught in my throat and tasted delicious.

As for studies later in the afternoon, I’m becoming better at learning things at speed. The prospect of playing almost eight pages of music on Monday is no longer scary, and I’m not able to zone in on the bits that need work without feeling the need to repeat the easy parts just to feel more comfortable.

Tonight is supposed to be the coldest so far – I’m hoping for a lovely thick frost tomorrow morning!

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!

Day 52 – November 21st – Back into it

After the mini-holiday yesterday, today was back into practice. If anything, I felt a bit sluggish after the rest day, and was surprised by how quickly my embouchure seemed to tire. I still need to develop a better approach to Reichert No. 2 and 4 so that I’m not always frustrated with trying to memorise them. However, the sequences were a lot better today. It seems that I play them best when thinking about the tonic of each arpeggio but then leaving my fingers to deal with the rest of it.

The sight-reading material I was prescribed on Monday isn’t easy! It may be “nineteenth-century crap” (Trevor’s words, I agree), but it’s full of turns, sequences and little catches for the unwary eye. I need to work at not stopping when I make a mistake, the ability to plough on is key!

The two Moyse melodic studies I’m preparing this week are both melodic and very lyrical. My focus with them today (of course) was playing really beautifully and expressively, but I’m making sure to pay attention to wide dynamics, intonation and the ends of phrases in aid of this. It would really make my Monday if I could play them in a way that’s expressively satisfactory!