Day 114 – January 22nd – Studies, studies and more studies

There were only five of us for class today, as it seems like colds are doing the rounds. So far I’ve been ok, and I’m hoping that it’ll stay that way!

As I said in my post yesterday, I was feeling a little trepidation about today’s studies, particularly the two Altès that I’ve spent a lot of time on. By contrast, I’d spent very little time on the Moyse studies, and (unfortunately) not as much as I should have Andersen No. 12! The results were interesting:

Moyse #5 and #9: Good following of notes with my lips, though both could have been faster. After no. 9 we talked a little about my needing to open up the tone in my top register. When I played the study again I did it with a lovely full tone, but need to be doing that all the time rather than just when prompted.

Moyse #8: “Lovely” – just get rid of a few wrong notes. I’d practiced this one a lot at the start of the week, but not in the last few days, and so just decided to go for it.

Then Trevor was a bit mean and made me sightread the next three studies so that he could show everyone what needed working on with them! It seems that he wants me to prepare all these in time for Monday which isn’t going to be much fun.

Andersen #12: Started out well but then I fell apart at the end of the B section where there were some particularly nasty leaps. Trevor didn’t seem terribly perturbed though, which was a bit strange. He just said ‘thank you’ and asked what was next – it seems he could tell I just hadn’t spent enough time on it. Looks like that’s back on for Monday, along with no. 13 which is a whole lot of chromatic scales.

Altès #18: “Some good things about this study, but you’re not bringing out the tune” sums this one up, and I agreed. I had spent so long on the notes and making sure that the articulation patterns were right that I hadn’t thought enough about musical direction. I need to play it again on Monday, which is a bit of a pain, but I do think I’ve learned a lot from this study.

Altès: #19: Fine, though I think Trevor would have liked it a little faster. I can play segments of it up to speed, but my tongue still feels like it’s going to fall off when I try to do a page of triple tonguing at crotchet =100!

Bach Variations #12 and #13: Ok but not tight enough…. I need to being doing little bits of this every day for a few minutes to get it tight enough.

Bach Variations #14 and #15: Trevor seemed quite pleased with these, but then tried to push and see how expressively I could play. The challenge with all these studies is achieving the articulation challenges as well as making them sound musical, and I was almost there with both. A case of attention to detail and then forgetting it and letting the music come through.

With regular class as well as the two masterclasses, we still have five to prepare for in the two weeks. Trevor’s solution to this is to set us even more work, and has asked us to write a cadenza for the first movement of Mozart’s G major flute concerto as well for next Thursday. Looks like I’m spending the evening working!

Day 69 – December 8th – Phrasing and rhythm

I had been steeling myself for another day of not being able to do anything right in class today, but things ended up going surprisingly well. My goal was to always play with the biggest dynamic range I could possibly muster, but otherwise to not think too much about rules and just enjoy the music. The results were:

Moyse #16: C#s are too sharp, then a couple of picky comments about phrasing when I did sections of it again. The variation wasn’t quite so good, added the high C#s was a need to bring out the first not more clearly.

Moyse #17: Started too fast, and so had the pleasure of repeating strings of chromatics for the class for five minutes. Then played it fine, and Trevor conceded that I’d just started too fast.

Moyse #18: Yes, I ended up playing three… I need to work on staccato low notes, which wasn’t news to me at all. Double tonguing needs to be louder.

Andersen #8: Good, I just need to play staccatos shorter. This was my big win for the day – I had really put a lot of time and thought into the phrasing, dynamics and make sure I didn’t clip phrases. Yay for improvement!

Altes #9: Some parts nicely phrased and expressive, others a bit flat. Yes…those bits were where there were lots of notes!

Moyse 50 Variations on Bach A minor #2: “Perfect” when I played it a little under tempo (yay!) but then when I upped the speed a little I wasn’t playing my semiquavers totally evenly.

Jazz Study #1: I don’t remember the composer of these, and my photocopy doesn’t have the name. I ended up making a bit of a pig’s ear of this, as I didn’t realise there was a backing track, and so hadn’t quite practised it fast enough. Trevor didn’t comment on my rhythm here, but I need to hold notes longer before glissandos, and make sure to observe staccatos.

Later this evening Trevor sent me an email about other things, but finished off with this comment:

“I thought the phrasing of your studies was better, and it improves each week.
Just fix the rhythms and it will sound much nicer.”

Righteo!