Day 150 – February 27th – Copland

Just a short one tonight as it’s all of a sudden late and I’m tired. We had our masterclass with Juliet Edwards today, and overall I was quite happy with my playing. Not perfect, but definitely a reminder that proper preparation and practice is much better than faffing about! I recorded the class, and need to make sure I find time to listen to it in the next couple of days.

Next week has suddenly become quite busy, and so there isn’t much time off in the coming days. Better get some sleep!

Day 108 – January 16th – Bits and pieces

To be honest, today doesn’t feel like it’s been a terribly special one. Despite the chill in the air when I woke up I decided that a clear sky was a good excuse for a run, and really enjoyed myself. Rain, coupled with no walks for the last week, has really made me crave the outdoors and some exercise. Of course, it started raining again within an hour of my getting back!

This afternoon, Trevor sent round an email reminding us of all the things coming up, and all of a sudden there is a lot of extra music to work on! Our class with Juliet Edwards had now been changed to January 30th, but piccolo class with Patricia Morris is back on for next Saturday. I’m also heading up to London with Roya and Shannon this Sunday for a concert (and for me a lovely catch-up with some Aussie friends!), and we’re spending the whole day up there on Tuesday for William Bennett’s masterclass. Then there’s another class with Juliet in mid-Feb, and all of Trevor’s regular classes to prepare for as well.

For the moment, I’m still feeling buoyed up by the positive feedback in class yesterday, and the most frustrating thing in my practice today was arriving at the five hour mark and realising that my lips had definitely called it quits for the day. I’m motivated to work more than I can physically play, and so need to keep remembering the benefits of mental practice, score study and listening.

I should also perhaps start doing some serious work on the second part of my project some time!

Day 51 – November 20th – Day Off

Sheep and a sunset from my run this afternoon.

Sheep and a sunset from my run this afternoon.

After a busy day yesterday, there seemed to be a general consensus that today was a day off, or a day off practising at least. Even at the best of times, I’m not good at doing total relaxation, and so still managed to fit in a long run, baking flapjack and doing some of my written project. This evening, we all snuggled up in the ‘old dairy’ for a session of knitting and sewing accompanied by some well-earned bottles of cider. It was great to have a day (the first in a while) that didn’t involve playing, and I have to credit the others for suggesting it. I would probably just have plowed on regardless! Hopefully the rest will make for some renewed vigor in practice tomorrow.

As for yesterday’s class with Juliet Edwards, I feel like I learned a lot from the experience and from working with her in such an environment. We had been preparing our pieces for a few weeks, but had mostly chosen works that we hadn’t studied or performed before. Mine was the first movement of Poulenc’s Sonata, and others prepared movements of the Burton Sonatina, Schumann’s Three Romances and Enescu’s Cantabile et Presto. Trevor warned us that Juliet would expect us to know the piano part very well, and I had spent quite a bit of time on it as a result. Some of the class struggled getting their work together with piano, and a lot of Juliet’s feedback was on rhythm and understanding why rhythmic integrity (and occasionally flexibility) was important.


Somewhat hazy, but I’m still in love with these Kentish sunsets!

My main point was also on rhythm, as I’d decided to play the opening demi-semiquavers of the movement with quite a bit of rubato. Fine, said Juliet, if that was a conscious choice, but I need to do it in a way that allows me to arrive at the next bar in a clear tempo. We worked for a while on setting up the tempo, and arrived at an interpretation that involved slightly less rubato as a result! We also talked about the semiquaver rests in Poulenc’s score, which are almost like a comma in his phrases. Juliet asked me to take more time with them, allowing for some breathing space rather than always plowing on. I have to admit that, after so much pressure and criticism (mostly constructive) from Trevor in recent weeks, it was good to be told by Juliet that she thought me a good performer, and that I was communicating my musical ideas well. I really enjoyed playing with her, and it was good to get another opinion on how things are going!

Day 50 – November 19th – Poulenc and the London Phil

I’m writing this short post more because, at day 50, I don’t want to break my continuous streak! We’ve just arrived home after a long day, and I’m quite ready for bed. During the daytime, pianist Juliet Edwards came down to Hastingleigh to give us a flute and piano masterclass, which was great fun and very rewarding. Then we headed up to London for a performance by the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall.

More on both tomorrow!

Day 49 – November 18th – Frustration

My frustrations from yesterday’s warm-up session carried over into my practice today. While I realised this from the first few minutes, I didn’t do much about it in the morning practice sessions, and so was probably wasting my time playing things over and over again when I should have thought of a more intelligent solution.

Later in the day I managed to get back on track, and really tried to cement some of the sequences that I’ve been struggling with. I decided that the only way to get them right under pressure is to play them with the metronome at increasing speeds, and so spent a good half a hour on that. Though they were better in yesterday’s class, there is still quite a way to go.

As for Reichert Nos 2 and 4, these were the exercises I was getting particularly frustrated over. Though I have been playing them almost daily, I still can neither play the yucky keys (Ab maj, F min, Db maj, Bb min, F# maj, D#min) from memory nor at the speeds required in class. After my unproductive hour this morning, I’ve decided that I have to work on memory and speed separately, for the moment prioritising speed, or else I’m going to get nowhere.

Tomorrow we have a special class on accompanied pieces with Juliet Edwards, for which I’m playing the first two movements of the Poulenc Sonata. I’ve still got a bit of work to do with the piano score tonight, but am feeling pretty confident with the flute part. Hopefully I’ve thought about it expressively enough.

I’m currently doing one of my listening projects for the week, and have selected the CD The Ocarina is No Trombone. Very tongue-in-cheek, it’s a collection of ‘virtuoso ocarina’ arrangements of popular tunes, and is good fun to listen to! La Dona e Mobile for ocarina and accordion, a veritable orchestra of them playing Offenbach’s Can-Can, it’s a good antidote for the frustrations of earlier.