March ArtStart Reflection

A slightly belated ArtStart post for March, what with everything finishing up at the Flute Studio course and now being on holiday for a few weeks. The last month of ArtStart-related activities has been something of a step backwards and a reconsidering of options, but I now feel more or less on track again. Here is what I’ve been up to:

The AirTurn PED for my iPad arrived, which is exciting. I waited a little longer to get the PED rather than the older BT-105, as the PED was both cheaper and lighter, and am really happy with it. I’ve been using it in the practice room with scores that are on my iPad, but haven’t had the chance to test it beyond that as Trevor wasn’t terribly into technology. I have the ForScore app on my iPad, and need to play around a bit with sorting out page turns still. At the moment, I loose my spot when the page scrolls down…

In the first week of March, I heard  back from Bang on a Can, and wasn’t accepted to the program this year. It was a bit of a disappointment, but I have no idea who else applied so shouldn’t be too hard on myself. The question then became how to redirect my ArtStart funds in a way that gives me a similar musical/education experience but coincides with other plans. Various friends and mentors suggested summer programs in both the U.S. and Europe, and I’ve spent quite a few hours looking through them all (and my diary) trying to work out the best options.

In the end, I’ve decided to return to SoundSCAPE for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I want to go to a festival where I can play chamber music with a broader range of instruments than just flutes. Much as I love the flute, I’m yearning for greater diversity in the music I play, and think that I would find a flute summer course a bit frustrating. I’ve had my six months at the Flute Studio – bring on something a bit different! And then, while there are some other courses on in June in the U.S., I’m still committed in England. Going back to SoundSCAPE will give me another opportunity to work closely with Lisa Cella, and I know the ropes so will be able to prepare some challenging pieces. I’m also going to be giving a talk on contemporary Australian music as part of the festival!

So where does that leave my U.S. trip? I’m still planning on going, at least for the NFA convention, but am also awaiting the results of some job applications in Australia. I hope to be able to fit in some lessons in NYC as well, but also need to look into the possibility of them happening during (or maybe directly following?) the NFA convention.

The end of March means I’m already a quarter of the way through my ArtStart year. While some things have been ticked of my list, and others are well on the way, I’m also learning that making a career in the arts is never a straight road. Things change, and where one door closes another hopefully opens. At the moment, it feels like I’ve thrown lots of juggling balls up in the air, and need to wait for some of them to land to decide exactly what happens next. Which order they fall in will be the difference in choosing one path or another, which at once feels like an exciting and terrifying way of deciding things! I now know I’m coming back to Australia in mid-July, but still need to plan out much of the path once I’m there.

Day 92 – December 31st – Farewell 2014

I was rather hoping that we have at least some sort of New Year celebration at the flute studio, but Trevor has decided to go for routine instead! So New Year is “cancelled” until Friday, and we instead have class tomorrow with Roussel’s Joueurs de la flûte and the flute solo from Beethovens Overture ‘Leonore No.3’ on the menu. I’ve played the Roussel before, and we’re each only required to prepare two movements, so I’m feeling a bit more relaxed about tomorrow than in some previous weeks. Though I haven’t worked on the Beethoven in years, it’s not too bad as excerpts go, and hopefully I’ve targeted the things that Trevor’s most likely to pick holes in!

That left me freer to practice a lot of technique and studies today, and I feel like I’m making some progress with the notes in my two Altes studies for next week. The main criticism of the two I played on Monday was that they were too slow, and I’m keen for that not to become a theme. I am noticing some big improvements with speed though: my Taffanel and Gaubert-style scales this morning were much quicker and more even than a few weeks ago. When I think about the phrase shape rather than the notes, I tend to make fewer mistakes.

Mental practice today was focused on the dreaded Bohem study no. 1 (from Trevor’s Complete Daily Excercises), which I am trying to memorise. The problem now is that I know the pattern quite clearly, but tend to forget to make the descending half of the second bar diminished, and then fall over myself when it becomes a dominant 7th in the third bar. Once again, it’s about getting it into the fingers and not thinking too much about it. I’ve been trying to really focus on the physical sensation of playing the arpeggios, and am even imagining myself doing it in my usual place in the studio room as an extra barrier against nerves. I’m hoping that slow and steady will get there eventually – I can play it slowly from memory on my own, but it needs to be faster and more secure.

Since it’s the final hours of 2014, I feel like I should take a step back and reflect on the year. I’ve crammed quite a lot in:

Way back at Easter, I competed at the Aussie marathon kayaking championships, winning a bronze medal in the ladies open K1 and coming fourth in the ladies open K2 with my lovely sister…

…submitted the final copy of my thesis to the Melbourne University library…

…finished off my Masters degree with an epic recital in late June. A new commission from my lovely friend Andrew Aronowicz, Jolivet’s crazy flute and four percussion concerto and much more besides. For the music, but most importantly for the people I was honoured to be able to perform with, it’s a concert I won’t forget in a while! …

…packed up my lovely flat and life at St Mary’s College, and headed off to Europe with a very big backpack…

…spent an amazing two weeks at the SoundSCAPE Festival in Maccagno, Italy playing wonderful music with fantastic new friends…

…traveled round Europe for ten weeks, visiting seven countries, attending the wedding of my wonderful friend Lucia, catching up with friends from my year in Helsinki, visiting my grandparents, hiking barefoot up mountains, cycling in the Loire Valley, trying to speak Italian and German, eating wonderful food and sleeping in nineteen different beds in two and a half months! …

…and arrived here in Kent to Trevor and his flute course.

So 2014 has been a busy one. At the beginning of the year I had no idea where I’d be at the end of it, and I still can’t believe just how much I’ve managed to fit in. As 2015 dawns, I’m still not totally sure where I’ll be in three and a half months time, let alone the end of the year. But I have many musical dreams, some of which are becoming clear goals, and wonderful friends and family who believe in me even when I err. Bring it on.