Day 179 &180 – March 28th & 29th – Final Feedback

I didn’t manage a blog post yesterday because I ended up staying in Wye for the night with Mum and her friends. As there isn’t much fluting to report any more, I feel ok with combining two posts!

Yesterday morning was feedback class. To be honest, I was expecting some sort of pronouncement on whether Trevor thought we should continue with the flute or give up entirely, as there stories of that happening in the past. It was actually quite civilised and, by the flute studio standards, gentle. Not much was really said that we hadn’t heard before, and it was mostly us who gave each other feedback rather than Trevor.

My main points were:

– Fix vibrato, as it’s to fast and erratic. I’ve known this from the beginning of the course, and know that I need to go back to basics, starting with straight tones for a few weeks and then gradually adding vibrato back in. A few of us got this advice, and were told it would be some of the worst few weeks of our playing, but that the it would work to fix it. The coming months, when I don’t have performances but will have time to practise, is a perfect opportunity to do this, and it will be first on my priority list once I’m back into it again.

– Fix intonation, which is not consistent. This is an interesting one: I have always felt and been told that intonation is a weakness, but when I arrived at the studio in October no mention of it was made at all for the first month. When I brought it up one class, Trevor went as far as expressing surprise that I said it was a problem. Then it has gradually crept back into the feedback I get, and if late (as the nerves have escalated), it has been on the cards more and more. So, I think part of it is to do with nerves, and I need to find a way of controlling my intonation even when nervous. I also need to go back to some basics here, spend more time playing with drones and working on simple tunes and exercises, with piano wherever possible. I still see this as my biggest musical challenge, and the time here has helped to clarify that.

– Relax about things, which I definitely agree with! I play best when I’m a bit up but not terrified, and when I am nervous I do really stupid things like warming up in the wrong key and playing strange wrong notes. Hopefully moving on from this environment will help with the nerves, but I need to work on focused, mindful playing in a broader sense as well.

Otherwise, the feedback I received from the others was mostly positive. I was told I had improved a lot with expression and dynamic range, and need to continue along that path rather than going back to how I played before. I have stopped waving my flute around, and also stopped playing unevenly, which is also good. Interestingly, no other mention was made of rhythm, or at all of articulation. I know that these are two areas that aren’t totally solid, and still need work. Articulation in particular. I’m looking forward to returning to Moyse’s 50 Variations and really playing each variation well.

As for today, I’ve been packing and need to do some more cleaning. I’m still not convinced everything will fit in my rucksack, but am getting somewhere!

Day 178 – March 27th – Cleaning 

Today ended up being a cleaning day because I was a bit scared of tackling packing! This morning we all put in a few good hours and got the kitchen (including fridge, microwave, oven and cupboard) looking sparkling. I have got my rucksack out, and started sorting through things, but am still wondering how it’s all actually going to fit in. 

In the afternoon I went off on a long walk round Spong Wood and across the fields. It was perfect spring weather, and I couldn’t have stayed in the woods for hours longer. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to go back again before I leave. 

This evening, Mum and I went to the Five Bells pub with the Boxalls, who have been so lovely while I’ve been here. We had a nice meal and great conversation. It’s the most English I’ve felt in quite a while! 

I’m still not sure whether class tomorrow is playing or just talking. We will see…

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 172 – March 21st – Syrinx

Today was a bit of work and a bit of relaxation time. This morning, Trevor rang to see whether anybody wanted to go to the market in Wye, and I was happy to get out of the house. Not the biggest market, but there was some nice organic produce, and so I’ve got some bags of fresh apples and carrots to cook with.

The final week of the course is mostly repertoire, with studies only if and when we want to play them. On Monday, we’re playing Debussy’s Syrinx and Telemann sonatas in F major and F minor. Then on Thursday it’s Murtel’s Sonata in D and Suite – Spring by Vasilenko. I spent quite a bit of time today working on  Syrinx, as it’s one of those pieces I know, should be able to play quite well, and am hoping not to get torn to shreds over! Most people play this with far too much rubato, and all the rhythms are distorted. I don’t have any past recordings of myself playing it, but my first read through suggested that I’ve definitely been quite liberal with the rhythm myself in the past. So it was back to the metronome, making sure that everything is exactly in time and as written on the page before I start trying to do anything fancy.

This evening, I spent some time making thank you cards for all the people here who have lent a helping hand over the past six months. I’m beginning to sort through things in my wardrobe and work out how everything is going to fit back into my backpack. Almost the end…