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.

Day 35 – November 4th – Rain, sun, thunder!

View of last night's sunset from my bedroom window. Please excuse our washing line!

View of last night’s sunset from my bedroom window. Please excuse our washing line!

It was raining at 6:30 this morning, and I almost didn’t go for my run, preferring to turn my alarm off and go back to bed! Then half an hour later the sun came out and I managed a quick 2.5 miles before the weekly Tesco trip. I’m still fascinated by the sky here after rain and storms, particularly at sunrise and sunset. The clouds, rendered turbulent and brooding, seem to twist the light and fling it across the sky in dazzling colours and brushstrokes.

Moyse and scales are getting gradually faster. The Moyse exercises were at crotchet = 118 today, but felt relatively comfortable, so will be pushed up to 120 tomorrow. As for scales, I’m now at:

Majors = 104

Melodic minors = 88

Major and minor arpeggios = 104

Dominant and diminished 7ths = 92

Augmented and diminished arpeggios = 88 (still feeling a bit shaky though)

Whole tone scales and chromatic = 104

I can certainly feel my fingers after my three hours of exercises and scales in the mornings. Hopefully that means everything is getting stronger and quicker, but I am making sure not to cause any pain with what I’m doing.

The repertoire for this week is Sonate en Concert for flute, cello and piano by Jean-Michel Damase. To be honest, I think it’s a little bit twee, and it’s certainly not the sort of repertoire I’d choose to play myself. Not that it’s easy, some of the trills and grace notes in the allegro sections are a killer. However, I have also borrowed out the Berio Sequenza, ideally to have a read through, but I’m not sure I’ll find the time.

Modelling my lovely new scarf.

Modelling my lovely new scarf.

Despite the onset of a rather ferocious thunderstorm this evening, two things made me feel warm and snuggly in a wintry sort of way. First off, my St Mary’s College scarf arrived in the post. It’s lovely and woolly, and a nice reminder of all the friendships I made at the college (and how much I miss them). Then for dinner I made a hearty sound using up some of the superfluity of potatoes, cabbage and carrots that we have. Bring on winter!