Day 106 – January 14th – The Theory of Everything

Had a lovely time this evening going to see The Theory of Everything with Sue from Hastingleigh – what a wonderful and though-provoking film! As a bonus, the sun was out in the afternoon, I was able to walk over the Sue and Paul’s, and Paul had made spicy lentil and coconut soup for supper before we headed off. As always, it was lovely to spend time with the Boxalls, especially since things have been so quiet here the last few days.

Tomorrow we’re back into the swing of things with lessons, and I hope that my efforts to prepare a little more over the extra days will be balanced by my having prepared well. I’ve been listening back to some older recordings lately – particularly of my first MMus recital in December 2013 – and can now hear a whole lot of things in my playing that I couldn’t hear before. Things like clipped endings of phrases and slightly incorrect rhythms. Hopefully this means that I’ve corrected the problems in my playing now, or at least am on the way to doing it!

Trevor threw us something of a curved ball today, emailing to let us know that we have a class with Juliet Edwards next Friday. All of a sudden another thing to prepare for, and at rather short notice! I feel like this is part of the plan, and then email also came with repertoire suggestions for each of us. Mine were either the Andante Pastoral et Scherzetto by Taffanel or a movement of the Widor Suite. I really like both pieces, and am rather tempted by the challenge of preparing the Taffanel despite there being relatively more notes. We’ll see what Trevor says about it all tomorrow.

As for my reply email to Trevor, I was feeling a little creative, and since he’s had laryngitis I thought a poetic get well soon message was in order:

Mr Wye had an affliction of the throat,
Which made him sound quite a bit like a goat,
He coughed and he spluttered,
Yet “lovely day” he still uttered,
In the jovial emails he wrote!

Day 105 – January 13th – Even more time!

Though Trevor was kind enough to take us to Tesco this afternoon, he still sounded very croaky and class has been postponed until at least Thursday. Shopping was a good reason to get out of the house, and I’m also glad that we’ve now replenished the stock of fruit and veggies – we’d got to the point of the fridge being rather bare!

On one hand, a break from the relentlessness of classes has been good, and allowed me to spend a little more time on technique without worrying about all the studies to prepare. On the other hand, it means that I’ve ended up working myself really hard now for five days straight, and am rather in need of a bit of down time that doesn’t involve flute playing! On the days that we have class, there’s a bit of a mutual agreement that we don’t practice, and often there’s a bit of a group dinner. I’m not sure what’s happened in the last few days – maybe everyone’s got a bit of the January blues – but nobody was keen to play chamber music yesterday evening and everyone has kept to themselves all of the time. It felt like our little outing today was the first conversation I’d had in a while, and even that was rather subdued!

Looking on the bright side, I have the perfect remedy lined up for tomorrow evening when I’m off to see The Theory of Everything with wonderful Sue from Hastingleigh. I’ll certainly be packing tissues, and am looking forward to it immensely. Beyond that, I need to remember that reading, knitting and even watching TV are perfectly acceptable ways to spend the evening when my lips and/or brain gives out!

I returned to the Eb scales and thirds today, and am pleased to say that they’re maybe 5% better than yesterday. A small improvement, but hopefully if I keep chipping away at it they’ll be flying along in a week or so. The Taffanel and Gaubert-style regular scales certainly are, though majors are still a bit faster than the minors. Another exercise that I’ve been practising a bit lately is the Perpetuum Mobile studies at the back of Trevor’s Complete Daily Exercises book. He’s taken a devilish little orchestral solo from Strauss’s work by the same name and written four studies which transpose the pattern of the excerpt through all the keys. Apparently one year he had two students who memorised the whole thing in a week and played it flawlessly at a really fast speed! I’m not up to that yet, but have been slowly edging the metronome up and the fluency is slowly increasing.

Though our piccolo masterclass with Patricia Morris was cancelled on Sunday, Trevor’s hopeful that it’ll happen in the next week or so. He asked us to prepare a few studies and some excerpts but left it open as to how much we work on – I’m assuming because there will be vary levels of competency with the piccolo in the class group. For studies, I’ve chosen no. 8 from Moyse’s 24 Melodic Studies as it has quite a broad range and requires seamless movement between the registers. I’ve been working on a few studies from Patricia Morris’s Piccolo Study Book, and will certainly be ready to play no. 3 (Furstenau) but am not so sure whether no. 7 will be ready by the time she comes.

In terms of excerpts, I’ve set myself a bit of a challenge. Though my excerpts in regular class are far from perfect, they’re usually quite good, and I seem to have a pretty decent knowledge of the orchestral repertoire. So rather than preparing one or two excerpts, I though I’d have a crack at the audition list for the Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s Principal Piccolo job which was up for audition in December. There were eleven excerpts on piccolo, to which I’ve added the Ravel Ma mère l’oye piccolo excerpts (there were also flute ones listed). Looking down the list, I was pleasantly surprised that I knew most of then, and had played all but two before in various contexts. A couple of them – the dreaded Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4 for example – will need a lot of work to get them up to speed, while others seemed to fall back under the fingers very naturally. Perhaps an ambitious goal considering everything else that I need to work on, but it feels like a good one and for the moment I’m quite enjoying it.

Right now, though, it’s time for a cup of chamomile tea, a book and bed!