June ArtStart Reflection

Another jam-packed month, and I’m now halfway through my ArtStart year. This monthly reflection coincides with finishing up in the UK, so I’ve been both concluding activities here and planning for the next lot in the second half on the year.

With some sadness, I finished my course of lessons with Carla Rees last week. It has been great to work on some low flute fundamentals with Carla, and to hear how she has created a career for herself through performing and other musical activites. We spent quite a bit of time in the last lesson working on bass flute. I’m playing bass for a piece at the SoundSCAPE Festival next week, and was keen to get some practice time in ahead of the festival itself. I haven’t played bass in about a year now, and was finding it rather frustrating – surely I could make a fuller sound in the low register! Strong embouchure, lots of air but slow air. Hopefully some more time at SoundSCAPE will solve this.

I’m flying to Italy tomorrow morning for SoundSCAPE, and have been getting excited. I’m playing four new works by composers at the festival, along with some chamber music and solo pieces, and will be giving a presentation on new music in Australia as well. The next two weeks will certainly be busy. I’m hoping to have some time for daily blogs, but in a more creative vein than those I wrote at Trevor’s. Stay tuned!

No final exam, but I did get a certificate!

No final exam, but I did get a certificate!

On Tuesday, I finished my Practical Financial Management for Small Businesses course, rounding out with a class on taxation. While this and week nine on VAT have been rather UK-specific, I think it will be easy enough to transfer the concepts to Australia (or anywhere else for that matter!). I won’t miss the class, but it was well-taught and I feel much better equipped to deal with money and budgetary matters in a chamber ensemble or small arts organisation in the future.

Then comes organisation for my trip to the U.S. in August. I’ve booked flights to Washington D.C. for the NFA Convention, which starts on August 13th. The program came out a few days ago online, and I’m amazed at how many events are running concurrently! Each days runs from 8am to midnight, with up to seven or eight concurrent events across concerts, lectures, workshops and repertoire reading sessions. I feel like I’m going to need to allocate an afternoon to sitting down with a highlighter and working out where to go. Then I’m heading to New York for a week, where I’m having some lessons. This part of the trip is not yet fully sorted, and I need to spend some more time following up with flautists and Harvestworks, where I’m hoping to take an electronics class. I’m definitely having a lesson with Robert Dick, and will be preparing some of his Flying Lessons to work on.

Fun with Max - a tutorial on basic maths!

Fun with Max – a tutorial on basic maths

Finally, I’ve also sat myself down and made a start on Max MSP. The software has a number of segments, with Max being programming and MSP being the audio component that I’m interested in. I rather optimistically thought that I could just dive into MSP, but couldn’t many any sense whatsoever of the first tutorial! So I’ve decided to start at the very beginning with Max tutorial 1, and am now up to no. 10. The language itself is quite user-friendly, and I’m finding it easy to understand the processes and the reason behind it. However, it feels like there’s a lot to do before I can start working on programming for flute with electronics. The challenge will be starting to build my own patches and remember what all the various objects do!

At the halfway point of my ArtStart grant I feel pretty on top of things. While I haven’t yet undertaken the two major projects of the year, one is imminent and the other is feeling less daunting the more planning I do. I’m on track to tick off everything on the list, though some things like Max are definitely a long-term project. It was sad to hear this month that the Australia Council for the Arts will no longer be offering the ArtStart program due to government funding cuts. It will be sorely missed on the Australian arts scene.

February ArtStart Reflection

Not a huge amount of ArtStart activity has happened this month, mostly due to the flute studio course still being my top priority. Bits and pieces are coming along though:

– Having submitted my Bang on a Can application in January, I’ve spent this month patiently waiting on a response while trying not to get nervous! I should hear next week, and have fingers crossed that I’ll get in. If I’m accepted, I can start organising my U.S. trip, which would be incredibly exciting. I’ve also been having a look at some other summer festival options as a backup plan.

– The other big thing on my U.S. itinerary would be attending the National Flute Association conference in August. The NFA has a myriad of different competitions at the convention, and I decided to submit my thesis for the graduate research competition. The paperwork was all due mid-Feb, and I’m happy with my submission. Dad was a wonderful help printing off the thesis itself and posting it for me – it saved trying to organise printing here!

– Having sussed out my options, I booked my Practical Financial Management for Small Business course at City University London. It goes for ten weeks and starts at the end of April, and the reviews I’ve read are all quite positive. I decided that a physical classroom once a week is much better than trying to complete something online. Though this isn’t the most exciting part of my ArtStart plan, I know that the skills will be really useful…I just need to reacquaint myself with the maths side of my brain.

– I haven’t made any progress with Max 7 since January, I keep putting it off in favour of more pressing things (preparing studies). A few weeks ago, though, a friend suggested I should go and improvise in the wood near the Dairy. I think this will be a good catalyst for starting to play with Max – starting with something a little more imaginative will remind me of what I want to achieve with this software in the first place.

– I ordered an Airturn foot pedal so I can use my iPad to read scores. Now that I’ve paid the pesky customs fee, it’s due to arrive on Thursday.

– I’ve continued to work on my website, and am becoming quite please with it (do have a look around). As well as the things you see – blog, performances page with videos etc. – I now have some things up and running in the back end as well. I can look at how many people visit, how they happen upon the site, which country they’re from. However, I don’t like the idea of treating the website as properly ‘finished’ at any point. I hope it can continue to grow as I explore different avenues of creativity, with words as well as with music.

– Finally, I’ve used ArtsHub to find and apply for some jobs here in the UK. No success yet exactly, though a theatre company (they were looking for a musician/improviser for a production) said they would keep my name on file.

Actually, that’s not too bad a list!

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.