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 174 – March 23rd – Daffodils

These were always my favourite daffodils as a child!

These were always my favourite daffodils as a child!

I’ve been meaning to go and take some more photos of the beautiful Kentish Downs for a a few days now – spring is well and truly here and it is gorgeous. Today was stunning, and I took advantage of an early end to class to go on a long walk up across the fields to Bodsham. My strongest memories of England as a child were of spring, particularly the hoards of daffodils that covered the village. Today’s walk didn’t disappoint!

Class itself went quite well. I’ve always enjoyed the way that Trevor teaches Baroque music, and once again felt like I learned an awful lot from the lesson on the Telemann sonatas. We talked a lot about trills (which must always be measured), but also about ornamentation in a broader sense and relative tempos between movements.

DSCN6264Then came Syrinx, which we were all a little nervous about. We had heard some stories from past students about Trevor being rather picky with this piece, and not liking the way that anyone played it! So we had all been slaving away with a metronome to make sure that everything was correct. It didn’t turn out too badly, though the session did start with us each getting up one after the other and playing it through. My feedback was that I was “slurring all the way through” (so not articulating clearly), that I wasn’t doing all the subito pianos, and that my rhythm was wrong in the second theme. Fair enough, especially with the second theme. I was being rather too enthusiastic with my rubato, and the second and third beats of the bar were almost the same as the first. Whoops!

Trevor went on to tell us about the history of the piece, its writing for the play Psyche, and its performances by Louis Fleury and Marcel Moyse. Originally the piece was called La Flûte de Pan, but the publisher already had a piano piece by that name and didn’t want to confuse his customers.Trevor talked about the ideas he sees in the music, and the way that it reflects the story of Pan in Psyche – it is his last reflection before he dies, and perhaps a remembrance of all the pretty girls he has pursued! Then some of us got up and worked on it a little more. Once again, I felt I learned an awful lot from this session, and it has inspired me to work on the piece again in the near future.


More lambs – they’re everywhere now. This pair were definitely twins. They moved as one, and were quite inquisitive.

Finally, we talked through Trevor’s method books for teaching beginners,and a little of our own teaching experiences. Though the topic isn’t top of my priority list, it’s all good to know.

Back to my walk, and in some ways I’m sorry to be leaving Kent just as spring arrives. While there have been many frustrations about my time here, I have also enjoyed the head space. Before coming away, I would rarely have gone on a long walk just for the sake of it, mostly because I just kept filling my time! Here, I have been on numerous long rambles across the countryside, exploring just about every road, laneway and footpath I could find (along with a couple of un-marked fields) in the area around Elmsted. It has given me time to think, and hopefully also to grow.

Day 133 – February 10th – Walksies

I’m still not sure how to interpret Trevor’s attitude to me lately, and it in an attitude. This morning’s trip to Tesco continued in the same vein – everything I said earned some sort of backlash or negative comment. This was despite me having learned the usual good selection of composers (beginning with K and L)! The saving grace of the morning’s trip was a stop off at Perri Court Farm, where we haven’t been since Christmas due to Trevor’s cold and the bad weather. I took the opportunity to stock up on lots of apples and dark chocolate ginger.

Alas, after yesterday’s negativity I wasn’t feeling terribly inspired to practice today. Instead I had a long and lovely Skype with some friends before revisiting the flute in the afternoon. I got in about 3 1/2 hours but felt that the only really good session was the one just before dinner. I managed to spend half an hour doing some really solid and focused work on Andersen No. 14 – mostly making sure that I could play through each line without any wrong notes and with all the marked dynamics.

I did get in a bit of work on the excerpts and piece for Thursday: Overture to The Thieving Magpie (Rossini), Wur durfen niemand toten from St John Passion (Bach) and the Godard Suite de Trois Morceaux. I’ve played both the excerpts before, but want to make sure that I can play them even under pressure in class, and need to spend a bit more time tomorrow on both. As for the Godard, I’ve played the Valse before and so am in that annoying situation of remembering exactly how I want to the music to sound but my fingers not always remembering where to go quickly enough! But then I’ll play a passage or run flawlessly because it’s all the scales and arpeggios which are now so comfortable. I think slow practice tomorrow is the key – slow, steady and calm.

For the first time in ages, we returned to walking tonight, though it was only a short one. All of a sudden, Trevor was being friendly again, and invited me to walk with him and Ching Ting where I would have been quite happy to fade into the background and stay out of the way. He was conversational, even jovial, chatting about a baroque flute maker in Australia, asking some questions about degree structure there. I confess that I don’t get his mind games at all.

Tomorrow morning I’m going running again. It’s been too long, and now that it’s no longer icy and there’s a little less on class-wise, I really have no excuse.

Day 127 – February 4th – Getting in the hours

Not much to report today other than that I practised a lot. Six hours playing flute and then some time listening and studying scores. What with two trips to London in the next few days and Trevor’s zeal for more studies, I felt like there weren’t many options but to knuckle down and really do as many hours as I could manage.

Compared with yesterday, I felt like all the practice sessions were productive. The Reinecke Ballade isn’t terribly difficult note-wise, and I could focus on the music, which was nice. As for studies…they’re happening. Andersen No. 14 is a lovely piece of music but being in D#/Eb minor makes it a bit of a minefield for notes!

In the afternoon, I took myself off on a long walk across the fields and round the back way to Bodsham. The fields were still half-covered in snow, and the air was crisp and delicious. We’re heading up to London tomorrow, and to be honest I’m glad of a day free from playing!

Day 124 – February 1st – Spong Wood

Another day without an evening walk as Trevor is’t totally sure he’s over his laryngitis. I took advantage of clear skies in the afternoon to go off on a cross-country de-stress ramble, and came across Spong Wood quite by accident down a winding track. Carol, my landlady told me about the wood way back in September, but never told me exactly how to get there. Though terribly wet and muddy, it’s a lovely little pocket of English woodland magic. The trees (are they hazel?) grow outwards from the base, creating a dense and twisted canopy even in winter, and the ground was covered in moss and fallen leaves. The path would open out into clearings before plunging back into the foliage, and I was certainly the only person there. Sheltered from the wind, I wandered about happily for an hour, though always with half an eye out for something to leap out of the trees (and perhaps a fairytale!) at me.

Tomorrow marks a return to the Practice Book 6 exercises in our rotation of finger exercises, and as usual I gave myself a day’s head start. I was quite surprised to find that exercises A to D were speeding along much more quickly than last time I practiced them. The last metronome marking I’ve got cross out in my book (I write them in a line above the exercise) is crotchet = 126, and my memory if it a month ago was one of decided discomfort. However, when I turned the metronome up to 128 today, the exercises still felt easy!

Studies are less wonderful. Both Altes no. 20 and 21, as well as Andersen no. 13 are getting there and by the end of a twenty-minute session sound good. The problem is that I when I come back to them, my fingers have forgotten some of what I’d done previously. I need to keep working on methods for really getting them into the fingers for good, but it’s tricky when there is such a quick turn-around time.