Day 177 – March 26th – Tim Tams

Another short one, as I’m getting a bit fed up with things to write long posts. Mum came bearing Tim Tams, which I shared with the class over lunch.

DSCN6274Otherwise, we got our projects back, rather earlier than expected. Surprise, surprise, Trevor was critical of mine, this time because it was “written for children”. Considering that for part one I wasn’t writing with children in mind, I would have thought this might be a compliment, but apparently not. Otherwise, information was good and the pictures were fine, so I wonder whether he was just finding something to say?

I finished the book of Altès studies in class, but felt like I rather limped over the line. I got through it, but with no finesse or enjoyment, and dropped notes because I was nervous. Despite really liking the Muthel sonata, I also played that nervously and with little enjoyment. I’m quite happy for today to have (hopefully) been the last day of playing classes, and am ready for the next step of my musical life.

On the up side, it’s now confirmed that I’m going back to the SoundSCAPE Festival in Italy this summer, which is very exciting. Bring on awesome contemporary chamber music!

Day 171 – March 20th – Eclipse

Back to class today, and while warm-ups went well, studies weren’t great. The problem wasn’t as much my lack of practice as that I got nervous about it and about being up in front of Trevor again. Rather than addressing the problem of the nerves, he did the usual and just continued to push. While I was ‘passes’ on Andersen no. 17 and three more Drouet studies, Trevor still isn’t happy with the trills in Altès no. 25, and I have to keep working on it for another class. 

There was a solar eclipse over England today, though it ended up being too cloudy to see anything at all from where we were. We all piled into Trevor and Dot’s living room for a bit to watch it on TV, which for me was actually the best part of today’s class! 

This evening, four of us watched an old film of Marcel Moyse teaching and talking about his life. It was fascinating – he seems to have been such a lively old man who was excited about life and music. 

Day 162 – March 11th – Spring Air

A more positive day today, helped along by the fact that it’s almost warm outside! I went running in a T-shirt for the first time since September, and also had my window open all day. I ran past fields of lambs (must take some photos) and daffodils ready to break into flower.

As for practice…I didn’t start out in a terribly good frame of mind this morning, but that improved with the day. I’ve noticed lately that my finger movements are becoming a lot smaller and more precise, both in technical exercises and studies. Trevor’s Practice Book 6 exercises really show up the finger movements that are hard – I’ll be going along at crotchet =126 no problem, and then all of a sudden one set comes up that really throws me off. Today I did E, F, G and H, and there were fewer surprises that I was anticipating, though still more than I want. Anything involving both an F# and a Bb is a disaster!

I spent quite a bit of time working on sight-reading, which is much better these days. I still tend to play unrhythmically when faced with a slow movement with lots of turns and grace notes, as the ornaments throw off my sense of the beat. I think I need not to focus on the little notes so much, but it’s hard when they’re small and I don’t know what they are.

This afternoon, Trevor emailed to say he has a cold and there’s no class tomorrow. I have to confess I did a little happy dance – the thought of playing the Hue Fantasie on one day’s practice was not enticing! Instead, I spent the last hour of my practice working on Andersen and Altès studies. I’m adamant I’ll finish the Altès book next week – while there’s a section of no. 25 that’s tricky with lots of quick trills, no. 26 is easy. Getting through the whole book will be a nice sense of accomplishment.

Day 160 – March 9th – Practice, practice

After a weekend with some free time, today was the day for pulling out all the stops and doing some serious practice. Not only do we have studies for class tomorrow, but also several pages of Doppler’s Airs Valaques each. Throw in flute history project and our weekly trip to Tesco, and I feel like I’ve been on the go non-stop since 8am!

It’s my turn to do the tune in class tomorrow, and I spent quite a bit of time this morning on Greensleeves making sure that it was both expressive and rhythmic. I keep getting distracted by trying to achieve a homogeneous tone across the whole flute range and through the different keys – I’ll play the tune in G minor and get it sounding really good, and then moving up to G# minor find that it sounds totally different! While I do like the idea of each key having its own character even in equal temperament, I don’t like it when certain notes stick out for all the wrong reasons. For the purposes of class, though, expression and good use of dynamics is key.

Studies are a bit hit and miss this week. I’ve got a handful of the Drouet set sounding quite good, but am still struggling with Altès no. 24 and all the mordants. I feel at once so close to and so far from finishing this book. There are only 26 studies, but both nos. 24 and 25 are tricky. While I can play most of no. 25, the second page is full of trills and I know that I need to play each one evenly with a perfectly timed turn at the end. As for Andersen no. 16, it has had a late surge of improvement, but I’m not totally sure whether that will all carry into class tomorrow. We’ll have to see.

Day 153 – March 2nd – Tempo

We had a bit of an unusual Monday class today, and spent the morning working on Doppler’s Airs Valaques rather than studies. One of the pieces on the list for Juliet Edwards’s class on Friday, Trevor was keen to work through it in more detail. Now we all have to learn sections of it by next Monday! The notes aren’t terribly difficult, but there are a lot of them. One more thing on the to-do list.

When we did get onto studies, we rather powered through them. I finished off the Moyse 25 Melodic Studies with only a few comments – mostly that my articulation still needs a lot of work. I got through three Drouet without too much trouble, but Altès No. 24 wasn’t fast enough and I need to do a bit more work on it. The main feedback on my playing today was that I don’t always start out at the right tempo, tending to end up on the slow side even when things are marked allegro. I think some of it is that I’m erring on the safe side and trying to make sure that I get all the notes right! Trevor wants both correct notes and correct (fast) tempos, which I’ll keep in mind when preparing all the studies for next week.

This evening we got together to rehearse pieces for the Bodsham Primary concert. While it was only a first read-through, it was great to notice how much our intonation has improved as an ensemble since December.