Day 87 – December 26th – Humber Bridge and Scrabble

Up at seven, My uncle David and I decided to tackle the Humber Bridge on our run this morning. Though we made it both across and back, I have to admit that five and a quarter miles still feels like a long way.

We had my aunt’s Auntie Heather and cousin Paul round for a jolly lunch. More wine, more flute carols, then an afternoon of scrabble with grandma. We each won a game, though I was a little miffed to loose became I couldn’t get rid of both the Q and J at the very end of the game!

Back down to Kent and flute practice tomorrow.

Day 86 – December 25th – Christmas!

It’s been a bit of a marathon: croissants for breakfast with the Johnson grandparents, off to grandma Hilditch’s for tea and a mince pie (mine of course), then off to my uncle’s with grandma in tow for (lovely, vegetarian-friendly) lunch. Mini flute recital, wine, presents, Queen’s speech, afternoon walk, more wine, Doctor Who Christmas special, skyping Australia…

Grandma and I digesting Christmas lunch!

Grandma and I digesting Christmas lunch!

Day 85 – December 24th – Mince pies and carols

Making mince pies...

Making mince pies…

Christmas Eve, and my ‘Christmas Day’ celebrations with the Johnson side of the family. We skyped with all the Australian family this morning, catching them rather tipsy near the end of Christmas catch-up dinner. Then I made mince pies under the watchful eye of grandma. Though I do know how to make pastry, I think she was just quite anxious that I get it all right, and kept wandering into the kitchen to remind me of what to do next! With our combined efforts, though, the mince pies tasted fantastic – not quite like mum’s, but also not far off! I had so much fun that I really didn’t mind too much how they tasted, and was pleasantly surprised that they turned out so well. Yum.

....and the end result!

….and the end result!

As for the afternoon, we had a bit of a relax, some presents and I played some Christmas carols. I now have a huge supply of chocolate-coated ginger, some warm socks and another jumper. Christmas time is family time, and it feels so lovely to be up here spending time with my grandparents. Round two begins tomorrow!

Day 83 – December 22nd – Christmas break

Today was our final class before the Christmas break, and I have an hour to finish packing before I’m off on the train to Grimsby to stay with my grandparents. As ever, the class had some ups and downs, though not quite the ones I was expecting!

I fared quite well with warm-ups – it seems that Trevor was being a bit kinder to us because one of his former students was visiting for a few hours. As I’d guessed, he did get us to play scales, and for some reason I’m much better at that than all the exercises we usually play.

Then can feedback on our projects, and Trevor was not happy with mine in the slightest. It turns out that he doesn’t like academic papers, and went on a small rant about how verbose mine was and how tables aren’t accessible to young students. Fine, but maybe if he’d told me beforehand that the project was supposed to be written for fifteen year olds I could have chosen my language more appropriately! He couldn’t find much I was missing in terms of content, though wanted me to talk more about how the instruments sound rather than their construction, and thought my pictures were lovely. So next time I just need to write it in a different style, which I probably should have guessed anyway. Oh well, I learned a lot about flutes and flute history, which is the most important thing in the end.

As for playing, we all agreed that Moyse 24 Melodic Studies were the only things we’d go through today. Mine were “rather good”, I just need to keep remembering to be expressive from the start rather than warming into it after five minutes. And my high Ds are still flat. Anyway, I have ‘finished’ the 24 Melodic Studies and will be starting on the 25 Melodic Studies (more of the same thing, but more notes and look harder) after the break. As I said a few days ago I need to keep revisiting the 24 as well – there is still a lot I can learn from them.

Right now, though, I need to go and finish packing. My flute is coming along with me, but mostly to play Christmas carols. For the next five days I’m officially on holiday, and will not be tempted to go anywhere near a scale!

Day 79 – December 18th – Enescu and Waitrose

And I ended up playing the Enescu Cantabile because I don’t like awkward silences and it was clear that nobody else was going to volunteer. More fool me as I didn’t play well at all – numerous wrong notes and rhythms, and it was clear I hadn’t spent enough time on the piano part.

Otherwise, Trevor’s feedback for the day was pretty good. I offered the carol Il est névas or warm-up tune, which went down quite well. By providing the tune, we then get to dictate most of the warm-up exercises, and so I was able to pace things in a way that avoided me getting too flustered with memory!

Similarly, my Dvorak Symphony No. 8 excerpt was generally approved of, though I need to be more precise with some rhythms and would need to be more expressive at the start of the excerpt in an audition context. Trevor talked a lot about breathing with this one, and suggested that we use some judicious cutting of slurs after the first quaver of bars near the end to mask where we take a breath. Though sight reading an excerpt from the Grieg piano concerto wasn’t fun, I found this part of the class really useful, and a good reminder of just how high the orchestral standard is.

After class, we went on an impromptu trip to Waitrose in Ashford, mostly so that Trevor could get Christmas supplies for those that are staying over the break. Left to my own devices, I had a pleasant wander round choosing a few Christmas treats for my family and marvelling at some of the things they had in stock.

Rehearsal tomorrow, concert Saturday and a short class on Monday, then it’s holidays!