Day 168 – March 17th – Looking ahead

Still with no flute lessons in sight, today became a day of sorting out bits and pieces, looking ahead and a spot of baking. In the morning, Paul was kind enough to take us on the penultimate Tesco trip, though without the regular composer quiz! Trevor being unwell is always a reminder of just how isolated we are here. While a walk to the shop in Wye would have been possible, we couldn’t have carried everything back, and the next option was Tesco online.

In the spirit of using up things in the cupboard (and because I felt like doing something different) I attempted to make bread this afternoon. I left the dough to prove while walking to Trevor’s to collect some extra flutes for tomorrow’s concert. I’m not sure whether it was because of this long proving time, or because of the size of the loaf, but it was still a bit doughy on the inside despite being perfect on the outside. Most important thing, though: I had great fun!

For the rest of the day, I spent some time thinking about everything that’s coming after my time here. First off, I’m off on holiday to France with my mum, which I’m looking forward to immensely. Then I’m visiting my grandparents in Grimsby for a few days, and then l’ll be boarding in Surrey (close to Hampton Court) for a few months. Plus, after being unsuccessful with my Bang on a Can application, I need to re-think some of my ArtStart plans for the summer, and also start thinking about when and how I’m heading back to Australia in July/August. All need work, and I’ve sometimes forgotten to stay on top of it all when there’s always another study round the corner. So I’ve been sending emails, clearing my inbox, making some lists. Hopefully all adding up to me being a little more organised.

Looking forward to our Bodsham Primary concert tomorrow. Complete with the extended flute family, some fun pieces and a bike pump, hopefully we’ll inspire the kids to get into some music!

Day 167 – March 16th – Tricky bits

No class again today, as Trevor’s cold doesn’t seem to be getting any better. This afternoon we had another rehearsal for our concert and talk at Bodsham Primary School on Wednesday. The pieces are sounding quite good, though without the feedback of Trevor’s rather critical ear they’re not quite as polished as the Christmas concert ones were. For talk, we’re showing a little of how the flute works and then introducing the modern flute family as well as some more distant relatives. It should be good fun, and I hope the kids will enjoy it.

As we’re not sure what’s happening with classes, I’m in a sense of limbo with what to practice. This morning I did a good long session of technique, changing from the Practice Book 6 exercises to Moyse’s 480 Daily Exercises. I also finally got all the way round the circle of fifths for Taffanel and Gaubert-style scales with descending mordants in one sitting. It wasn’t amazing, but is certainly getting there. I’m finding a particular set of notes in the third octave tricky: G – A – G – F – Eb – F – Eb – D. The mordants happen on the G and Eb, and both use trill fingerings that don’t sit well under the fingers. For G – A, it’s left hand first finger and the first trill key, and for Eb – F it’s both second and third fingers of the left hand. For whatever reason that combination doesn’t sit well under my fingers at all!

In the afternoon I decided to focus on studies. While I spent some really productive time on Andersen and Drouet, I was probably a bit too tired by the time I got to the Altes. Oh well, with no classes in sight until at least Thursday there’s still time.

Day 151 – February 28th – Five out of Six!

The last day of February makes it five months down and only one to go. I meant to write a slightly longer reflection on how the past five months have gone, but then got caught up with my ArtStart reflection, so might save that for another day. The next month is going to go quickly; we have a little concert at Bodsham primary school on March 18th, our second flute history project is due on the 25th, Julie Wright is coming to give us a class on teaching this Wednesday and there are two more masterclasses to attend up in London. Next weekend, a friend is down from London, and we’re going to do some proper hiking either on the Downs or along the coast at Dover.

Trevor dropped off our parts for the Bodsham concert this afternoon, and there are a few notes to be learned there. I’d already spent two hours on studies by the time the parts came, so didn’t manage more than a quick read-through this evening, but will dive into them tomorrow morning.

Following yesterday’s class I was feeling a little flat again this morning. A long run (before the heavy rain started) helped, but I have found over the past week that I’m increasingly feeling the need for some flute-free time. Friends are wonderful, and several have reminded me that my time here is both a unique experience and a unique learning opportunity. Yes, it’s full-on, and certainly not easy, but I need to make sure I get the most out of the month I have left.

Day 100 – January 8th – Slow Train

We’ve only just got back from a concert having taken the slow train up to London and back. Then there was confusion about the train times and we spent a rather chilly half hour on Ashford train station waiting for the connection through to Wye.

On the up side, the concert was lovely, I caught up with a great friend for a drink beforehand, and in class the morning my Schubert received more “good”s than criticisms.

More tomorrow.

Day 77 – December 16th – Playing for the Gardeners

Today has been a busy one, and I’m definitely ready for an early night! It was also a day of ups and downs, and of trying to figure out whether a few of the downs were just in my head.

Class this morning went well for the warm-ups. IfI trust myself and don’t get flustered, I can play a lot of the exercises, and now I’m also trying to use mental practice a bit more to help strengthen things and avoid learning in mistakes. At the end of the warm-up session, Trevor announced that some of us were “absolved” from using long Bb in our studies, and that I was one of them. To be honest, I almost fell of my chair!

Studies, however, didn’t go as well as I wanted. For some reason a combination of being really cold and some funny nerves made me jittery, and I made silly mistakes. Andersen No. 9 (including the double-tonguing variation) were quite good, but my selection of Moyse studies earned quite a lot of criticism. Altès No. 10 just felt uncomfortable, as I hadn’t learned the accompanying part well enough, and my 50 Variations No. 5 was not in the correct rhythm. However, when I later mentioned to Trevor that I’d been feeling a bit off colour, he looked surprised and replied with “oh, I thought you did quite well today”. I must keep focusing on the learning process rather than the day-to-day.

This evening’s short concert for the village Gardeners Society Christmas party went pretty well. We played three sextet pieces, Alyssa and Roya did The Emperor and the Bird of Paradise for flute and spoken voice, and I played Ulpirra by Ross Edwards. I’m not totally sure what the audience made of my final performance direction to ‘stamp and shout’, but they seemed to enjoy the concert overall, and Trevor was pleased. As an ensemble, we played well together considering it was our first concert, though the different acoustic of the hall made a few people a little nervous. I need to remember to compensate a little more for a cold piccolo!

Our flute history papers are finally submitted and the cheese, biscuits and two glasses of wine at the gardeners’ party was a nice reward.