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 145 – February 22nd – Stormy Weather and Motivation

As I sit writing this there is one big storm going on outside. It started just after 4pm, just as I’d decided to go for a walk, and looks set to stay for the night. Hopefully my room won’t get too cold with the wind.

After the very late arrival home last night, I had a bit of a lazy morning, helped on by some Skype chats with friends in Australia. To be honest, I could have done with a day off practice all together, and if we didn’t have class tomorrow would certainly have been tempted to leave the flute in its case and go on a very long walk! This lack of motivation to practice seems to be a problem in recent weeks – I feel ready for a break to properly relax and digest all the information I’ve received. I think most of the others feel the same way too, as nobody seems terribly enthusiastic about class! However,  we still have five weeks to go, and so the holiday will have to wait a bit longer.

I decided today to cut the technique practice down a bit and make sure that I had plenty of time to work on studies. The Moyse 25 Melodic Studies still feel hairy, and I know that with more time I will continue to improve on all the various aspects of articulation. For now, I know I’ve worked hard on it for the past week and that I’ve improved, with I need to keep in mind whatever the feedback tomorrow. By contrast, I’m rather surprised and pleased that Andersen No. 15 feels quite good. On Friday I probably would have said it couldn’t be ready in time, but with quite a bit of work yesterday and today it’s sitting quite nicely. Hopefully it’ll sound good in class tomorrow, and my ability to learn things quickly is improving.

Though I spent most of the day lacking in motivation, a CD I listened to this evening has reinvigorated my musical passions. My listening topic for this week is Barthold Kuijken, a baroque flute specialist. One of the CDs I borrowed out is of a live concert recorded in Rome as part of the Flautissimo series, and features Kuijken playing three of Telemann’s Fantasies for solo flute. The performance was beautifully rhetorical – every note had a meaning and the music was just stunning. Then the next track was of Mario Caroli playing Ferneyhough’s Carceri d’invenzione IIb! A wonderful contrast, and testament to the diversity of the flute. It’s the Telemann, though, that will be playing through my dreams tonight.

Day 108 – January 16th – Bits and pieces

To be honest, today doesn’t feel like it’s been a terribly special one. Despite the chill in the air when I woke up I decided that a clear sky was a good excuse for a run, and really enjoyed myself. Rain, coupled with no walks for the last week, has really made me crave the outdoors and some exercise. Of course, it started raining again within an hour of my getting back!

This afternoon, Trevor sent round an email reminding us of all the things coming up, and all of a sudden there is a lot of extra music to work on! Our class with Juliet Edwards had now been changed to January 30th, but piccolo class with Patricia Morris is back on for next Saturday. I’m also heading up to London with Roya and Shannon this Sunday for a concert (and for me a lovely catch-up with some Aussie friends!), and we’re spending the whole day up there on Tuesday for William Bennett’s masterclass. Then there’s another class with Juliet in mid-Feb, and all of Trevor’s regular classes to prepare for as well.

For the moment, I’m still feeling buoyed up by the positive feedback in class yesterday, and the most frustrating thing in my practice today was arriving at the five hour mark and realising that my lips had definitely called it quits for the day. I’m motivated to work more than I can physically play, and so need to keep remembering the benefits of mental practice, score study and listening.

I should also perhaps start doing some serious work on the second part of my project some time!

Day 40 – November 9th – Traverso

After yesterday’s lull in motivation, I ended up having a really productive day today. Partly, I think this was spurred on by the feeling of how much I need to prepare for class this week, but I also had a lovely Skype chat with some friends in Australia this morning and ran four miles (my legs will hurt tomorrow), so was generally in a much better mindset.

After Trevor’s comments on both Monday and Thursday last week about not playing either very loudly or with a full tone, I have been really focusing on this in my practice. I’ve generally tried to up the dynamic level of everything I play, but am also trying to be conscious of dynamics from the very start in everything I play. Andersen No. 4b and 5, which I’ve prepared for tomorrow, are both good examples, though employ dynamics in very different ways. In 4b, the challenge of the study is certainly the articulation and leaps, but I need to remember also the larger dynamic plan of the music – most lines crescendo to mf/f and then decrescendo back down to p. Conversely, no 5 have very few marked dynamic changes other than an f and con alterezza (with pride) at the start. Though there are a few crescendos and decrescendos to make a feature of, the main focus is instead (I think) maintaining the dynamic throughout and still being expressive within the realm of forte. 

Another thing that I’ve been preparing for tomorrow’s class is the traverso (Baroque flute). For the moment, I just need to play a scale, but will be working up to the required slow and fast movement of a sonata by the end of the month. To be honest, I’m not finding the fingering too bad so far, maybe because I’ve played the recorder a lot, though I’ve only attempted scales and tunes in D, G and C major so far. Since the natural scale of the flute is D major, this key requires so awkward cross-fingerings, though some notes on this particular instrument are incredibly out of tune. Once I start the foray into flat keys, though, I’ll need to get my head round all the awkward fingerings.