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 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 3 – October 3rd – Moyse, Andersen and Tescos

Only the third day, and it feels like we might be starting to get into the swing of things. I went for a run again in the morning, and took some lovely pictures of the sunrise over the downs. There is a rather nasty hill that I need to get back up on the way home, and I’m hoping that in the coming week I can make it up without stopping. Both mornings so far, I’ve had a little breather by the field of cows.


Running at sunrise

Yesterday, Trevor casually dropped that he wanted us each to play both an Andersen study (op. 15) and one of the Moyse 24 little melodic studies in class today, which sent us all into a bit of a practice panic. I decided to go with what I knew, and picked Moyse No. 3 and Andersen No. 3. We started class at 9am, and spent the first two hours playing an easy tune (from memory, transposing it up by semitones) and then exercise no. 2 from Seven Daily Exercises by Reichert. I’m keen to get this one off the book as soon as possible, but then ended up spending quite a lot of time doing a ‘solo’ because I wasn’t being expressive enough in my phrasing!

Studies started after the morning tea break, and everyone managed to play a different one from each collection. My Moyse wasn’t too bad, in that we didn’t go into it for half an hour! I need to remember that staccatos are always espressivo, and not to do funny things with my rhythm because I’m trying to be expressive. It rather sounds like I’m never going to win! My Andersen was less pleasing, and we spent a long time talking about the use of appoggiaturas in simple tunes – starting with Three Blind Mice. I’ve now been given a selection of basic tunes to practise so that I can “stop doing funny things all the time”. All in all, nothing too harsh in terms of comments, but I do rather think that we’re being broken in gradually! Proper lessons (including the walk across the fields to get there) start Monday, and from then on it’s two Andersen studies a week plus scales, exercises, excerpts and repertoire.

At 3pm we headed for Tescos, which is a drive away and so a weekly trip only (usually on Tuesdays). It felt like a return to civilisation! In anticipation of all the practice to come, I bought plenty of tea.

In the evenings, we all join Trevor on walks round villages and surrounding countryside. It’s nice to get out, and to talk with the others about things other than the flute. We’ve been issued with torches and high-vis vests for the laneways at night, and the air is crisp and delicious. Trevor knows all the cats in the village by name, and makes a point of feeding them all. This evening, he brought along a set of binoculars and we looked at the craters on the moon. I’m sure that once there is a little less light moonlight, there will be a huge number of stars to see.