Day 169 – March 18th – Kids Concert

It has been an odd day, mostly because it seems so odd being here and doing anything even vaguely removed from routine! This morning, I had a Skype interview for some volunteer work in London once the course is over. So….from mid-April I’ll be working as a fundraising volunteer with the Garden of Ideas project for three months! I’ll be busy, but am looking forward to having more of a balance in my life and to flute being part of a bigger whole again.

This afternoon, we all walked over to Bodsham Primary School to give the students a little concert and talk on the flute. It’s a lovely school, with only about eighty students. We played four pieces arranged by Trevor, and then talked about the way the flute works, and showed the children some different examples of the flute family. Trevor has some good tricks for this sort of concert, including a bicycle pump flute (like a big melody pop), a paper-covered headjoint so that we could chop bits off the end and raise the pitch, and of course a whole myriad of different world flutes.

The kids seemed to enjoy it, and I certainly did. It was really nice to perform outside of class again, and the task of explaining to little ones was refreshing. It’s a reminder that not everything in music is about fast technique!

Looks like we have class on Friday, so tomorrow it’s back to the studies.

Day 97 – January 5th – Quartets

As always, class today had its ups and downs, though for once warm-up time was one of the ups! It seems that the mental practice as well as all the repetition of the various exercises is paying off, as I was able to play many of the exercises at speed without getting flustered or making too many mistakes. The two Reichert exercises felt almost easy – a wonderful sensation after spending so long getting annoyed with my inability to play them! The Boehm study wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t look at the music and got through it without loosing my place. Thought it might seem like small steps, I’m happy that the fast memory work finally seems to be getting somewhere.

Trevor had another set of devilish finger exercise for us today, this time Moyse’s Scales and Arpeggios: 480 Exercises on the Major and Minor Scales and Arpeggios of 3 and 4 tones. We read through the first three exercises, the first one in all the major keys. I have come across this book before: my teacher Sylvia gave it to me when I was about 17 and I diligently played through of the exercises according to the plan proposed on the first page. I remember them being challenging, even though I was probably doing them at a fraction of the speed that Trevor would like! One of the things that was pleasantly surprising during our read-through today, however, was how agile my pinkie finger has become. Though the sequences with low Cs, Dbs, Ds and Ebs weren’t always comfortable, I could playing them at the tempo without too many problems.

The rest of the class was ok, though tied myself in some knots with the Moyse melodic studies. I had spent so long trying to get the staccato in no. 3 nice and short that I wasn’t thinking enough about even rhythm. Then, when I played with even quavers, I wasn’t playing expressively enough. It really does all need to come together rather than one bit being good and then the other not. My long studies were generally good, with Andersen no. 10 being pronounced “quite musical and nicely phrased”, and Altes no. 15 coming across well despite the speed. No. 14 wasn’t as good – I was holding the ends of 3/4 bars when I should be cutting them, and started out too slowly. Trevor really does seem to want speed above all else in the Altes studies, which I need to keep in mind for next week’s selection. The Moyse articulation studies (Bach variations) were also a case of not everything coming together at once. I could play the rhythm in no. 5, but then was doing some funny things with phrasing as a result. When I fixed the phrasing, the rhythm wasn’t as precise. Nos. 6-8, all alternating slurring and tonguing, were quite good but all needed to be faster!

This evening we did a group dinner and then spent an hour sightreading flute quartets. Reica and Furstenau were on the menu and were a lot of fun. After all the sightreading that I’ve been practising, as well as the sheer volume of music that we have to learn for the course, the notes themselves were easy to play and I could focus on the interaction between various voices in the ensemble. It’s a pity that some of the others were tired – I would have gone on for a few more hours!