Day 175 – March 24th – History

Today was both the last Tesco trip and the date for submitting the second part of our flute history projects. Trevor made sure that we got in a full session of composers in the car, and we made it through to S. While it has definitely been a good exercise – my knowledge of flute repertoire has increased dramatically – I won’t miss the awkward silences as everyone thinks of what to say!

I spent a few hours in the afternoon proofreading my project. This time round it had much more accessible language for fifteen year olds, no tables and no sentences longer than a line. However, I’m not expecting any glowing feedback, or even any good feedback for that matter. At this point in the course, I think Trevor would actually give each of us the same feedback no matter what we submitted to him, which is a pity.

That same feeling continued through my practice time, which is a pity as I really like both the pieces that we’re preparing for Thursday. I didn’t know either the Vasikenko Suite – Spring or Muthel’s Sonata in D major before coming, and both are really lovely. I spent quite a bit of time on the Muthel, which is very decorative Baroque sonata. I feel like I’ve got the skills and knowledge to really get into this music now, but yet am lacking any confidence in my ability to play it in class on Thursday.

My mum’s arriving tomorrow, and I’m heading up to London to meet her at the airport. I’m looking forward to it!

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 133 – February 10th – Walksies

I’m still not sure how to interpret Trevor’s attitude to me lately, and it in an attitude. This morning’s trip to Tesco continued in the same vein – everything I said earned some sort of backlash or negative comment. This was despite me having learned the usual good selection of composers (beginning with K and L)! The saving grace of the morning’s trip was a stop off at Perri Court Farm, where we haven’t been since Christmas due to Trevor’s cold and the bad weather. I took the opportunity to stock up on lots of apples and dark chocolate ginger.

Alas, after yesterday’s negativity I wasn’t feeling terribly inspired to practice today. Instead I had a long and lovely Skype with some friends before revisiting the flute in the afternoon. I got in about 3 1/2 hours but felt that the only really good session was the one just before dinner. I managed to spend half an hour doing some really solid and focused work on Andersen No. 14 – mostly making sure that I could play through each line without any wrong notes and with all the marked dynamics.

I did get in a bit of work on the excerpts and piece for Thursday: Overture to The Thieving Magpie (Rossini), Wur durfen niemand toten from St John Passion (Bach) and the Godard Suite de Trois Morceaux. I’ve played both the excerpts before, but want to make sure that I can play them even under pressure in class, and need to spend a bit more time tomorrow on both. As for the Godard, I’ve played the Valse before and so am in that annoying situation of remembering exactly how I want to the music to sound but my fingers not always remembering where to go quickly enough! But then I’ll play a passage or run flawlessly because it’s all the scales and arpeggios which are now so comfortable. I think slow practice tomorrow is the key – slow, steady and calm.

For the first time in ages, we returned to walking tonight, though it was only a short one. All of a sudden, Trevor was being friendly again, and invited me to walk with him and Ching Ting where I would have been quite happy to fade into the background and stay out of the way. He was conversational, even jovial, chatting about a baroque flute maker in Australia, asking some questions about degree structure there. I confess that I don’t get his mind games at all.

Tomorrow morning I’m going running again. It’s been too long, and now that it’s no longer icy and there’s a little less on class-wise, I really have no excuse.

Day 126 – February 3rd – More snow

Elmsted Church

Elmsted Church

I had a rather bitty day today, what with our weekly Tesco outing. Though walks are still off, Trevor seemed in good spirits and approved of my being able to recite the entire compositional output for flute by André Jolivet!

Almost as soon as we got back it began to snow, and by mid-afternoon (and after a few hours for scales and exercises) the countryside was beautifully white and sparkling. I took myself off for a walk across the fields, and had a wonderful time.

Alas, practice today wasn’t fantastic. I felt a bit rung out and tired from the start, and have probably spent a bit too much time note-bashing to try and get all the studies into my fingers. The repertoire for Friday is Gaubert’s Madrigal and the Reinecke Ballade. While neither are terribly hard, the Ballade will need a bit more work on notes tomorrow. I would love to play both musically and with Trevor-sufficient expression. Hopefully I can achieve that in the short time I have!

Our final masterclass with Juliet is set for February 27th and I’m playing the Copland Duo. It’s a piece I really love but haven’t played before, and from my read through today the main things will be tasteful phrasing across the mixed meter sections, and indicating tempo changes. Hopefully I can do a better job that last time.

Day 105 – January 13th – Even more time!

Though Trevor was kind enough to take us to Tesco this afternoon, he still sounded very croaky and class has been postponed until at least Thursday. Shopping was a good reason to get out of the house, and I’m also glad that we’ve now replenished the stock of fruit and veggies – we’d got to the point of the fridge being rather bare!

On one hand, a break from the relentlessness of classes has been good, and allowed me to spend a little more time on technique without worrying about all the studies to prepare. On the other hand, it means that I’ve ended up working myself really hard now for five days straight, and am rather in need of a bit of down time that doesn’t involve flute playing! On the days that we have class, there’s a bit of a mutual agreement that we don’t practice, and often there’s a bit of a group dinner. I’m not sure what’s happened in the last few days – maybe everyone’s got a bit of the January blues – but nobody was keen to play chamber music yesterday evening and everyone has kept to themselves all of the time. It felt like our little outing today was the first conversation I’d had in a while, and even that was rather subdued!

Looking on the bright side, I have the perfect remedy lined up for tomorrow evening when I’m off to see The Theory of Everything with wonderful Sue from Hastingleigh. I’ll certainly be packing tissues, and am looking forward to it immensely. Beyond that, I need to remember that reading, knitting and even watching TV are perfectly acceptable ways to spend the evening when my lips and/or brain gives out!

I returned to the Eb scales and thirds today, and am pleased to say that they’re maybe 5% better than yesterday. A small improvement, but hopefully if I keep chipping away at it they’ll be flying along in a week or so. The Taffanel and Gaubert-style regular scales certainly are, though majors are still a bit faster than the minors. Another exercise that I’ve been practising a bit lately is the Perpetuum Mobile studies at the back of Trevor’s Complete Daily Exercises book. He’s taken a devilish little orchestral solo from Strauss’s work by the same name and written four studies which transpose the pattern of the excerpt through all the keys. Apparently one year he had two students who memorised the whole thing in a week and played it flawlessly at a really fast speed! I’m not up to that yet, but have been slowly edging the metronome up and the fluency is slowly increasing.

Though our piccolo masterclass with Patricia Morris was cancelled on Sunday, Trevor’s hopeful that it’ll happen in the next week or so. He asked us to prepare a few studies and some excerpts but left it open as to how much we work on – I’m assuming because there will be vary levels of competency with the piccolo in the class group. For studies, I’ve chosen no. 8 from Moyse’s 24 Melodic Studies as it has quite a broad range and requires seamless movement between the registers. I’ve been working on a few studies from Patricia Morris’s Piccolo Study Book, and will certainly be ready to play no. 3 (Furstenau) but am not so sure whether no. 7 will be ready by the time she comes.

In terms of excerpts, I’ve set myself a bit of a challenge. Though my excerpts in regular class are far from perfect, they’re usually quite good, and I seem to have a pretty decent knowledge of the orchestral repertoire. So rather than preparing one or two excerpts, I though I’d have a crack at the audition list for the Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s Principal Piccolo job which was up for audition in December. There were eleven excerpts on piccolo, to which I’ve added the Ravel Ma mère l’oye piccolo excerpts (there were also flute ones listed). Looking down the list, I was pleasantly surprised that I knew most of then, and had played all but two before in various contexts. A couple of them – the dreaded Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4 for example – will need a lot of work to get them up to speed, while others seemed to fall back under the fingers very naturally. Perhaps an ambitious goal considering everything else that I need to work on, but it feels like a good one and for the moment I’m quite enjoying it.

Right now, though, it’s time for a cup of chamomile tea, a book and bed!