It is that time of year again. Recitals are over, regular lessons turn sporadic, I head down into the pit for the annual Houston Bar Association musical comedy (though this year the orchestra is on stage and :::gasp::: acting!), and begin working on music for camp.
Yes... there are music camps for us older-ish types. Each August I head up to Interlochen to attend a week-long chamber music camp for adult amateurs. I look forward to it for many reasons:
This year is special. The cellist who I've played with down here in Houston for 2 years now is attending camp with me. We have worked on and off again on the Beethoven 'Two Eyeglasses' piece and will be getting coaching on it in the first half of the week. We've also arranged to play some cello quintets and sextets with some folks I've played with before. Outside of that, I signed up to play the Britten Divertimento, Beethoven Op. 132, 95, and Grosse Fugue. Daunting and difficult pieces that I'm glad to have some advanced notice to practice.
So, in this "In-Between" time, I'm pulling out all my notes from lessons over the past year and studying how to practice these pieces: slow with metronome, scales in the key signature, string crossings, planning shifts and bow distribution, hearing the underlying chord structure, rhythms, etc...
I have one maybe two lessons before Interlochen. We'll see how well I learned how to practice on my own.
It appears that it is recital season once again - everyone facing down their performance fears, trying to perfect what they worked on for months, fearing what *could* go wrong.
Sunday, the group I play with (a string trio) did the same. The morning of our recital, our violinist went into labor.
Our 'emergency back-up sub' practiced with us for 30 minutes just 2 days prior when our regular violinist started thinking that *maybe* she would not make it to Sunday, and then once more 15 minutes before the recital started. Pressure? Yup! But being the pro that she is, jumped into the hot-seat and did the most amazing sight-reading I've ever heard.
Our violinist gave birth to a baby girl, 5.5 lbs, 3 hours after the recital ended.
I won't mention that our 'emergency back-up sub' was also pregnant.
After a few months of practicing a few minutes each day without a shoulder rest, I gave the 2nd movement of Telemann a try without one.
First, the up-side of playing without a SR. The sound of the viola is noticeably purer of tone without a SR. The position of the instrument to my body feels more natural without the extra hardware and I do tend to relax more than with a SR. It took quite some time to find the balance point, but once found, it was never lost.
The downside is that shifting down is a bear. I'm amazed that I can do so without the instrument hitting the floor even with a small 1/2 step down-shift. The challenges without a SR, on viola at least, are extensions (even the most minor to reach a fingered 'A') and vibrato. The smallest bit of tension make these basic techniques nearly impossible. But then, that is why I'm doing this.
So, all that being said, here is my first attempt at Telemann sans SR.
... and no, I'm not giving up on my SR just yet.
More entries: April 2012
Enter to win Leonidas Kavakos' recording of the Brahms Violin Concerto.
Mendy Smith is from League City, Texas. Biography
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