Yes, I think this time I may have bitten off more than I can chew.
I'm music director for a carols night, on the 16th. I've got my string trio who need to prepare about an hours worth of music for the carols night and a wedding the day after. Plus I made myself available for a production that's running pretty much every night from now until the 16th. And I'm supposed to get my own practice in where?
Oh well, there will be plenty of time over Christmas and January.
But Christmas Joy today. One of my students, I've been having a tough time with him. He hadn't really been progressing very well, and there's something wrong with his hearing - he can't really hear the difference between semitones. If I play an F and an F# he says they sound the same. I was at a bit of a loose end, and was going to suggest that they contact a different teacher, one who had had a lot more experience in teaching children than I had. So in the lesson today, he has a bit of a chat to me, saying that he wasn't enjoying the violin because he didn't feel that he was progressing very much. I said that I had been thinking the same things, and told him that I was going to have a chat to his dad about switching to a different teacher. But he says to me "I don't want to learn from another teacher." And here's me thinking "Oh, so you want to give up the violin completely?" and he says "No, I want to learn from you."
From a little guy who you're not really sure sometimes whether you've made a connection with him or not, those words are the best Christmas present that I could have ever been given. The fact that they later gave me a bottle of wine as my Christmas present just tops the cake!
I've put a recording of my Recital on the net, and of course there's a link to it on my profile. I just uploaded Sarasate's Romanza Andaluza, but please enjoy, and I'd love to hear any comments.
Ok, for everyone that messaged on my last blog, thanks (and for everyone that read and didn't message, thanks. And for everyone that didn't read, well you missed out. Take the time to read the history).
The program for my recital was as follows:
Bach, J.S. - Siciliano and Presto from Solo Sonata for Violin Number 1 in G minor
Beethoven - Sonata for Piano and Violin Number 4 in a minor (Opus 23)
Sarasate - Romanza Andaluza from Spanish Dances Book 2
Ok, so let's go back to the blog before my last, which was 10 days before my recital. The last ten days were pretty good. I did some good practice, had some good rehearsals with my pianist, and also did some work for my mum's work, redesigning their website (It is up, some things need to be changed however - http://www.churcheswa.com.au). A couple of days before I started toning down the practice I was doing, to ensure that I was fresh.
So we get to the day of my recital. I wake up, and just have a fairly lazy morning. The internet isn't working, so I just watch a bit of TV. There's the Australian Open Golf on, so that's a nice thing to have on while I'm slowly getting ready - iron the shirt, have a shower, have lunch, polish the shoes etc. Just before I got dressed in my gear, I decided to spend a bit of time doing some of the feldenkrais excercises that I had learnt in my Choir Eneksis. Just a nice little thing to help with my posture.
I got to uni around 1pm (recital at 4) and just relaxed. I went to get my programs, I posted on my blog, I had a bit of a chat with people, and set up the Auditorium for my recital. Thankfully I was up first for the day, so I had as much time in the auditorium as I wanted.
I had a rehearsal with my pianist from around 3, and this was the first time that I had picked up the violin that day. Just a bit of a run through the Sarasate, then setting tempos in the Beethoven and I was fine. I ran through the Presto of the Bach just to ensure that I was fully warmed up. I then had some photos taken with my parents so that I wouldn't be distracted during the recital from flash photography.
My girlfriend was page turning for me, but she was running a bit late, turning up just as I'm about to head on stage for my Bach. A quick explaination for the stage management stuff she would need to do (just moving a stand on) and I was on.
My Bach... this probably ended up being the weakest part of my program. I played it from memory, and although there were mistakes, I was pleased with how I performed. I almost had a memory slip in the Siciliano, but did manage to save it. My mind was wandering ahead to the Presto during the sicilano, which lead to mistakes. But all in all, I was very pleased with it.
The Beethoven - my favourite piece of the program. Having performed this many times, I knew this would be a strong part of my program. Parts were taken a bit faster than we had in rehearsals, but all in all, it worked out better.
The Sarasate - the newest part of the program, my main problem was the second page - getting all those double stops in tune. But I managed to get them right, but I was too focussed on the second page that the first page wasn't being played in the style. A bit of playing around with it (and being told in my last lesson that the bar that I was having the most difficulty with - a scale in thirds in semiquavers - could be slowed down as much as need be to get the notes) meant that I was a lot more confident. When it came to the recital, my pianist said just as we were going out "Let's have fun" and I went out with the biggest smile on my face, and I had fun. It was the best performance that I had done. I've even got a couple of comments on my MySpace that the scale of sixths sounded fantastic.
So the recital was fantastic. Good news? You bet. However, little did I know there was better news to come.
My parents had arranged to have dinner out at a resteraunt with some friends - my old head of music (and good friends of my father), and the owner of the violin that I had been playing for the past seven years. She has been very generous to me - allowing me to play on a violin that I certainly wouldn't be able to afford, and allowing me to play it for such a long time. Well, we were early for the dinner, so we stopped off at a coffee shop. I got there late because my parents hadn't actually told me where we were going, and I went to the wrong place. We eventually got there, and met the Head of music, who lived close by so he had gone home after the recital then walked down. So we went into the coffee shop, and the following conversation took place (slightly paraphrased):
Dad: "Jangoo, this is Elaine, the mother of Ben's violin"
Elaine: "And Ben is the owner of his violin"
She has given me her violin, a lovely German copy of a 1796 Josef Klotz made around 1900. Having had this violin for so long, I have learnt to love it, and it has grown so much with me, but it has always been her violin. I've always known that I would have to get a new violin, and up until that moment, it was certainly sooner than later. Now that pressure isn't there, and while I certainly will want to buy a better violin at some point, I will keep this violin because it is a fantastic violin in it's own right. So I will play this violin for some time, and slowly save up for a better violin, and when I need it, I will have a spare violin should it be neccessary.
So yes, I have been very happy - and have had a smile on my face that has not been wiped off since I was told.
Sorry I haven't been updating day by day as I said I would be. I've been without internet as we're swapping ISP's and they've kinda stuffed (replace with other expletive here) us around. It's 1:30pm atm and I'm at Uni, my recital is at 4pm. At the moment, I'm fairly relaxed. I know that I'm going to do well, and that all in all, it's not that big a deal. It's not like I'm doing something for the first time, and it's not like my life will be over if it doesn't go well.
Only stress at the moment is that my programs are locked in a room, and the person who I need to see to get them isn't around... but that was half an hour ago, so I'll try again now.
I would post more about what has been happening, but it isn't exactly on my mind. Hopefully we'll have internet access back by Monday, and I'll tell you all how I go.
Yesterday I didn't get as much done as I'd hoped. I was distracted by the Melbourne Cup (the horse race that apparently "Stops the Nation")... well it stopped me, and I didn't get much practice done. After a bit of work on my mum's website, I went to teach a student, where upon arriving I was told that he wasn't having a lesson because he had a cold. They had paid for the lesson the week before, so as per my arrangements with them, they've already paid for this lesson, because they didn't call me to tell me about the sickness. Annoying, as I'd much prefer to be told that there was no need for a lesson that day, because I could've stayed working at my mum's place.
In the evening, I had a couple of assignments that I needed to complete, which didn't take long, so I decided to take a night off and go play some poker. It was my first night playing with this new league, and I ended up going all in on a straight in which I had failed to see that there was a possibility of a high straight, which saw me leaving early.
Today, I'm heading into uni to practice. I've got an interview as part of a chamber music assessment, so I'll head in early and get some good practice done. Afternoon I'm working at my mum's again, and in the evening I'll probably do some more practice.
Ok, that's it for now, see you tomorrow
Yesterday I was fairly good. My lesson went well, and know what I need to work on. I did some stuff around uni, booked some rooms, and then came home. Had some lunch before heading off to work at my mum's place. She had been expecting her tech guy to come over, but he didn't end up coming. So I ended up starting a Style Guide for her website, which I hadn't planned on starting until after the site was completed. But it's ok, it will give me an idea of what to work with when I get around to putting the site together.
I got home, had dinner then quickly ran off to uni for my rehearsal. It started off really badly, It was hot, I felt that I had no control of my bow, fingers just wern't working. I grew into it, but there's a lot of places to clean.
So that's the goal for today. Lots of practice doing slow work cleaning a number of areas. There's the whole of the second page of the Sarasate, then a few spots in the third movement of the Beethoven, a couple in the second movement, and some in my Bach. I've also got my WAYMA audition excerpts to learn which are fairly easy. The first movement solo from Scheherezade, a section from Beethoven Symphony 7, and a part from a Dvorak piece Huisika (I think). Should be pretty easy. Then I need to choose my solo piece. I'm thinking my Sarasate, because it shows my range over pretty much all the instrument, and does kinda show my ability to play slow and fast, which would make it a good audition piece, I just need to make sure that it would be clean by sunday.
That's it for now, see you tomorrow.
Only 12 days to my recital. And thankfully I have no more classes, and no exams prior to the recital. And to be honest with myself, I'm going to be posting every day with what happened the previous day, and what the plan is for today.
Yesterday (and Saturday): Saturday I went on tour with my choir. It was just a one night tour, down to a country city called Albany, in the South of WA. It's a gorgeous place, and I really enjoy going there. However, we passed a whole heap of wheat fields on the way, and my hayfever really acted up. It was so bad that I wasn't able to sing in the concert. However, I did get to drink at the party afterwards. But no tales from that - what happens on tour stays on tour. We got back on Sunday, but I didn't do any practice because I was fairly tired.
Today: I've got my lesson this morning, we'll be going through the Beethoven and then tuning/cleaning the Sarasate. When I get home, I should be able to get an hour or so of practice in before I head off to my mum's work. I'm volunteering to help redesign her work website, so I'll be in there each afternoon this week. This evening I have a rehearsal with my pianist, and I'll probably stick behind to do some more practice.
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