February 2007

New Blog

February 10, 2007 23:48

I'm heading into the Blogging world. I've decided to start up a blog that focusses on Classical reviews of CD's and performances, plus little commentaries on other issues.
Feel free to take a look over at http://www.benclapton.id.au/blog

I'll continue to blog here, but focussing only on my violin work. Compositions and other such things will be on the other blog.

Hope you enjoy it.

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Short Notice Audition

February 7, 2007 23:11

I found out today that my uni is going to be auditioning all students over orientation week for ensembles and chamber music groupings. Smart idea - and best to get it out of the way quickly so we can get into practising as soon as possible.
However, orientation is next week. As in starting on Monday. As in 4 days time. And I have to present two contrasting pieces.

Two.

Contrasting.

Ok, I've been practising over the holidays, I've been a good boy, and kept it up... mostly. However, what have I focussed on? Scales and Studies. What haven't I focussed on? Pieces.

In fact, it's basically been only this past week that I have started learning a piece. Despite considering the Bach Double, I ended up choosing Summer from Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Now, for only a week's work, it's not doing too badly. The notes fall under my hand (for the first movement anyway), so there's not a lot of tricky parts for me to work out. And thanks to the scales and studies, my intonation has improved a lot, so there's only one part that I need to really go over and just make solid. So I think the first movement of Summer will be an ok audition piece - despite only having been learning it for a week. Shall I tell them this? It might look impressive if I manage to pull it off. It could be an excuse if it falls in a heap.

But...

Two.

Contrasting.

What am I going to do?

Hmm, pieces from my recital... Bach G minor last two movments, Beethoven Sonata, Sarasate Romanza Andaluza. Haven't touched any of them since my recital. Comments on my recital was that the Bach was probably too difficult for me. So while I hope to keep studying it, it's probably not something that I should perform with a week's notice (auditions will probably be towards the end of the week).

The Beethoven, the slow movement isn't really an audition piece. And the Sarasate, while impressive, will more than likely need some serious cleaning work.

So what then?

I had a look through some past pieces, see what I thought I might be able to pull out. Mozart... Haydn... no. Suk... possibly, if I had 9 hours a day to practice. No... maybe 6.... Dvorak Sonatina... I never really mastered the second or third movements... easy but never mastered... maybe another time...

The last piece I found - Meditation from Thais. A fantastic piece, really contrasting to the Vivaldi. But here's the catch... is it too easy?

One of the toughest things to consider when preparing a program for a concert or an audition... a performance of any kind, is "How will the music come across?"
Is it better to get through a tough piece by the skin of your nails, or to sit comfortably with an easier piece? I feel that for the past couple of years, the pieces in my program have been just above my level. The idea is that by having something just above your level, you can strive to get it and improve. But for me, I don't think that was the right way. For me, those pieces were tough, and so I spent my time practising them because I was having trouble with them. It made me loose sight that going head down into those pieces wasn't the way. Instead, had I spent my time focussed on scales and studies, then when I came to those pieces, it wouldn't be so much of a struggle.

I have noticed that even in this past week when I have gotten back into the pieces, Vivaldi's Spring has come incredibly easy for me, even though it is listed in the AMEB Manual at Associate level - the same as all of my pieces from last year. I put this down to my work over the holidays on Scales and Studies.

But I digress... I was wondering what you, my fellow v.commers feel of my program... Vivaldi and Massenet - is it a suitable audition program, so should I be working my little (or not-so-little) butt off to pull up something else for the audition?

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Orchestra Rehearsal

February 4, 2007 04:40

I had my first Youth Orchestra rehearsal today. After taking a year off, I'm really glad to be back in the scene, even if I am at the back of the seconds. It's a full on schedule, and I'm looking forward to it all.

Our first program consists of Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade and Shostakovich's Festival Overture. Personally, I think they're fantastic pieces, by fantastic composers, but whether they're the right pieces for the orchestra I'm not sure. I seem to feel that the chief conductor has a thing for the Russian composers, and seems to just tackle these works because they're Russian, not really taking into account that Scheherazade contains some bloody difficult solos. Add to the fact that we've got a very young Concert mistress, who while she is a fantastic player, I'm slightly worried that it might be tough for her.

I wore my violinist.com t-shirt to the rehearsal today, and an considering wearing it to every rehearsal. I'm one of the few active Australian violinists on this site (though I know there are a few that read the site), so I'm hoping that by wearing the shirt it will spread the word and we can start getting more West Aussie violinists on here.

Practice is going well... I'm aiming for 3 hours a day for the whole of February. The aim is that I spend my free time practising, instead of spending my money, so that at the end of the month I have a bit of money to spend on my room (wanting to redesign - shelving system from Ikea, double bed, and eventually a new laptop). Also hopefully by practising every day, it will develop into a habit and I will continue to practice 3 hours every day, because I really want to, but have been a bit lapse in the past.

I've made my own Practice Schedule, modified from the Virtuous Moments from Violinmasterclass.com that I'm trying to stick to. Yesterday was bad... didn't get any, but was busy with my girlfriend. Today I've had a three hour rehearsal with the orchestra, but I'm still going to get some technical work in... work on some stuff from Basics for an hour or so.

I'm not sure whether I want to head into Teaching or Performing (orchestral) at the moment. Teaching is something I don't mind doing, and would be able to support myself with hours that I wouldn't mind having... working in the evenings and on saturday mornings. But It's whether it's possible to get that many students in Perth. It might be, and if I can slowly grow my studio it might very well be possible.

However, I really enjoy playing in an Orchestra, and would love to be able to make my living doing that. It's a lot of hard work between now and me getting a position, and lots of hard work after that, but it is something that I think I want to go for. My parents always try to talk me into things such as teaching, thinking that because I've been in a performing environment that I want to go that way, even though I might not enjoy the solo side and the stress that comes from performing solo. But they don't understand that I don't want to be a soloist. I want to be an orchestral musician. Yes, I need to audition solo, but after that, the stress isn't there. It would also allow me to explore my other interests, but they don't understand. They have never been in the music industry, and they don't understand the possibilities. No, unlike a Bachelor of Education, or a Bachelor of Computer Engineering, the Bachelor of Music is unlikely to put me into a job straight out of uni. But I don't mind that. I understand that if I want to get into an orchestra, it might take an extra couple of years of private lessons and lots of practice to get the position somewhere. But that is something that I just have to accept if I want to go there, and is something I'm willing to do.

But oh well, we'll see. I've got another 3 semesters to really decide, and there's no reason why I can't build my studio during this time, practice my heart out and teach for a couple of years afterwards, and then get a position and move onto the orchestral role.

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