August 2007

Week One

August 19, 2007 18:18

Well, it’s been just a bit over a week since I made my decision. Here’s an update on how my week has been going.

I focussed my practice this past week on the Bach E Major Partita - the prelude. Now, in the past, I probably would’ve needed a couple of weeks to be able to get my way through the piece. But working more efficiently, I’ve managed to learn all the notes, and get the piece up to about 75% concert tempo.

Unfortunately, my teacher has been unwell, so I haven’t had a lesson recently. I’ve taken the Prelude about as far as I can without a lesson, so I’ve decided that this week, my practice shifts focus.

My University is heading into a “Project” week in which normal classes are suspended, and a much lighter schedule is imposed. Thankfully for me, I’m involved with the Opera Orchestra for Britten’s Mid Summer Night’s Dream, so it looks like I’ll only have some sectionals on the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week. Hopefully, they’ll be shortish sectionals, and I can still get a fair bit of practice done on those days. But it does allow me to get a fair bit of practice done today and tomorrow. So what I’m doing is still doing a little bit on my Bach so it’s kept up at the level it is now (and possibly raise it a bit further before whenever my next lesson is), and then for the rest of my time, I’ll be learning the 3rd Brahms Sonata - Op. 108. Again, I’m hoping to have all the notes under my fingers by the end of the week. I’ve also got to be careful with my learning not to get to into the musical aspects at this point, because I’ll be using the Brahms as my musical examples in my class “Performance Practice Research” - looking at how to do a HIP (Historically Informed Performance) of Brahms. The main thing I’ve picked up at the moment is (Shock! Horror!) Vibrato was still used as an ornament at this time.

I’m considering picking up some Gut strings to perform this piece on for my class… as that’s what was used when Brahms was writing. I’m also lucky to be performing on an instrument that was made around 1900 - just after the time of Brahms, and also using a bow that’s about 100 years old. However, if I switch to Gut strings, I’d need to get onto them soon, as I’ve heard it takes a bit of experience to get to know how to get a good sound out of them. So I don’t know about that.

Anyway, I best be off now and get onto my practice. I’ll probably update again on Monday.

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The Chosen Path

August 10, 2007 15:50

Well I've decided to go for it. I've had support from my friends, and from my admired friends on (all of you!), and most importantly, from my teacher.

At my lesson yesterday, she said that if I was willing to work, she was willing to teach me, even extra lessons each week. That level of support I didn't expect, but am greatly appreciative of.

I've also searched up some other practice methods. Set as a textbook for one of my units at university, Practiceopedia contains many helpful hints on how to practice - which is exactly what I was looking for. I'll be implementing many of the techniques in here in order to get the most out of my practice sessions.

I've been given two new pieces by my teacher - Bach's Prelude from the E Major Partita, and Brahms' Third Sonata, Op. 108. I'll also be getting a third piece at some time - a showy piece, possibly Sarasate Malaguena, as I had lots of fun with Romanza Andaluza last year.

She's also spoken of the possibility of surprising my lecturers next year by picking up an Ysaye Solo Sonata - the Second one. So hopefully, none of my lecturers read this blog, so they will actually be surprised.

I'm also going to have some etudes set so that I can work on my right hand. I finally broke the intonation barrier that I was facing at the beginning of the year, so now the focus is on creating a fantastic tone, and that's done through bow strokes. I'm really excited about this new focus, and am looking forward to working on these great pieces.

Plus, I'll also be setting myself an orchestral excerpt a week, to get myself familiar with the repertoire that I'd be facing in auditions.

All in all, I'm rather excited at the choice, as opposed to the reluctance I was feeling when the decision was still to be made.

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August 9, 2007 08:03

I had a bit of a chat with a friend today, who asked me "Do you know what you want to do with your life?" and after a bit of a think, I'm not sure that I do.

I really love Orchestral music, and I love playing in orchestras. I couldn't think of anything better than to spend the rest of my life playing in an Orchestra somewhere. However, at the moment, I don't have the commitment to get to the standard.

She challenged me to choose a day, and decide from that moment to practice 6 hours a day for 6 months, then make the decision then whether I still want to go for an orchestral position or pursue something else.

It seems like an ok offer. Work hard for 6 months, then re-evaluate, with enough time left in my degree to focus on something else if I decide that it's not worth it. And if I get through it, then decide that I don't want to do it, I've then done 6 months of intense practice, and will surely be the better for it.

However, in order to commit the time to do 6 hours a day, I'm going to have to give up certain things, including one income source, and also a life (As you can imagine, doing 6 hours of practice a day, working, as well as uni classes and uni study doesn't leave much time for a life).

It will also mean that other things will take a lower priority - the internet being the first off the ranks. I'll have to spend much less time on the computer (and hence blogging and other procrastination activities such as Myspace and Facebook). Also my composition (which has always kinda been on the backburner) probably won't get a look in for the 6 months.

One problem that I would need to face is the fact that I don't really know how to practice for 6 hours a day. I'm sure that I can learn how, and know of a few places where I'll start off, but practicing for 6 hours seems like a lot (and that's because it is), and I don't want to give such a large commitment, with out knowing that I'm actually going to be working to the best of my ability in the time practicing.

Anyway, This is a large commitment for me, so I'd love to hear some comments from people - either in the comments here, or if you'd like to respond privately, you can e-mail me at a temporary account that I've set up -


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