November 2004

November 26, 2004 17:53

The last few days have been really good and interesting. Wednesday was a bit more then crazy and exhausting. I had an orthodontist appointment first thing, then I didn't get a lunch break from school before heading over for a violin lesson, so my first real break and a chance to eat some real food didn't come until 3pm.

My violin lesson was good. We did some technique and worked on the Barber Concerto, Robinovitch and Bach. I'm performing the Bach and the Kulesha on Dec. 5th. It will be the second public performance for the Kulesha and first for the Bach, which I'm very excited about! I got somewhat mixed reactions last time I played the Kulesha, but generally the response was a positive one and I look forward to sharing with another audience, this wonderful work. Also on the Dec. 5th performance, because it's a music school christmas concert there will be many other people playing. The Suzuki groups are always a lot of fun to watch. I never got to play in one as a kid and I always have thought it looks like a lot of fun, now I get my chance, only, I will be leading the Suzuki group! We had a practice of all the stuff on Wednesday afternoon. It was a lot of fun for me. All those kids who I've watched learn how to play their instruments over the past year or two and now I get to take part in the excitement with them!

Thursday (yesterday) I had a music history lesson. I'm writing another one of those RCM history exams in 2 weeks and it's been a really quick study to learn the stuff. It's still not all memorised by a long shot, but all my notes are made for the most part and I have 2 weeks to learn enough of the stuff to get a pass on my exam. I think it's do-able, but it is going to be a lot of work.

Today has been fairly fruit-full. I've gotten a fair amount of studying done aside from school stuff and then practiced nearly 2 hours so far. I've been doing technique and Barber mostly. I was working on the second page of the Paganini Caprice No.9 for that ever so charming ricochet bowing. I can finally do it properly! It was the first time in a long time where I had to show my Mom what I could do. I was very proud of myself! It's nice to finally have days, weeks and months of practice start to come together more. :)

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November 23, 2004 09:33

Inspiration. Friends have been asking me in response to my IM name, what is inspiring me, why am I inspired?

Inspiration: A divine influence upon human beings

The more I ponder this the more I realise that many things have a "divine influence" upon me. So the question remains? What inspires me?

Teaching. Watching a student learn and being challenged to help make something that comes so easily and thoughtlessly to me make sense to them so that they have the tools to make that element become thoughtless as well. Seeing a students reaction when they've mastered something or it makes sense and you know you've done a good job teaching them.

That is inspiring.

Learning from a great teacher who knows how to make something make sense and makes you want to work at something. A teacher who instills in a lesson a want to hurry up and get home and try out what you learned in that lesson.

That is inspiring.

Seeing a great performer make something that you know is very difficult seem easy and effortless. Seeing a great performer be 100% involved and behind what he/she is doing and having the level of accomplishment motivate you.

That is inspiring.

A walk in the rain knowing that it will make them earth greener and the world look more beautiful when the sun comes out again. Smelling the rain while you are walking in it. That refreshing clean smell.

That is inspiring.

The colors of Fall and Spring as plants are starting to turn different colors and the smells and tempretures begin to change.

That is inspiring.

A snowfall around Christmas time where the snow is all nicely laid out and you can feel the coldness but warmth of the snow around you and hear that crunching sound beneath your feet. Looking at the snow fall at night as it is reflected in the street lights and christmas lights.

That's inspiring.

There are so many endless things that even in small ways affect us that come out in our personality even if you don't realise it. There are so many things that affect our day to day lives that can be inspiring. A piece on the radio, a friend we haven't talked to in a long time phoning us, receiving a letter, playing with the family pet, playing with your kids, having a good day at work, seeing the sun come out, seeing a pretty flower or display case in a shop window.

So I challenge you, what inspires you that you would have never thought or considered to be inspiration before?

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November 19, 2004 21:56

Joseph Curtin

There is a link to the luthier who's violin I got to try that you can read about in my previous blog entry.

I had a violin lesson yesterday! I really enjoy my lessons and yesterday's was no exception. On Sunday I will be performing Gary Kulesha's Caprice No. 1 for solo violin and I only started serious work on it two weeks ago and had to take close to a week of that off due to being away on a symphony tour and then being in Vancouver. So the first thing we tackled at my lesson was the Kulesha. First of all, it's a positively great work! The more I play it the more I really start to be able to dig in and just enjoy every note. There are some neat things that I've noticed in the composition of how the composer plays chords in one bar the arpeggiates them in an effective manner in the next bar. It has two short sections to it, the first being a more stated maestoso and the second an almost dance like Allegro. So much fun! I am so excited about performing it on Sunday and I hope the audience enjoys it. After working on that at my lesson we tackled my Bach. I played it by memory for her and managed to do alright on it. I was a little bit disapointed with some little things that I found out I was in fact capable of screwing up, but generally speaking it went very well and we discussed a couple little things to just enhance the piece overall. Then it was Barber!!! We got up to the recapitulation in the first movement, which was fine with me because I hadn't really worked on the recap. enough to make it worthwhile to waste lesson time on it. It went well. I'm really pleased with how it's coming along and some of the technical hurdles I'm starting to finally master with the even tone and vibrato. Still a very long wase to go yet, but I've at least chiseled something out of that monumental work!

Practicing the last few days now that I'm back into the grind is going really well. I missed it while I was away but the time off makes me enjoy it and feel refreshed and renewed to an extent. This weekend is nice because I've gotten all my homework done so I can just enjoy getting ready for the performances for tomorrow and Sunday.

Nothing else too terribly exciting and new. We had a couple of quizzes in German, one oral and one written. The oral one went really well for me! I don't know about the written one yet but I was a little confused about it, so hopefully it went alright. In English we had AP essays to write on Machiavelli's "The Circle of Governments" which was quite challenging. I enjoyed writing it once I determined what I wanted to say after seeing the proposed tasks and questions that we had to answer. I finished writing it with only a couple of minutes to spare in the time limit. We'll see how I did....

I'm off!!

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November 15, 2004 11:07

It's a warm but breezy morning here today. Last night when I arrived home on the bus I was almost blown over by the wind and the chill in it. It was refreshing but not exactly what I was dressed for and expecting when getting off the bus. Vancouver had been relatively nice the day I arrived then rained on and off the rest of the time I was there which I really didn't mind at all. There's something about getting out and walking around in the rain in the morning that's very refreshing and the smell of rain is something I really like.

There is something to be said for getting at up 5:30 in the morning. It's hard. There is something about getting up when it's pitch black outside and you are in nice warm covers you know that the air around is going to be much less warm and comforting then the covers. Once you get up and move around it's alright. It reminds me of the Saturday morning trips to youth symphony. I'd have to get up in between 5:30 and 6 depending on the weather and the sun would always just start to light the sky from behind the mountains as we'd pull out of the driveway and then as we'd be driving around the south end of the lake the sun peaking over the mountain making all the sky brilliant colors before it finally fully breaks away from the mountain tops.

Vancouver was fun, but also a bit tiring. I hadn't had much sleep the whole week leading up to the trip from still trying to adjust after very late nights (or should I say early mornings?) after the symphony tour last weekend. Why must they do road construction at 1 in the morning????? Anyways. :) Moving on!

The masterclass with Pinchas Zukerman
was really neat! He's a very funny man and he really helped the students who played with their tone and one with their vibrato. Three people played and the pieces that they were playing were a section of the Strauss Sonata, Bach G minor Fugue, and Ysaye Ballade. The Strauss was probably the most musical of the three performances. The Bach was enjoyable but you could sense and see the nervousness in the performance. The Ysaye was probably the most secure and solid of the three performances. She had her piece memorised. I saw the same similarities between the three performers with their vibrato which I think probably was partially related to nerves. I've been nervous to the point of nearly throwing up before for one specific teacher so I can't imagine what it would be like in front of Zukerman. The tone production points that Zukerman worked on I was excited to see that I had been taught that earlier in the year to improve my sound, volume and overall tone so it was nice to have it re-affirmed but another teacher that I was doing the right thing and to see and hear the difference in front of me and not trying to hear it in my own playing which is hard to do when you are trying to focus on playing and the mechanisms to create that sound (though I do notice a significant improvement in my tone from one year ago to now). The vibrato focus I found less helpful and informative as he didn't really seem to give a specific exercise but something must have clicked between him and the performer on stage as her vibrato loosened up somewhat but the key thing for her was she was double jointed and needed to strengthen some more muscles. People were able to ask questions during and after the masterclass which was interesting.

After the masterclass it had been announced Joseph Curtin would have a couple of his instruments on display so I felt the need to check that out before I had to meet up with my sister again. I had no idea who Joseph Curtin was until after doing some more research on the internet. I got to listen to Andrew Dawes try out both the violins that Mr. Curtin had on display there which was quite neat and he commented on how he liked them. I was asked if I was a violinist and handed a violin upon response of "yes" and I instantly fell in love with the instrument. It had this hugeness and richness to it that was just amazing. One thing I really liked about it all is that Joseph Curtin wasn't trying to sell his violins to you he was just there to answer questions and watch people play. He was a very personable man and it was neat to get to talk to him and try out one of his violins. *sigh* so anyone who wishes to donate money to the "get Kelsey a Curtin violin" fund, please feel free to contact me through the contact page. :) ;)

While in Vancouver a visit was paid to the Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver where I got my hands on a couple of used cd's of Kreisler and Thibaud playing Mozart's 4th and 6th violin concertos and another cd of Pinchas Zukerman and Daniel Barenboim playing the complete Brahms sonatas. The two cd's together came to under 18 dollars! After the visit to the Quay, we couldn't not pay a visit to the International Icecream Factory! They have over 488 flavours according to the site and keep 208 on site at all times. There are some really bizarre flavours and you can try the different flavours. I tried a whole bunch of exotic fruits and combinations of things and then for an "odd" flavour I went for the "Balsamic Vinegar" Yes, that's right the stuff you put your focaccia bread in with olive oil, balsamic vinegar. It was actually not half bad! I liked it. It had a weird after-taste but the initial flavour was quite yummy!!

Well on that note or flavour..I need to re-aquaint myself with my violin!

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November 11, 2004 14:53

I get to see Pinchas Zukerman tomorrow! I'm very excited. He's doing a masterclass for the UBC music students and I get to go and observe!!! It means a really early morning tomorrow to drive down for it but I think it will be worth it. If I only pick up one piece of beneficial information the trip will be more then worth it.

Last weekend was a symphony tour. Lots of concerts, lots of music, lots of playing and lots of driving. It was a fun "light" program. All jazz with the amazing jazz singer Dee Daniels taking centre stage for the whole program. She can hit some crazy, high notes and the control she has is amazing! The program was full of a popular jazz standards like Mack the Knife, I Hear Music, and Fever as well as some pieces I had never heard before! A particularly fun one to do was A Tisket A Tasket. The whole orchestra got to participate in it more then just playing it. "Is it red?" "No, no, no, no..."

The tour was quite tiring. I didn't get home and in bed until after 2am on Monday morning. I really want to know why road construction has to be done at 1 in the morning. Oh well. The northern lights were breath taking so I got to enjoy those some more. You could see tinges of yellow, orange, green and blue in them. I don't think I've ever seen such an amazing sky show like that before! I've seen northern lights, but never for that long, or that active. I do have recollection of seeing them one summer night once though where the colors were quite intense blues, purples, pinks and greens. It was sure a sight to see !

I'm working on a speech for school right now on Inuit life. It's got me thinking I should re-read a book I got a few years ago on the Arctic expedition of the Karluk. I did some more research on the new on Inuit life and actually came across a really neat site about the doomed voyage of the Karluk. It even has some really neat pictures and short video clips from the 1913-14 voyage. It's such an amazing story! I can't beleive what they went through and yet people still came out alive from it! I'm quite enjoying researching and preparing this speech. I think it's going to be a challenge, but I'm enjoying it so far. I want to finish getting all the information I need/want for it today then I'll write the speech when I get home on Monday.

On the 21st of this month I'm going to be playing a caprice by Gary Kulesha for solo violin in a Canadian Music recital/concert. The piece is quite charming, I really love it! It's going to be a bit of quick study to learn it by next Sunday but I think it will be worth it and I'm excited to see what the audience will think and how they will react. Contemporary music isn't really that popular here and the previous recitals of this manner are often beginner students playing the most popular, more study type works by Canadian composers. The last couple years I've learned and played a composition by a local composer a full suite for violin and piano and last year I played a section of one of my own compositions which was received quite well, so I'm excited about going even more out of the boundaries to try something new out!

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November 4, 2004 19:33

I've done it! I've debuted on viola! *bows* I played my Schubert Sonata! I sat through two hours of begginers and then, finally, after 48 other students, I got to play! I was last on the program. Sitting for all that time certaintly gave me enough time to get nervous. I don't get nervous very often at all, but this was a new experience for me and I knew of several things that could go wrong. Overall, I felt happy with my performance. I mucked up a few things and missed a clef change in one spot which momentarily gave the pianist a bit of a solo but I was generally pleased with my performance. The best part was my violin (also viola) teacher stayed for the whole concert to hear me play. I think she knew I was nervous. I got kind of fidgety in the last couple of kids before me, and she came and told me just before I went up to have fun and to announce that I was playing viola not violin. Looking in the program, I was in fact down playing violin. Hmm....So I thanked everyone for staying to the end (about 80% of the audience left during the course of the concert) and announced that I would be playing the viola as opposed to the violin.

My violin lesson yesterday was really good! We worked on the Kulesha Caprice that I had monkeyed around with a bit a couple months back. There is a concert here every year where Canadian Music is promoted, and though most of the kids are playing fairly basic songs by some of the most famous of Canadian composers, there are usually a few senior students who play something a little more off the beaten track. My teacher is able to submit one of her students and there is a fairly strict time limit. The Kulesha Caprice fits into that time limit and should be playable in the couple of weeks I have to prepare it. It's a wonderful little work. My teacher had never heard of it before I brought the score to my lesson one time so we are both having a lot of fun discovering this work and I hope the audience enjoys it as much as I am enjoying it so far! We also worked on the Barber concerto a fair bit. I was very pleased with what I managed to do, sound wise in the lesson. I hadn't had a lesson in nearly a month and I have been very focused on my technique and sound production the past while and just really focusing on long, slow, powerful clean bow strokes and I was able to make that come off pretty good in my lesson, which made me really happy! *sigh* such a nice feeling when things start to click!

This weekend (starting tomorrow) I have a symphony tour. It's a "lighter fare" set of concerts featuring a jazz vocalist. The entire program is jazz favorites which looks like a really good mix of stuff but sadly the violin part I'm playing has some rather awkwardly and rhytmically challenging stuff in it. It will be good to go to rehearsals tomorrow and see how it all fits together. On Monday, after the concerts are all done, I'm playing viola in a string quintet! We are just going to be sight-reading through a bunch of stuff. I love evenings of chamber music! I wish I could do that more often.

Well off to piano/history. Yes, music history again....interesting, but so much stuff to absorb, and so little time.

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