December 2004

December 26, 2004 15:29

Another busy Christmas season has come and gone! I got my white Christmas, which until Christmas eve was looking to be pretty unlikely. This Christmas month of December brought a bunch of new and different experiences and things to make me busy. All different from every other year so far. I have a job, and I worked to help get ready for the Christmas festivities, I started teaching more then just my one private student, and am teaching as a teacher at the local music school, bringing all sorts of different things into the mix of teaching, since it's not at my own home. I had new concert experiences this year. I didn't have as many concerts, which was a nice relief, but the ones I had brought new challenges to me. An interesting one being the new challenge and excitement of leading suzuki groups, accompanying suzuki groups, and then doing something, personally challenging in my own growth as musician. Bach and a contemporary Canadian work, both unaccompanied, playing them one right after the other, and by memory. I have done stuff by memory to be sure, I've done that tons, but not two totally contradictory works from two completely centuries and styles and techniques, and having them both be unaccompanied. Somehow it puts a little more pressure on ones self, you have no pianist to fall back on if things go wrong. When you are up there and settled though, the feeling is like none other, especially when you know that you know the pieces.

So I will reflect a bit on this Christmas season. I'm thankful for the friends and family who I've been able to spend time with and for all the different things I've gotten to do. From baking a gingerbread house from scratch and decorating gingerbread houses with friends, to watching classic Christmas films that I hadn't seen in years, and watching some that we watch every year. The Christmas lights on houses and decorations. The snow or lack of it. The smell of baking and the warmth of walking into someones house. All of these things that make all the difference each season, that make Christmas, Christmas. The presents aren't what matter, but even in the ritual of finding the right present for each person on your list, you try to find something that you know will make them smile and that will suit them to a T. Be it a humorus picture of a moose, painted completely out of perspective, or a new shirt, each gift should be, and is chosen with each individual in mind. Sometimes it would be nice to have Christmas all year around, but then we would lose the sentiment of this time of year and the love and work and effort that goes into this holiday.

I hope everyone had a Christmas season, whether they celebrate Christmas or not, no matter the race, color or culture. I hope everyone went out of their way to say something meaningful to someone they love and have made resolutions to better themself in someway in the new year.
A toast, or a note played to everyone who reads this. May you have a great New Year full of new, unexpected, challenging, exciting things. May the new year bring another chance to complete a project you vowed to finish this year, but didn't quite make it, and may we remember that wherever we are, we are blessed because there is always someone going through worse things then we can imagine. I think of the earth quake in Asia from yesterday, and the huge loss and amount of devastion and mourning and horros that are being experienced there. It makes me thankful to live where I do and know that I can go to bed and wake up again and know that my family is still there and my neighbors houses are still there. God bless everyone. Have a safe, wonderful, reflective new year.

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December 19, 2004 10:04

The more I teach, the more I love it! Yes, there are definetly little "perks" that sometimes get under your skin, but on a whole I'm enjoying it a whole lot more and I'm finding that I'm expanding on how to deal with problems that students are having. My oldest, and most advanced student is into shifting now and so my mind is being even more stretched to come up with more ways of explaining how to do it and how to practice it. A couple of my students, with it being the last before Christmas holiday's, brought me presents, which I honestly wasn't expecting, with it being only my second week teaching this particular bunch of kids. I was really touched that they did that and by the enthusiasm they showed in being at their lessons and getting to play for me and their want to learn and practice. A couple of my other students gave me hugs at the ends of their lessons and said they'd miss me over the holidays. When a student shows their appreciation that way it's really a very touching thing!

I had some other really flattering and touching things happen this week.

My week was jam packed full, over Tuesday and Wednesday I had to make up a mini English AP test (a handwritten essay in class and a multiple choice essay component). It was nice to get the hand written essay out of the way on Tuesday and only have the multiple choice part left for the next day. On Tuesday evening I was going out of town to another city to play for and dine with the Canadian Federation of University Women. No, I'm not a member, but this particular branch has sponsored me to help pursue my musical interests. In order to receive such a thing I took an audition for the mentorship program for the regional professional orchestra and was recommended by certain persons within the orchestra who felt I deserved this scholarship. Much to my suprise and delight I was selected back in the fall to receive it. I went to perform for the CFUW and meet many of it's members so they could ask me questions and they could find out what I was planning on doing in the future with music and what all else. It was great getting to meet everyone and prior to the dinner part of the evening a letter was read from the symphony board to the group of women in attendance about who they had chosen (me!) to receive this scholarship. The letter was highly flattering and I can't have been more red and happy and at the same time. It was just an incrediably flattering and humbling moment, to have educated people actually say that about me, it gives me a feeling that, yes, I do have potential and if I continue to work hard I will be able to pursue my dreams and goals.
Later on in the evening, after I had played, I was presented with a bouqet and was asked to say a little something, so I really hope that I was able to share just how thankful I am for such an honor and opportunity.

On Wednesday my week continued on in it's busy fashion. In the morning I went in early, before school to finish my AP "mini" test (for the actual exam there are 3 in class written essays with no previous preparation and 3 multiple choice essays). After my school thing was out of the way in the morning I went to my Grandparents place to pick up my stuff and get a bite to eat then headed over to the music school to practice for awhile and get some stuff organised for my students arriving in the afternoon. After a good hour of practicing I went back to my Grandparents to meet up with my violin teacher. We had a good time together and I really appreciate every minute we've spent together over the months. With traveling together when on symphony tours, the hours spent together in the car, on the road, we've gotten to know each other on a much more personal level so she's so much more then what was an already great friend and teacher, and it's something I really appreciate being able to have with her.

After we were done together, I had to teach, which was a bit of a long afternoon with a sore throat, but a good one! I enjoyed it a lot and had a great deal of fun teaching the students, now that I was more familiar with them.

After teaching I had a piano lesson. A real piano lesson! I hadn't played piano at my lesson since October when I started preparing for my music history exam, when we needed to focus our time on learning the stuff for that dreaded examination. But I got to play the piano for my WHOLE lesson! It was such a refreshing change. We worked on the second movement, Andante from the Pastorale Sonata and Grieg's Wedding Day At Troldhaugen, as well as a couple easy duets that I'll be performing in February and she had me try for a brief moment to improvise, which is something I've never really done much of before, and never in front of people. It was just so refreshing to sit down at the piano and play though. I hadn't done that in months, sit down and just play. Isn't it amazing how much more you appreciate little things like that if you've not been able to or had the time to do things like that for so long?

To end the week off was a quick trip to Vancouver and long drive home all night Friday night. (arrival time at home, just after 6 am) It was a long week, but it was a really good one with so many positives and things that I'll just keep beaming through the holidays and well into the new year.

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December 11, 2004 21:56

We've had snow. And we've lost snow. We've had more snow. And we've lost more snow. This last dump of snow has sadly melted and there are only hints of it left where there have been driveways shoveled and roads cleared. When you look up the hill and into the mountains of the valley though, the snow and winter season is very much present! Today would have been the perfect day to take pictures of the snowy mountains. I was walking to work and the view overlooking the lake was astounding! The water was almost glass like and the clouds, after much rain, were opening up to reveal a brilliant blue sky and rays of sunshine. The combination of the pure white mountain tops, and glass like water with the clouds, mountains, blue sky and rays of sunshing reflecting on the mirror of water was dazzling!

I've taught just two days at the local music school, but so far I'm really enjoying it! All the students are different in personality and ability and it's fascinating to see how different they each sound and how creative you have to be when it comes to each individual student. The challenge of teaching is really enjoyable. I hope I'm doing a good job as a teacher. It's definetly going to stretch me, I think, but in a positive way! It's nice too, to be able to go to the school and go into "my" studio and practice. I'm in a much more concentrated state when I'm in the studio like that, so it really helps me focus and get a lot done in a short space of time.

On Thursday, I had to be in town for a massage and because I had to be in from 9-5 I went and practiced there for a couple hours. I was meeting my teacher there for some music for a concert I'm doing on Tuesday. I needed some Christmas carols to fill out the short program of Bach and my own composition. After practicing until about 2:30, I went to the office to say I was leaving and that I had gotten some stuff sorted out and the classical guitar teacher was there. - This guitar teacher is really a phenomenal guitarist and a really genuine guy, just a lot of fun. - He asked if I was expecting students, I said no, I had just stopped by to get some practicing done while in town, and he asked me if I wanted to play! A couple of his students had cancelled and he had some music, so we played some chamber music for awhile. It was really a great deal of fun! It's not often you get to play with someone as amazing as him and it was really just pure bliss for me! We played some Medieval music, which was really great stuff!

Playing the Medieval music was interesting too from the point of view that on Friday I wrote my RCM History 4 exam. It has a huge concentration in vocal music, particularly that of the Middle Ages and Renaissance but also through to the classical era.

The history exam was quite brutal. I did not enjoy writing it one bit, and I honestly don't know how I've done on it. All I can do is wait and see. I was a little scared right off the bat, because in the "easy" marks section there were questions that didn't actually pertain to what was outlined in the syllabus. I'm anxious to know how I did on the exam.

My next project now, is trying to finish a work I'm writing for a string orchestra. I was hoping to have it finished for Monday and the quartet I play viola in was going to try it out for me, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to have it finished and have the parts copied out by then. I'll see though. I for sure want to finish it by New Years so that I can send the score back with the conductor of the orchestra when she's down visiting over the Christmas holidays. It will be exciting to see how the piece works out and how people like it!

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December 6, 2004 09:27

Yesterday was a marathon day for a concert and just for the day in general. The concert ran over 3 hours in length (that is WAY too long) and by the end the 200+ people had diminshed to about 30.

In the morning I ran through the Bach/ Kulesha performance setting three times in total just to get comfortable with them both by memory and going from something so heartfelt and beautiful as the Bach into something still beautiful but very angular and abrupt as the Kulesha.

I went into town early to rehearse with a girl who I was playing a duet with, and so I got some practicing done before she arrived and then it didn't take long to put the piece together once she had arrived. I got a ride over from the music school studio where we practiced to where the concert was being held. First up were all the suzuki groups so I was kept busy getting straight the order of the pieces, tuning violins and doing a head count. The kids did quite well, and were all really adorable! I think I might have taken Twinkle a bit slow, because I was even nervous for my first time leading, but it went well and the kids were really great! After "my" Suzuki groups I played piano for two of the other suzuki intermediate group pieces. Those went pretty well. The piano, I felt really bad for, a nice upright Yamaha and it obviously hadn't had any work done on it in a VERY LONG time. It was horrible out of tune, and the touch had gone all askew, so I'm not sure it really enhanced the kids performances in a positive way at all. After sitting around for nearly an hour after that I got to play the duet, which went really great! The girl did wonderful and she had two rows worth of people there to see her with their cameras and video cameras ready to go! She was quite nervous, but she really did a very good job and I thought, remained quite composed despite the butterflies in her stomach. And yet another hour wait or slightly more before my solos came up on the program. I was a bit nervous, well not so much nervous as anxious, I hadn't been able to properly warm up in over 3 hours by then so that was one thing that was weighing on my mind, and just the "Can I get through two, demanding pieces by memory that I haven't been playing for very long?" When I finally got to play, I went out there with the pat of a teacher on my back, gave my introduction and played. The Bach went really well I felt, which I was very pleased and happy about, and the Kulesha went better then the previous performance of it had gone, but still could have been better. But then, every performance can go better. But overall, I was pleased with how it had gone and my ability to play two unaccompanied works by memory like that and now get lost or fumble around. After playing my solos there were still a few numbers left on the program, then there was the string orchestra which I ended up sitting in on, and sight-reading in. It was a lot of fun. I had played the first violin part for one of the pieces before and viola for the other piece, so playing second violin, I got a whole new perspective on both pieces! That was a lot of fun though and I really enjoyed myself. The Kulesha, with the remaining audience, seemed to go over really well and one person asked when I was going to learn the other caprices in the set. Maybe that will be have to be my side project....all three Kulesha caprices.

Well that was my day yesterday. Now I need to head off to school and get some work done.

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December 5, 2004 13:17

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December 3, 2004 17:36

Excitement! The past couple of weeks have included something new and different for me. Suzuki group leading! I never had really done much Suzuki as a small child and I had never gotten to play in a Suzuki group as a child either. In a sense, I'm almost living a child-hood dream. I remember watching other kids get to play in the groups and seeing films like "Music of the Heart" and going, "I want to do that!" Now, as a "big kid" I get to "do that!" It's been a lot of fun so far. I've done two classes with the help and guidance of my teacher there in the room with me. My teacher is taking time off for an injury and the annual Christmas concert put on by our music school always has a set by each of the Suzuki groups so I'm really excited to get in on the fun this year with them and get to play along with them and lead them. There really is something irrisistable about a whole bunch of little kids with their tiny violins and their eyes and faces glued on you or completely absorbed in what they are doing that they are almost oblivious to what is going on around them. I'm really enjoying this whole experience and it's sparked my interest into learning more about the Suzuki method and the proper approach to teaching it and working with groups.

On top of leading some of the Suzuki groups at Sunday's concert, I'm also going to be accompanying the other teacher's groups on the piano! I can't do all the pieces as from now until Sunday isn't really enough time to learn them all, but I'm going to at least do two of the pieces. On top of all that fun I will be doing a fiddle duet with a really charming student of my teachers. AND! To add to the fun even more and put the icing on that already really yummy chocolate cake, (and not just icing sugar icing, the whipped cream/chocolate pudding stuff) I am going to be playing, both by memory the Bach C major Largo and Kulesha Caprice No.1! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

And that brings this excited blogger to an end for the day! (Now if it would hurry up and start snowing )

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