School starts on September 7th, and I start a 5 day symphony tour on the 8th, which should be fun to see how it all works out. Luckily how my courses lay out, I won't have to miss classes, maybe just half of one class to acomadate travel time for rehearsals on the one day, but other then that, I don't have to worry about it conflicting. I'm excited about the program we are playing. I'm not a huge fan of Beethoven's 5th Symphony, but I think the experience of playing it will be a great deal more enjoyable then listening to it for the ---ousandth time. We have a cello soloist coming to play Tchaikovsky's Roccoco Variations, which is a piece I am not at all familiar with and then for one more piece, to add some definite variety to the program, Rautavaara's Cantus Arcticus (concerto for birds and orchestra). It's a really neat piece, it will be interesting to see how the audience reacts to it. I played a clip of the second movement for a friend and she said that it kind of creeped her out how birdlike it sounded, and that it would have scared her even more to see it in a live performance with all those sounds coming from the stage. Hopefully most people will find it intriguing and interesting, and will find that they enjoy the work.
Solo practice has been going well overall. Yesterday I was a bit stingy on the practicing but I did get a bunch of harmony done and got some other things done around the house. I even made myself a chicken, noodle stir fry!
I was reading an article this morning on memorization and performances. It was titled "to memorise or not" and I think it raised more questions then answers. It's an interesting concept though. I personally from a listeners point of view like the performer to use music in a chamber setting, as it seems to make everyone in the audience more at ease and I think that often the performers have a lot of what's on the page in front of them memorised, so it gives them that fall back barrier should something happen, but ultimately gives them more freedom to play off the other performer(s) on stage. For concerto performances, I don't really have a preferance as to whether or not they use the score. I personally, when having soloed with an orchestra, have used the score in rehearsals, other then the last, dress rehearsal, then left the score away, as I feel pretty comfortable playing by memory, but as for watching, I could really care less, whatever makes the performer on stage the most comfortable and gives them the ability to deliver and exciting performance. When I do recital type programs, some piece you have to memorise because you aren't going to have two or three stands out there to accomadate page turns in a piece where there are no rests (like the Vitali Ciaccona), but for Sonatas and things, I like to have them mostly memorised, if not completely then having the music there for the same purposes as I mentioned above. It's an interesting thing though. Is it better to have it all memorised and play by memory, should we ban the music from the stage? I like what the article mentioned about a sonata recital..if the violinist/cellist plays the sonatas by memory, should the pianist as well? hmm...often times the piano part is even harder then the violin part, so is that fair to expect them to memorise if you memorise? ah well...to each his own! :D
Now I'm going to turn off Coldplay and start doing something constructive. (Is that my Carl Flesch scale system and Rode Caprices calling me from my music stand?) It's cooler today, and everything feels pretty fresh outside, so I think today is going to be a good day!
It's supposed to start cooling off now, which I'm pleased about. I love the cold weather of the winters here, it could be colder, but I am quite content! The colors of fall will soon be a nice change, and reprive from this hot summer. It's supposed to cloud over and rain today, which would be nice! We haven't had much rain in quite some time.
Practicing this past week has gone pretty good overall. It's nice to be getting back into gear after those few days of last week. I needed the break and I feel much more refreshed now when coming back to my repertoire and technique. I've got some new technical study books to try my hands at, which is proving to be fun and a challenge! My brother, a guitar virtuoso, is also challenging me as we are having some friendly competition on learning Dont 2. Based upon what he's done with it in the past couple days, compared to me...I'd say he's going to win, but it never hurts for me to try! I practiced some viola yesterday too, which I hadn't done in awhile. Got my head around some more of the Schubert Sonata and eyed the Bach debating as to whether I should pick it up or leave it for later, I picked the latter, and never did get around to picking it up, but maybe today or tomorrow....
Nothing too exciting happening!I just keep plugging away!
Last weekend I played at a wedding. It was outdoors which always presents it's challenges. The setting was very beautiful, and lucky for me I got to be under a beautiful vine covered arbour which kept me in the shade and blocked the wind to a certain extent. My biggest problem ended up being a wasp. It liked landing in the cup of my left hand while I played and seemed to like my lip gloss (...one of the rare times I wear some makeup and it attracts wasps....). The wasp I think got irritated with me and he bit me (didn't sting). It really hurt! Luckily when they bite you it only hurts for a breif momemt or two. After about one piece's worth of being bugged by this bug my uncle (who I didn't know was going to be there) came over to take a picture and he noticed my issues with the wasp. He kindly squished the wasp with his bare hands and disposed of him. Finally! Now I could get back to playing. The only problem after that was conviently right as the processional started. I had a quick page from one piece into another and wasn't able to pin anything down, and conviently the wind decided to blow my music around. Two of the three pages were pinned down, so once playing to a part I knew I could get away with open strings on I flipped my music back and put my scroll on top of the one loose page. It worked and the rest of the ceremony went great!
Yesterday I went for a rehearsal for another wedding. This one will be indoors which will be nice. It's in a nice old stone church. I haven't played in that church since I was 8! It was kind of coincidental because it was just a few weeks ago that I was thiking about that church and wondered what the acoustics would be like. Having not played there since I was 8, I don't remember what it was like and being a very nervous performer then it's doubtful I would have even noticed how good/bad the acoustics were. It turns out it has pretty nice acoustics! The ceiling is all wood paneling which adds to the resonance of the big church. What I'd really like to do is play some Bach in there. My ride was quite late yesterday and had I known I would have just stayed inside and played a bit, but oh well! Another time. I'm sure it won't be the last time I play in that church.
Taking a few days off was a nice thing to do. I had a friend come down and stay with me. We went tubing down the river channel in town to cool off one day and just had a good time! I think I benefitted from taking the time off when I did. I was feeling a tad burnt out and was feeling like I needed a break so the time of everything was very good. I'm happy and excited to be back to playing again though. I think taking time off before you get too burned out is a good thing and it helps keep you more fresh and makes you less likely to burn out because you've taken that nessecary reprive before you get too frustrated with and tired of playing.
It's only a few weeks until school starts up again. Crazy! It's going to be an interesting year. I'm going to what some people would call "real school". I've been homeschooled for a really long time but have decided to take a couple of courses at the highschool while doing the rest by correspondance. This should hopefully allow me to still have the majority of my time devoted to my music. We'll see how things shape up though!
I had a violin/viola lesson yesterday. We covered some technical things with bowing and worked on some vibrato then worked on the Ysaye sonata a bit. The tenths are starting to finally get more solid. The one thing that drives me nuts about the Ysaye sonata is that when you up play it fast the bowing technicalities are easier, but the really clear intonation and ringing is really hard to do well, and when you slow it down for intonation and ease in shifts the bowing becomes more difficult. This will be a good piece for me to really get good at both bow control and that pure, ringing intonation. After working out some of the little gliches and technical things with my teacher in the Ysaye, it was time to pull out the viola. I haven't really played viola for that long, about a week and a half, but once you get past the clef it's not too hard! The thing I'm finding the hardest about the Schubert sonata is switching back and forth from alto to treble clef. I'm starting to get into gear though and being able to switch. The sound of the viola is just beautiful though! It's a shame not more people play it seriously.
I'm starting back at harmony today or tomorrow. I was hoping to do my Harmony 4 exam in the December session, but I'm thinking it may have to wait until the May exam session, in which case I'll probably do History 4 in December. Either way, I want to complete both of them before attempting my grade 10 violin exam. That way I'm not so far beind when it comes to doing my ARCT. I really hope I can complete all my theory requirements to get my ARCT before I go to university, I'm organising my school scheduel as best I can to hopefully allow myself the ability and opportunity to go and complete my ARCT successfully. I'll take three years if nessecary to complete highschool to do it.
maybe I'll go do some harmony now...
The repertoire for the week that I worked on included part of a Mozart quartet and a Handel Air (viola) A Mozart string trio, a Bach violin/cello duo and the Handel/Halvorsen Passacaglia (violin) and then a piano trio by Frank Bridge (piano). Aside from that we did some string orchestra stuff and as it turned out had the right number of players, almost exactly, to try out some of the Mendelsohhn Octet. In the end for the concert I played viola in two string orchestra pieces (Bach Brandenburg concerto No. 3 and American Gaelic by whom I cannot remember), violin in what ended up being the Handel/Halvorsen/Welton/Zachary Passacaglia, with additional editing jobs done by the cellist and myself to have it be playable by the end of the week and then the trio by Frank Bridge.
It was a fun week! On Saturday, after the 5 days of 8 or more hours of playing a day my arms were rather sore though. I took most of yesterday off aside from some vibrato excersises and today feel much better, but am planning to not push it too much. I have a couple of weddings that I'm playing for over the next couple of weeks and would hate to be sore and in pain for those, so today will be another semi-relaxing day!
On Tuesday I played the Bach E major preludio in a masterclass for one of the faculty members. The room was horrible cold from air conditioning so I ran my hands under hot water for a bit before playing, in attempt to warm them up. It sort of worked. I didn't play the best I've played the piece but I was satisfied with my performance considering the short amount of time I've been working on the piece and having that be the first performance of it. I got some really useful feedback on it and have to improve my tone and the clarity and ringing in the intonation, so I'm going to work hard on that and apply that to my playing.
It never ceases to amaze me just how much difference such tiny little things can make, like listening to the ringing of the notes and tuning to the overtones that ring when you play well in tune, or how much difference where you are in the bow and the kind of weight applied can make in fast string crossings. So a lot of good tips in the masterclass and in my private lesson.
It's quite hot here, again, today. We are planning on going down to the annual August Faire at some point. I didn't go last year, and the previous two years were not the most fun after getting back from the faire, but I think this year should be good! I wonder if I'll find any good books in the library's booth. You can get paperback for 25 cents and hardcover for only 50 cents! And there are always lots of really neat booths to look around in!
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