Today I'm feeling less than energetic so haven't accomplished much aside from school and some less than serious practicing. Yesterday though was a very productive day and I think tomorrow seems like it should be a good day for getting things done! I'll keep my fingers crossed!
I will not dwell too much on this week though, I had a trip to Vancouver and a concert last weekend that I haven't written about yet and some other piece of interesting news!
The trip down to Vancouver was nice. I enjoyed the drive down though had a hard time staying awake for a good part of it. It was a good day for driving, not too sunny but not rainy and dark. It's about a 5-6 hour trip depending on the traffic and weather conditions. There was a fair amount of snow in the mountain overpasses but nothing on the roads that affected ones ability to actually drive. It was nice to see the snow! And now, as of today, we have quite a nice build up of snow coating everything!
Vancouver was untypically sunny and warm. My sister was singing with a choir at UBC so we of course had to go and see that! Her choir was really good and for the most part the singers all seemed to be enjoying themself. They are supposed to be the best or second best choir on campus which is pretty impressive especially considering many of the singers aren't voice majors, some aren't even music majors! After my sisters great concert what can you do but celebrate? Not a whole lot! We went to a place called "True Confections" where they have deserts that make your jaw drop. Cakes that are 6 inches high even! Of course I went for the cake that was completely covered in chocolate and was one of the tallest in the display case! I tried a dark Belgian chocolate and orange cake. Wow! That was yummy! It was 6 layers high and it took me two sittings to eat.
My lesson went really good. In even just the space of a week and with the little time I've actually had to practice I am noticing a difference in how the Bach sounds and how my scales and everything sounds. Slow practice is proving to be a good thing for me and everything we worked on with the Bach fugue has made it easier! My Mom has even begun to notice some big differences in the last few days as I'm starting to feel more settled and less anxious when I play/perform the piece. Technically we worked on the chords and how/where to attack them. We worked on it quite a bit last lesson too but I forgot one minor that was not so minor detail that has really made a huge difference that I am incorporating it into the piece. Musically I'm starting to not feel so "planned" I feel like what we've worked on and discussed is starting to come more naturally as the technical obstacles are starting to be less in the way as they become easier making the musical side of things less forced. Ah, for the day when I can pick up my violin and have it "work"! We worked on vibrato too....my pete peeve of playing the violin and it's finally starting to become more consistent and easy for me! I don't have to be yelling at myself all the time "loosen up!" "from the arm!" "keep it even!" which is a relief now if I can just stay motivated to keep practicing it until it truly is 100% natural.
On Sunday I played the Eckhardt-Gramatte Caprice No.10 in a Canada Music Week concert in my area. There was one younger violinist who played a very sweet, short melody. I taught her the week before as her teacher was away and she wanted to be sure to get in a lesson before the concert.Other than her and I, the rest was all piano. There weren't any really really beginning players but there weren't really any overly advanced players which was kind of dissappointing. It's nice to have a little bit more variety but the concert was not very long which was good because they have in past been marathon length. My performance went pretty good overall. Being 19th to play my hands were rather cold and it took a few bars to kind of settle in and warm up. There were a couple of things that I was really annoyed at my self for screwing up but they weren't things that the audience would have known at all and I think, I hope I captured a couple of the elements that I had worked on in my lesson the day before. There's still room for improvement though!!
The interesting/exciting news of this week is that I've begun writing a composition based on about an 8 bar melody from Mozart's opera that Magic Flute. It's for a competition. I have to write a variation or set of variations on this melody and then a panel selects certain ones to air on the radio and then one will be selected to win the grand prize of $1,000. It can't be more than 3 minutes in length and I have until December 30th to get it complete. I have many ideas jumping around in my head and some on paper so I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do with it. I have no idea what the chances of my winning or getting it played are but it's not such a large-scale work that it's not worth the time to do something like that and have a shot at those prizes.
This is starting to get long so I'll try and close up here. This weekend is another concert. I have rehearsals tomorrow for a faculty/adulty student recital which is on Sunday. The music school I teach at is having an evening concert on a historic boat in town (it's a big boat with a nice hall) and it's geared towards the schools adult students! One of my students and I are doing a duet together and then doing some group things and then I get to join in with some fellow faculty members for some other music which I'm excited about! I don't have all the music yet, I get the rest at tomorrows rehearsals but I'm very excited about doing a triosonata with one of the classical guitar teachers and my own teacher who teaches at the school.
Well it's 10:30 and I should probably go and peel my contact lenses off before they are permanently dried onto my eyes.
This is going to be quite short because I still have a couple of things to finish packing up before I leave for Vancouver
Today I get to see snow and lots of it! I'm going to Vancouver to hear my sister peform and for a lesson. I'm very excited for both! The snow part comes in when driving through the mountain passes. We've had snow where I live a few times now, none of it has stayed much more than a day or so but I do really enjoy having the white stuff to trapse around in and smell! There's something about the air when there's snow that is really appealing to me.
I get my second shot at the Eckhardt-Gramatte Caprice No. 10 on Sunday. I haven't had quite as much time to practice this past week as I would have hoped but time considering, I think I've done fairly well and getting myself prepared for both my lesson and performance. My local teacher has another student playing in this Canada Music Week concert that I will be playing the E-gre caprice in. She's a younger student, who is doing really well! I've been subbing for my teacher for a couple of her students while she's been away and I got to hear and work on the piece this girl is playing. It's a really fun piece called "Galloping Junior" and you can see the fun and enjoyment on her face when she plays the piece. It has this air and dance-like quality that is really infectious and she does an excellent job of the work and it's challenges!
Another student this past week who I got to teach while my teacher has been away is a really neat kid who I taught last year when my teacher was off due to injury. He's homeschooled and autistic and one of the neatest kids you can meet. He didn't want to play the melody of Jingle Bells, he wanted to play the harmony and be "different" so he's playing harmony and quite musically too! He is also working on a Canadian work at the moment (we tried to convince him he should play at this Canada Music Week concert but he declined) that is very dance like and almost has a hoedown feel. When he first played it for me you could hear the notes well but you could tell he wasn't really into it, I gave him a new way to think about it and made him try just the first two bars after hearing my do it with that image in mind. He did it and the whole piece just came alive! It was great!
Everyone in my studio, almost everyone anyways, is playing Jingle Bells these days for upcoming recitals and performances and it's starting to feel like Christmas with the snow, the carols, and never ending concerts that are near approaching! I love this time of year, even though it's busy and hectic. There's the sense of everyone working together and preparing for things and it's a great feeling!
I must be off!
Sitting behind me right now are three violins (actually 5 if you count two student instruments) and a viola. There should be 4, but I opted to leave the bright, metallic green one at the music school in my studio since it's not an instrument I will be practicing on.
I'll start with the green violin. It's made by a new maker in the area who doesn't play violin and has learned how to make instruments purely by reading and watching shows on making instruments. His violins are really nice overall, not professional instruments, but very good quality student instruments. My students in my suzuki group last night were very excited to see such a shiny, green violin! I'll be playing that violin in lessons for a week or so to give it and it's maker some exposure.
Violin No. 1 - is the one I currently play and have had on loan for the last couple of years.
Violin No.2 - A new instrument built in 2003 that I have the option of having on loan for this year.
Violin No.3 - My teachers professional instrument. I get the joy of playing this and comparing it between my violin and this 2003 made one while me teacher is on holidays for a week or so.
Viola - my chamber music instrument, side hobby that I haven't had in months and is now back! It's not actually my viola but I get to use it!!!
Violin No.2 - I'm not yet convinced like this instrument. It's supposed to be better than my violin that I currently play. It's quite a bit louder under the ear, and the sound is somewhat viola like but I don't feel like the lower register fills out how I like it, and it feels somewhat closed and sound muddy to me. I'm just not feeling attached to it or like we are compatible. I'm a complete novice at such things so I wonder if I am too picky but even from when I upgraded my student violin to another violin, I found, after trying 10-15 violins, one that I absolutely loved. It felt natural and easy to play. Grr...
Well, I am excited! I haven't seriously played viola since June and on Monday night I get to go and play in a Quartet again! I'm very excited!!
I thought I had some other earth shattering news to share, but there isn't really too much else to say right now.
If you need 5 or 10 minutes break from the daily stress of life and want some comic relief, this piece is very awesome!
I was going through some old recordings and I came across this and thought you all might get a laugh out of it.
Just a small edit - It's snowing outside right now! The smell is great, the look and sound is great, and you can hear our neighbors out on their back deck (which is already strung with Christmas lights) singing "Winter Wonderland."
So the costume....I opted to not dress up in the interest of my ability to perform the pieces i needed to play. Of course though, me being highly organized and generally always well prepared had to mess up the recital time by 30 minutes. I arrived what I thought would be half an hour early but ended up being the start time. Hmm...oops. How I managed to get the time mucked up, I don't know. I did get everyone tuned though and all my students did a great job. When it came to my turn to play I felt completely calm and relaxed. My vibrato which I've struggled with lots was really loose and relaxed and even. It was one of those performances that once you are in it you just never want it to end because everything feels so good and right. I was in complete control the whole time and felt completely free and at ease. It was great! Too bad it wasn't recorded.
This week has been hectic both in music and at school. Lots of homework, teaching, practicing and all the regular craziness of life! One thing that made this week really great is I had my first piano lesson since the beginning of June. My first piano lesson in nearly half a year!!! I had managed to practice over the summer and in between things I managed to squeeze in time here and there to sit down at the piano and play. I picked out a new work to learn by Ernst Schneider called "Homage to SR," SR being Sergei Rachmaninov. It's a difficult piece but I love playing Mr. Schneider's music and it's been a long time since I've done one of his piano works. It is loaded with different Rachmaninov theme's and some challenging passagwork where the patterns are not anything aside from rhythmic in order making them hard to remember which notes you jump to when. There are points in this piece where you stop figuring out in those massive chords which notes have accidentals, you figure out which chords don't have accidentals. It's a really fun piece and I'm loving it! I'm also working on a Bach Prelude and Fugue. Bach fugues have got to be the hardest, most stressful things to play on any instrument. The prelude, now that it's under my fingers, is a lot of fun to play though and a very sweet, lyrical piece. Now I'm going to boast a bit here, my piano teacher asked what i wanted to do in regards of piano this year because I'm not at this point planning on trying for the ARCT exam, I just want to be a good, competent pianist who can sit down and play a Beethoven Sonata just because I want to. Anyways, part of being a competent pianist is technique. I absolutely loath practicing technique on the piano so I told my piano teacher I want her to make me do technique at every lesson. We are starting off easy, not tons of technique but a few different scales and things that I have to do. This is where the boasting comes in. Everyday since my lesson on Tuesday (all of three days) I have sat down and practiced through my entire set of technique things that I was assigned before playing a single note in my repertoire. *listens for the applause*
One thing that I really appreciate about being able to sit down at the piano and play is I don't have any obligations or things that I have to do. I'm playing purely because I love to play and want to play. It's also kind of ironic that the busier I get with everything the more time I seem to be able to make to sit down and play. It's like a release of all the stress and anxiety of the day and days to come. I can just live in the moment for awhile and focus on making something beautiful for me and only for me. It's not because I have a gig (as fun as those are!) or because I have an exam, it's because I choose to.
Tomorrow morning I have a violin lesson and I intend to find my bed earlier tonight. I forgot some of my homework assignment at school and have finished more or less all of what I brought home that needs to be done so an early night is managable tonight!
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