Vancouver was really good! The first intended reason of going down there was to see James Ehnes with the Vancouver Symphony play the Walton violin concerto. I had got a ticket to the concert for my birthday last fall from my parents. It also ended up being another "bonding" outing with my violin teacher from where I live, as well as a chance to have another lesson with Jasper Wood.
We drove down on the Saturday, the day of both the lesson and concert. It was one of those "couldn't be more perfect" days. Clear blue sky, not a cloud in sight, just the right tempreture to wear pants and a long sleeved shirt and be comfortable without a coat. It was just gorgeaus! To my great delight the weather was the same in Vancouver! Vancouver: The place of rain and fog and cloud cover, but no, it was clear blue skys and you could see all the mountains and look out towards the ocean at the endless blue. I hope my pictures turn out!
The lesson with Mr. Wood was really awesome. I learned so much. It was probably the most informative violin lesson I've ever had. We covered so many concepts and details. I certaintly will have no way of complaining that I've worked on/mastered everything covered in that lesson, at least not for a long while. But WOW, what a lesson. So much to work on!! Mr. Wood's teaching is very excellent though and he is very motivating, I felt completely comfortable and relaxed (mostly!) this time around.
The concert in the evening was really fun. My teacher who drove down with me for the lesson has known James Ehnes since he was a tiny little kid, so it was very exciting for her to get to hear him play and see him again. It was neat to see Ehnes' reaction when my teacher went and said hi to him, and they spent a couple minutes catching up. The actual concert was really amazing. The Walton concerto really suits James Ehnes' playing and he pulled it off really beautifully and for the most part was well accompanied with the VSO. Such a cool concerto that's not performed often enough, but then when you look at how hard both the orchestral and solo parts are, it's not that suprising that many people want to take a chance at trying it.
I got back later in the day on Monday and got to try catching up on school for tests that I had on Tuesday and Thursday. I think both tests went alright. In my Macbeth essay, I somehow managed to use the dining expereince at a resturant and tie it in with the importance of small role characters in the play. We'll see just how well I actually tied it in on Monday I guess. ... .. .. .. .. I actually enjoyed writing that test for the most part. It's always a challenge to present thoughts well and in a sensible fashion and still get your own ideas across as well.
Tomorrow I have a recital. I'm playing the Souvenir d'Amerique, which should be fun! It's a recital put on by the music school that I teach and study at, so not only do I get to be a student and perform, I get to be a teacher and some of my students are playing! I'm a little nervous as it's the first time they've performed in public and the first time I've had my own students perform in front of other faculty, but it's also very exciting!!
I also managed to get my audition cd recorded this week for summer programs. It's nice to have that done and out of the way! Now I just have to finish up my application forms and get them in the mail.
So all in all a productive week or so! :D
There's just something about hundreds of kids popping out of their seats in a hall when you hit those sforzandos and fortes in the Marraige of Figaro that is really amusing, hard to not be distracted by, but the whole time remaining inspiring. These are kids who are experiencing classical music and loving it!
Between Tuesday and Thursday of last week I played 7 shortened educational programs as part of a school concert tour. It was dubbed "Mozart on the Move." It was a little much Mozart for my taste, but the kids seemed to love it and despite the lack of sleep and long hours of driving to and from different venues, each time I sat down to play and saw all these kids filing their way off school buses into the hall there was this infectious quality that makes you just really want to play your best.
The conductor, a guest conductor was a lot of fun. Excellent with the kids and very interactive. At one concert a couple kids had their hands held up to ask questions, and even though that wasn't part of the program, he asked them what their questions were and answered them with taste and skill. He made the whole event highly interactive, having some of the kids getting to come up and play with the orchestra at one point (percussion for the "Toy Symphony" finale) and requesting different things of the kids and making it fun for them.
It really was a lot of fun and I wish that it was something we could do more often. Maybe the fact that we are doing Peter and the Wolf in March is a clue that this might be something we start to do more often. The kids enjoy it, and the orchestra enjoys it. The cheering, claps, and the bug eyed looks from the kids as you walk past them with your instrument should be enough to make this a more regular thing. We need to make classical music fun and exciting for kids and these type of programs are just the way to do it.
"Is anyone here good at video-games?" *hands shoot up across the hall..." "Well Mozart was good at composing!"
School this past week was interesting. It was a "different" week for me. I had to take my violin to school with me one day and my English teacher and class ganged up on me and made me play. What do you play for an English class of largely un-classical music lovers? Why not some Yankee Doodle? So that's what I did! English was also highly amusing this week for other reasons. We are drawing to a close in our study of Shakespeare's Macbeth. On Friday I, along with two other people in my class, had to act out part of a scene. We were witches. Everyone in the class had to take part in this acting assignment. We weren't marked on our acting abilities, that's just to make it fun, but on our ability to memorise lines and recite them ."Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd..." Burning fires and bubbling cauldrons anyone?
On Saturday I had my first rehearsal EVER with an accompanist who wasn't a member of my family. We did the Barber concerto and Robinovitch, Adieu Babylon together. They actually came together much easier then I had expected, especially the Robinovitch, which with improvisitory sections and "piano and violin play independently of each other" I was a little worried how it would all come together, but overall it seemed to work pretty good, just a couple of little details and some of the tempo changes and transitions of the sections need to be smoothed over. I really enjoyed the experience though, and it was really great to have a collborater is very good at what they do and who is willing to listen to my ideas and contribute his own.
This week I will not be seeing my locker at school at all! I'm going on tour! 7 concert, 4 cities, 3 days! How's that for busy? Rehearsals start tomorrow and Tuesday morning an educational tour kicks off. I'm very excited about getting to take part in the symphony event that got me really into classical music. They are known as school concerts, even though the performances aren't actually at schools, the schools come to us. It should be exciting! It's a somewhat annoying program to play, but I know the kids will love it and with some of my students in the audiences it will be an extra special thing.
It's going to be cool and feel good to take part in what got me interested in classical music, and hopefully some of the kids will be inspired to take up an instrument or keep playing. I think we need to be more connected with the kids in our communities and find ways of getting them excited and interested in classical music, or even just playing an instrument.
Last year I played a bunch of fiddle style stuff at the International Children's Festival held here. It was a 3 day event and I played on two of the days that it was held. There weren't tons of kids, but the kids who were there seemed to really enjoy it.
I think another important thing about music education and getting kids interested is that you've got to make it personal! To them, attending a concert and seeing these people play instruments on a stage seems like an impossibility to many of them and something they can only watch and dream about or imagine what it would be like. We need to be in tune with the kids and make it seem real and physical to them, talk to them and get to know them, ask them questions and let them ask you questions, no matter how crazy. I've been asked some rather "strange" questions (what's the difference between a first and second violin? They both look like the same instrument to me.) but when you know how to respond and are nice about it, generally the kids, adults, whoever, are really appreciative and find it very insteresting.
As a kid, I would have liked to have been able to ask more questions and be able to talk to the people on stage. Now, as one of "those people" on stage, I make a point of being in touch with the audience and going out and spending the intermission in the lobby and talking to the audience. You need to make your audience feel connected to the people on stage, I think. If it's a solo recital, greet your audience from the stage and tell them a bit about the piece, or your own personal experiences with a piece that you are playing that night, but be in contact, get your audience engaged.
I realise there are many people who come to hear the music, and the music only, but I think on a whole, our audiences are now (or at least here, anyways) largely filled with those who need to be engaged in order to come back again to another concert or to get more interested in classical music.
That was a rather peculiar entry, with a couple things running together, but hopefully whoever reads this found it interesting!
I'm off to go and educate kids in classical music in an engaging, fun way, and I'm pumped about it. What's better then sharing the thing I love most with the kids that I once sat with and imagined with. I hope this week minds are captured, a good time is had, and that I can make some difference, no matter how big or small, for the kids who attend.
Since December 26th, 2004 when the Tsunami devastated a huge amount of people and countries, whenever I am at school or walking around town or opening the paper, all you see is articles and pictures from the horrific event. Such a terrible thing to happen, so many people affected and the outreach from around the world has been amazing. My school held a drive to raise money to send and aid in relief efforts, to which I donated all the money that I had on me that day. There have been performers from around the world doing concerts and fundraisers to raise money. I myself took part in a concert over the weekend where I lent my playing abilities to a variety show of classical to jazz to metal to raise money to help the children orphaned by this disaster.
Such an amazing outpouring of help and support for a stricken world. But is it? People are donating their money and time in a heart beat to an event that was a freak of nature and could not be avoided, which is awesome to see, but what about the rest of the world? What about the children in Sudan? Over 30,000 people die there each month due to the cruelty of the human kind. Children are forced into working as sex slaves, or child soldiers. Forced to kill or amputate their own families and villages to save their own lives. They are kidnapped, or their families are killed in front of them, with them left standing their to find their own food and shelter, all the while stuck, living in a place totally scary and memories un-eraseable which will torment them for life. How often do we hear about concerts done to raise money for the kids, women and men of the Sudan and Colombia who are forced to live in such horrible conditions that are all man caused and can be helped?
How often do we hear of an outpouring of help and funds for the people of Africa in the middle of an aids and starvation epidemic? The numbers are staggering and these people can be educated and with a little support can have a better quality of life, and have a chance of growing up and seeing their children growing up or see their kids go to school. How would you like to see your own child sit in front of you, so sick from the lack of food and funds, unable to eat the small amount of food you have been able to get that night all because they're so sick that their tiny bodies can't handle the trauma of digestion? Such a tiny amount of money can help a child and their entire family survive, yet where's the news headlines on them and their crisis'?
What about labourer's in Asia where people work for the smallest amounts of money just so that they can survive? Or in the Phillipines or in the Dominican Republic? How can we as a society ignore day to day events that kill more people daily then the tsunami has, that are man caused and can be helped if only we are willing?
I'm in favour of the tsunami aid relief and I have donated much of my own personal time and talents as well as money, and I've done so with a great feeling of satisfaction and feeling of "yeah! I can make a difference!" My wish is that people will see that there is a bigger picture going on right now as well that also needs attention, and while we sit around contemplating the possibility of another natural disaster, for each breath you take and word you speak, a child dies a horrible death, an entire family is wiped out, a person will find out they have aids and won't live to see their kids grow up, a child is orphaned. Please give to the tsunami victims, but please don't forget about the rest of the world and the people who are crying in the streets of their towns and villages living in conditions and dealing with things unimaginable to the average North Americans. If we don't hear their crys and help, who will?
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