May 2005

May 21, 2005 23:13

I love those days where practicing everything, even technique, is a pure joy. The last several days have been like that. For some reason (could it be an awesome violin lesson earlier on in the week?) I'm incrediably motivated to practice. I feel like I have a new freedom in my playing. I also wonder how long that freedom will last. Either way, I intend to enjoy it and make use of it while it lasts. I've practiced so much in the last few days and it feels great! Mr. Wood gave me a really great way to think about playing Bach and after only a days work on the Bach and playing it for my Mom she was impressed with how much better it sounded and it felt much more comfortable too because I had a more detailed road map to follow with more signs to help me along the way. After half a week of working on the G minor Adagio in that way, it's nearly memorised and feels very comfortable to play. It felt pretty comfortable to play before but now it's a new kind of comfortable, like climbing into bed on a cool night with a warm fuzzy comforter as opposed to only a thin blanket. It feels settled and at home, more or less. It can always improve, for sure, but to have this feeling is very motivating. Saint-Saens B minor concerto has also shared in my practicing heavily this past while as I learn this new concerto. It's a fun concerto to play, though that wolf note my violin has on that high C sharp on the G string doesn't really add anything special to the piece aside from a want of earplugs, perhaps. It's a great piece though! I'm having a lot of fun learning it. Believe it or not, I'm not that familiar with this concerto, yeah I've heard it on the radio a few times, actually only twice that I can think of... and I've seen it performed live once, the melody sticks in my head, but I don't really KNOW the work yet. I hope this in some ways will be an advantage, I can hopefully make the piece more my own without my mind being cluttered with "accent there" "rubato here" "breath here" "pause there" "slower....."etc. This piece doesn't feel more comfortable now, really, but it has more direction since me lesson last week and I don't feel quite as lost, musically speaking. Some of my ideas are now realised more clearly now as opposed to being in my mind and not quite sure how to make them come across, which is nice, but really, those shifts aren't getting much easier....I'm getting them more consistently but they don't feel easier yet.

Today I took out the Lark Ascending by Vaughn-Williams again. It's been a year almost since I've performed it and stuck it on the back burner and this past week I took it out, today, finally getting a chance to do some serious work on it. I'm planning on playing it as part of a concert program I'm doing in June. It's such a great piece. It's amazing what letting a piece aside for a year and then coming back to it can do. I spent a good hour or so on just the first 2 or three pages. So many things that I remember struggling with and getting frustrated with before now come easily and other things that I don't remember having ever worried about or thought about last time I played it have cluttered my mind. My love for the piece remains the same though. A truly wonderful work that is a joy to play and perform and is worth every minute you put into practicing it.

Aside from practicing I've been busily teaching and catching up on school stuff. Teaching never ceases to be a source of both amazement and frustration! It's worth every moment of frustration though for the little victories and rewards you recieve both directly and indirectly as a teacher. How many kids get excited about performing a solo in front of their parents, their friends who play violin, their parents and their teacher? The kids in my Suzuki group do! When asked who wants to go first, a hand, sometimes two, quickly shoot up into the air! How cool is it to have worked on a childs bow arm one week when she played her solo so that she was not using her shoulder as a way to the move the bow (causing it to fishtail all over the finger board and bridge) and have her come and do her solo the next week but have an almost perfectly straight bow arm and control of her staccato in that Gavotte at the end of book 1? If that doesn't put a smile on my face, I would be a pretty grouchy teacher. Or how about a kid who struggled with relaxing his left hand who came consistently for a long time and then due to time conflicts couldn't come for awhile and has recently come again and now has a more relaxed left hand and is playing much better in tune and appears to actually be hearing when he's out of tune? What about a 4 year old who is frustrated she can't play like the concertmaster of symphony and then her face lights up when she learns to play a 4 note scale and use her whole bow? These are just a few of the things that make it such an awesome thing to teach, nevermind the ocassional hugs from some of my students and an obvious excitement when they see me and a look of sadness and disappointment when they have to leave.

I feel pretty lucky right now to be in the position I am in. I get the best of both worlds currently. Teaching and being a student. I know the frustration that some of these kids are going through and I can experience and grow and share in their excitement about mastering new things or when things start to click and make sense and I get to experience what it's like as a teacher to help the students be released from their bonds and see them grow as players and people. It's incrediably exciting for me and I feel very lucky to have such a unique opportunity to experience the best of both worlds!

Thanks to all the teachers who inspire and encourage and understand their students and don't treat them like their job but like their kids and as precious individuals who have potential to succeed in the challenge of learning an instrument. Thanks to all the students who inspire me as a teacher and motivate me to always put on a happy face and be excited everytime I come to work, you are not only an inspiration but you remind me how far I've come and how much I have yet to learn and it challenges me to be the best I can possibly be.

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May 13, 2005 10:17

Today's the day. I write my RCM (Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto) grade 5 music history exam. It's been a big course to learn in a very short amount of time but overall I think, I hope, I'm well enough prepared. I guess we'll find out this afternoon when I get to the exam and write it if I'm as ready as I think I am. It will be nice to finally have completed the history component for the ARCT diploma. I still have a couple of harmony exams left to do but I find those easier to prepare for in that you aren't memorising dates and forms and terms hoping you'll get the ones asked on the exam but you are using compositional techniques. Yes, half the rules, well all of them almost, are now broken today but at least it's just a series of rules and knowing the exceptions, kind of like a math question. I can also more readily apply it to my composing and to anaylising of repertoire - Ancient Voices of the Children, while a great piece, does not give me any tools in which to anaylise a piece of by Bach.

Teaching is always a challenge! How do you keep a four year old focused and interested for a half hour? How do you encourage a child who really wants to play, but is frustrated because he or she doesn't sound like a symphony orchestra the first time they pick up a violin? Oh well! All these obstacles to be overcome in the process of teaching a child are well worth the outcome when you see the excitement when they've mastered a piece or get to do something new!

I'm really excited right now! In a couple of weeks one of my string orchestra pieces is going to be premiered by a youth orchestra out of town. I don't know, yet, if I'll be able to make it to one of the performances but I'm excited to be having a piece I wrote performed. I know how the piece sounds overall because of how I heard it in my head and then a quartet I play with ocassionaly also played it for me so I could make sure there weren't any blatent problems with the work before I sent it off to the youth orchestra that is performing the work. I hope that the people who hear it enjoy it and that the orchestra has enjoyed learning the work.

The summer is fast approaching! I can hardly believe it's the middle of May. In two months I'll be gone for camp. It's all coming up so fast! What to play for placement auditions? What to pack? How to pack for that matter? I'm really looking forward to going out east again though. I'll be spending at least a few days in Quebec city and I'm really looking forward to that. I've never been to Quebec city before and the architecture and scenery there is supposed to be (and if the pictures are any inclination!) really amazing. I'm kind of anxious about going too, having never gone to something so big and being there alone with my family being a 7 hour airplane flight away. So a summer of new challenges and experiences!

One thing that's really interesting, to me, about Domaine Forget, will be the Alexander Technique workshop (Thanks, Buri for the book recomendation!). It's something I've read about and always have been really interested in so to go and experience it hands on with an instructor who is also a violinist should be really interesting.

I have to run!

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