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jennifer steinfeldt  warren

Surviving the busiest WORKING SEASON

December 13, 2006 at 9:07 AM

It really is a lot of work. A time like the winter holidays makes it more obvious (to those not in the music business) just how much work it takes for a single job, for real. I think my husband understands most of the time anyway, but other people have misconceptions about my level of work ethic sometimes. Not lately, though! I feel like I'm gone so much!! (in many ways :))

I think I might safely say that I have survived this holiday season's concerts and rehearsals (surviving rehearsals is sometimes harder than concerts). I still have one to go, a one-day-er. But the orchestra weekends are done with. I can't say that I feel I played "successfully" through them all, but I survived.

One problem was temperature. I just cannot play well in a cold hall. Sometimes the hall isn't cold, just a draft above our stand. But sometimes it really is cold. On a night concert on Saturday, the pads on my fingers were actually numb, for about an hour afterwards, too. Not from any health problem, from cold. I think they turned the heat off halfway through. They also didn't seem to use the heat much during rehearsals, th ough most of the concerts were toasty. This isn't good for the violin, either.

The first concert of the weekend, my A string popped during "Trepak". I was able to tune it back up and play the second half of it.
But on Sunday afternoon in the second to last song, the three lower strings popped out (when I say "popped" I mean, floppy string). I actually saw the pegs unwind-zoom. One, two, three. Chain reaction. There really wasn't any way I could tune all three of them up accurately in the middle of a piece, and no time between, as I was trying not to be obvious about it. After the concert I plucked the four strings and they were at least a half step off from where they were supposed to be, let alone from each other (fifth-wise).

I don't think there is anything wrong with my instrument, except that it is sensitive to weather changes. My home town is very humid, and both cities I play in symphonies with...are dry. Plus, the halls are usually fairly dry, and the hotel rooms REALLY dry when the need for using the heater is the case.

At home my pegs are actually quite sticky. I used peg dope on them once, with no problem here. But perhaps the peg dope is too slimy for when the wood pressure on the pegs depcomresses..(terminology lacking).

Any ideas on what to do so this does not occur again? I have been sitting outside player, first violin, so it is distracting, I"m sure, when that happens. I hate drawing attentino to myself in such a manner.

On other notes, I was pleased. The orchestra was fairly tight. Especially for playing so much music (a lot of the players do both symphonies) in such short of a time. The schedule was almost too much. Not much time for donig anything else except sleep. Several concerts in the same day, with a rehearsal or two. My check had better be worth it :).
I felt like I blended well. Especially happy with my playing on exposed pieces like the opening movement of the Nutcracker suite. Not so easy! The Rober Shaw "Many Moods" Christmas suites are quite difficult as well. A lot of tough runs. But the music is good. Not your run of the mill gig accompaniment to choir stuff. Interesting and satisfying, yet seasonal at the same time.

Anyway. I played my viola for about 30 minutes today but was just too tired to really do anything productive and tired in my body as well. So I stopped after awhile.

I really feel as if I've neglected my technical practice, and, well, real practice in general. I require substantial amounts of practice to be able to do well in orchestra rehearsals and concerts, which really eats a hole into my practice time.
I'll be glad when the season is over so I can really work on playing again.

I've already got the music for the January concert, Beethoven symphony no.7. Looking forward to cracking that open.

I've been taking a lot of time and energy out of life to, well, work on life through changing my habits all around. It isn't something I can just focus on at mealtimes, it really takes all-the-time work right now while I get adjusted to being more healthy. But in the long run it will benefit my playing, career, and happiness with music. So I'm not fretting too much that I am not spending as much time wandering about in my violin/viola-obsessed world.

Stepping out to view the rest of the world a bit more...


From Tom Holzman
Posted on December 13, 2006 at 1:58 PM
Jennifer - you clearly would not have been happy playing in what may well have been the greatest concert ever. It took place on Dec. 22, 1808, and Beethoven premiered his 5th and 6th symphonies, his 4th piano concerto, the choral fantasy, and some other pieces. The night was bitterly cold, the hall unheated, and the concert lasted about 4 hours. Good luck getting through the holidays!
From jennifer steinfeldt warren
Posted on December 13, 2006 at 3:00 PM
Yea, I probably would have been complaining for a week afterwards...


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