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Kathleen McCrudden

Kathleen McCrudden is from Belfast, United Kingdom.

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January 2005
November 2004
October 2004

Jan. 25, 2005 at 12:09 PM

So to continue where I left off (had to get back into the pit....) the performance went surprisingly well - I told myself beforehand 'this is what I've always wanted to do, these people are my friends and future colleagues, i enjoy playing the violin' and then went up and found myself almost not shaking at all and able to control my bow and actually enjoy the performance - I was sooo sooo happy with it - I made a few hiccups but nothing major and the fact I enjoyed it and didn't feel like I couldnt' wait to get to the end was a big acheivement. Afterwords the strings head asked if I'd taken Beta Blockers and said I'd controlled my nerves remarkably well (me so chuffed!) when I told him I had not. He said he didnt' like my violin, it was a bit nasally, so I'm gonna try out different strings. Most of the time I just stick with Helicore or Dominant as they're within my price range but it's time to experiment. Only real negative point was that I need to create more drama, and contrast, (I played Dvorak Romance), which is fair enough. I was concentrating so hard on keeping a straight bow and using lots of it that I didn't really pay a lot of attention to the dynamics - the strings head said it's like the difference between reading to oneself and reading to an audience - I have to make a huge difference in the dynamics and mood changes of the piece for it to truly carry to the audience. Fair enough! Funny though, the pianist had told me the same thing when I asked his opinion the day before, and he grinned at me when the tutor started talking about that, lol...

Now I have to prepare for a competition at easter. It's one where I don't really expect to win any prizes but am very eager to try and get into the finals or at least do myself proud and play well. Unfortunately I have to prepare a 30min programm which means I've a lot of new pieces to learn this term. Sooo my repertoire is the Bach g minor presto, and c major largo (new), the Dvorak Romance again, Mozart G major 1st mvt (new), a James Macmillan piece (new), and a Kreisler miniature (new) although I'm not sure which one.

I used the new repertoire as an excuse to polish up my cd collection and bought a Kreisler Plays Kreisler cd (I love his old fashioned charming sound - I'm so glad we're fortunate enough to have recordings of him playing his own works) and the Bach S&Ps by Szeryng (can someone please tell me how to pronounce his bloomin name?????). I got the s&ps yesterday - love them - much more interesting and musical sounding to me than benjamin schmitt's recording. I think I also prefer it to Grumiaux but I'll need a few more listens. Tempted to go buy another recording now, maybe Milstein?? Argh I must restrain myself - I'll wait till I've 'listened in' all my recent purchases first.

Anyway I think I'll go back to bed now - extremely tired after yesterdays 9-nearly7 rehearsals plus concert tomorrow so I'll have a Scottish siesta, do some practice, maybe goto the library, then hit the sack. bye bye, have a nice day!

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Jan. 24, 2005 at 2:16 PM

Haven't blogged in ages! Had a nice christmas, and drunken (stocious!!) new year and got stuck into my practicing again around Jan 3rd. Back in Glasgow now I am unbelievably busy. The RSAMD has a small string department compared to other colleges - and boy do I know it! I'm involved in Falstaff (Verdi) this term and the rehearsal and concert schedule is grueling. I've also had written exams, aural exams, and have two essay due this week and next. In addition we're performing the Mahler Resurrection symphony (2) with Joseph Swensen which is fantastic but oh so exhausting when you follow it with an opera dress rehearsal then a few hours studying. I got soooo stressed out last week I ended up a little tipsy with some friends singing along to the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack last week for some light relief; very amusing. Anyway I did my first proper (ie prepared for and volunteered for) performance class last week. I was dreading it but had decided that as I am here to study violin I have to overcome this fear of performing. I always seemed to lose my inability to play in tune, or with any musicality, or any joy, in public. Not anymore!! (my first year ambitions were: learn to use all my bow, learn to use a straight bow, learn to not fear octaves and learn to not fear an audience - I think I've almost acheived all these goals to some extent - yayness)

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Nov. 24, 2004 at 11:37 PM

Why is it you have days of feeling so optimistic and happy and chirpy and cheerful for no apparent reason yet then when you have good reason to be happy you feel depressed... *sigh*

I'm sooo up and down with my playing at the moment. If i play scales and exercises for, say, half an hour, i sound really good, my intonation is great, I don't tense up, my sense of rhythm is intact and I can pull a straight bow. Otherwise though I'm a mess. I feel like I'll never be good enough to have a career in music - I want to play in orchestras and travel about giving concerts with a quartet or trio perhaps and get really passionate and into my music but noone I know in college seems to care that much.

And I'm struggling to hit more than 2hrs a day practice because of my timetable. It's soooo bloomin depressing!!!!!!

Okay rant over... starting Shostakovich 8 in quartet which is fantastic - can't wait - makes a exciting change from early Haydn. And I'm playing in the Villa Lobos chorus 7 (i think) which is cool - sightread through it earlier with the cellist and it rocks! And we played through Shostakovich 5 in orchestral repertoire yesterday which was really enjoyable and challenging - was exhausted after but in a good way.

Have to make sure I get my vitamins every day now otherwise i get soo tired. Find it really hard to sleep at the minute tho - annoying immature noisy ppl in my halls being annoying and immature and noisy...and I'm a bit stressed.

All I'm working on at the minute are scales and orchestral excerpts and 1 kreutzer - feels like 4yrs (or 3 and 2/3) is never going to be enough to master half the standard violin repertoire - I want to be able to play all the big concerti and sonatas and solo pieces aswell as the Bach s&ps...

I told my teacher i wanted to work on bow technique but he didn't seem that keen on doing anything that wasn't directly related to my bi-annual exam in February or pieces I've started (ie nothing really) whereas I'd love to work on loads of technical stuff for a while so i feel like i'm more equipped to deal with all areas of performance, be it solo, orchestral or chamber. He even said kreutzers are a waste of time and he doesnn't really see the point in doing studies for the sake of it. I guess he does know best being a top notch orchestral leader, but I was expecting to do a lot more technique in 1st year. And it's not like I'm not progressing with the stuff he does give me - my intonation improved dramatically almost overnight, I always use a metronome now and it shows, i think, and my scales are all coming on well. My study, he said, is nearly ready for my exam already so i don't need to worry about it, and my orchestral excerpts won't take too long as they're all from stuff we're playing anyway. My teacher himself said i pick up things very quickly, which i do. I guess I can just keep taking exercises from Simon Fischer if i'm really bored but..... i just want more of a challenge than double stop scales at the minute... oh well - once I've got all of them perfectly in tune and learnt all my current repertoire perfectly I can say something.....just full of nervous energy at the moment. night night everyone... time to kip, if i can sleep - maybe i need pills?? anyway....have a good day whereever you are!

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Nov. 1, 2004 at 7:44 PM

Had a lesson today - went well. My teacher is impressed by how well i've learnt my kreutzer exam study but still wants me to really improve the intonation to an even higher level. My biggest problem he says is maintaining a decent sound and straight bow and not playing over the finger board every time i see something difficult... My co-ordination is a little dodgy aswell so I've to keep up the metronome practice. He said the Dvorak sounds really good, just have to think about bow distribution more and using a little more bow. Main thing is to get seriously cracking on all my double stop scales, esp 3rds, and to work out the rhythm and main melody of the Bach Gminor sonata adagio. Though i'm not allowed to play the chords yet until the rhythm is perfect. i don't mind - i love starting new pieces and going about it a methodical way so i can learn it perfectly (well as close as possible) sounds logical to me. Have a concert next week - Brahms #1, Rach pagannin variations, and meyer brahms homage - interesting piece. But unluckily my concert is the same night as Marc's birthday which is a bummer. But i guess i just have to make the most of it and take him out after and buy him lots of Jack Daniels, and some really good pressies. At least he isn't too bothered, even says he'll come along to the concert, babe that he is. :-) anyway off home to crash out, and watch the second half of Immortal Beloved that i borrowed from the library today - makes a change from Friends!!

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Oct. 11, 2004 at 1:54 PM

So I just had my 3rd lesson of term and have been informed that i need to start using a metronome every time i practise and subdivide subdivide subdivide!! and stop playing over the finger board and also become aquainted with 7.30am and not turn into a student dosser getting up at 11am every day. My teacher's right but eurgh i hate being tired!

It was a really good lesson though coz i now know exactly where my problems are but also what my potential is - which is definitely greater than I would have thought. Now I just need to motivate myself to start practicing 3 times a day and focus on everything he said -rhythm, quality of sound, awareness of my playing, not making screwed up faces everytime i hit a wrong note, etc... I am chuffed though because apparently I am very responsive, and could be a really excellent violinist so long as I take on board what he's telling me.

I went to a Tasmin Little/Martin Roscoe recital on Friday - they played Schubert sonatina, Brahms sonata #3, and the Strauss sonata. It was a lovely concert and the friendly interaction between the two was lovely to watch. It was an intimate concert and I was about 3ft from Ms Little, and really enjoyed the chance to watch her tiny hands racing comfortably all over the instument - I love watching petite people play to see how they play difficult stretches and chords, especially as I have such small hands myself. And I was delighted to see my rock-guitarist boyfriend enjoy his first introduction to live classical music and also recognise the Brahms after hearing it on my cd player a few weeks ago.

Off to practice now. First session of 3 methinks. Have a good day everyone, wherever you are!

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Oct. 7, 2004 at 9:52 PM

Hey my first blog! just about to 'hit the sack' (go to bed for you non-irish folk). crappy day for practicing - managed one measly hour. feel like crap because of it. :-( i've just started first year tho so i guess i have a full 4yrs to make it up! grr can't stop coughing. and the guy in the room next to me has been playing kreuzter 8 for the last hour (which i'm also playing) and now has started on Mozart in A (which i played for auditions last year and am sooo sick of). for heaven's sake man! it's nearly 11pm! i need my sleeepy-pies! argh!

so glad i'm finally part of the violinist.com gang, lol. been reading discussions and blogs all summer but only got an academy email last week - before that it was hotmail and i couldn't register! laurie stop been hotmailist!

night all... have a fun day!

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