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Mendy Smith

Now for something completely different

January 17, 2008 at 9:09 AM

Now that the competition is done and over, I'm moving on to new pieces and an updated lesson plan.

I shared my competition scores and comments with my teacher & coach. His assessment was that my intonation was actually quite good and the problems I had during the competition were mostly due to nerves. That was a relief to hear! It was also comforting to know that he also struggles with nervousness from time to time. At least I'm in good company!

I've been assigned more technical work - shifting studies and scales WITH vibrato - "even if it just one wiggle, DO IT! ". Wow! I have been taught since a youngster to do scales WITHOUT vibrato in order to focus in on intonation. When I questioned this practice, he told me that my intonation and ear was good enough to go ahead and add vibrato into this technical work. I had to e-mail him after I got home on HOW I should be practicing scales with vibrato - (1) all fingers down as with normal scale studies, or (2) only the vibrating finger down with the other fingers hovering. The answer back was #2 for now. #1 would come later. I also asked on how to tackle the C string vibrato - the answer back was that I need to move my arm around to the right like I do when I shift up to the nose-bleed section.

We worked on a few measures of an orchestral piece that has given me fits on how I should approach a few shifts (up to 4th & 5th position). The fingerings he advised made playing those passages sooooo much easier! He also jumped ahead to a few tricky measures and showed me how to tackle those.

Then on to the first two pages of the Hummel, at a slower tempo than what was printed (but not by much). He played it along with me so I could get a feel for the rhythm & style of the piece. The turns are a bit troublesome, but I know how to practice those now at home. We started to work on the cadenza until I gave up and told him to just play it while I listened, and followed along with just the fingering. We worked a few minutes on how to do the harmonics - technically. Totally new territory for me!

My latest experience getting ready for the competition has helped alot in fine-tuning my practice & lesson routine. Blast through the piece once with my teacher playing with me, stumbles and all to get a general feel for the piece. Then working it phrase by phrase until it is correct - intonation, vibrato, dynamics, bowings, shifts, expression... the works.

PS. My pianist and I are scheduling a "jam session" at my place starting in the next week or so to begin recording the Bruch and start work on the Hummel together. This is going to be fun!

From Royce Faina
Posted on January 17, 2008 at 9:59 PM
"Now For Something Completely Different"

Ah! A Monty Python Fan!....Neeck!

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