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Mendy Smith

Summer Break

June 24, 2011 at 1:06 AM

 It is that time of year again when summer festivals go into full swing.  My new teacher is heading off for her festivals, ironically enough, including one that my former teacher from Oregon goes to every year (who I will be seeing myself this summer at Interlochen).  The viola world is a small one.

Since it will be a few months until we really start working together, we spent the time on a piece I had worked up for an audition a few years ago (remember THAT one?) to get it polished up for another audition.  The audition this time however is simply for seating arrangements in my community orchestra later this summer.

When she played the piece along with me, I was pleasantly surprised that my intonation had improved quite a bit since the last time I studied this piece.  There were only a few notes where I needed to exaggerate the half & whole steps (not including that Db).  We worked a bit to get the beginning rhythm back to where it should be and then spent a considerable time on bow control. 

Besides keeping my shoulder down, I apparently also have a bad habit of lifting my bow from the string frequently and often.  Once she pointed that out, that bad habit became annoying to ME.  She also got me to thinking about bow strategy - where do I want to be in the bow at certain points in the phrase?  Where should I start and how much speed to use to end to get the sound I want.  

She strongly recommended for me to slow down on the repertoire and take the time to build up a chosen piece to a high degree of skill like I did with Bloch.  So with that admonishment, I'll be sticking with "R" (Reger) for quite some time come fall.  

Until then, Bloch will be getting my attention again and my need for variety will be satiated with chamber music at Interlochen.  

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