January 2013

Let it 'B'

January 24, 2013 20:50

It's been awhile since I wrote about my A-Z goal. Ironically, I found myself back to "B". I do not know why, but there is an inordinate number of great pieces written for viola by composers who's last names start with the letter B.

This "B" piece is in the Romantic/Modern era, York Bowen's Sonata No. 1. It is incredibly fun to play: just enough of a challenge for me without being overly so, but easy enough to sound musical after a mere week of study. I finally found a piece that I can really do something with.

Interestingly enough, it was recommended to my by my first private viola instructor I had back in the late 1970's who I just reconnected with after more than 30 years. My current teacher never studied the piece, but was interested to learn it along with me and seems to be having fun with it. My previous teacher in Oregon suggested that I find myself a pianist to study this piece more at Interlochen in the summer with one of the other coaches there who specializes in Bowen.

Amazing how dots connect over decades and miles.

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2012 Review / 2013 Preview

January 3, 2013 19:55

Review / Preview is a tradition that I picked up (mumble mumble) years ago from my professional career and put to personal use. It is a review of the previous year: what worked, what didn't; and what my plans and goals are for the next year. So here it is:

2012 Review:

Year two with my teacher was just as intense as the previous year. Etudes have been a regular part of my "musical diet", as well as other exercises to improve tone and intonation. Only when I recorded myself for the first time in a long time a few months ago did the results of this effort make itself known to me. We started working on musical phrasing and general "musicality" much more than before. The bar has been raised on what is an acceptable amount of improvement week over week.

I ended up playing with the community orchestra once again but still play with a chamber group every week. This made for a very busy schedule during the week with little time to practice.

Interlochen was great fun again. A v.commer returned for a second year and a new one came for the first time. The cellist from my chamber music group attended for the first time and had a blast (after recovering from an unfortunate in-flight accident with a checked-in cello). She is planning on attending next year.

Performance-wise: I only did it twice this year. Once was a chamber music concert where our violinist had to drop out at the last minute because she was giving birth to her baby girl, and the second was my sister's wedding. Though the number of performances were few, the amount of effort and work I put leading up to those performances was much greater.

2013 Preview:

I'm torn about playing with the orchestra. I enjoy the comradeship, but from a schedule standpoint I think that my initial decision from last year was the right one for me. Getting home at 11pm on a work-night is difficult, and the sheer quantity of music that I need to practice (which isn't getting practiced) isn't benefiting anyone. I do however want to keep up chamber music. This seems to be, year over year, my preference. I need to make a decision after this season is over one way or the other.

From a technique/lesson point of view, the immediate goal is to learn to get up to and back down again from the nosebleed section of the fingerboard in the form of a 3-octave A minor scale. This is pushing my flexibility and balance to its limit at the moment.

Following that is to learn how to properly execute a phrase musically. I have all these "tools" in my musical tool-box, and now need to learn how to use them appropriately, and not just keep them stashed away until I have an etude to practice.

I have discovered that I'm quite shy have a weird fear of playing "out" in front of other people, like I'm putting on false "airs". Somehow I need to get over that if I'm ever going to make any real progress.

I do plan on going to Interlochen again this summer. I hope to be able to get a group together to play the Mendelssohn Octet. I need to get started on studying that piece sooner rather than later.

So that is it in a nutshell. 2013 should be quite interesting.

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