July 2005

July 21, 2005 08:56

I had my first violin lesson in 15 years last night! Not really knowing what to start on, my teacher gave me some Rode caprices and we started on the Bruch concerto -- I think I'm going to like that one. Even the first page, poorly sight-read, is yummy.

I had just managed to get the music for the Bruch that evening, printed from a CD-ROM collection of PDF scores that had just finally arrived. So I hadn't had time to do more than imagine some of the notes yet. Still, she worked with me on the opening passages until I had the idea, and then played through the first page or so, hitting the trouble spots.

It's definitely going to be great to study again. Over the last couple of years I've felt a growing desire to really work at it again, but wasn't sure who to go to. Then at Kinhaven, I got the most marvelous compliment -- the fellow told me to find the very best teacher and, as he said, "go for it".

So I just happened to know this fabulous teacher, and finally made up my mind to do it!

Now, I'm not planning to break into the concert/solo world. But, I am planning to play as well as I possibly can.

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July 15, 2005 09:02

Saturday's concert was ... well, fascinating. It was fun, certainly, but most definitely non-standard as concerts go.

It was supposed to be an outdoor concert, next to a lake. However, if you've been anywhere near the northeast US this last week, you'll remember the downpours we've been having. So it was instead at the rain venue, a small-town, covered outdoor hockey rink sans ice.

We didn't bother with costumes because the changing room 1) didn't have a mirror and 2) smelled awful. So from the start, it was a more casual affair. We got there early, did a sound check, and enjoyed the fact that it wasn't raining. The dinner we were provided was... not terribly fresh. The vegetarian had to pick meat off of the sub in order to have anything at all, because the fruit plate had quite a kick to it.

People began to arrive a little late, being that they were being redirected from the original concert location. We waited an extra fifteen minutes, and then started as people were still wandering in.

The first song went well, despite the wind that had blown pages shut; we were pleased, and the audience was still growing. We started in on the second song, a lovely arrangement of "Star of the County Down" -- very quiet and pretty.

Ten seconds in, there was a deafening roar all around us! I thought it might be an earthquake -- then I looked outside, and saw rain pouring down in buckets. Newcomers held lawn chairs over their heads as they dashed for the shelter of the rink's tin roof.

Halfway through the song, I felt a drip on my head. Sure enough, we had set up my mic just beneath one of the only holes in the roof! I scooched aside to try to keep the violin dry, though the wind whipped up behind us and sent a fine mist spraying in on the bass and myself. I gave up on the dry part, just keeping out of the worst of it, and kept playing. We could barely hear ourselves over the rain.

A couple of songs later we took an early break, in hopes that the rain would calm down and thus improve the sound -- we had to turn up the amps to the edge of feedback, which really isn't pleasant for anyone. A good half of the audience gave up on us then, I think.

3/4 of the way through the concert, the rain finally let up for good, and the last few songs went really well. The music was fun, the arrangements were interesting, and the people were excellent musicians.

More later!

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July 7, 2005 06:34

Well, I was all set to write today about being disappointed in how I'm playing -- even though I'm not playing any worse than I have been, really. Then I read all these other blogs, and *everyone* seems to be in a funk! I wonder if it's the full moon or something. These sorts of things go in cycles, I guess.

The other thing that has distracted me from my woes: the attacks in London. A friend should have arrived in Heathrow this morning, and I'm worrying and hoping she arrived safely. Her itinerary places her nowhere near the bombings, so I'm sure she's fine. Still, I can't help it.

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July 5, 2005 08:32

For a week, I've been at the Origins game convention in Columbus, OH, helping with the booth for Matrix Games. It went well; we sold lots of games and got some wonderful feedback from fans.

The people at Origins are pretty much all geeks, in one way or another -- which also describes the people at chamber music festivals, really. It's just a different kind of geekiness. Needless to say, I feel right at home at gaming conventions!

I bought a heavy practice mute for practicing in the hotel room, which worked wonderfully. I was pretty tired of playing muted after 3 or 4 days, but it at least allowed me to practice once we got back from the convention hall and dinner in the evenings.

I had brought recordings of the music I had to practice, and I absolutely recommend practicing with recordings when you're working on ensemble or orchestra pieces. Sure, you can't practice the communication aspects of the group, but it really helps with just getting the music in my head and under my fingers.

We're back in Sandgate this evening, playing at the old schoolhouse again. We've been playing anything and everything there, which I really enjoy -- the more different kinds of music, the better!

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