October 15, 2008 at 2:37 PMWe're playing a pretty traditional Fall Concert in about a month. What I mean by "traditional" is that it has a mix of styles and nationalities, but they're all safe, beloved DWEM composers, starting with a couple of short pieces and anchored by a symphony. And there's not an erhu, a harpsichord, or a didgeridoo in sight.
Yet I'm having some trouble getting psyched about playing the Godard Flute Suite. We will have the first rehearsal with the soloist tonight. I've been listening to a recording for a while at this point and the piece is not grabbing me. I am probably going to offend some fine musicians here, but I am starting to think that I don't care very much for the flute as a solo instrument. It sounds a little like it looks: shiny, metallic, and hollow. And the piece as a whole strikes me as too fluffy, like a French bon-bon that is just too sweet and sugary. I take one bite and I'm done.
Except I'm not done. There are several more rehearsals before the concert, some with the soloist. So I do have time for the piece to grow on me and to learn to appreciate it. If I can.
The same feeling came back to me again last night, when I was practicing with my daughter. Her teacher is doing a "pencil contest" every week in which she gives a pencil to the student who plays a designated piece with the best intonation, rhythm, and posture. My daughter had already pretty much decided that she didn't want this week's pencil, because the designated piece (called "Song for Maria") was "a pain." The more I pushed (and I don't think I even pushed very hard) the worse it got. "I *hate* that song!" So I stopped pushing altogether. We let Song for Maria go and went back to O Susanna in the Mel Bay Fiddling Book. And so she came home and said, cheerfully, "I didn't get the pencil."
I don't care whether she wins the pencil, but it has gotten me thinking about how to approach pieces I just don't like very much, and how to counsel others on the same. I've been viewing the Godard sort of like taking my vitamins, or riding my bike to work: I just have to do it, it will be good for me. And I'll be glad I did it afterwards. I'll probably even learn something. But it's so different from my experience of the Mendelssohn, which is equally new to me, but which I loved from the first hearing, and which sometimes, even now, just moves me to tears.
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