Thursday, June 19, 2008

Highs and Lows

It's been an interesting musical month. If you read my practice blog, you may have noticed that I listed the sessions I attended at two professional music teachers' organizations. My head is filled with new things to try this summer, the makings of my own personal music camp, since I'm not attending anything formal. Heck, I'm not taking lessons, and my scheduled play dates are not for rehearsing.

I've had several performances in the past month.
  • Current Orchestra. Played the Overture to the Marriage of Figaro, Vivaldi Spring from the Four Seasons, and the Bach Double featuring violin and oboe on the solo parts, plus a variety of pops selections. Fluffy program, but the audience enjoyed it and we played well.
  • Cello Trio. I thought this was going to be an adult chamber music recital, but it turned out to be "All School," and we were the only adults on the program. Due to a last-minute schedule change we played right after a group of 7 or 8-year-olds having their first quartet experience. Adorable, and a hard act to follow. Went well, though, and we were so well-rehearsed that I still can't get the music entirely out of my ears. It keeps popping up in quiet moments.
  • Old Orchestra. Last weekend I was in my old hometown for a long weekend that happened to coincide with the last scheduled concert of their season. They graciously allowed me to sit in, and I learned Schumann's second symphony and a von Weber overture in four days. I alternated focused technical practice with play-throughs accompanied by John Eliot Gardiner and the Revolutionary and Romantic Orchestra, my favorite recording. The tempo was faster than the Old Orchestra played, but it was an excellent exercise for learning context, designing faking strategies, and pointing out exposed parts that really needed to be mastered. Plus, Current Orchestra hasn't played a symphony in two years, so I had great fun. The other good news is that the Mendelssohn-like Scherzo has partially supplanted the Cello Trio ear worm, probably a side effect of the total immersion approach.
So, what's the low? Those all sound like highs to me.

Yesterday I met with my flute/piano/cello trio for the first time since our Mother's Day performance. We read through arrangements of several Handel suites, and Beethoven: Op. 20, an interesting piece that was originally scored for a rather unusual septet that included clarinet, horn, bassoon, violin, and bass, but was so popular that Beethoven made arrangements for a number of other groups, including the flute trio. As an aside, we listened to parts of the septet recording near the end of rehearsal, and I liked that arrangement much better.

Anyway, I hung in for the rhythm and tempo, but anyplace that requires fast shifting or Trouble Clef still sounds pretty awful while I'm reading. I know, I know, sight reading only gets better by doing it, but I really expected that there should be some carry-over from working on more difficult music. I was feeling discouraged when I left yesterday.

But buck up, today's another day, and writing about it takes away the sting. I see that I need to include sight-reading practice in my summer program. And my apologies to those who read my blog for the cat pictures, but I need to do some more thinking aloud about practicing.

1 comment:

CelloGeek said...

That's quite a lot of music! Wow!

I like sight reading because it exposes the things I need to work on. Plus it's a fun way to experience a variety of music. There have been many weeks after a reading session where I've gone to my teacher and asked to work on something I couldn't do very well during one of our reading sessions.