Something that I never notice in Australia but always in Europe is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. The year I was on exchange in Helsinki, it really was a relief to know that the days were going to start lengthening again – it was dark all the time and felt like the sun had been hiding behind clouds for the odd hour or two of daylight we did get! Here it’s not nearly as bad as that, but I am looking forward to having a bit more light in the mornings come January.

This year, it feels like the solstice almost marks the midpoint in our course. We have one more class tomorrow (which seems to be feedback-focused) and then I’m off up to my grandparents in Grimsby for Christmas. Though I’m definitely planning on taking a break from playing for a few days, I will use the time to contemplate strategies for bettering my practice. I know I’m improving with all the exercises and scale patterns – I can do a whole ream of things that weren’t there in October – but I also know that I need to up my game to keep up with what Trevor introduces over the coming months as I still don’t find these exercises easy. One of the important parts is mental practice, and I know I haven’t been disciplined enough with myself about doing it daily. I think there still needs to be more focus in the way I practice with the flute as well. Every time I play through something there has to be a clear goal, and then I won’t waste time playing the same bit too many times.

As for last night’s concert, I really did enjoy myself. We had a good turn out in the village church, and it wasn’t nearly as cold as we were expecting (I had thick gloves at the ready). Trevor got all his playing done in the first half, and I particularly enjoyed his pieces on Bb flute (flûte d’amour) with pianist Robert Scott. Then it was our turn, first the Musical Snuffbox by Liadov (complete with off-stage tweets and hoots from Trevor) and then a jazzy Shuffle by the Seaside (McDowall). Interval came with mulled wine, which was very welcome for hand-warming, and then we got into the jazz pieces proper. Trevor’s arrangements of Autumn Leaves, Tea for Two, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, Lullaby of Birdland and The Way You Look Tonight for five flutes and piano seemed to be real crowd-pleasers, and we had a great time playing them. Away in a Manger rounded off the concert, and then it was off to the village hall for a sumptuous supper and general merriment.

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