Today has been rather quiet, both because of our lack of class and because it’s utterly horrible outside. This morning I had grand plans of going for a run, but that was soon halted when I saw just how wet and windy it was outside. Instead, the large knitted jumper from grandma has come out, and I’ve spent the day practising, getting odd jobs done and drinking lots of tea. Last night, I finished one of my hand-warmers (or are they fingerless gloves?), which I’m very pleased with. The pattern I’m using is here. If this weather keeps up, the other one will be done before too long as well.

My first hand-warmer!

My first hand-warmer!

All the technical work that we’re doing makes me play round the circle of fifths multiple times a day, and as always there are some keys that sit better than others. When it comes to my least favourite keys, though, I’ve rather surprised myself if recent months. As a teenager and undergrad student, I always feared C#/Db and F#/Gb majors and Bb and D#/Eb minors because there were scary numbers of flats and sharps not matter how I thought about it. Maybe that ultimately made me practise them with more vigour. Now that I’m here at the flute studio, the keys that I’m most inclined to slip up on are Eb major, Eb minor and G#/Ab minor. I think one of the main things about Eb is that we’re not allowed to use thumb Bb for technical work, and so all of a sudden the fifth of the key is a awkward fingering. Reichert no. 2 becomes particularly treacherous because the fifth is in both the arpeggio and the dominant 7th.

Other exercises where I’ve noticed this are the Boehm study and Trevor’s scales in thirds. With the thirds, we start in C and play the scales in C major, harmonic minor, melodic minor and whole tones. Then we play the major, minor, second inversion minor (so F minor for C major) and diminished seventh of the next key (C#) all in broken thirds. The whole exercise then moves up a step to C# major and so on. In class we tend not to get too much further than D, as Trevor decides it’s time to move onto something else, but I’ve one of my goals to play through the whole thing. That was, until I got to Eb. The major is ok, but the minors are utterly awful! At this level, the aim is to erase weaknesses in tricky keys, and I’m of course going to persevere, but it could take a while to get past the Eb minor block.

In some ways, today was an Eb minor sort of day; dark and ominous. In the major, I quite like the richness of this key, and the minor can also be rich and velvety. It might be even more so if I could overcome my battle with it!

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