Today was piccolo masterclass with Patricia Morris, the retired Principal Piccolo of the BBC Radio Symphony Orchestra and author (with Trevor) of The Piccolo Study Book and Practice Book for the Piccolo. It was a great day, and I felt like I really learned a lot about the way to practice piccolo effectively and for life.

Patricia advocated practising piccolo every day, even if it’s only for ten or twenty minutes. Rather than note bashing, this should ideally be slow practice of tunes of segments of studies, as the most important thing on the piccolo is achieving a homogeneous tone across the whole range. This all needs to be in tune as well! We talked a lot about getting up to high notes quietly, and I need to remember not to push for them – much better to set up properly a few notes beforehand and then let it happen. That said, when Patricia asked me to play (sightread) the picc solo from the slow movement of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 6, I didn’t do too bad a job of getting the high note out. The alternate fingering she showed me did help with this though!

I mentioned in a blog post a few weeks ago that I’d set myself the task of learning all the excerpts for the Queensland Symphony Orchestra piccolo audition in preparation for this class. I was feeling pretty prepared, with the only elephants still being Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4 (eeek) and Verdi’s Othello (I’ve just never played it before). Needless to say, we didn’t actually get onto any of my excerpts at all, though I now think I’m better equipped to work on them myself.

Now I’m working myself up to some more practice, and there are another three classes next week. No rest for the wicked!