Archive for February, 2015


Just got back from a full day in London watching Emily Beynon’s masterclass at the Royal Academy of Music and a London Symphony Orchestra concert. Also managed a few beers with a friend in between. We still have class tomorrow, so it’s high time for bed!

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Not much to report today other than that I practised a lot. Six hours playing flute and then some time listening and studying scores. What with two trips to London in the next few days and Trevor’s zeal for more studies, I felt like there weren’t many options but to knuckle down and really do as many hours as I could manage.

Compared with yesterday, I felt like all the practice sessions were productive. The Reinecke Ballade isn’t terribly difficult note-wise, and I could focus on the music, which was nice. As for studies…they’re happening. Andersen No. 14 is a lovely piece of music but being in D#/Eb minor makes it a bit of a minefield for notes!

In the afternoon, I took myself off on a long walk across the fields and round the back way to Bodsham. The fields were still half-covered in snow, and the air was crisp and delicious. We’re heading up to London tomorrow, and to be honest I’m glad of a day free from playing!

Elmsted Church

Elmsted Church

I had a rather bitty day today, what with our weekly Tesco outing. Though walks are still off, Trevor seemed in good spirits and approved of my being able to recite the entire compositional output for flute by André Jolivet!

Almost as soon as we got back it began to snow, and by mid-afternoon (and after a few hours for scales and exercises) the countryside was beautifully white and sparkling. I took myself off for a walk across the fields, and had a wonderful time.

Snowy path

Snowy path

Alas, practice today wasn’t fantastic. I felt a bit rung out and tired from the start, and have probably spent a bit too much time note-bashing to try and get all the studies into my fingers. The repertoire for Friday is Gaubert’s Madrigal and the Reinecke Ballade. While neither are terribly hard, the Ballade will need a bit more work on notes tomorrow. I would love to play both musically and with Trevor-sufficient expression. Hopefully I can achieve that in the short time I have!

Our final masterclass with Juliet is set for February 27th and I’m playing the Copland Duo. It’s a piece I really love but haven’t played before, and from my read through today the main things will be tasteful phrasing across the mixed meter sections, and indicating tempo changes. Hopefully I can do a better job that last time.

After spending the weekend taking some time to de-stress and refocus, it was back to class again this morning. No snow, but the frozen fields and paths made the walk to Trevor’s much easier than when it’s wet and muddy.

I was expecting something of a tirade about my performance in Juliet’s class on Friday, but Trevor ended up being quite level-headed about it. We all had to reflect on our own playing and then give each other feedback, then Trevor went round and share his thoughts with us. He didn’t go into the nerves side of things (luckily I have some lovely friends elsewhere who are giving me some tips and ideas there), but did touch on the result of them. Yes, I had played some wrong rhythms, with some sloppy intonation, but he felt that the goal for me was still to focus on the music and being expressive rather than trying to be too analytical.

With that in mind, I launched into my offering of studies with beautiful music as the number one priority. Everything ended up going rather well, and apart from a few sharp notes my three Moyse studies were passed as “expressive and well-phrased”. The three Altes studies were also fine, and I was even a bit annoyed that Trevor made me skip bits of the Midsummer Night’s Dream arrangement – I’d practiced getting through the whole thing and then playing the solo beautifully at the end! However, I finished off by starting Andersen No. 13 rather too fast, and had to re-start at a slower tempo not once but twice. Better to do the Andersen studies solidly but a little more slowly, I think.

Some of us have now been prescribed yet more studies, this time by Drouet. Here, I’m really not sure what Trevor’s playing at, as they’re sight-readable and really rather boring harmonically. They were originally suggested for Shannon, and then Trevor dropped in an “oh, Naomi, you can do these as well, just power through them”. Challenge accepted, I’ll see how many I can learn for next week!

We don’t have another class until Friday, since we’re heading up to London on Thursday to watch the Emily Beynon masterclass at the Royal Academy, and then another LSO concert. I’ve tried to be good and get some of my flute history project done this evening, but am also thinking that Silent Witness in 15 minutes looks like a good wind-down.

Another day without an evening walk as Trevor is’t totally sure he’s over his laryngitis. I took advantage of clear skies in the afternoon to go off on a cross-country de-stress ramble, and came across Spong Wood quite by accident down a winding track. Carol, my landlady told me about the wood way back in September, but never told me exactly how to get there. Though terribly wet and muddy, it’s a lovely little pocket of English woodland magic. The trees (are they hazel?) grow outwards from the base, creating a dense and twisted canopy even in winter, and the ground was covered in moss and fallen leaves. The path would open out into clearings before plunging back into the foliage, and I was certainly the only person there. Sheltered from the wind, I wandered about happily for an hour, though always with half an eye out for something to leap out of the trees (and perhaps a fairytale!) at me.

Tomorrow marks a return to the Practice Book 6 exercises in our rotation of finger exercises, and as usual I gave myself a day’s head start. I was quite surprised to find that exercises A to D were speeding along much more quickly than last time I practiced them. The last metronome marking I’ve got cross out in my book (I write them in a line above the exercise) is crotchet = 126, and my memory if it a month ago was one of decided discomfort. However, when I turned the metronome up to 128 today, the exercises still felt easy!

Studies are less wonderful. Both Altes no. 20 and 21, as well as Andersen no. 13 are getting there and by the end of a twenty-minute session sound good. The problem is that I when I come back to them, my fingers have forgotten some of what I’d done previously. I need to keep working on methods for really getting them into the fingers for good, but it’s tricky when there is such a quick turn-around time.