Tag Archive: frustration


Class today has some distinct ups and downs, but I have learned something important. My nerves are definitely in relation to things that I feel aren’t solid, such as repertoire I’ve prepared quickly. When I’m confident in my abilities, I can overcome the nerves and actually use them to my advantage.

Warm-ups went well in terms of memory, but I struggled with a rather simple tune that Trevor played and then immediately wanted me to copy “with expression”. I panicked over the notes, and so didn’t do a crescendo as he wanted. Once he started berating my for failing to produce the crescendo, I got progressively more flustered.

Fast forward to orchestral excerpts, and I played both the Thieving Magpie and St John Passion excerpts expressively and without any mistakes. The only comment was that I needed to start my crescendos softer in Thieving Magpie. As I said in yesterday’s post, I worked a lot on both excerpts. But I can’t do that volume of work on everything.

The Godard Suite de Trois Morceaux was a similarly mixed bag. While I played the first two movements expressively and with a good memory for what Trevor had told others before me, I also played too many wrong notes and got flustered about relatively minor things. I didn’t play the movements one after the other, as several of us played each and then we moved on. After the Allegretto, I tried to calm down a bit before the Idylle, which was somewhat successful, but I still didn’t play it brilliantly. Neither movement is terribly hard, and by lunch time I was feeling rather frustrated with myself.

In the afternoon, I wasn’t expecting to play the Valse as well, but when few others volunteered I got up again. I’ve played the movement a few times before, but hadn’t done a huge amount of practice on it this week. So, as with Madrigal last week, I just played with my heart and tried to embrace the nerves. And the result was quite good!

So I think the question for contemplation this weekend is how to practice in a way that makes things feel more solid in a shorter time.

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Snowy downs

Snowy downs

This morning I woke to the first proper snowfall; white fields and hedgerows. Despite the cold, I thoroughly enjoyed the walk to class and could almost have passed Trevor’s house by and carried on!

I rather surprised myself in the warm-up by getting through almost all of the proposed exercises from memory without slips. Of particular note, I was asked to play ‘solo’ scales round the circle of fifths (C major, A melodic minor, F major etc.) with Trevor beating a rather brisk time all the way. Only two slips, and interestingly neither of them in tricky keys! I also managed the arpeggios on page 96 of Complete Daily Exercises all the way up to Ab without any significant slips, and it was playing them once through as well.

Snowy downs

Snowy downs

However, my performance in the masterclass proper didn’t go brilliantly. I started the Taffanel Andante Pastoral too slowly, and despite feeling like I’d put a lot of work into the character of the piece, was told that I was playing in quite an insular, nervous way. By the time we got to the Scherzettino, I just wanted to sit down, and dropped quite a lot of notes. Apparently that was better, though, because I was feeling the rhythm more! I recorded the class, and so need to sit down in a couple of days time and process all the information again.

There was a general sigh of relief this evening, as we’ve made it to the end of a very hectic two weeks. Though there are studies anew to prepare for Monday, we had a bit of a night off, watched some truly awful American TV and played the board game Frustration!

My frustrations from yesterday’s warm-up session carried over into my practice today. While I realised this from the first few minutes, I didn’t do much about it in the morning practice sessions, and so was probably wasting my time playing things over and over again when I should have thought of a more intelligent solution.

Later in the day I managed to get back on track, and really tried to cement some of the sequences that I’ve been struggling with. I decided that the only way to get them right under pressure is to play them with the metronome at increasing speeds, and so spent a good half a hour on that. Though they were better in yesterday’s class, there is still quite a way to go.

As for Reichert Nos 2 and 4, these were the exercises I was getting particularly frustrated over. Though I have been playing them almost daily, I still can neither play the yucky keys (Ab maj, F min, Db maj, Bb min, F# maj, D#min) from memory nor at the speeds required in class. After my unproductive hour this morning, I’ve decided that I have to work on memory and speed separately, for the moment prioritising speed, or else I’m going to get nowhere.

Tomorrow we have a special class on accompanied pieces with Juliet Edwards, for which I’m playing the first two movements of the Poulenc Sonata. I’ve still got a bit of work to do with the piano score tonight, but am feeling pretty confident with the flute part. Hopefully I’ve thought about it expressively enough.

I’m currently doing one of my listening projects for the week, and have selected the CD The Ocarina is No Trombone. Very tongue-in-cheek, it’s a collection of ‘virtuoso ocarina’ arrangements of popular tunes, and is good fun to listen to! La Dona e Mobile for ocarina and accordion, a veritable orchestra of them playing Offenbach’s Can-Can, it’s a good antidote for the frustrations of earlier.