Tag Archive: goals


January ArtStart Reflection

I think it’s a good idea to write a short reflection each month on what I’ve achieved with my 2015 ArtStart grant from the Australia Council for the Arts. While my main focus for the moment is the flute studio course, I’ve already started the ball rolling with a few other things as well:

– Most importantly, I submitted my application to the Bang on a Can Summer Festival on January 15th. A trip to the US in July/August to attend the festival, take some lessons and attend the National Flute Convention was a central element of my grant proposal. I was happy with the application, but can never know who else is applying. I find out whether I’m going in early March.

– I started work on my website, which is very exciting. So far, I’ve done most of the written content and had a bit of a play around with design. My lovely friend Matt has been doing some of the trickier bits. While we’ve managed to embed a twitter feed, we’re still working on getting this blog as part of the website, as well as sorting out bits and pieces of back end design. I also need to go back over my performance videos and recordings to decide which ones I really want to put up. Rather than just making the website about my flute playing, I’m keen for it to reflect the range of things I do in music, writing and radio.

– I joined ArtsHub for the year. I put this on my application both to look at the range of arts jobs available and to have access to various resources and articles on work in the arts industry. The jobs board hasn’t been amazing so far – more targeted towards arts admin jobs – but the articles have been interesting.

– I’ve downloaded Max 7, a program which allows me to generate electronics patches. Following the Blackbirdwhich was written for my final MMus recital by the lovely Andrew Aronowicz, used Max for the electronics component, and I’m keen to use it further in creative and collaborative projects. But firstly, I need to learn how to use it… cue tutorial videos!

– I’ve looked into the small business management course I want to do following my time here in Kent. Still need to book though.

– And finally, I’ve made trips up to London to attend masterclasses and concerts. Once my budget was all planned out, I had about $120 left over, and so decided that it could support travel up to London while I’m here. While my 16-25 railcard is a big help, trains in the UK are still expensive!

So far I feel like I’m on track to complete all my ArtStart grant activities, though there is a lot of work ahead. More importantly, though, there is a lot of artistic growth to look forward to.

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Though Trevor was kind enough to take us to Tesco this afternoon, he still sounded very croaky and class has been postponed until at least Thursday. Shopping was a good reason to get out of the house, and I’m also glad that we’ve now replenished the stock of fruit and veggies – we’d got to the point of the fridge being rather bare!

On one hand, a break from the relentlessness of classes has been good, and allowed me to spend a little more time on technique without worrying about all the studies to prepare. On the other hand, it means that I’ve ended up working myself really hard now for five days straight, and am rather in need of a bit of down time that doesn’t involve flute playing! On the days that we have class, there’s a bit of a mutual agreement that we don’t practice, and often there’s a bit of a group dinner. I’m not sure what’s happened in the last few days – maybe everyone’s got a bit of the January blues – but nobody was keen to play chamber music yesterday evening and everyone has kept to themselves all of the time. It felt like our little outing today was the first conversation I’d had in a while, and even that was rather subdued!

Looking on the bright side, I have the perfect remedy lined up for tomorrow evening when I’m off to see The Theory of Everything with wonderful Sue from Hastingleigh. I’ll certainly be packing tissues, and am looking forward to it immensely. Beyond that, I need to remember that reading, knitting and even watching TV are perfectly acceptable ways to spend the evening when my lips and/or brain gives out!

I returned to the Eb scales and thirds today, and am pleased to say that they’re maybe 5% better than yesterday. A small improvement, but hopefully if I keep chipping away at it they’ll be flying along in a week or so. The Taffanel and Gaubert-style regular scales certainly are, though majors are still a bit faster than the minors. Another exercise that I’ve been practising a bit lately is the Perpetuum Mobile studies at the back of Trevor’s Complete Daily Exercises book. He’s taken a devilish little orchestral solo from Strauss’s work by the same name and written four studies which transpose the pattern of the excerpt through all the keys. Apparently one year he had two students who memorised the whole thing in a week and played it flawlessly at a really fast speed! I’m not up to that yet, but have been slowly edging the metronome up and the fluency is slowly increasing.

Though our piccolo masterclass with Patricia Morris was cancelled on Sunday, Trevor’s hopeful that it’ll happen in the next week or so. He asked us to prepare a few studies and some excerpts but left it open as to how much we work on – I’m assuming because there will be vary levels of competency with the piccolo in the class group. For studies, I’ve chosen no. 8 from Moyse’s 24 Melodic Studies as it has quite a broad range and requires seamless movement between the registers. I’ve been working on a few studies from Patricia Morris’s Piccolo Study Book, and will certainly be ready to play no. 3 (Furstenau) but am not so sure whether no. 7 will be ready by the time she comes.

In terms of excerpts, I’ve set myself a bit of a challenge. Though my excerpts in regular class are far from perfect, they’re usually quite good, and I seem to have a pretty decent knowledge of the orchestral repertoire. So rather than preparing one or two excerpts, I though I’d have a crack at the audition list for the Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s Principal Piccolo job which was up for audition in December. There were eleven excerpts on piccolo, to which I’ve added the Ravel Ma mère l’oye piccolo excerpts (there were also flute ones listed). Looking down the list, I was pleasantly surprised that I knew most of then, and had played all but two before in various contexts. A couple of them – the dreaded Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4 for example – will need a lot of work to get them up to speed, while others seemed to fall back under the fingers very naturally. Perhaps an ambitious goal considering everything else that I need to work on, but it feels like a good one and for the moment I’m quite enjoying it.

Right now, though, it’s time for a cup of chamomile tea, a book and bed!

I was rather hoping that we have at least some sort of New Year celebration at the flute studio, but Trevor has decided to go for routine instead! So New Year is “cancelled” until Friday, and we instead have class tomorrow with Roussel’s Joueurs de la flûte and the flute solo from Beethovens Overture ‘Leonore No.3’ on the menu. I’ve played the Roussel before, and we’re each only required to prepare two movements, so I’m feeling a bit more relaxed about tomorrow than in some previous weeks. Though I haven’t worked on the Beethoven in years, it’s not too bad as excerpts go, and hopefully I’ve targeted the things that Trevor’s most likely to pick holes in!

That left me freer to practice a lot of technique and studies today, and I feel like I’m making some progress with the notes in my two Altes studies for next week. The main criticism of the two I played on Monday was that they were too slow, and I’m keen for that not to become a theme. I am noticing some big improvements with speed though: my Taffanel and Gaubert-style scales this morning were much quicker and more even than a few weeks ago. When I think about the phrase shape rather than the notes, I tend to make fewer mistakes.

Mental practice today was focused on the dreaded Bohem study no. 1 (from Trevor’s Complete Daily Excercises), which I am trying to memorise. The problem now is that I know the pattern quite clearly, but tend to forget to make the descending half of the second bar diminished, and then fall over myself when it becomes a dominant 7th in the third bar. Once again, it’s about getting it into the fingers and not thinking too much about it. I’ve been trying to really focus on the physical sensation of playing the arpeggios, and am even imagining myself doing it in my usual place in the studio room as an extra barrier against nerves. I’m hoping that slow and steady will get there eventually – I can play it slowly from memory on my own, but it needs to be faster and more secure.

Since it’s the final hours of 2014, I feel like I should take a step back and reflect on the year. I’ve crammed quite a lot in:

Way back at Easter, I competed at the Aussie marathon kayaking championships, winning a bronze medal in the ladies open K1 and coming fourth in the ladies open K2 with my lovely sister…

…submitted the final copy of my thesis to the Melbourne University library…

…finished off my Masters degree with an epic recital in late June. A new commission from my lovely friend Andrew Aronowicz, Jolivet’s crazy flute and four percussion concerto and much more besides. For the music, but most importantly for the people I was honoured to be able to perform with, it’s a concert I won’t forget in a while! …

…packed up my lovely flat and life at St Mary’s College, and headed off to Europe with a very big backpack…

…spent an amazing two weeks at the SoundSCAPE Festival in Maccagno, Italy playing wonderful music with fantastic new friends…

…traveled round Europe for ten weeks, visiting seven countries, attending the wedding of my wonderful friend Lucia, catching up with friends from my year in Helsinki, visiting my grandparents, hiking barefoot up mountains, cycling in the Loire Valley, trying to speak Italian and German, eating wonderful food and sleeping in nineteen different beds in two and a half months! …

…and arrived here in Kent to Trevor and his flute course.

So 2014 has been a busy one. At the beginning of the year I had no idea where I’d be at the end of it, and I still can’t believe just how much I’ve managed to fit in. As 2015 dawns, I’m still not totally sure where I’ll be in three and a half months time, let alone the end of the year. But I have many musical dreams, some of which are becoming clear goals, and wonderful friends and family who believe in me even when I err. Bring it on.

I meant to call this post ‘Remember, remember…’ as tonight is Guy Fawkes night and I have some lovely memories of going to see the bonfire and fireworks from when I was little. However, today has been soggy and wet, and the local bonfire night isn’t happening until the weekend. Instead, I want to use this post to mull on a slightly different topic – how to fill my time here through the winter so that I can be the musician I want to be at the end of it.

Despite the rain, or maybe because of it, I woke up early, but then decided it was probably not the best idea to get drenched going for a run. So I started practising early (my flatmates were both awake thought!), and as a result got five hours of flute practice done by 3:30pm. I kept a hopeful lookout for some better weather, but the best was an uninspiring light drizzle. I felt itchy, in need of things to do that would keep me excited – I’ve never been one for watching lots of TV shows and so that was out as an option for the afternoon.

I ended up filling my time with a few things, some more productive than others. I baked chocolate, date and hazelnut brownies, improvising a little since we’d run out of eggs, which both great fun and warming. The result was moderately successful, it turns out that substituting greek yogurt for the eggs results in a nice gooey texture, but isn’t quite as good at binding everything together. Looks like I’ll offering everyone a fork when we eat them tomorrow!

Chocolate, date and hazelnut brownies. Look and taste good, but somewhat lacking in structural integrity!

Chocolate, date and hazelnut brownies. Look and taste good, but somewhat lacking in structural integrity!

I’ve also achieved my daily goal on Duolingo, where I’m trying to learn German, and have almost finished reading Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw in preparation for out trip to see Benjamin Britten’s opera this Friday. While baking, I listened to an episode of the radio series National Contemporary Landscapes, which I did some work on at 3MBS just before leaving Australia but haven’t yet had a chance to tune into. I listened to a CD of Robert Dick’s flute music as part of my extra work for Trevor as well, and plan on doing some reading for my project later this evening.

One of the things at the forefront of my mind with this course is that it could be the last period of being a student that I have for some time. Of course, I’d like to do a PhD eventually, but who knows what the work/study balance will be when that comes round. I want to emerge from this course not only as an expressive, technically competent flute player, but also as a savvy, skilled, opinionated and thinking musician who can hold my own and create exciting opportunities in a competitive and demanding field. I’d like to be the flautist that other musicians want to work with, not only for being a good player, but also because I’m engaged, individual and can bring other skills to the table. I’d also like to continue to combine performance with arts work in a broader sense, be that through writing, radio, concert organisation or indeed something else.

Trevor’s course is very much geared to getting an orchestral job, and while many of the musical skills are essentially the same, I know that to make the best use of my time here I need to have my own professional development projects on the go as well. I suppose my conclusion is that there is plenty to do to fill my time, rather too much in fact! I just need to pace myself, decide what is really important to me and keep my long-term goals in mind. I definitely don’t want to waste my time here watching TV shows online (as a few are), but do need to give myself down time as well, whatever form that takes.