Tag Archive: Tesco


I’m still not sure how to interpret Trevor’s attitude to me lately, and it in an attitude. This morning’s trip to Tesco continued in the same vein – everything I said earned some sort of backlash or negative comment. This was despite me having learned the usual good selection of composers (beginning with K and L)! The saving grace of the morning’s trip was a stop off at Perri Court Farm, where we haven’t been since Christmas due to Trevor’s cold and the bad weather. I took the opportunity to stock up on lots of apples and dark chocolate ginger.

Alas, after yesterday’s negativity I wasn’t feeling terribly inspired to practice today. Instead I had a long and lovely Skype with some friends before revisiting the flute in the afternoon. I got in about 3 1/2 hours but felt that the only really good session was the one just before dinner. I managed to spend half an hour doing some really solid and focused work on Andersen No. 14 – mostly making sure that I could play through each line without any wrong notes and with all the marked dynamics.

I did get in a bit of work on the excerpts and piece for Thursday: Overture to The Thieving Magpie (Rossini), Wur durfen niemand toten from St John Passion (Bach) and the Godard Suite de Trois Morceaux. I’ve played both the excerpts before, but want to make sure that I can play them even under pressure in class, and need to spend a bit more time tomorrow on both. As for the Godard, I’ve played the Valse before and so am in that annoying situation of remembering exactly how I want to the music to sound but my fingers not always remembering where to go quickly enough! But then I’ll play a passage or run flawlessly because it’s all the scales and arpeggios which are now so comfortable. I think slow practice tomorrow is the key – slow, steady and calm.

For the first time in ages, we returned to walking tonight, though it was only a short one. All of a sudden, Trevor was being friendly again, and invited me to walk with him and Ching Ting where I would have been quite happy to fade into the background and stay out of the way. He was conversational, even jovial, chatting about a baroque flute maker in Australia, asking some questions about degree structure there. I confess that I don’t get his mind games at all.

Tomorrow morning I’m going running again. It’s been too long, and now that it’s no longer icy and there’s a little less on class-wise, I really have no excuse.

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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.

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!

Bit of a funny day today. I accidentally turned my alarm off this morning rather than hitting snooze, and so it was a bit of a scramble to be ready for Trevor’s Tesco pick-up at 8:42am (on the dot). Composer and repertoire listing was slow going as usual, but I’d learned quite a few more than I listed so am happy that I’m getting plenty out of the exercise.

My daily practice started out quite well, and while the three hours on technique weren’t amazing, they were also far from awful. However, the final two hours on studies and repertoire felt like wading through treacle. Despite having played Schubert’s Trockne Blumen Variations before, I could not get my fingers to move the way I wanted them to. I’m hoping that it was just a bit of an off day (to match the rather gloomy foggy weather) and that I’m not getting a cold or anything.

I’ve taken advantage of a walk-free evening to get a few other jobs done. Most importantly, one of the things I’m keen to do as part of my ArtStart grant from the Australia Council is attend the Bang on a Can summer festival in Boston, USA in July. I was on the reserve list last year, and am hoping that everything I’ve done since then will bump me up to being accepted. Who knows though, I just need to put together the best application I can!

I need to get motivated about running again, and am planning on heading out tomorrow morning even if it is a bit wet.

Instead of class today, we had another practice day, a trip to Tesco in the afternoon and then a chamber rehearsal in the evening. I’m rather glad of the extra day – I’m feeling about as confident as I’m going to with all my various studies for tomorrow, and looking forward to the concert.

Following my chat with Trevor on Friday, I’ve thrown myself into all the technical work with renewed determination, and was particularly happy with Reichert No. 2 this morning. Taffanel and Gaubert-style scales (from memory) are feeling good in major, but I still keep second guessing myself in the minor keys and then falling apart. I good proof of how much I’ve improved in the last ten weeks though was that I played the Pinkie Polka at crotchet = 80. I haven’t touched it for a couple of weeks now, but wanted to see where I was at, and rather surprised myself! The first metronome marking I’ve got down on the page is crotchet = 56, so it’s been quite a good step up.

Lesson: Remember the bigger picture as well as the day-to-day.

Our flute history paper is due tomorrow, and I’m rather glad – I need to stop proofreading it and move on to other things! At this rate I’ll probably launch straight from this one into the 1700-onward paper due in March!

After yesterday’s rather dismal outlook, I had a much more positive day today. A couple of the reasons were non-flute-related: I Skyped with some lovely friends in Australia this morning, the studio group had our weekly outing to Tesco, and I made a hot and yummy broccoli soup for dinner! All these things gave me the energy to do a fair slog of practice, and now my lips are a bit dead again.

Of particular note was that our repertoire for the week is Marin Marais’s Les Folies d’Espagne. I have a funny relationship with this piece. Despite being a bit of a new music fan in recent years, this is one of my all-time favourite flute pieces, or at least the E minor solo one is! I was a bit shocked to pick up the score for class and find that it was in G minor instead, but have actually found that my fingers got round the new key relatively easily (there are just a few mordants and trills that come a bit more easily in E min0r). There are also a couple of different variations between the E and G minor versions, which I’ve needed to have a think about.

In re-visiting the work, I’ve realised that I love it for precisely the reason that it’s so hard; a really wonderful performance holds my attention through all 31 variations, despite the fact that the harmony doesn’t change. I’ve got a wonderful recording of Jordi Savall and Baroque ensemble playing the whole set (exactly the one I’m now doing, interestingly enough), and the energy that they inject into the music is fantastic. Every variation makes me feel like dancing, yet in a different way each time. While they can achieve a lot more variety of timbre through the different instruments, my challenge is to play with the same energy and vitality across all the variations.

With Roya and Chin Ting also practising the same piece today, there has been an awful lot of G minor!

Tomorrow we’re heading up to London again, this time to hear Wibb give a masterclass. It’ll be a long day, but I’m looking forward to it.

Suddenly autumn is well and truly here. We haven’t worked out how to turn the heating on, and our landlady was nowhere to be found today, so I am sitting here writing this wearing a big jumper, my new hat (from the bargain bin in Tesco today, but really quite warm and with a bobble) and two pairs of socks.

This morning we had the weekly trip to Tesco, this time to stock up for the whole week. Lots of veggies (I live with the other vegetarians), as well as ginko supplements that will hopefully stop me loosing circulation in my fingers when it gets cold. Then we went on to the most wonderful organic farm shop, despite having already bought all our fruit and veggies. I think Trevor just wanted to show us around.

The rest of the day was practice, lots of scales and exercises. Trevor gave us a particularly devilish one called the ‘Pinkie Polka’ for the workout of both pinkie fingers. We had to sightread it in class yesterday while Trevor stood there looking smug, and I’m determined to get it working. It will be slow progress though, after a solid 15 min of work it still sounds sloppy at crotchet = 50.

Our repertoire for this week is Andante et Scherzo by Louis Ganne, one of the French book pieces that I haven’t played before. I’ve made some good progress with the Scherzo today, but will need to be economical with my time tomorrow as there is so much to get done. I’m hoping that solid practice with a metronome and gradually increasing the speed will get the notes into my fingers enough to play them fluidly on Thursday. Our orchestral excerpt for the week (from memory, as Trevor lightly dropped in) is Après-midi, and I feel that there will be plenty of scope there for further discussion of my vibrato deficiencies.

On our evening walk I ended up as Trevor’s partner (he picks someone each night), and actually had a really good conversation with him. I’d been rather dreading it, as I’m still getting the feeling he finds me a bit over-sure of myself and talkative. I asked lots of questions about his life and career, and told a few stories of my own, mostly about travel. The conversation reminded me what a knowledgeable, experienced old man he is, and I came back to my final hour of practice with a renewed desire to please him. Too bad that my lips gave out after 30 min!