Tag Archive: walking


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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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!

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.

The last day of January marks two thirds of the way through the flute studio course! A little more if we’re splitting hairs, since February is short. After a rather turbulent January with classes being shifted around, lots of trips up to London and then a particularly crazy last two weeks, today was a good moment to stop and collect myself a little in preparation for the remaining two months. In aid of that, I took myself off on a long and blustery walk across the Downs this afternoon. It was chilly, and the melted snow made for very soggy ground, but there is something wonderful about squelching through mud. I got back just as it began to snow again, and had a lovely practice session while watching the farm outside turn white!

After the last few days of particularly noticing nervousness and tension, my goal today was to practice well and without tension. I think that in my panic to get things prepared this last week, I’ve tended to note bash, learning in mistakes and then tension associated with them. Not good at all. Anyway, hopefully now that I’m a little more aware of what I’m doing, I can stop doing it an practice a little better.

I’m preparing Andersen No. 13 for Monday, which is a chromatic study with the odd whole tone put in for good measure (to trip us up!). After doing so much practice of patterns and scales, I am noticing that much more of these studies falls under the fingers easily. I suppose that’s why this one feels so devilish – I fall into the pattern and then it changes.

I’m supposed to be doing Altes No. 20 and 21 for Monday, but keep jumping ahead and practising no. 22 as well. It’s a duet arrangement of the Mendelssohn Scherzo from Midsummer Night’s Dream, and I really enjoy playing it. Getting through the whole thing is a tongue stamina challenge rather than (apart from one or two tricky passages) any problem of notes. The first flute part (which I play) doesn’t get the main solo until the very end, after seven pages of double tonguing, and the challenge is to make it still sound fresh, clear and bouncy. I’d like to think I can manage all three studies for class, but we’ll see how things go tomorrow.

Not much to report today; I did a lot of practice for tomorrow and Friday, finished my Mozart cadenza and took myself off for a walk in the afternoon. Trevor still isn’t 100% over his cold, and so cancelled our walk this evening. I’m trying desperately to avoid unnecessary cabin fever, and so jumped when the rain cleared in the afternoon. I walked east, up and down the windy hills. It’s a walk I like – not many cars, and some lovely sweeping views over the fields. It was still blustery, and by the time I got back my face and hands were pink and chilled.

While the Faure Fantasie for tomorrow is sounding quite good, I still need to do a bit more work on the notes in the Taffanel Scherzettino for Friday. They’re almost there, and considering how little time I’ve had to learn the piece it’s coming along quite well. I just need to remember that it’s better to practice slowly and get the notes right rather than trying to play too fast!

After the work on my Mozart cadenza yesterday I wrote it up this afternoon. Trevor wants it written out with bars, and asked for ‘no less that eight’. I’ve ended up with thirteen (or sixteen if you count a starting section I’m not totally sure I like), and am hoping that it’s not going to be too long, or indeed too pretentious. At the moment I’m quite pleased with it, I think it’s a lot more mature than cadenzas I’ve written in the past, which have tended to err on the side of being rather safe. However, I’m very much prepared for it not being good enough for Trevor tomorrow. Hopefully my doubts are unfounded!

Not terribly much to report today, other than that it was incredibly foggy. In the afternoon I took myself off for a walk, and discovered the village of Bodsham, which is only about a mile away so closer than Hastingleigh. They have an old phone box which has been converted into a book exchange/community library. I didn’t borrow anything this time, but it’s a reason to do the walk again. All along the road both there and back I was enclosed in a bubble of fog and could only see a few metres in front and behind. It was rather meditative.

As ever, I feel like another day to practice all my various studies would make a world of difference, but once again Monday is just around the corner. Andersen no. 10 is frustrating everyone, and my dairy has had it going pretty consistently all day!

I was surprised to find myself the only one practising at the new dairy today, but got on with it anyway – I tend to find days after class are the most productive! I still need to keep reminding myself that the goal with Reichert exercises and sequences is improvement not perfection. Some of the keys in Reichert No. 2 were fast and accurate the first time round, which is improvement. Others still need work!

I spent quite a bit of time on Altès studies this afternoon, particularly making sure that the rhythm in no. 5 is accurate. So long as I’m disciplined and practise the study in small bursts over the weekend, I should be ok.

Trevor trying to take credit for Dot's yummy cake!

Trevor trying to take credit for Dot’s yummy cake!

This evening we celebrated Thanksgiving for the American girls, giving Trevor an excuse to have us round for dinner. I had my misgivings about the whole thing – everyone’s descriptions of typical Thanksgiving meals seemed to suggest that the whole thing was a celebration of excessive eating. While we did end up with a lot of dishes, though, the evening turned out nicely. Trevor had some wine for us to taste, including two bottles of very nice Penfolds from South Australia, and everyone had contributed a dish to dinner. I roasted parsnips and carrots, and we also had ham (for the meat-eaters), twice-baked potatoes, sweet potato, salad, and both pumpkin bread and an amazing meringue cake (made by Dot) for dessert. All was very yummy, though I’m also very glad that we walked afterward.

Off up to London and Hilton tomorrow, first to vote in the Vic state election and then to spend the weekend with some friends. I can’t wait for the break!

Today was an odd one, probably because it’s got to the point where I need a bit of time off from flute practice. My morning sessions went well enough: at the end of two weeks, the Moyse finger exercises are sitting more or less comfortably at crotchet = 122, but I am still having trouble memorising Reichert No. 2 and 4 in all the keys. It doesn’t help that I still seem to get nervous about playing the exercises from memory in class, so feel like I need to find a way of pushing myself further in my practice sessions in order to make it seem easy in front of Trevor. I’ve been doing Taffanel & Gaubert No. 4 with the metronome at quite high speeds to try and achieve this.

By the afternoon, though, I was really ready for a break. I made some suggestions of a board game to Roya and Chin Ting, but neither were interested, so I took myself off on a walk down a road I hadn’t explored yet. It took me out East past several farms and many autumnal fields. It was blustery, and has got to that stage of English autumn where everything is perpetually damp. Other than a pig with very long, fluffy ears and a fields of skittish sheep, I didn’t meet a soul. It was a good walk though, there’s something delicious about the feeling of not knowing where I am, of almost being lost and not knowing what I’ll find.

In the evening, we all went to join the village bonfire night in a nearby field. The wind whipped the bonfire into great plumes of smoke and flames, showering the field with embers. Back in Australia, the whole thing would have screamed bushfire hazard, but here everything is way too soggy for any problems. I was actually rather impressed the bonfire stayed alight! The firework display was great, quite a bit bigger than I’d expected in a little village.

Being a family event, though, all was done by 7:30, and I was back in time for the Dr Who finale. Hopefully inspiration is flowing again by tomorrow.