Saturday, July 13, 2013

Strings Adjudicator Words of Wisdom part 2

Continued from part 1 HERE.

On practice:
His son once complained that practice was boring.  His reply was, "Is practice boring, or are YOU boring?" (going brain dead, not thinking...)
In most languages they use the word "study" for our "practice".
Pinchas Zukerman once asked in a master class, "What is talent?"  The answer he gave was, "Talent is curiosity."  Be curious! Ask, "How do they do that?" Practice is figuring stuff out!  Don't just do the same thing over and over.  Experiment. 

Play your instrument in front of a mirror... without the instrument!  We should look graceful like a ballerina with beautiful motions.  We can't separate the physical movements we see with what we hear.
Watch performances on You Tube with the sound off.  Do this a few minutes every day for a week.

Be careful of little physical things - they will slow you down if not done well.

The "music" on the page is only instructions - not EXACTLY what the composer meant.  The CHARACTER of a piece is more important than the notes.
Know something about the composer, where the piece came from (e.g. Paganini's Witches' Dance - from a comic opera), the vocabulary on the page.

On singing and dancing:
The Happy Farmer is a SONG, so "sing" it; the notes should be hooked, not too stopped with staccato.
Minuets - feel the dance!  The noble people of that day learned dancing and the arts. Beat 1 is the strong beat. Imagine the dancers, lilting.
Bach Courante - means running.  Imagine what it might have looked like (first notes to hike the skirts, then running notes).
When music dances, dance more than sing!

 Bow direction is important.

More on practice:
He once asked a group of students (who are serious enough to fly from Montreal to Calgary for lessons) when they got serious about playing their instrument.  Some were six, some 15, the average age was 12.  Most agreed than when they got serious they practiced about four hours a day.  One student, though, practiced only one hour a day, working on five hours worth of repertoire.  However, she spent three hours a day studying the scores of the music.

"Go for it!"
Use a variety of positions on different strings for colour.
Listen for beauty and sound.
Use the upper bow for fast passages.
Be involved with the music.
Organize the bow.  Do scales with different bowings.

On nerves:
When you are worried, don't let your bow get smaller, do the opposite:  make it bigger!
When we are excited our heart rate goes up.  It can cause us to be out of control hyper, but it can also give us a heightened sense of listening.  Nerves can break the weight of the arm into the string by causing us to tighten our shoulders.  Practice hanging your arm [- like what we call the cellist handshake].   If we are worried what others think of us, that is arrogance!
Nerves fight against gravity.  Gravity will always be there - USE it, don't fight it.
When we are tense we tend to hold everything in our chest.  Instead let our centre be in our core - breathe, let things hang.

Don't be too cautious and academic; put physical energy and emotion into your playing.
Good stage presence and smiling and moving to the music is very good.  What we see affects how we hear the music.

More than once, Mr. van der Sloot recommended to look up the Venice Baroque Orchestra to see Guiliano Carminogla play the Vivaldi Four Seasons.  HERE is an example! (Now that is exciting playing!)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Playing tourist

On our way to the Idaho Suzuki Institute mi compadre and I had a more leisurely drive on the second leg of our trip this year, not needing to check in until late afternoon.  We stopped for gas and a picnic lunch in Baker City, Oregon.  We found the park we visited last year easily, but missing the first turn and the second being closed for construction meant a fairly lengthy detour through the historic downtown area.  After we finally found the park from the back side and had our lunch, we decided to go back to see some of those interesting buildings.

This is the Geiser Grand Hotel.  If we had been PAYING guests we could have moved further into the lobby and taken better pictures of the stained glass skylight. 

I looked with interest at the photographs of early settlers on the wall, too.  Wondering if any might be my wandering ancestor who traveled the Oregon Trail.  As far as I know he didn't live in Baker City, but we don't really know where he ended up.  I liked this embroidered Oregon Trail display.

After spending quite a while in the gift shop as well as looking at some of the beautiful architecture of some churches, we continued on our way, thinking we would arrive at the top of check in time.... until we passed the "Mountain Time Zone" sign.  Oops.  How could we both forget that?  Oh well, we still arrived in time to stop for groceries for our dorm breakfasts and lunches, just didn't get to unpack before heading off to dinner.