Recital Countdown: The Last Week


My second masters recital is one week from tomorrow. So between now and then I intend to write (at least) a post per day, detailing my preparation, both to keep track of where I’m at and to document the final stages.

Some of the things this may include:

  • Lesson and rehearsal reflections – including my lesson with Melissa Doecke tomorrow (on Dean’s Demons), plus time with Patrick, and just quickly tonight I’ll jot down a few things from my lesson with Kathleen last Thursday.
  • Looking-after-the-body plans – meal plan, yoga and other exercise, avoiding and/or managing pain.
  • Piece preparation – last-minute touch-ups, practise performances, etc.
  • Mood management – dealing with anxiety and negative thoughts, using positive visualisations and thought monitoring.
  • Schedule for recital day, including a detailed warm-up plan.

Liam’s going to join me on the post-a-day challenge, he needs to finish off his “Paris Balance Sheet” documenting his thoughts coming out of his time overseas.

Anyhow, because I’m going to be having another lesson on the Dean tomorrow so soon after my lesson with Kathleen, I need to write down a few things that came out of that one. Kathleen, as always, really drew me out of my comfort zone – she had me essentially performing the first page or so sans flute, vocalising the whole things and dancing around like a maniac (embodying the work, taken to a new level!). For this, I was required to still make every ‘D’ somehow different – vocally, I went with varying vowels and head/chest/belly voice; corporeally, I shaped each note with my hands and created an aggressive character by lunging forward for each major attack.

After this exercise, I could play back over the work with a new strength – it was somewhat out of my cerebral control and into the body. The rhythm in this piece is really quite difficult, all the more so for obnoxious notation, and I’ve struggled to let that mental rigidity go when playing through certain sections (in the same way as I struggle sometimes to play musically through the phrase when I’m focussing on placing every note and maintaining a clear and beautiful tone). According to Kathleen, the rhythms need to be learned in a way that dictates the character of each small phrase, and it’s more about that than about mathematical rhythmic perfection.

We spoke about learning for a bit, and she suggested I start to really intently document my learning process, from first seeing a piece to performing it. She insisted that it would open new approaches as I became very conscious of the old ones I’ve been used to. Sounds like a good idea, so it should make an appearance on this blog in future posts.

An extra observation on the Dean that Liam made earlier last week is that there is a lot of Petrouchka in it. That opening fanfare. Dean’s piece obviously is working outside of a tonal framework, but otherwise there’s a very strong similarity in some of the material.


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