Recital reflections

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Yesterday I had my second masters recital and performed a program almost entirely of new works. Here’s a PDF of the program, including program notes for all repertoire (Maderna Dialodia, Hurel Loops I, Flenady Sketches I & II, Marais Les Folies d’Espagne with new variations, Dean Demons, Kurtág Bagatelles, and Takemitsu Voice): Recital 2 Program. Some recordings to follow…

It went quite well all things considered – like my sound issues and apparent lack of preparedness. It’s this second factor that I’d like to discuss at this point, as it’s not so much because of time constraints that I felt under-prepared but avoidance and poor organisation of practise techniques in the lead up to this recital. I do think I’m getting better at learning repertoire, but there are some persistant problems that I was commonly experiencing in my undergraduate days and even before. The causes are psychological, and the only reason they haven’t been an even bigger problem is that I respond fairly well to pressure (in terms of suddenly getting lots of stuff done … not so much in so far as I stress out pretty big time) and kick into gear. I think one of the ways I’ve ‘improved’ is by managing to push this feeling of pressure back a little earlier so I get into that final chance mode a few days ahead.

So perhaps a good thing to do would be to create some kind of pressure situation earlier still, something that I can’t easily weasel my way out of. I have set up practise performances about a week out from the actual thing in the past, but generally exclude some of the repertoire, making up some excuse as to why it’s not ready yet. Not sure how to prevent myself doing that … but certainly practise performances, for some kind of semi-important audience, at least two weeks ahead. If I can get repertoire to the standard it was yesterday two weeks ahead of such a performance I then have the time to polish and refine, building up the strength of everything and my confidence.

While overseas I intended to set up monthly practise performances for Patrick and Kathleen – unfortunately Kathleen’s moving to the rainforest very soon, a sad thing indeed, which puts a bit of a spanner into that plan. I should still think about how I can do this though, especially once I finish my degree. A kind of ‘workshop’ without all the faff and nonsense that surrounded workshop classes at the Con (or performance class at UQ). Maybe some of my friendly musician friends would be interested in doing this too – it could end up being a bit of a house concert every now and then, just regular performances of repertoire we’re preparing, and with opportunity to comment on one another’s playing afterwards (Tab? Alex? Alethea? Whaddya reckon?). We could invite each other’s teachers along every now and then for comment too. Maybe we could kind of combine this with my old idea of a musician’s reading group too… Or Liam and Pete’s seminar series, or composer workshops, playing new pieces. Ideas!

My next performance is the Kupka’s Piano concert on October 5 (buy tickets now!!), in which I’m playing new works by Liam (for flute, clarinet and vibes) and Michael Mathieson-Sandars (for solo flute) as well as Boulez’ Derive I. The ensemble works are good because I’ll have the incentive and pressure of rehearsals to prepare for ahead of the day. I’ll play Michael’s work through for Patrick and/or Kathleen by September 26th, and do a practise performance or two for others by the end of that week.

One other thought I had last night, that would work quite well with the idea of monthly practise performance events, is repertoire maintenance. I am always thoroughly impressed at the amount of mileage Alex gets out of his repertoire – performing the works he has learnt on multiple occasions in many different circumstances. He is solidly developing his own repertoire list, a core part of your identity and functionality as a musician. Time for me to play copycat and decide what of the works I’ve learnt over the past few years I want to keep on hand. Over the next few days I’ll make a list (I did start this when I first began this blog, but neglected to see the project through to completion – all full of ‘repertoire dreaming’ and not repertoire fixing), and draft up a plan to cycle through these works as I learn new things, not only to maintain their standard but also to set up other performance opportunities and become really comfortable with playing them. I ought to always have several works going in maintenance mode as well as note learning.

Another thing I’d like to do to address the avoidance behaviour is think about how I can use my yoga practise to lead into flute practise – I’m stepping up my yoga commitment as it’s the best thing for pain prevention and management, as well as mental and physical balance. I’m even considering starting teacher training next year, with the idea of running a ‘yoga for musicians’ class in future.

Lots of new things as I step into the next period leading up to October 5! Rehearsals galore, new works, old works, sound development practise, yoga, practise performances … and writing for my thesis review milestone (due Sept 23) and an ArtStart grant application (due Sept 20)!! Ech!

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