Summer’s Near: Let’s Get Down to Music

Hello everyone – apologies for being so late. This is my first post in around 57 days! I’ve been very busy with school work etc., however now that things have died down I can write a bit and share some more of my favourite music and talk about some things that I’ve been getting up to.

So this is Beethoven’s A Major Sonata for Cello and Piano, performed by no other than Jacqueline Du Pre and Daniel Barenboim. It’s a piece that I’m working on over the summer, along with the 1st movement of Prokofiev’s Cello Sonata. I hope you enjoy it – I’m not going to write anything on this piece yet until I’ve played it more and understand it more – and enjoy the calmness of the opening!

It’s June – nearly the end of term for us – and summer is tantalizingly close. My friends and I are feeling trapped in our claustrophobic society of musicians, and our even smaller friend group. What do we feel is the cure? *HOLIDAYS* Usually I feel like planning holidays kind of defeats the purpose – they’re supposed to be stress free and easy-going – however this time, I have pretty much booked out my holidays, promising myself that I will do certain things.

Thing number one is a family holiday to Paris. Family holidays, to me, have bad connotations; when I think of family holidays, I remember the many years where my mother, brother and I would travel around Europe and Scandinavia, and my brother would then act-up and make the holiday an absolute misery. Now, seven or eight years later, my mother and I can speak far more French than back then; however my brother, fifteen months my junior, I feel will act-up still. Maybe it’s just an association I make with my brother, and it’s unfair to expect that kind of childish behaviour from him, yet I cannot imagine family holidays going smoothly at all!

Number two thing to do is the second of two orchestral courses I’m doing with the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland (NYOS). I love orchestral courses – orchestral playing is invaluable, and you get to play some amazing music. That being said, these courses are a big commitment financially and physically, and a whole week of intense music-making takes its toll on your other work.

Thing number three is composition I must do over the summer for when I get back at school in September. Next year, we have to write several pieces that get recorded and sent away for examination. I set my marker high as I felt like my teacher expects me to produce increasingly good work. After conversing with my friend who studies composition more seriously than I, and who is a fellow cellist, he challenged my to writing a concerto-form piece for solo instrument and chamber orchestra, as he had done the year before. Of course, I had to take up the opportunity; however, we write in completely different styles – I write in a traditional, Romantic style and he writes in a contemporary, boundary-pushing style. As he suggested that I do this I thought that maybe I could combine the two and do a kind of Neo-Romantic concerto (abomination). I think that it will be a good exercise at the very least, and I look forward to doing it!

Number four thing to do is the general music making and practising I must do. During the holidays I hope to do some concerts with my friend, who is a flautist, up north near where she lives. Hopefully this will helped quench my thirst for travelling and freedom – it was the French composer Debussy who thought that inspiration could not come without travelling to different places regularly (I’m pretty sure I read that in an essay recently). In addition to this, I have new repertoire to learn over summer, including the Beethoven I shared, and my teacher is certainly keeping me busy.

I think that I’ve been in Edinburgh for too long – although it’s a bright, bubbly and interesting place I feel bored and restricted by it. Perhaps I need to travel a bit and spend time in a new place: it can only be good for me.

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Schubert Sick Leave – Competition Adventures

Lo – I have returned! Apologies for the absence of posts in the last couple of weeks. I always forget how busy March is every year. My excuse for not blogging is that I have had lots of concerts and rehearsals in the last fortnight. The only reason that I am blogging today is that I am at home, off sick, exhausted. Though all the concerts to do have not been done yet, I have until Monday until rehearsals get back into full swing, so this seemed like a good opportunity to catch up on rest and cure illnesses.

Last night our Schubert Quintet competed in a Chamber Music competition. We did the 3rd movement of the Schubert String Quintet in C Major – the Scherzo -, just a few hours after a few of us had competed in a Solo recital class. The leader of our Quintet won the recital class – he certainly deserved it as his musicality is fantastic and his technique is exquisite – and we all were very proud of him as we walked to the next competition venue. We grabbed some food on the way, ate, and then started rehearsing (again) – two whole hours before the competition started!

We practised in a small chapel, did plenty of intonation exercises, and went over beginnings and endings of sections of the piece. Before long, the competition started, and we went into the main hall of the church – a grand, ornamented, wonderous place in all honesty. After the first group performed we grabbed our instruments, which we had perfectly tuned beforehand, handed the score of the Schubert to the Adjudicators, and set up.

Doing chamber music from memory is unconventional to say the least, and when we placed our stands to the sides of the stage we got some chuckles from the audience. There was only one piano stool (cellists tend to prefer sitting on an adjustible piano stool as opposed to a chair) so I had to sit on a chair which, in truth, was far too low for me to sit on. We checked our strings for tuning. We were all out of tune ever so slightly. This really took us by surprise, however we tuned fairly quickly, checked everyone was okay and calm, then played.

The performance was a bit shaky, even though everyone said it was a fantastic performance, and there were a couple of memory slips from a couple of us; however the music went on regardless and seemingly these mistakes were undetectable. We received enough applause for three bows, and then the Adjudicators came up to our group and said “We’re speechless”. It was very exciting – we really didn’t think that we were that good!

After they had asked us a few questions, such as “Where do you study?”, “How long have you been playing together?” and “Will you be doing all fifty-five minutes of the piece by memory?”, we sat down and watched the last group (there were only three groups as the other six had withdrawn!) perform. In all honesty, this trio of musicians were outstanding. They played this practically unknown “Fantasy Trio” for Clarinet, Cello and Piano. They were all post-grad music students, and their performance was very refined indeed.

In the end, the trio and our Quintet were both given an “Outstanding” mark by the Adjudicators, however the trio received the medal. We all agreed that our performance was far from perfect. In truth, little things can throw you off your game. In this case, the surprise of our instruments being out of tune after we had tuned them was probably the thing was distracted us. That being said, my advice to all musicians performing chamber music is this:

Always remember that you are playing music.

Music is expressive art at the height of its glory.

In the end, everyone has to express themselves when playing music.

Feel the connection with your fellow musicians.

There is a known phenomenon amongst musicians:

When you cut out all your visual senses,

(Which take a lot of energy from the brain),

Your other senses take over, and are heightened,

If you can feel this all the time you have entered a whole different realm of music-making,

And I assure you that you will never feel the same about music again.

End-of-week Music-making

Hello everyone! Today I have had a really amazing day, possibly the best I’ve had all year. I had a Schubert String Quintet rehearsal from 12.30-7.30pm today. By the end, we said that we could have gone on for twice that.

It was really sunny today in Edinburgh – quite extraordinarily so actually. We were slow to start the rehearsal, so we properly started at about 1pm in the Chapel which is amazing to play chamber music in. Because we knew we had ages to rehearse, we decided to take loads of time to do intonation warm-ups as a group, and we did scales in C and Db Major (the two main key signatures of the Schubert String Quintet), whole tones scales in both of those keys, and then chordal whole tone scales (which are fantastic to warm up with).

We rehearsed mainly the 3rd movement, as we have a lunchtime concert and a competition in which we are playing the 3rd movement; however we did also play the 1st movement (ah, the joys). Anyways, we had plenty of breaks, lots of fun, and it was generally amazing!

The part I must tell you about is what happened in the final two hours of the rehearsal. We were doing the 3rd movement – the Scherzo (lively, fast and upbeat) and the Trio (slower, relaxed, sad but utterly gorgeous) – and a friend of ours who is doing the 1st movement came in to listen to our rehearsal. We decided to do both the lunchtime concert and the competition by memory, which is quite unconventional for chamber music; however this gives us an even better connection with each other which is ultimately what chamber music is all about.

When our friend had left we asked her to switch the lights off, and we played in total darkness, starting with the gorgeous Trio. We were so in our own world. With our eyes closed, we felt this “sixth sense” that is, in truth, possibly the most phenomenal thing about playing chamber music in the dark, and all of our entries that we would have usually looked at each other for were perfectly together! We were so into the music, we ended up going onto the Scherzo for the second time (it comes back to it after the Trio) and finished the piece, with only a few memory slips.

All in all, it was fantastic, and these “Schubert Saturdays” will certainly be happening again soon.

Daily Prompt: Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)

What is the best dream you’ve ever had? Recount it for us in all its ethereal glory. If no dream stands out in your memory, recount your worst nightmare. Leave no frightening detail out.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us IMAGINARY.

Oh the world of dreams! I love dreams, although I tend not to have them so regularly anymore; however this means that I appreciate them even more when I do have them!

Often people’s moods are affected by how they sleep; restless, relaxed, filled with vibrant imagery, filled with terrible imagery. For me as a musician and writer I can pour these experiences into what I do. Recently, you may or may not recall, I had a particularly bad dream, although it wasn’t terrifying in the sense of gory and blood-filled. It put me on-edge for the entire week. This shows how influential dreams, and indeed nightmares, can be.

My favourite dreams are the ones in which I am travelling. I love travelling; however, again, I don’t do it nearly as often as I used to. Recently I had a dream about going on a ferry to France, as I have done before. This was probably sparked from listening to La Mer by Debussy, which I talked about in my DP post yesterday. I love France, and I have gone there on holiday seven times. My dream started off on the ferry, and was accompanied by Debussy’s La Mer, starting at dawn and going right into a storm – in the same way as the piece progresses. It was quite overwhelming actually – the inspiring imagery and the inspiring music made it pull at my heart-strings in the same way as in a nightmare, when you are terrified because you can’t move.

When I arrived at the port, somewhere near the border with Belgium probably, I experienced that well-known sensation of all the blurred images and a headache, being pushed along the “storyline”, until I gained some kind of control and found myself under the centre of the Eiffel Tower. When I visited the Eiffel Tower for the first time, when I was a kid of about 5 or something, I always went underneath the centre and dizzied myself. because of the sheer size of it. Like I would have done in real life, I went to a café and ordered coffee.

And that, folks, was more or less the dream, one of my favourites. It’s funny that your dreams, despite being imaginary, can also be quite realistic. The human imagination certainly is an art form.

Other imaginary people:

  1. Back In Bug and The Daily Prompt | The Jittery Goat
  2. Daily Prompt: Sweet Dreams- The Psychology of Dreaming | Journeyman
  3. Deliverance | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  4. Fairy Wings- Non Fiction | Rose-tinted Rambles
  5. Sky on floor level | Le Drake Noir
  6. Until then… | Daily Prompt: Sweet Dreams | Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me
  7. I Dreamed About Avril Lavigne | THE BLACK SPAGHETTI CHRONICLES

Daily Prompt Catch-up: Walking on the Moon

What giant step did you take where you hoped your leg wouldn’t break? Was it worth it, were you successful in walking on the moon, or did your leg break?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us RISK.

This is my first catch-up for now. I was in the Edinburgh Central Library, Reference Library (gorgeous building, must visit if you’re in Edinburgh – it’s on the top floor), on a computer for two hours doing some work due to my infamous craptop failures, and I decided to attempt at doing some writing on the blog. However the computer did this funny thing that meant that all the text on the screen of the “New Post” page was invisible! So apologies for that, however that frustration has led me to doing this prompt which I meant to do on Saturday!

It has to be said, I am not one for taking risks – at least not anymore. I play it safe in most cases, often going out of my way to do so. However the only exception to this is when I’m playing music. A musical “risk” can be a lot of things, but what I mean by it is something that you do that might go against the grain; something unconventional. As a musician I think it’s important to put in a couple of quirks when you feel like doing so. In a performance, for example, I might do something spontaneous stylistically (obviously not completely crazy: subtlety works best!); something that I haven’t practised doing for that piece yet which will work nicely. Risks in music is what brought us Debussy, Shostakovich – in fact you can go right back to Medieval/Renaissance music whereby one composer wrote a Mass setting based on a particularly dodgy, secular song!

Indeed, in a lot of situations, in science for example, you must take risks to progress! I know that my risks in music lead to enjoyment, and that can be progress too.

Risks of other natures:

  1. Daily Prompt: Walking on the Moon | Basically Beyond Basic
  2. Daily Prompt: Walking on the Moon | a Portia Adams adventure
  3. My Giant Step – Daily Prompt | alienorajt
  4. Four Things I Learned About Freedom From an Uber-Strict Prep School | Kosher Adobo
  5. Daily Prompt: Walking on the Moon- Being Independent | Journeyman
  6. I Think My Leg Is Broken | Musings | WANGSGARD.COM
  7. Rocket To The Moon . | Crossroads
  8. A Rainy Day At Home (short story) and The Daily Prompt | The Jittery Goat
  9. One Crazy Mom » Taking the Next Step
  10. I’m Michael Jackson | Knowledge Addiction
  11. I Will Weather | Daily Prompt: Walking on the Moon | likereadingontrains
  12. DP Daily Prompt: Walking On The Moon | Sabethville
  13. Walking On The Moon – You Kidding! | Views Splash!
  14. Daily Prompt: The Giant Step — A Haiku: Sunday, February 23, 2014 | LisaRosier.com
  15. It’s All About Trying… | Life Confusions
  16. S. Thomas Summers: Writing with Some Ink and a Hammer | A Violin on Baker Street
  17. Daily Prompt: Walking on the Moon | Here I am !!
  18. Extinction | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  19. Hunters – reloaded | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  20. Inappropriate love | shame
  21. We Ought to Obey God Rather Than Men | Among the Whispers
  22. Daily Prompt: Walking on the Moon | tnkerr-Writing Prompts and Practice
  23. If You Lose Your Head While Cooking, It Insults My Intelligence | Bumblepuppies
  24. Daily Prompt: Walking on the Moon « Mama Bear Musings
  25. A giant step | Sue’s Trifles
  26. Have Faith In God | Flowers and Breezes
  27. I liked the place so much I bought more than the t-shirt! | thoughtsofrkh
  28. DAILY PROMPT: Risk | cockatooscreeching
  29. Dare To Dream | My Little Avalon
  30. Daily Prompt: Walking on the Moon – LOVING THE ALIEN | Phoenix Fights
  31. Three Firsts In A Day | Lisa’s Kansa Muse
  32. Daily Prompt: Being Intrepid! | All Things Cute and Beautiful
  33. Craters in my heart. | Your Best Friend from the DMV
  34. Risky Business for this Girl Born in the Year of the Rat « psychologistmimi
  35. here’s to evolution | y
  36. milking the way | peacefulblessedstar
  37. What giant step did you take where you hoped your leg wouldn’t break? | askgrampa
  38. Walking on the Moon | I Write Therefore I Am
  39. Leap and the Net will Appear | The Zombies Ate My Brains
  40. Daily Prompt: Walking on the Moon | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
  41. Tiny Pieces | Barefoot on Rainy Days
  42. Losing Blood | The Land Slide Photography
  43. Daily Prompt: A Leap of Faith | Wright Outta Nowhere
  44. Daily Prompt: Walking on the Moon | Delicious Ambiguity
  45. Daily Prompt: Walking on the Moon | Infinitefreetime
  46. I’m Not Afraid of Lunar Monsters
  47. Some may say I’m wishing my days away… | An Upturned Soul
  48. Daily Prompt: Walking on the Moon | The Wandering Poet
  49. I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
  50. Dream awake | mnemosynesandlethe
  51. Igmutaka’s Blessing | I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
  52. Two Years Later | Recovery Miles
  53. Daily Prompt: Walking on the Moon | Nola Roots, Texas Heart
  54. Where’s the Function Key for “Risk?” | by LRose
  55. A plea on behalf of all of us who self-publish. Daily Prompt | alienorajt
  56. for a pigeon | The Seminary of Praying Mantis
  57. DP_Walking on the Moon…or should I say – Gliding in the Sky! | Essence of Del
  58. Risk: Daily Post | Destino
  59. Haiku: Walking on the Moon | Mirth and Motivation
  60. My First Step Out of Rock Bottom to Start My Walk on the Moon | Ever Upward
  61. I did not break a leg | mombox
  62. Defying Gravity | Retrofocus
  63. My Disney College Program (A quick summary of why) | The Bohemian Rock Star’s “Untitled Project”
  64. Hall of Shame | Exploratorius
  65. Moon Walking For Dummies | Overcoming Bloglessness
  66. Risk- The fear and excitement of taking that important first step | A picture is worth 1000 words
  67. Risk: Walking on the Moon | Yowza, Here We Go!
  68. My brief American dream | Life is great
  69. Risk | Focal Breeze
  70. Risk Taking… Beware! | The Christian Gazette
  71. Walking on the Moon | Alexia Jones
  72. Giant Step: Kelly’s Cheesecakes and Cookies | 365 Days of Thank You
  73. Daily Prompt: Risk | That Montreal Girl
  74. Daily promp: Weighing it up | helen meikle’s scribblefest
  75. Daily Prompt: Walking on the Moon | Lady K’s Lounge
  76. Daily Prompt: Walking on the Moon | Lady K’s Lounge
  77. Daily Prompt: Risk | Morrighan’s Muse
  78. Sunday Snapshot: Walking on the Moon | Tommia’s Tablet
  79. JUMPING SHIP | SERENDIPITY
  80. Life – risks = boring | Willow’s Corner
  81. The Art of Doing a Header | Awkward Laughter
  82. Care to Dare | Rima Hassan
  83. Daily Prompt: Walking on the Moon | Raspberry’s Daydreams
  84. Daily Prompt: Walking on the Moon | bardalacray
  85. Recipe: Giant Chocolate WTFs | Be Less Amazing
  86. THE RISK TAKER | DANDELION’S DEN

Daily Prompt: Shake It Up

You’re 12 years old. It’s your birthday. Write for ten minutes on that memory. GO.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us RECKLESS.

Hello everyone! Sorry about lack of posts as I have been very busy with rehearsals and work etc. and the “craptop” situation really isn’t going anywhere soon. Hopefully I will also be posting up a bit about getting some guest bloggers in as well to help with post shortages, so stick around as that should be going up in the next few days (once I’ve figured out exactly how to add them!)!

My 12th birthday was amazing. My voice had broken the summer before so now I had gained a deep, resonant bass voice. This was the centre of all the fun I got from my friends. So on my 12th birthday I decided to throw a party – the first one since I was five years old. It was a stand-up comedy party (yes, I was cool back then) and I invited four people; three girls and a guy. Two of the girls have always been inseparable so I made them dress up as Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee (right spelling?) whilst I myself was the Mad Hatter. The other girl was Alice and the guy was the Cheshire Cat – he even dyed his afro white and pink!

The stand up was hilarious. Led by myself and Tweedle Dum, who is still an absolute comedy legend it has to be said, we had good fun – the sort of fun that was accompanied by several pizzas. I also invented a game which I still find hilarious. The goal was to eat as much chocolate as possible after doing an assault course. The faces that people made were unearthly and it’s a shame I don’t have any on camera! At the party we even knocked a projector of its fixture on the roof! Reckless, roaring and darn right out of my mind, especially when everyone was leaving…

Reckless people:

  1. Care to Dare | Rima Hassan
  2. BFF | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  3. Tinkerbell’s home | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  4. Daily Prompt: Shake It Up- Family | Journeyman
  5. Brent’s Ten Dollar Idea And The Daily Prompt | The Jittery Goat

Daily Prompt: Those Dishes Won’t Do Themselves (Unfortunately)

What’s the household task you most dislike doing? Why do you think that is — is it the task itself, or something more?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us HOME.

By household task, I hope one means ‘a task which is done within a household’. At home people put up with me playing on the piano (it’s crazy having a baby grand in a tiny flat, I know). It drives them up the wall sometimes. Shouting. The slamming of doors. All because I need to practise. Music feels like it’s the whole world around me. For example, I was walking through Princes St. Gardens today at around 8am, and I saw the first squirrels and rabbits I had seen since Autumn last year. There were noticeably more bird calls – some very elaborate ones could be heard.

This is what I mean by music being the world. Even though I’m not a massive fan of extremely contemporary music, contemporary composers use sounds and noises in their music. I find that bird-call can be surprisingly tuneful as well as noisy. Similarly, pitches of the whines of vehicle engines as they speed past you can also be tuneful. It breaks my heart sometimes when I have to be silent to let others work, I guess, because of how much it means to me. When there is silence I feel trapped in my own head. It’s true that there is music in silence – you can very easily hear music in your imagination. However, for someone like me who uses music as a means of communicating to people, it can feel restricting.

That’s the household task I hate the most. The silence of a working home.

Other homes:

    1. Daily Prompt: Those Dishes Won’t Do Themselves (Unfortunately) | Basically Beyond Basic

    1. Pipework | Perspectives on life, universe and everything

  1. The Travels of Zack | The Jittery Goat