Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Tuesday morning ramblings

One of the silly things I enjoy doing is playing "Guess the Composer" while I listen to the Classical station. The other day I was listening to something and after about a minute I had decided it was most likely Haydn. So when the piece finished and the announcer said that we had just been listening to one of Haydn's five hundred thousand symphonies (actually it was number 73 - "La Chasse"), I threw my hands up in the air and let out a hearty "YAY!". Thank goodness I was stopped at a red light. That 100 grand education was good for something.

Then yesterday I ran across this site again. It was one of those sites I visited during my oboe/clarinet debate. A few seconds after I started listening to the English Horn sound clip I realized I now recognized this piece. "Why this is Berlioz's Roman Carnival Overture" though I. And sure enough it is. Tee hee. Fun!

Oh, by the way, I unofficially gave notice at the jail, I mean the job, last week. I too am leaving Cubicle Land (tm - Waterfall)!! My sentence was for a little over 8 years. I am still in denial. I can't believe I am finally going to leave! It's funny because I told my friend that I felt that everything was moving so fast now and she reminded me that I had only been considering leaving for the last 5 years or so. Oops. My last day should be August 26th. The reason I gave leave so early was that I asked for leave first. Once I'm done with this year at school I have to wait another year before entering dental school. So I was open to coming back here for that time to work. So I asked for a 9 month leave. This was denied because company policy allows leaves of 6 months or less. Oh well. So now the managers all now that I am going to school full-time for a "premed" program. A part of me feels quite sure that I will not be returning here ever. It was so darn hard to leave that I think I'll just take my chances with some crappy part-time job during the application year.

My first teacher just left me a voice mail. I had been procrastinating on sending him that Thank You/Good Bye card. Yikes. Now I'm going to *have* to talk to him over the phone. This sucks. I also keep having these scary thoughts that my new teacher will ditch me. Maybe she will not want to deal with a needy adult beginner. I would be so sad. Maybe that's why I haven't sent in that card. But I just can't go back to playing hard pieces when I know how much of the fundamental stuff I still need to get good at. I really shouldn't be playing the stuff I was playing for another year or two.

I've been working very hard on the embouchure and sound since my last lesson. I was unhappy with how I did and really wish to impress my new teacher. I hope she will be able to see some progress. I feel better. The new embouchure is feeling more natural and I think my lips are starting to build up again. I had been able to hold a long note for nearly an average of 26 seconds with my old embouchure. Then when I switched I was barely getting to 10 seconds. Now I'm back up to 16-24 depending on where the note is. Those high ones require more air! I wish I could see an X-ray of what the mouth looks like on the inside when your embouchure is correct. I'm still afraid that it needs to be more open or maybe it's my throat. My tone is not quite singing yet. But I do think the notes are a bit more centered.

My scales are improving! God, is this the area where improvement is the slowest or something? I have such a long way to go still on my metronome. I feel like I've been at 60 for months and months. Yesterday I moved my C major scale up to 66. I've been working a lot of my reed position, especially for some of the notes that are harder to tune. Like my A's tend to be flat unless I'm very conscious about my air speed and reed position. But the G's right next to them are usually sharp. As are D's. I played A to D and it sounded like a tritone at one point LOL! The E's and F's in the middle register can sound stuffy if I disregard air speed. My high C sounded so much better last night. It felt at least a tiny bit "brilliant" for a change. And my A's weren't flat on the way down like they usually are.

I am trying so hard to make the scale sound more musical. I know that when I played them for my teacher last class she didn't seem very happy with them. I think they sounded very mechanical. I called them robotic. She played scales for me and they sounded like a concerto. So I'm trying to relax and let the music come through.

Ok the one thing I am SURE has improved is my C scale in thirds. For some reason C major was giving me more trouble than some nearby keys like F, B-flat, G, and D. It was even harder than A and E. What the hey? Actually I think it had something to do with the saxophone. Scales in thirds was one of the things I most worked on as a saxophonists because they were very useful for playing my merengue jaleos (Pretty good article about merengue here). C major has in it both of the fingerings that are most different between sax and oboe: F natural, and the whole B/C thing in the middle. I kept fumbling on that but last night I was able to do my C major in thirds at the same speed that I did the regular scale. Another thing was that I tried to not think about it and just let my fingers go. Amazingly they knew where to go to all on their own! How do you get to the point where you trust them? It was scary for me last night to not be trying work it out in my head. But I have to let go of that because there is no way I can think C-E, D-F, E-G, F-A quickly enough to play fast AND pretty. I guess that's what practicing is for. :-)

What else did I do last night? I did some minor scales as well. And my interval studies from the new method I'm working on (Niemann/Labate). Oh and I even threw in some arpeggios for good measure. I hadn't been actively studying arpeggios because they were sounding so absolutely horrible. But I guess the thirds practicing is helping so that now they sound a bit better (I just need to work on the fourths).

My last few practices have been over an hour which is good. I'm able to play a bit longer again. Last night I even squeezed in some music. I bought Elaine Douvas' Solos for the Intermediate Players. By the way these are some high level intermediate players because it all seemed a lot harder than most of the other "intermediate" level stuff I've seen. Maybe I'm just being pickier with myself now. I just don't want to play things that are so technically challenging that I can't make them sound nice. I rather play easier things and work on them sounding good than be playing hard stuff while sounding like an out of tune duck. Anyway so I played Nielsen's Romance from that book as it was arguably the only piece I could sort of play comfortably. The piece is quite lovely and has some nice intervals for me to practice. I just realized that my half hole must be getting better because I don't have to think about it as much.

I think I'm going to get the Beginner version of those books.

It's hard to start practicing every day, but once I assemble the instrument and put the reed in my mouth I'm usually fine. My last few practices have gone better so I'm starting to enjoy practicing again. This is good. I might still be able to work up to two hours a day by September!

Oh it's eleven. I guess I should start working.


oceanskies79 said...

Have fun practising. =)

Hilda said...

Thanks Pei Yun! I had been so bored lately because all I've been doing was long notes and other boring stuff, but I think it's starting to pay off so now I am happier about doing it. Also I'm doing more scales now to try to round things out.

It's always so hard to start practicing but once I start I can't stop haha!

oceanskies79 said...

Yes, playing scales does pay off in the long run.

I agree it is just hard to stop practising once when get into it.

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