In The Zone

I don’t think I’ve practiced something so much in my life. I’m working on the RVW concerto. The first two movements so far. And especially the first.

I now understand a story I heard on ‘Q’ on CBC Radio a while back. The show host was interviewing a husband-wife music duo and she told of when they first met:  She was a harpist and was working on a Mozart concerto when a man moved in next door. She presumed she was driving him crazy working on the same single bar of music for hours at a time. Turns out he was a guitarist, they fell in love and the rest is history.

Back to me… Tearing single bars apart.  I’ve gotten to the point where I can read through the first movement and play it really well.  I want to point out that I used the verb ‘to read’, vs. ‘to work’.  It’s almost laughable now thinking that I auditioned with it a few years back for the GGS and UofT.  No wonder I didn’t get into the GGS.  I’m really appreciating how much better it sounds now.  How much more effortless certain passages are and how I’m really noticing little stumbling spots and bars that are not quite up to snuff.

So I isolate those bars – magnify them – and play them over and over.  I think about the articulation and the dynamics.  Am I following the indications?  Should I be louder (considering that there’s only a single marked ‘ff’ in the whole first movement, I’m thinking single f’s should actually be a little stronger, otherwise the dynamic level will fall a little flat).

I think I’m “in the zone” right now because I’m really enjoying reading through the first two movements and noticeably improving bits here and there.  I’m also able to think more about the musicality of the piece, vs. just the mechanics and getting the right notes.

I said earlier that I don’t think I’ve practiced so much in my life.  That has led me to a second conclusion – moving out of Toronto and up to Haliburton has really contributed to me improving my sound and technique.  I went from playing in ensembles 4 nights a week (sometimes 5) and not really practicing at home.  It’s always been an issue about sound – my last condo was a warehouse loft with brick walls:  crazy freakin’ boomy and my neighbours hated me!  I never played to my full potential because I was afraid of making too much noise.

Living in Haliburton means that I gone down to two ensemble nights a week, leaving me more time to practice.  And with neighbours far away, I’m playing as long and as loud as I feel like.  Add to that a lack of nearby bars, gay village, cinemas, malls, etc and I have few distractions.  But on the other side of that, I wonder if it’s a perception between being focused on music, or being anti-social.  My friends up here have lives too and they have stuff going on.  That being said, Collin and I get together with them for house parties regularly.  That’s kinda how things work in Haliburton.  It’s beautiful up here in so many ways.

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