Saturday, February 20, 2010
Well, the event that I have been working towards since I got here in September is now over. I did my audition for the Master of Music Performance program at Ottawa U on Friday (yesterday). It went generally well.
I didn't play all of the music I have been preparing because in auditions they usually just want to hear bits and pieces, like the especially hard parts to see how you handle them and the very lyrical parts to see how musical you can be. So I played a little more then the first page of the Barber Concerto, a bit of the beginning of the Mozart Concerto in G major and then we skipped to the Cadenza, and a Wieniawski Caprice from beginning to end since it is only about two and a half minutes long.
After I played we had a little interview. Having been attending the school already for close to a year, and having my violin teacher on the panel, made for a short interview since David already knew all the answers to the questions they were asking. But we did talk about how I felt my year went, whether I thought I was ready for my masters (which I am!) and what plans and ideas I have for my post graduate future.
I had a bit of the case of the nerves while performing which resulted in a few silly mistakes that I wish I hadn't done but nothing happened that was too traumatic.
I was thinking about it and, for me, this was my end of year recital, my big final exam. And now it's over... It's such a weird feeling having the audition done and over with. But it's pretty great too.
After the audition I went out to eat with some friends, we played Mario Bros. on Nintendo 64, made Whoopie Pies, ate them and watched the Olympics (witnessing the gold medal run in men's skeleton).
Until my next lesson I'm going to take a nice little break from violin, then I'm going to start a sort of experiment with David. He's going to assign me a different Paganini Caprice (which are very short, virtuosic etudes) each week and I'm going to learn them and perform them for him at the next lesson. This will encourage...or really force me to practice extremely efficiently. No time wasting. No playing around. Getting better with every second.
Should be interesting.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
A new sport has been brought to my attention that, right now is not widely known of, but, will soon be sweeping the nation and, undoubtedly, the world.
This sport is called "Tableing". It doesn't have many rules, only one: don't touch the ground.
What this sport entails is this...
You start by placing yourself on top of a table. Then you need to get yourself down one side, underneath, around and back up onto the table from the other side without touching the ground.
It's a game of shifting and swinging of your body weight and not necessarily a game of brute strength. I've seen skinny girls who can't do more then a few push ups do this better then some guys who do regular work outs.
The tricky part is getting back up onto the table once you're hanging underneath, spread eagle, one foot hooked on either side of the table. It's all about getting yourself into a position so that you can simply roll up onto the table surface. To do this, you need to get your body as straight and level with the table as possible before you go for the final push. It's always good to have some friends holding the table in question steady. Tables falling on people is not as much fun as it may sound.
So now, like me, you'll see a table in a hallway or at work or in a classroom or just in your own kitchen and wonder if you can conquer it. And when you do you will feel much accomplishment.
I think it's worth the bruises.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
If you've ever been skating on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa you probably know what a Beaver tail is. If you do not know, it's not the tail of an actual beaver, but a delicious gooey doughy delight. Apparently out west they are called "Elephant Ears" but are basically the same thing.
During the winter months in Ottawa, and when the Rideau Canal is frozen over, people flock to the ice with the Beaver tail cravings.
There are a few select spots along the length of the canal where there are shops set up on the ice where people can purchase hot drinks, pop, poutines, etc. But the longest line up is always found at the Beaver Tail shop.
They are a glorious treat to have after a bit of skating, but they are rough on the bank account if you're not careful. One Beaver Tail ranges from $4-5 dollars and some people purchase a number of these in one week alone.
So my friends and I decided, since we thoroughly enjoy these tasty treats but, being students, naturally don't want to spend the cash, that we'd have a go at making home made beaver tails.
We found a recipe online, followed it, and were all quite disgusted by the end. The only one of us who finished a whole one had an upset stomach after and the rest of us just felt like we needed to eat some health food and take showers. The recipe called for us to deep fry the dough which acted as sponges. So tonight we ended up with a pile of home made oil infused pancakes...
I don't know if any of us will be tempted by the sight of the canal shops for quite a while. And I wouldn't be surprised if all of us have fresh pimples on our faces in the morning.
Here is a recipe if I havn't succeeded in grossing you out. Maybe you can do it better.
Well, I've been living in Ottawa since September doing a pre-graduate program in music performance at the University of Ottawa. I've almost totally changed all my technique this year and it's been a very interesting journey.
I've changed so many things it's hard to list them all but I'll see if I can give a small idea of what I've been working on so far with my teacher here, David Stewart.
-Making my bow arm smoother, and getting rid of the "jolty" bow changes. I used to have (and it still comes up every once in while) these hiccups in my sound when I'd change the direction of my bow.
-I've totally changed how I hold my violin, where it sits on my shoulder and under my chin, and I've got a new chin rest that puts my chin almost exactly over the middle of the violin. This helps me to be able to reach the tip of my bow more comfortably.
-Starting with scales, David helped me correct my shifting. I still do it sometimes but at least am more aware of it now, that I've used my wrist to hit the body of the violin to know where I'm shifting to. so I do this weird twisty wrist/arm action when I shift positions. I have been working on this, always practicing with a mirror, making sure I keep my wrist straight and simple.
-During the months of September and October I did only scales. That was a very frustrating time since I hadn't seriously worked on scales and arpeggios since...well...ever. I've done a number of studies and a couple scales now and then since I started in grade seven but never had I experienced such an intense session of technical training.
So then there was the challenge of applying what I was learning in scales into music. This became quite the challenge. For some reason I have this wall between technique and music, like they are oceans apart in my mind. It was a question of being only technically correct and no music, or only musical and having a very sloppy technique. It was meshing the two together that proved to be the hardest of all.
Now I am auditioning, again, for the masters program in music performance. Since I have been studying with David since September it is a great comfort that he will be on the panel of judges. I have a friend, Matty, who will be accompanying me and so new friends pulling for me. Nothing I'm playing will be perfect. But I've worked hard and hopefully they will see that in my playing.