Chinese Proverb

"Tell me and I'll forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I'll understand." - Chinese Proverb.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Day 4 (Wednesday): Chamber Recital (all ready!)

I wanted to get there an hour before classes started but only managed to get there 30 minutes before warmup class due to traffic, but it really helped because I found that my hands were fairly stiff from playing so long and my bow was shaky!

9:00 Warmup Class
We did a bunch of stretches, the teacher must have known the 4th day a lot of people would be stiff. We did some easy scales while following dynamics and speed.

She asked who would like to lead the group, and the kids would enthusiastically raise their hand. They would slow down or speed up and the rest of the group would have to listen and follow along. This was definitely a fun little game!

10:00 Chamber Coaching
We avoided playing the chamber piece and focused on the two folk songs that we would be performing the following day. We were having issues singing while either bowing, plucking or chopping so we ran through the entire piece.

11:00 Masterclass
We did a quick warm-up and went over sitting posture, specifically feeling our feet on the floor and being able to move around using our toes to be able to move back and forth. She said if we're relaxed and able to move around it would enable us to use much more bow, which I found to be true. Afterwards, she asked us what we would like to work on.

A lot of the adults were having issues with rote memorization so we decided to focus on this. Kids typically learn through rote memorization, that is, the teacher would play one note and then they would copy them. Unfortunately, none of the adult beginners were taught this way so this was a skill set that none of us had.

Heather was absolutely amazing and understanding about this, and had us practice rote memorization with Long Long Ago in Book 1. Fortunately, I had not memorized Long Long Ago so I did have to do it via rote memorization which I am terrible at!

She took it very slowly, and played one note, we copied her (piece of cake). Then she would another note, then we copied her and so on and so forth and of course it got harder as we progressed, but she kept pointing out hints, such as looking for patterns, if notes were repeated or if sections were the same, and to also pay attention to sections if they closely resembled a scale.

She highly recommended that we go back to our teachers (which I'm going to do) and ask to learn how to play/practice doing rote memorization because this would help us in the long run.
In fact, one her assignments as a student when she was getting her degree was to learn ALL the Suzuki pieces by rote memorization; she had to learn how to play a piece only by listening to the Suzuki tapes!

She even told us one of her experiences of attending a masterclass and the instructor only teaching by rote memorization, which she had not done before. She said she couldn't do it and she ended up packing up her things and leaving. She told us how frustrating it was, especially since she was considered an advanced student and had been playing for years! She definitely knew how we were feeling, but she said to keep at it and it would help us in the long run. She was very inspiring and her masterclasses were my favorite!!!

This was a very relaxing class, which all of us thoroughly enjoyed!

12:00 Lunch
After our master class everyone was nice and relaxed, and one of the parents cooked a bunch of Mediterranean food for the group, which was the best lunch during the entire workshop!

Everything was going smoothly, until one of our chamber members spilled red punch on her khaki pants! She had to call her husband to bring her another pair of pants and only a few hours before our performance!

1:00 Orchestra
We practiced the sections we were having trouble with during the four pieces we were going to perform. One of the teachers sat with our section (next to me) while we played through the pieces. I was grateful that they did, but was also a little bit intimidated by this!

2:00 Individual Practice Time
I was still having issues with Chant & Fugue and Allegro Spiritoso, so I raced upstairs to the practice rooms to try and get this a little bit better. I found that I could play these solo and at a slower tempo, but playing it faster with the group was when everything would fall apart!

I didn't want to practice my chamber piece because I felt that I either had it or not, and practicing it would make me stress out about it more so avoided that piece and just tried to avoid thinking about the performance in general. Although I have to admit my overall mood that day was a little subdued and I was quieter than normal.

3:00 Concert Warmup
All the Chamber Groups performing that day went to the waiting area and we went through a quick run through of the event again with us go the waiting room, then the green room, then back stage and the on stage.

At the waiting area our first chair decided that she would like to play the piece a lot slower than how we were practicing it so she had us listen to the tempo she would like to play. I tried to get the tempo in my head, but didn't quite get it. I was also told last minute that I had to announce the group too! Yikes!

So during the run through, I wasn't able to start at the slower tempo and I immediately defaulted back to the fast tempo and it was a complete disaster. We only played a four measures and then we were hustled off stage so the other groups could have their turn We were told to wait in the audience and to move to the waiting area as soon as we saw the group that was two ahead of us leave the audience to get ready. 

4:00 Chamber Group Concert 
It was interesting see some of the groups play, before we had to go back to the waiting area, and I have to admit that I felt better seeing that some of the groups were also struggling through their pieces.

Once we saw the group leave, we waited for one more performance and then we headed to the waiting area. Our instructor came up to me and reminded me to go at a slower tempo, and had me move my body in the tempo. I tried to internalize it and was air bowing the tempo as we stepped into the green room. 

We had actually timed it incorrectly, so from the green room we were sent briefly to the back room and a few seconds later onstage! So here's my chamber performance: 

I messed up announcing the group and took my time setting up and finding the first note, which took longer than I expected, but I wasn't flat! Although I was flat on other parts. I didn't realize I took so long until I watched the video! Lol! :).
I also started at the slower "correct" tempo, although I think it was a little slower than they wanted, but we ended up speeding up to the tempo we practiced during rehearsals anyway.

It went a lot better than I anticipated, although I did mess up a few times! I was so dead tired from getting up at 6am and practicing late, that I wasn't as nervous as I thought I would be, and I didn't notice the audience at all because I was too focused on my music, listening to the group and watching the first chair.

Even though I messed up a few times, after a year of playing I was really proud of how well it went! We weren't the worse and we weren't the best - we were comfortably in the middle, and I was perfectly happy about that! Yaaay!!! :D

Our chamber coach is wearing the white shirt, while our group was wearing the black shirts. We discovered later that all of the groups had their teachers performing with them anyway, so we didn't feel bad for asking our teacher to do some hand holding and performing with our group. 

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