Friday, October 16, 2009

A Musical Update

I really love my house. Slowly, I'm getting settled. I still walk around gawking, amazed, saying to myself, "this is my house!" and can hardly believe it.

Meanwhile, I've now had three of my concerts, and two more have been added, so there are three more to go.

The first was a concert in which I played silver flute. The director of my early music ensemble had never heard me play silver flute, and he was impressed enough that he has asked me to join an orchestra he is assembling for a choral concert he is directing. We will have two performances. This is not early music! I've worked on my part, which is easy to play but strange to count -- passages in 5/4 time, or 3/2 time (mixed in with more standard 3/4 and 4/4 passages). I have had no orchestral experience at all, so I don't know if this is normal or not. I used to play with concert bands at times, but that was a long time ago. I don't have a melody line, as such (well, actually I do have one for just one fleeting moment). Most of the time my part is just to add color, I think. This will be a very new experience for me! Most of my recent performing experience has been small-ensemble playing.

So, anyway, my first performance did go well. I accompanied a small group of singers on two pieces.

The second performance was a reprise of one of those pieces for a different event.

The third performance was a number of recorder trios as part of an early music concert. (Yes, in this small way, our early music group is back! I'm really glad!) We played four sets of renaissance pieces in this concert.

I was nervous before the first concert, but once I started playing, I was able to focus on the music and get into it.

I was even more nervous before the early music concert, because I was keenly aware of all that could go wrong. At our dress rehearsal, our recorders clogged badly (a hazard this time of year because of rapidly changing temperatures and humidity levels). For those who don't know, clogging is when the water vapor from your breath condenses in the instrument in a way that it blocks the very narrow passage that the sound comes out of. As you can imagine, a blockage to the area where the sound is supposed to come out creates strange and unexpected sounds. There are ways to try to prevent this, but nothing is foolproof. And there are ways of dealing with this when it happens in performance, but this is not foolproof either. So there is always the serious danger that a major clogging incident could disrupt the performance.

I took all of the preemptive action I could and hoped for the best. My strategy ended up working. I had no clogging problems. The other members of the trio each had minor problems that they were able to address on the fly.

Meanwhile, I suffered other physiological effects of nervousness: shaking, sweaty hands, and the worst: dry mouth. Yet I stayed focused, and things went well, and gradually all of these symptoms disappeared. By the last and most challenging (but also the most fun) piece, I was relaxed and eager to show the audience how wonderful this piece was, and I think it went very well. It was nice to have entered the Zone in performance! That's what a musician most hopes for. We catch those moments in rehearsal sometimes, but it's harder to find in performance because of the stress of performance situations, unless you are very experienced.

It's nice to receive this confirmation that: (a) nervousness is not in itself necessarily fatal to a performance, and (b) it can actually go away during the performance!

So, the next two concerts are the choral concerts where I will be playing silver flute as part of the orchestra. Then I actually have two more concerts after that: two performances on Irish flute as part of a special Christmas event.

I have other updates too, but I'll save these for another posting.

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