Woke up feeling a bit stunned this morning. Although yesterday was a very productive day for me I think my brain and body missed having a day off after Sunday.
I worked on scores in the morning as planned. Had an excellent rehearsal with Jordan VanHemert. I’m afraid I was a bit on the enthusiastic side, as we rehearsed and discussed music. He agreed to play at Grace on Sunday. That will be cool. We will do the Bach sonata we have been looking at. It sounds great. I called the piano tuner and left a message for him asking him to tune the Grace piano. As I said yesterday, it’s in bad shape.
Also reached out to several musicians who have said they will play on Aug 5th.
People are busy. I only heard back from Laurie the singer/violist. It’s on my list to try and contact all of these people again today.
I have my last two ballet classes to play for today.
One at 9 Am and one at 3 PM. I never regret saying yes to these people. It is so inspiring to me to be in a room with such sheer determination, enthusiasm and skills shared by so many people. Of course there are always one or two people who look sorry they are there. But this is probably inevitable. And god help them if they get caught looking less than 100% connected to what is happening. I always learn something from this experience. Very cool.
Jordan and I covered a lot of bases yesterday in our time together. He was interested in playing through my Sonatina. It has been quite a while since I have played the keyboard part. I thought some of the dolce sections actually sounded nicer on the soprano sax than the original oboe version.
We had an in depth rehearsal of the Bach sonata. We are evolving some collaborative stuff. I keep thinking about how to allow myself and other musicians to get closer to the music without being too directive. Jordan has been doing some listening to other players play this music and he has many insights about tempo and phrasing. When I mentioned to him that I take liberties sometimes with the tempo, he simply said that it would help him if I could point those out. Which I did. I also observed that my best comment on what I think about the music is found in the playing of it. I think I said we have our best conversations as we play.
This is my experience with my piano trio as well. We try to articulate what we are thinking about what we are doing. This sometimes leads us into unproductive discussions about tempo and consistency. These are unproductive not in an argumentative way, but that they might get us thinking about aspects of what we are doing as we play instead of concentrating on doing it.
It’s a weird distinction. Musicians must move back and forth between conscious preparation of musical material to allowing the music to speak through them. As I consciously prepare a piece of music, I will address various technical aspects of it. I will isolate fingering problems, scale difficulties, passages that need to be learned more thoroughly. Also it definitely helps at this stage to flip on the metronome and see how consistent tempos are.
But the mind shifts when working to allow the music to speak. My technique is never where I want it. I can hear all my foibles and inadequacies very clearly. I sometimes think that the art of performance is to keep refining these foibles and inadequacies until they become less and less perceptible to the listener. But I doubt if they are ever totally gone. My theory is that a small aspects of these very limitations when diminished sufficiently to not distort the music are part of what make my playing human and attractive.
This is probably heresy. But toujours gai, archie, toujours gai. As I disdain the inadequate aspects of my playing, I value the experience of music deeply.
And as always I learn from other musicians when I play with them.
A letter writer in yesterday’s NYT had this telling phrase in his letter:
‘education is all about change (self-transformation) and … change can come only with new knowledge (learning) and its application in evaluating our system of beliefs and ideology (leading to mental evolution).” Michael Hadjiargyrou
(link to page of letters this person letter appears on)
I like that. Learning is all about change.
Change is about new input of some sort and the implications of the new. In the best cases, this can lead to insights. Insights that often provoke or point to needed change.