music talk

The roads were one-lane, snow-covered and slippery for my little morning jaunt to Grant, Michigan. I had not been paying attention to the weather, so I was dismayed when I left, having only allowed for normal driving time.  After seeing a couple of cars in ditches, I relaxed and slowed down and drove the weather. Somehow I did arrive early for my 9:30 playtime.

My violist was nervously waiting in the warm-up room. I am convinced that this Solo and Ensemble playing is some of the most harrowing performance experiences a musician is likely to have in their lives.  The students are usually pretty normal people who also play an instrument. Due to their age they often already feel like everyone is watching their every move and that they are constantly screwing up.

This young musician acquitted herself admirably in my opinion. She basically nailed all the notes, played with expression, confidence and tone.  After she played, the judge first asked her if she was nervous, saying it was important information for the the judge to adequately respond.

She then gave the young player a free lesson, talking to her about bow technique and tempo.

The parents were surprised by the judge’s response since they could tell their daughter had played well. They questioned me afterwards. I pointed out the value of learning that can occur in this situation. I told them and their daughter that she probably got her “1” (the highest rating), but that actually wasn’t as important as the music and the experience.

She did get her “1”.

While I was at the festival, I was approached by several parents and a teacher who told me that their accompanist couldn’t make it.  This was ironic because the guy was a Hope professor and supposedly lived not far from me.  I told these people up front, that I was available, but my fee was $75 (This is what I charge for doing this service. I make it a flat rate so it covers all rehearsals and the performances. Besides being a fair wage for a musician with my training and experience this allows students and parents to arrange for as many rehearsals as are actually needed instead of what they can afford.)

There were three students and their parents readily agreed to pay my fee if I would fill in at the last moment. Which is what I did.

So instead of being done around 9:40 AM, I had to hang around and play for some extra students until about noon.

One of the students was performing the first hundred measures or so of SaintSaëns’ Cello concerto.

I found this particular accompaniment challenging to sight-read.  But I managed to pull it off.

This accomplishment was very satisfying to me. As well as making a little extra money when we need it.  The whole experience was a good one for me.

After I came home, I once again went over to church and practiced organ.

After performing that cello concerto, I thought it might be interesting to pull out some Saint-Saëns organ music. I’m not a fan of this dude. My feelings were reinforced by playing through some of his music. The Cello Concerto is very flashy and it is fun to hear someone play the cello so well. But I don’t find the music that interesting.

Instead, I read through more Bach organ trio sonatas. I am thinking that I like some of the movements a lot more than others and that they would be good for me to spend some time with and maybe perform at church.  There are six sonatas with 3 movements each and I have learned and performed many of them.  But they have been lying dormant for a while and my technique continues to improve as I age, so it is a very fun task to give myself.

Just a few links today.

I sometimes like reading music reviews. Yesterday I was reading Serious ‘Rite,’ Sultry Tango and Skillful Solos – when the author mentioned that the NYT chief music critic had rated the top ten composers of all time. I was curious so I checked it out. Here’s the link: The Greatest Composers – A Top 10 List –

Bach is 1. I can buy that.  He rates Beethoven as 2.  Which I don’t agree with particularly. Beethoven is definitely in my top 10. Just further down. Mozart is 3. I think he should be 2. I know this is kind of dumb exercise but it’s fun for me.  I think leaving Haydn out was a serious omission. And wouldn’t put Verdi or Wagner in the top 10 as he does.


And finally:

Why Does Roger Ailes Hate America? – Esquire

I’m getting a bit curious about how people get their news. I think most people are in echo chambers of connecting with sources they agree with. I know that I am in danger of that myself and try to continually sample a wide variety of online print sources. I am convinced that the New York Times does the best job journalistically in the United States, but there are other good papers like the L.A. Times, the Boston Globe, the Christian Science Monitor (which I believe has ceased publishing a paper version and is only available online).

TV news is awful. I can barely watch it. Once in a while I watch the PBS Newshour. I prefer reading my news, I guess.

All this is to say that I have bookmarked the above link on Ailes to read knowing that it looks pretty biased. On the other hand, Ailes has consciously tried to influence the USA through his personal and business stuff, so it might make interesting reading.

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