26. February 2014 · Comments Off on The Menuhin Competition · Categories: Menuhin Violin Competition

… is live streaming. Right as I type this, in fact! If you are around, you might check it out. Just go here. Of course if you read this at the wrong time it might not be on, but it runs through March 2 so there’s still time! (I’m not really all that up for competitions, but seeing and hearing these amazing young ones is still rather fun, despite the fact that it’s part of a competition.)

Meanwhile, here’s something that is going around Facebook at the moment. This young one was 11 when she competed in 2012:

Soo-Been Lee playing Wieniawski’s Variations on an Original Theme Op 15

Recently I’ve tried something with my students that has been an eye (ear?) opener. Students are (nearly) always are working on a solo (or solos), and some are in the process of preparing them for various auditions or competitions.

“Okay, let’s move on to your solo,” I’ll say. They start to get out the music.

“No. Just play the beginning without your music.”

Fear. Panic. Confusion. Or maybe just silence.

When we practice something it eventually is in our fingers so well we can play it by memory. NOT that we necessarily are trying to memorize it, but it just IS. I tell them, “I want you to bleed this music!

So back to my students …

“I can’t do that! I don’t have it memorized!”

“That’s okay. Just start from the top and see how far you can get at this point.”

The majority of them don’t even know what the first note is!

Sometimes, if they don’t know that, I ask them to at least sing the opening for me. Now I do have a few students who can’t carry a tune (something for another blog entry, I think) but I still have them try and they certainly should get the rhythm, if not the pitches. Sometimes even that isn’t possible.

“I can’t memorize!”

I hear that a lot.

My students start every lesson with a warm up …memorized. Then we move on to long tones (well okay, memorizing an A isn’t terribly difficult). Major scales … memorized. Melodic minor scales … memorized. Whole tone scales. Yep. Memorized.

And they say, “I can’t memorize!” Hmm.

If you have been practicing something, if you know it, you should be able to at least begin it by memory. I tell them that they really should know it well enough that if the music blows off the stand, or if someone coughs or shouts or does something else distracting and throws them off a bit, they should be able to keep on playing.

Knowing something. It’s more than just looking at the piece of sheet music and playing the written notes. And part of the way to do that “more” is to have in in our fingers, to not be so stuck on that paper. Knowing it well enough frees us from that. That’s not to say I think everything should be done without music in front of our faces — I’m not one to want to do that, believe me! But really, get past that “stuck on the page” thing. It will free you up. Eventually.

26. February 2014 · Comments Off on TQOD · Categories: TQOD

Goin ‘to Coe College for the Senior Honor Band on Oboe woot woot!!