Sunday, January 6, 2008

Happy 2008!

I drove down to school today to have one last lesson with my teacher before my first audition on Saturday. It was helpful, and simultaneously calming and incredibly stressful. I know what I need to work on polishing (basically, being polished, that is making sure my phrasing and direction and connections come out, and, as always, fingers in the etude), which is nice, and I'm feeling fairly prepared. I was especially pleased with my Mozart quartet today. This is partially because I have huge tonguing issues, and I've discovered the magical way to tongue all of the sixteenth-note passages in the piece. I've been doing them slur two-tongue two, and I've discovered that if I do that but play the first beat eighth-slur two rather than eighth-tongue two, it's much much easier. I was also fairly pleased with my Poulenc and my Beethoven 3 excerpt, and considerably less pleased with my etude and Tombeau. My teacher and I decided that I should plan on still practicing Tombeau but on playing "Ich habe genug" instead of it unless I'm asked for a fast excerpt, since I'm showing off my technique in the etude and Mozart. I'm actually more comfortable with this, though I'm frustrated by my inability to play Tombeau when in the presence of any other person. Still, I sound very nice on the Bach, so it's a good trade off.

However, I'm really disappointed with how unfocused and undisciplined I've been over break. My fear of embarrassing myself at auditions is just stress, but I know that I'm not at the top of my game, and had I spent the past month at home in C'ville, I would be. So I'm frustrated that I couldn't manage to get my act together recently- the fact that it happens to a lot of people when they're on break is no excuse. A lot of people don't have very important auditions coming up. Anyways, I spent the whole trip down incredibly stressed out, which at least will cause me to practice like mad for the next four days + Friday morning.

The sudden intensification of my stress is at the very least a reminder of how very much I do want this, by which I mean going to grad school for performance. The past week or so I've been longing after musicology grad school, for several reasons. I do really like music history and researching and writing analysis. My teachers think I write and analyze very well (I may have mentioned Professor Will's opinion about what I should be doing in grad school before). (Nearly) every musician I've ever talked to has told me "if there's something other than performance that you can do, do it." I could probably get in a better school, and get more money. I could still gig and play oboe. These combined make a pretty strong pull. I mentioned this to my mother, who thinks I'm just worried I won't get in anywhere for performance, and my friends, who were very helpful and supportive. Basically, I have not suddenly decided that I don't want to go to school for performance. Thus, I will still practice my ass off for auditions. When decision-making time comes, and I know what my options are, I can a) go to grad school for performance, b) go to school for performance and take additional classes to keep my options open, c) go to school for performance for a year and transfer, or d) take a year off and practice, gig, and work, and apply for grad school in musicology the final year. So I have many options, and need not be stressed about this. I'm grateful for that, because, as I mentioned, my audition freak-out is in full swing. Still, as I also said, it's a nice reminder just how much performance means to me. Because it really is still my first choice for What I Do With My Life. It's just...not the most practical of the options.

I continue to have strange reeds, but I have enough good ones (and will continue making reeds this week) to feel secure about playing my audition. The one problem with my reed-making is that I have suddenly begun to make reeds with very long and sloppy tips, with bad definition from the heart. I haven't figured out why this has suddenly started happening, because I have not consciously changed anything recently about my style of reeds. However, my results are consistent enough that it's not a fluke. Well, perhaps when I get back to C'ville my reeds will spontaneously revert to their usual form.

A very cool website which my friend found: Musipedia. It's pretty much exactly what it sounds like, an encyclopedia of music. However, unlike, say, New Grove, it's an encyclopedia not of music history or theory or such, but of actual pieces and themes within pieces. You can search by keyword of course, but you can also search by melody (intervals and relative rhythm count, but not specific pitch or rhythm), contour, and rhythm. I had a little trouble finding results when I tested it with known pieces, but it's a pretty nifty resource. Classical, folk, and pop music are all included, and if they don't have a song you're looking for, you can add it. Once you find a piece, Musipedia provides sheet music and a recording of the theme, as well as links to a websearch, details including the Parsons code (melodic contour), and Amazon and Sheet Music Plus if applicable.

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