Poulenc…six years in the making

Recently, I’ve been working on the Poulenc Sonata which has been an interesting experience. I first played the piece back in 2004 for my junior recital, I chose it because I had heard a girl play it for her senior recital back when I was a freshman. The only thing I remembered about the piece back then were the opening licks – they just stuck in my brain and I loved it!


I really wanted to give it a go for myself. So I did. I played it. I HATED IT. I was so happy when it was over and I could put it away. I haven’t even thought about playing it since. I have always told people, “I love listening to the piece, but I hate playing it.” I even told that to my students who have brought it to their lessons. A few weeks ago I decided to blow the dust off of it and try it again. I am pleased to say that I am actually enjoying myself very much! I finally have figured out why I hated playing it so much. I wasn’t good enough. Its really that simple. The piece demands a lot of knowledge about your own sound and voicing. Back in 2004, I knew nothing of the sort, or even choosing the correct reed. I was playing on a worn out Gigliotti 2 mouthpiece with Vandoren 3’s! I’m curious, but scared to listen to the recording of my Junior recital because of how horrible my setup was. Its amazing the transformation of my playing in the 3 short years it took from that point to me getting into Eastman (shout out to Abby Raymond! She’s the one who got me there).

Anyways, armed with a proper mouthpiece (Hawkins R, if anyone is curious – thanks to Mr. Grant!!) and a proper strength of reed, and appropriate knowledge about voicing (especially in the altissimo register!) now my Poulenc experience has been all but positive. If I feel like it, I might post a recording…maybe.

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