Copland and mental sabotage

Over the past couple weeks I’ve been preparing for the latest Ad Hoc concert this past Saturday in which I’m played in Copland’s The Tenderland Suite.  I remember while I was in my undergrad at CSU, the opera department actually did the full production of this opera, and although I did not play in the pit, I remember how much the clarinet player (who was a friend of mine) who did play in the pit bitched about how ridiculous the part was.  Um, and rightfully so if its anything like this suite!  Most of it is actually pretty easy (minus the double high B that is unison with the flute in the first section!!  Ack!), but the “hoe down” section was pretty gnarly if you ask me!  Crazy key changes all over the place, fast articulation, and high range really makes me sweat!  Luckily, a lot of it was doubled with flute and/or violins so I was able to fake some of it that I just didn’t have time to get to tempo.

Whoever had this rental part before me decided to take all of the sections that are high up in the range and bring them down the octave, and proceeded to write it all out and tape it over the printed part.  Agh, so annoying!  I had to (carefully) rip out all those so that I could play it as written.  Yes, it is hard to play as written, but certainly not impossible.  Plus, taking certain passages down actually takes away some of the interesting timbres that are created with the flute!  For example, there is a passage where the flute and I are in thirds up really high (I’m on a double high written A#/sounding G# and flute is on a double high B) and it gives this crazy shimmer effect that is really awesome.  If I take my A# down, that effect is lost.  Its pretty clear that Copland knew what he was doing!  But I digress…

The concert went really well.  Luckily, the space that we performed in is VERY forgiving when it comes to intonation and little blunders.  It is a huge church, and the sound bounces around so much before it gets to the audience that most of the little flaws melts away and all you hear is a nice uniform(ish) sound.

Lately I’ve been trying to practice an hour or two, 3-4 nights a week…which compared to my Eastman days is barely anything!  Aaaand this week I haven’t practiced at all!  But I don’t have much motivation for it right now.  When I do practice, I’m doing lots of scales and working out of the Rose 32 etude book.  Kinda fun revisiting those old gems!  They really are timeless.  Mostly I’ve been focusing on not being afraid of fast technical passages…I think it is working!  I think I’ve discovered that my perceived lack of technical ability is really my own brain getting in the way.

I’m in the purple shirt (#192)

Of note in my non-musical life, couple weekends back I participated in my first long distance race, a 15k.  It was a beautiful day (well, for Rochester in early April anyway!), the course was super hilly, and I finished with a time of 88 minutes (my goal was 90 minutes).  That’s a pace of about 9:30 per mile!  That is very fast considering I never ran seriously before 10 months ago!  It was super hard, but super fun.  I think that its easy for musicians to become athletes, and vice versa – we have to have the same determination, focus, and stamina!  Whether it be running a race or performing a recital, I feel like it takes the same amount of mental focus.  Even though I think I’m much more relaxed when it comes to athletic events because I do them for the fun of it – and I don’t really care what the outcome is.  *Epiphany* Maybe I should start thinking of playing clarinet “for the fun of it”, even though it is my career.  It might help me not be so anxious when it comes to high pressure situations.


OMG 36 days!

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