Sunday, October 28, 2007

Reflections & Developments

Ok, so first the recital.

It went quite well ... I got a new and different sense of the musicality of the Bach suits (1 & 2) from it & I started to hear the lines in things in a way that I hadn't before... there were some mess ups & memory slips, but not in a frantic/nervous kind of way & i kept going... still awaiting comments from the teachers about it. I've learned about a new level of intensity and of immersion with music from working on these two suites & from now on, it's always going to be the way I work on music.

The second half of it was to me the more interesting half & let me say it was so much fun!! It started off with Hindemith (cello/clarinet), which went really well... almost perfectly... I'm probably going to use one or two on my myspace. They're such cool pieces & i really want to explore Renaissance music more when I get a chance (they're written in the form of a bicenium, basically a renaissance duet). After that was Jen's piece "It Takes Two" ... I think we nailed it a lot better musically than the first time we played it, though I still think I could do more with it - it's really cool how stuff grows the more you perform it. After that was my own piece. It was a really special moment for me, since I'm the only person who's performed the piece & I really got a chance to see how much I've grown since I played it in April.. I almost played it perfectly... probably going to put that recording up on myspace as well... I really want to get it out amongst other cellists b/c I think it's got good potential & it seems to grab people when I play it. The last piece was the most meaningful for me on the recital. Not only was it a jazz piece, but it was done on electric cello, which is so important to who I am musically... the more time goes on, the more I feel my heavy metal roots pulling at me. I'm kind of itching to get into a band environment soon, or at least to collaborate with others.

So the recital was a special experience... I've got a cd of it & video files soon to come (they'd b done already, but i can't seem to get WMVs to play properly on my mac.

Next in the list, I've got a student now. Her name is Hillary, she's a few years older than me & used to really play a lot in college, but hasn't played in about 2 years. So she's pretty much the perfect student for me, because she's at a level I can teach very well & she can understand what I'm expressing pretty easily. It's great for me, because I'm learning things about how to teach & it's filling in gaps in my musical knowledge. She's applying for music therapy for grad. school & I think we work really well together, so I'm looking forward to seeing how things develop. I need to get her to develop stronger practice habits, but she'll get there if that's what she wants.

Following my recital, I made a decision ... I'm going to start learning more and more guitar music on cello & particularly heavy metal. So where better to start, but metallica? I'm working on my blues scales & on learning their songs by ear. It's so cool, b/c they're foundationally and formally simple (not to mention I have almost all of them memorized in my head anyway), but technically they're quite challenging and exciting. On top of all this, it brings me back to a day where I was even more immersed in a constantly stimulating world of music than I am now... it's so great to be heading back in that direction.

I visited my old high school as well - that's always great inspiration because of Fred Ostrofsky (my first teacher) ... his technique has always been something I try to aspire and match & it helps me drive myself. Plus, he let me play some bach for the orchestra & he put my program/notes up on his bulletin board, which means so much to me. He also told me to get in touch with the local cello teacher b/c we apparently have similar interests with the electric cello stuff.

Later that day I had a lesson with my teacher & we started talking about technique... it got a bit rocky from there... he said that for double stop extensions I need to rotate my hand so that my fingers were more slanted (he didn't use those words) & when I did this, I found that I really didn't like it & that it caused my hand to lock up... he then commented that keeping the first finger straight and extending was wrong & would raise a red flag in grad. school auditions ... I have very strong memories of my first teacher doing just that though & he has the most relaxed left hand I've come across. Then we got to bowing, and my teacher mentioned that it wasn't ok at any point for the lower knuckles on the pinky & ring finger to collapse/be lower than the other two... immediately, my thoughts went to Steven Isserlis who not only has the most relaxed bow-hold I've seen, but does just that... I think the root of some of this is that we have a different concept of the sound we want to achieve & I'm glad that we do b/c it means I'm retaining my own identity ... but yeah, kinda of a rocky area that I need to explore more... I wish I was explaining the discussion better, but it's a bit new to me...

There were other parts of that lesson that were really encouraging... he was apparently impressed by the musicality of my recital, which means worlds to me & he wants me to develop more with orchestration, conducting & electronics so that I can be in leadership positions more (putting together or leading ensembles or stuff of that sort), which should make me more marketable to schools (along with my other interests) later on... I'm glad to have had this conversation b/c essentially he's encouraging the area I want to move in... time to get that alternative cello ensemble together!!!

On a really cool note, I was having a giant music discussion with one of my friends during lunch & I don't remember everything we covered (though we did cover the similarities/differences between rock & classical... I'm lending her Metallica's S&M cd...). But the coolest part of this... she's bringing her Duduk & we're going to jam/write a piece for cello & Duduk... she's gonna introduce to me more to middle eastern music theory ... this is really gonna be quite exciting & we have months to do this (for the composer's concert in april)

On a final note, check out this interview with Yo-Yo Ma... I really learned some cool things about him & his music making from it that I was surprised to find out:

If anybody would like to see/try my piece "War of the 2 Tribes" drop me a message.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

I almost want to sustain this moment in my life...

I was talking with my brother earlier, and I realized that when I go up on stage tomorrow, I'll be leaving part of myself behind... losing it... it's almost bittersweet; I almost want to hold tight to my life where it is now ... tomorrow's it though - the recital's there.

And with that recital, comes a transition... right now, I'm mike, the kid who's obsessed with the cello, who's studying it in school ... but when I walk on stage, I'm mike the artist ... it's the first time I've ever designed my own program or held my own concert ... it's the first time people are coming of their own accord to see Mike the Artist... and that may have been inspired by Mike the kid, but they're not there to see him ... they're there for the music...

On top of that... since it's a first, it means it's an experience I'll never have again... which means I'm leaving part of my life behind and journeying somewhere else... I'm looking forward to it... but at the same time, I want to hold on to what I have right now... it's kind of the last moment of peace... a goodbye, before parting ways...

Regardless off all this analysis though, I don't think anything's ever meant so much to me in my life before... at least not in this way...

It's going to be such an amazing experience...

Friday, October 19, 2007

I only wished...

I only wished
To become something beautiful
Through my music
Through my silent devotion

I had a wish granted tonight... I saw Nightwish for the 3rd time. It was quite an amazing set, though the balance was off, and the band has quite a bit of room for growth (in a really good way). They have a new live chemistry that they didn't have previously and their new material is absolutely amazing!!

It made me think back on Nightwish and their music & the connection/impact it's had on my life... and more recently, my separation from it... maybe not separation, but I feel like I'm losing creativity b/c I don't have room to breathe (largely due to taking so many music classes & working so hard at cello). But it reminded me about what I love about music & why I do it. Plus, yet again, I have another influence pushing me to want to work in some kind of band environment... I just don't know what to do about that ... I feel much more comfortable on keys than cello for something like that, but I enjoy playing cello more (usually...) & of the 2, it almost seems like I'm destined to play the cello... I just need to figure out how to incorporate that into a band environment...

In other news, I have my recital in 2 days - it will be a great relief when it's over... I've grown so much in preparing for it, though I've also become more aware of my shortcomings and I've learned a lot about what to do to prepare for a concert & how not to promote it ... the program is as follows:

Bach Suites 1 & 2
Duets for Double Bass/Clarinet by Hindemith
It Takes Two by Jen Castellano
War of the 2 Tribes by *Me*
Life Song by Robben Ford

Everything is in great shape, except Life Song, which has been quite a challenge, since it's a guitar part that I'm learning on cello... I'm worried that I'm not gonna get the rest of it in like the random hour or two of spare time I have on friday... but hey, whatever happens, happens..> I get the form/harmony of it, so I can fake/improv parts if need be...

Also, I give my first cello lesson on sunday, which I'm extremely happy & nervous about
... should be really interesting to meet my first student... I'm so worried I'm not gonna know how or what to teach though, even though i've done some before... ... I suspect this will go away when I'm actually in the lesson... I have a natural thing fro teaching.. in the same way I do for performing (which is not to say that both skills don't need to be further developed, b/c they definitely do!!)

Musical Goals for the near future:
1. Learn more guitar-oriented music on cello, starting with Nightwish. Analyze the Form/Harmony as much as possible
2. Put more time into Piano/keyboard
3. Improv my bow technique substantially, so that I can delve even further into the music I'm working on
4. Write more music

In other cool news, I've had a multi-FX pedal & a synthesizer passed on to me... damn is that cool!! I've only played with the synth twice now, but it's so exciting!! (it's a very old casio...). I'm going to learn more about it/synthesis in general when I get a chance... looking forward to december break, b/c I'm going to do a lot of musical exploration over it!!

So that's it for now... can't wait for this weekend to finish & to start working on new music... I'm already thinking about next year's recital and have so many different ideas in mind...