Monday, November 3, 2008

Recent Musical Life

I haven't posted to this blog, or to my Livejournal in forever. In fact, I should be doing my Italian Homework right now ... but this is more interesting ...

Musical Life has been going very well ... To summarize, I'm doing the following:

Mville MIDI Band
Mville Chorus
St. Thomas Orchestra
Mville Orchestra
Mville Small Jazz Ensemble

I'm also working on:
Bach Suite 4
Beethoven Clarinet Trio
Bacchianas Brasilieras
Elgar Concerto (1st Movement)
Vivaldi Double Concerto

I'm also currently playing in Into the Woods. So my musical plate is quite full! (as it should be!) & I'm beginning to feel like a cellist again (which comes w/ lots of practicing ... 59 hours for the month of October - shooting for *at least* 90 this month).

Most important to recent times though: I'm in a band. We're called the Faceless Quartet. We've had about 6 or 7 rehearsals, and every rehearsals it was just consistently me & this other kid showing up (and other people not showing!) ... on our most recent rehearsal, we brought in this kid on sax/flute & there was some chemistry there for sure ... we started jamming & stuff really came together quite amazingly. It was so unexpected & so much what being in a band should feel like ... I think we've really got something ahead of us & am quite excited to see what we can do... He's the first person I've met in a very long time who's made me want to really practice.

So that's where I'm at right now...

Some things I've wanted to blog about over the last month:

1. Nacht Mystium/High On Fire/Opeth Concert - quite an awesome concert ... Nacht Mystium was interesting, though they had EQ problems. Their drummer was pretty crazy in the sense that he was playing pretty complicated stuff, but looked very relaxed/in the zone ... it's pretty rare to see a band where the drummer really stands above the rest so much. High On Fire is actually probably the worst band I've seen or heard live (and I don't mean that facetiously!). Their music was incredibly unoriginal, and almost never went beyond power chords and/or barred 4ths w/ a very occasional blues pattern ... absolutely not recommended! Opeth was quite amazing. They played a good variety of songs, and I recognized some of their newer stuff this time around, as well as their older stuff ... it's hard to remember specifically what they played. I also hung out w/ my friend Rebecca through most of this, it was quite cool.

2. Schelomo & Bach 4 have been going fairly well ... I finally feel a little more like I'm working on an advanced level in my playing and in my lessons. I wish I had gotten here sooner, but am very glad to be here. I feel like I could be moving a little bit faster w/ both, but I need to find more practice time in order to do so ... a bit challenging with all these school responsibilities.

3. I apparently wanted to blog about practicing ... probably that I'm practicing a lot better than I have .. I've got things pretty routine & am switching back & forth between a Galamian exercise, a chord exercise I invented, Thumb Position exercises & other exercises I come up with. I wish I had more time for it! Keeping a practice log is incredibly helpful

4. I also saw Apocalyptica (it really has been an incredibly long time since I've blogged!). They were pretty good/fun/interesting to see. I feel they could get louder earlier in their set, and I also feel that they could benefit from more tonal variety in their music. I also feel they could push the crowd more. Despite this, I still think they're quite good (especially to play all that they play standing up!)

5. I also saw Nightwish ... or well, I saw Sonata Arctica for free ... Nightwish cancelled due to singer sickness :( (Though I just found out they're coming back in May - can't wait!!). Sonata was very interesting ... I'm not sure I liked their music, but their performance was quite amazing ... they're something about older bands ... they've got something a lot of newer bands don't...

6. One thing that came up during lessons (in relation to bowing) is to imagine that there's a line between my elbow & 1st finger & to always be aware of that. There in fact is at least 1 line between my elbow and each of my fingers - they are called tendons ... it was very helpful to think of that connection!

7. I've started practicing scales for tone and playing as loudly as I can (without really forcing) again ... quite helpful.

8. We had our first cello class at Manhattanville a few weeks ago ... it was on positions. I'll try and upload things when I get a chance - it was so cool, even though there were only 2 of us! Our next one is going to involve mapping bow motion through reflective gloves in a dark room - quite exciting.

9. The Bacchianas Brasilieras is quite cool - I'm playing the 2nd part (my teacher is playing the first ... um, that's exciting) ... it's doing quite a number on my fingers (16th note tenor register pizzicato!! yikes) ... it's a good piece to work on my weak spots & we're going to put it on most likely some time next semester

10. I got to hang w/ Danny Gray recently for the first time since the summer - it was awesome & fun ... we did a gig & jammed & talked about music & stuff ... the jamming went well ... I think a lot better than previously ... I don't feel so far below him anymore (which is not to say that I'm quite on the same level either ... there's just not so much of a gap) ... the jazz education is really helping there...

11. One last thing ... the Beethoven Clarinet Trio - we had a very good performance of it at the informal recital - as in it was the best performance we had done, as well as the best performance on the recital ... we really performed it on an advanced level ... one person even commented that she forgot we were students ... quite exhilarating ... that was just the first movement ... lots of work to do on the 3rd ... haven't even gotten to the 2nd yet!

Some exercises I've come up with:
1. LH 16th exercise - this involves maintaining a single hand position & slurring bows (or not slurring) & doing different patterns in 16ths - it's great for building dexterity/finger strength ... particularly when done in double stops!!

2. Do Technical work with music blasting ... this forces you to play with a certain strength/tone - something I really haven't done in a long time... I also have a somewhat quiet cello (not up close)

That's all for now! I need to do my italian homework so that I'll have some practice time tomorrow ... so sick of these non-music classes right now! Though I guess they also help stop me from being a robot...