Saturday, March 21, 2015

See you at the concert!

You guys sound great!
Looking forward to the performance this weekend!

Friday, March 13, 2015

reading vs. playing

Date of Rehearsal: 03/12/15
Orchestra: CYO
Repertoire Rehearsed: Strauss Jr, and Anderson

Snow day is not an excuse to stop practicing, folks! If anything, it should make you think like the following: "if I don't practice this week extra hard, then I will forget some things by the next rehearsal, so I better practice extra, and listen to the recording more often".

It seems to me that many of you didn't think this way last week, and you saw the results. We were doing so well, and I am very upset at the weather (not at you). But please don't forget this in the future.

In the rehearsal, I briefly mentioned "reading" the notes as opposed to "playing" the notes, and I suppose this could use a bit of clarification.

When you "read" your notes. You are playing (producing the sounds of) the notes in the efforts to BECOME familiar with the music. At this point, you are not expressing anything yet, you are trying to figure out what the music is about, and what the notes, fingerings, phrasings, bowings, etc. are, so you know what and how to express the music in the future through practicing.

"Playing" the notes, in contrast, occurs AFTER you've read through, practiced and have figured things out. When you are "playing", you KNOW the music. You know what to do, how to do, and know what it is about, and you are expressing the music from your heart.

I know for a fact, that all of you have experienced "playing" music before (in a real way). And you can think back to yesterday and compare yourself from when you were really "playing".

In my experience, reading is not as fun as playing. I mean reading can be enjoyable when we first get the music. I get excited to find out how the music goes. I am excited to discover new things. But when you continue to "read" the same music week after week, I don't really need to tell you what happens, do I?

It's never fun to remain where you are, no matter what circumstances. That's why we play different music every concert. We enjoy evolving, and learning. I think it's safe to say that we all do. But to advance, it takes courage and work.

At the end of our previous rehearsal before the snow storm, I was feeling a sense of bliss, for I thought we were headed straight towards "playing" those notes, and was very excited about it.

But the weather set us back some. We were there once before, I am confident that we can get back on track.

Please work extra extra hard this week, and lets really "play" the music next time!

Monday, March 9, 2015

master the slowness, you must

Date of Rehearsal: 03/07/15
Orchestra: Chamber
Repertoire Rehearsed: Benny and Lenny

I am continuously impressed and amazed with how quickly you guys can adapt to new directions. I always make you guys do weird things like making you learn music without sheet music, having you make weird noises with your instruments, have you switch octaves at the last minute, making you play in odd meters, play really high up in finger board, and have you guys play in different meters simultaneously, and use weird harmonics, etc etc etc... But you guys handle them like they ain't no thang!

I think we got a lot done at the rehearsal. Went over the parts for Stand By Me, and went over the weird rhythmic overlays and tempo changes in my dubious arrangement of America.

For Stand By Me, I'd like us to copy the variations in the vocal melodies exactly as it is done in the Ben E King recording that we are following, so that we don't play each verse the same exact way every time.

For America, please go over it WITH A METRONOME under tempo. Set to all eighth notes. And by under tempo, I mean really under tempo where you can play them at your 120% accuracy and in control. And this is my advise not just for this piece but in any piece of any genre you will ever work on. The logic is simple, "you can't play fast what you can't play slow". Whether you are trying to get through ridiculous 16th note arpeggio passages, or just trying to produce a gorgeous tone in a slow passionate melody, or trying to navigate through complex syncopations and meter changes, or just simply trying to maintain a steady tempo or repetitive bowing patterns, or trying to play very high notes in tune, or anything at all. You can't do it faster if you can't do it slowly.

So, master the slowness.

(I sound like Yoda...)

We got a lot done, and still had time to enjoy the beautiful snow capped scene during our break. It was so beautiful, I thought it'd be nice to take a picture, BUT....

My stupid finger got in the way... I used to make fun of people who took pictures like this...