July 3 Lesson Notes

July 05, 2012

With music camp starting next week most of this week's lesson focused on the music we'll be playing Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at camp. We also touched briefly on some of the orchestral pieces for August.

Music Camp

I fell very good about the four pieces we'll be playing in music camp. Two of them, Canyon Sunset and the 1st movement of Symphony Nº 4 by William Boyce, are in very good shape. I can play them through without any real difficulty and have been focusing on dynamics and tempo.

The Dorchester Street Songs by Gregg A. Porter are a repeat for me. I played the first part of them as a part of String Fling this past winter. Except for a short section involving C# on the G string (extended position!) this piece is in good shape. When I don't focus on the C# I tend to play it flat and when I do think about it I overshoot and play it sharp. I need to spend some time playing the low-high-high-low game between C and C# on the D string. Actually, on all four strings.

The first two movements of the Bach Suite are coming along nicely. I need to work on the third movement. It's almost pure accompaniment, with rests on the downbeat and single notes on the offbeat. Hard to play with a melody line to follow in my head.

Going into the camp I feel very well prepared and I am grateful that David got the music to me early so I had a couple of weeks to get ready. I am very much looking forward to three days of orchestra next week.

Orchestra

The first orchestra rehearsal in August 25 -- just 7 weeks from this Saturday. Not that I am counting or anything. The music is challenging to play and the amount of it to learn is daunting. I feel a bit like a child who has learned to read at the 3rd or 4th grade level being asked to participate in a college English literature class.

So far I've worked on the first page of Brook Green Suite by Holst and Vivaldi's Concerto Grosso. I need to move on to the rest of those pieces. The trick is to take small chunks and work on them and ignore the totality of the pieces. During the lesson we worked on the Over the Rainbow arrangement by Arlen. In my attempts to play this at home I couldn't hear the melody. David played the melody line for me as I played the accompaniment. Being able to hear the whole thing (or at least more of it) helped tremendously.

One thing I realize and need to keep reminding myself of is that I don't need to have these pieces completed, performance ready by August. I just need to be ready to really start practicing them by August 25. The performance isn't until mid-November. Still I am nervous about being able to keep up with the other orchestra members and worried about incorporating being conducted into my focus. I am well aware that there are layers upon layers of detail playing a string instrument. Each added layer brings a new level of fumbling and struggling. Playing serious adult music is a huge step up, adding an entire orchestra around me is a step up, and adding a conductor is also a step up. So on a scale of 1 to 10 we are approaching 56. It'll be fun.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.