Wednesday 17 October 2012

The Old (and Young) Person's Guide to the Orchestra

Here's a theme and variations, with apologies to Benjamin Britten.   The theme is a rondo, which will keep recurring: an orchestral musician must primarily develop the ability to listen to and respond to what the other instrument sections are doing. This is more important than all the rest, tuning, dynamics, timing, etc.  It doesn't mean that these aren't important, but the player who is hearing what their role is in relation to the whole orchestra will almost automatically play in tune, in time and at the right dynamic. It is a fact that if you were to audition for a professional orchestra, it is not the individuals with the highest technical ability that would necessarily get the job, but the ones who can play as a part of the orchestra.

Thursday 13 September 2012

An unashamed bit of self-promotion

My businesses in Gloucester are up for sale, so if you fancy purchasing a couple of great little property/retail investments, let me know.  I feel justified in mentioning this as it will mean that I can lend more of my time to music with, hopefully, some benefit to the orchestra. The orchestra has been alternately a source of frustration (lack of time) and inspiration over the years and I'm truly grateful for the companionship and music that I've been a part of.  Long may it continue.

I'll be devoting myself full time to music from the end of January and will be able to do what I've been struggling to do, but enjoying, for years. I've been putting time into writing music and writing about music, to the extent that I know this, for me, is worth pursuing. You can imagine that writing is time consuming and needs unbroken attention. I'll be able to give it this at last. I'll also be able to increase my teaching, and in addition have been working with an excellent early Baroque trio in preparation for playing at various functions next year.

Monday 20 August 2012

Is Music Difficult?

"This is a difficult piece of music to play" is a a cry that I often hear, though perhaps not so much in the summer with orchestra rehearsals on hold, musical colleagues away on holiday or busy with other things. I take this time of year to focus on my own musical development, practice and learning and on determining my aims for the future. A little musical luxury that I experienced recently was taking part in a strings group for a few days of solid music-making at an education centre called Jackdaws in Great Elm, near Frome. The luxury of this experience was (apart from great food and company) the opportunity to dissect in detail three short pieces of music, taking three whole days from dawn til dusk to do this. The course was mainly about ensemble playing but involved perennial basics, particularly tuning, which require the ability to listen and hear as well as play.