Monday, May 21, 2012

The TARDIS in my mind: Putting the 'art' in tea-party

My dear friend T has written a lovely blog about a tea party I hosted! Please check it out. There ARE pictures of the food. :D

The TARDIS in my mind: Putting the 'art' in tea-party: A fortnight ago, I flew out to my beloved second home to see Snowy, my sister from another mister. And lady - in fact, not in any way, sha...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Why I'm afraid of music lessons.

Every week when I go to my singing and music theory lessons I am scared. I think that any previous praise or positive sessions are the result of fluke and this time I will be told off for not working hard enough, or not doing something correctly.

Why is this?

For one thing, I have a theory that almost all music teachers are fickle and eccentric. Perhaps it's because they spent hours intensively working one-to-one with student and quite often find themselves repeating the same advice which rarely seems to be followed... As a music teacher - that would be one guess. Another possibility is that, as musicians, we're all a bit mental. You need to be to do this for a living.

For another, I never ever feel that I have put enough work in. Even when I practise as much as I can, I always feel (in singing) that I'm behind what I could achieve if I just put a bit more work in. The only answer to this is to work harder. In theory, I feel like I'm pretending that I know what I'm doing and it's all going to fall apart if I make a loud noise or move too suddenly.

Of course, there are always the scars of lessons past. When I was young and I didn't understand something, but it wasn't explained properly. That is the worst feeling in the world. Once when I was at university, I arrived to a singing lesson three minutes early and was told off for it. There was no way I could concentrate because the injustice stung so much. I didn't stay with that teacher for long. Another time, when I was still at school, I very seriously asked my friend to help me to break my arm so that I wouldn't have to go to my cello lesson.

In the end, though, it's informed the way I teach. I don't tell people off. I don't get angry because someone hasn't practised. Instead, I reward my student with stickers when they have done their practise, or if they impress me with their cooperation or concentration. I want them to associate their music lessons with happiness and being relaxed - not with dread.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Playing with Playlists

On Thursday I'm scheduled to run for 22minutes straight.

The advantage of this is that I don't have to have the little man in my earphones saying "RUN NOW!" "Walk now." "RUN AGAIN!" Having 22 minutes of pure running means that I can listen to what ever I like! Tomorrow, in some of that precious and glorious free time that I will have, I plan to finally make a running playlist. It will certainly have Ministry of Magic on it, Titanium by David Guetta and I'll have to trawl my iPod for other motivating tunes.

This track will definitely make the list. It helps me to remember why I'm running at all - i.e. I need to be fit for when the Doctor comes. (Also useful in case of zombie apocalypse and escaping from Death Eaters.)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Getting Caught Up

It's a metaphor. See?
Things all got a bit serious.

When I called up the singing teacher who I had been afraid to contact for two years, I got sucked into this singing vortex. During the first lesson, which is meant to be a consultation to see if the teacher likes my voice, she got very excited and decided that she would take me, and that I must apply for course X, Y and Z. I was send home with a few songs to study, some interesting new thoughts on vocal technique and a sense of utter bewilderment.

Mingled with the bewilderment, though, was the feeling that this was all correct. This was what I should be doing now. I should be working hard on my voice and body, saving up, learning and applying to courses.

It's true that I spend my days swinging dramatically (internally) from "YES! This is right! Everything's going to come together and it will be wonderful! The life I want is within my reach" to "WHAT AM I DOING, WHAT AM I DOING?! AGH!" Ultimately, no matter what the scared and confused part of my mind says, if I don't give it my best shot now and work hard I will spend the rest of my life wondering what it would have been like if I'd taken those steps.

There are no fantasies for me of being a massively famous, stadium-sell-out musician. I'm sure that would be nice, but what I really want in my life is stability and creativity. I want to be able to write, perform, teach and inspire while having a roof over my head (and some hens in the back garden. And there's a lot of cake in this dream life, too.)

I suppose what I'm getting at is: I do feel a bit overwhelmed at the moment with all this singing plus all the work that unexpectedly fell on top of me but I'm trying very hard to see to the end of June. Then I can celebrate what I have achieved and be proud and I can stay in bed all day or go into town and not feel guilty because it's the SUMMER.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Morgen by Richard Strauss

Every so often a song will come along that completely stuns me. Having looked through some very old singing volumes that belonged to my mother, it was suggested that I should study 'Morgen' by Richard Strauss.

This piece feels like it is holding and manipulating you. When I listen to it, I feel as though something is being held just out of my reach, something that I desperately love and want. Occasionally Strauss lets me imagine having it, only to whisk it away again out of my grasp. There is a forlorn sort of optimism to this song. The singer responds to the gentle dream like melody of the violin by opening with a strong and definite statement: 'And tomorrow the sun will shine again.' She goes on with a sense of optimism, but there's always a longing and a pleading behind the words, hidden in the music.

And tomorrow the sun will shine again
And on the way which I shall follow
She will again unite us lucky ones
As all around us the earth breathes in the sun
Slowly, silently, we will climb down
To the wide beach and the blue waves

When she begins, she interrupts the violin and he stops for a moment to listen to her before playing again. Occasionally he supports her, or echoes her, but sometimes he is playing a different melody. Maybe it's the sad one that she doesn't want to hear. It seems to me that when she reaches the end of this idealistic speech, she gets suddenly swept up in her reverie. The violin notices that she isn't with him anymore and follows her into her dream world. She is so displaced from the reality that she was in. The broken chords have turned to sustained ones, she is almost drifting on clouds of music.

In silence, we will look in each other's eyes
And the mute stillness of happiness will sink upon us

In this section, she lifts the music up step by step, as though willing the sun to rise faster as she watches it. She can clearly see the moment that she will be happy in front of her. She almost trails off, discordant again as she was at the very beginning - although this time it is a peaceful, resolved sort of definite that she inhabits now. Without any resistance, she waits for the dawn while the violin plays.