Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Summertrios, the final episode

Friday night, I'd been there 6 days, I was beginning to enjoy this whole "music all day" thing, not to mention letting someone else make meals and clean up.  Friday night was Camper Concert night.  Ooh, as I said in my first post, I signed up for this whole week to help me work on confidence, and what better way than to sign myself up to perform?  I figure, hey, I've come this far, paid a whole lot to get here, and learned enough to keep me going for a good long time.  I really need to take this one last step.  (And as I told my students, I really needed to put myself in their position, to appreciate fully what I put them through every spring.)

My group and I had worked on the Schubert all week.  In fact, everyone I played with all week long worked on the Schubert with me.  I'm sure they were all fairly tired of playing the Schubert, but I was fired up to show off what we had learned!  Our group played 7th on the program: lots of time to get nervous, right?  Someone had suggested that eating a banana would work similarly to a beta blocker, calming the nerves, at least a bit.  I grabbed a banana for dessert that evening.

I don't know if the banana beta blocker was the ticket, or if I had convinced myself not to freak out, but whatever it was, I sat at the piano, with the violinist at my right shoulder and the 'cellist in front of the piano, and we did it!  I gave the starting breath, and away we went, piano talking to 'cello talking to violin and back to piano.  We communicated, we blended, we were gr-r-r-eat!  A benefit of playing chamber music is the chance to cover up your mistakes.  Oh, I'm sure we each had a few oopses, but we all kept going, maintained  a decent tempo, and counted when we got lost.  As long as someone was playing, who's the wiser?  We started together, we stayed together, and we ended together to a great round of applause.

I know we each had fun, and I developed that confidence which I so blatantly lacked earlier in the week.  Thank you, Summertrios, for providing the opportunity and the venue to overcome my stage fright, to learn the beauty of chamber music, and to experience the joy of playing with fellow musicians.  It was well worth the expense.  Let me add as I close, the final day, while other groups were practicing for the second Camper Concert, I sightread all day.  What a hoot that was!  I am so glad I went to summer camp this year.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Summertrios part II

The whole week was an experience, let me assure you!  Each day was filled with practice.  Practice with other campers, practice with professionals, practice with my group and a coach, and lots and lots of practice on my own, trying to get those squeaky measures tweaked just so.   Folks would practice in the living room of the dorm, in the dining hall, in practice studios, in the hallway, in their dorm rooms, and even outside under the trees. (Violinists have an advantage there -- they can practice anywhere! The pianists would scramble every morning to reserve a practice room.)  There was music everywhere!

I had been working on one section (maybe only 2 measures), trying to get my right hand to play in fast running thirds.  I just could not get it.  My last coaching session provided the help I needed -- let your left hand play too.  It was written for right hand alone, my left hand had nothing to do at that point.  It never occurred to me to use my left hand to play the notes my right hand was missing.  Wow, what a difference! Yes, I can play that section!  

I especially liked the professional sessions.  Even when I messed up, the pros kept going, covering up my mistakes, and making the whole thing sound ... professional!  I received good coaching at these sessions as well.  The violinist didn't like my attack at one point.  He stopped and wanted me to play alone.  He corrected my fingering.  He showed me a different way to drop my hand to create a different sound.  But wait -- "You're a violinist, aren't you?"  He was first a musician, and a very good one at that.  A violinist, a pianist, a conductor -- and a great mentor.  I learned a lot from him.  Oh, and the 'cellist from Day Two, remember him?  We were assigned together once more, and I had had enough time to "get" this whole chamber music thing by then.  We did much better second time around.

The evenings were a time to relax, for us campers at least.  We enjoyed concerts by the professionals each evening.  Piano trios and quartets, string quartets, all performed with such pizzazz.  We all enjoyed letting someone else's fingers do the walking.  Wow, were they good!  Post concert was always party time.  And yes, an occasion for more music.  The string pros would do a "read through" to beat the band.  Such good music from morning 'til night.  Nothing like it!