Monday, 8 April 2013

Hello again!

No doubt you have all heard about the utter mayhem on Arran, with power outages across the entire island for 4 or 5 days. Unfortunately, this all started on the last day of the music festival, so I didn't get to do anything at all! It has been rescheduled for the 19th April, but I have far too many lessons to do that day, and after having 2 weeks of Easter holiday and an extra week off due to the power cuts, my purse is not happy and I cannot afford to take it off. So no music festival for me :(

The ABRSM exams have no been and gone and my kids did really well! I'm so proud of them and glad to hear that their families are just as pleased. My prep-test entrant got a lovely report, and the 2 grade 1 pupils both passed (1 with merit and the other with distinction - and full marks for aural and 1 of her pieces, wowee!) 

I think on the piano front things will quieten down a little bit now, until the mad dash panic for the next round of exams, for which I plan to have at least 1 pupil sitting grade 1. It all depends on the amount of practice that's done and whether or not I think she'll be ready by July. I'm hoping so, because November is so far away. 

This Friday is our choir (Rowan Singers) concert. We have a great mixed program, broken up nicely by vocal and instrumental solos. I am singing 2 Mendelssohn duets with another lady from the choir, so this will be the first time I've performed vocally for a couple of years (other than karaoke, which doesn't count if you ask me). I'm not feeling nervous about it actually, even though we only had our first rehearsal yesterday haha. 

I think that's all for now. Until next time!

Monday, 4 March 2013

Arran Music Festival

The music festival hasn't happened yet, but it is in less than 3 weeks so things are starting to hot up with rehearsals all over the place and anxiety around remembering words and piano parts.

I've been roped in to quite a lot of things actually, most of which are all happening on the same night so I'm going to be running about like a headless chicken.

To start, I'm doing my own piano performance. I chose my pieces from my hospital bed so I'm not overly happy with what I came up with but it was a last minute thing because I forgot all about the closing date. Oops. Anyway, I'm performing Chopin's "Nocturne in E minor (Op. post)" and Chris Norton's "Rising Force" from the Rock Preludes collection.

To follow, I am accompanying 2 ladies who are singing "Laudamus Te" by Vivaldi and an arrangement of the "Skye Boat Song".

I am also singing with 2 choirs. The big choir (Rowan Singers) is singing "Non Nobis Domine" by Roger Quilter and a medley of "I Only Have Eyes for You" and "The More I See You" arranged by Jay Althouse.
Vivace, which is a ladies group made up of about 10 singers, are performing "My Lady Greensleeves" arranged by Henry Geehl and "My Lagan Love" arranged by Michael Neaum.

I also have one of my own piano pupils and a singing pupil entering the competitive class for their age group. They are both in primary 7, so around age 11. The piano pupil is performing 2 contrasting pieces of her own choice in the under 1 year tuition class, and the singer is performing a set song.

Busy times!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Final Recital

As I promised in the last post, here is the program from my final degree recital. I loved working on this program and I think I did a pretty good job. I'm not going to include the names of the other performers as I don't have their permission.

Soprano 1
Purcell - Sweeter Than Roses
Purcell - The Fatal Hour Comes On Apace
Schubert - Totus in corde lanqueo (with clarinet)

Soprano 2
Brahms - Von ewiger Liebe
Brahms - An die Nachtigall
Fauré - Automne
Fauré - Après un Rêve

Poulenc trio for piano, oboe and bassoon.

I think all in all it must have been about 35 - 40 minutes long, and thankfully I managed to recruit one of the other 4th year pianists as page turner.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

chamber music

For me, the biggest thing missing from my musical life is the opportunity to play chamber music. Ever since I was in school and accompanying all the singers for rehearsals and even their standard grade and higher exams, I have been hooked.

As piano is considered to be the least sociable instrument (which I think it is) I often find it very lonely and sometimes boring to play solo pieces. When I was in my last year of the RSAMD junior academy before going on to do my degree, I was placed in a chamber group consisting of piano, violin and cello. This completely turned my musical life around and in my final recital of my degree, my entire programme consisted of chamber music. It was made up of 7 songs (by 2 sopranos) and a trio. I still have the entire programme in a folder so I will post it in another blog as I'm not at home while writing this.

I can tell you however that the trio was Poulenc's trio for piano, oboe and bassoon. It was lots of fun to play and very difficult!

Do have a listen and let me know what you think of this choice. I think it's a lovely piece, but it may take a few listens to pick out all the harmonies etc that make me love it so much.

Another couple of pieces I have played that I completely fell in love with are Faure's Elegie for cello and piano and Poulenc's sonata for clarinet and piano (which was my highest graded performance in my entire 4 years). I did a few other pieces as well (such as Bruch's Kol Nidrei) and lots of songs with various singers.

I would love to be in a situation now that would provide me with more of these opportunities, but it's difficult when you aren't studying in a conservatoire full of other musicians anymore! There are possibly opportunities heading my way though, I just need to dig a little deeper.

Here are links to performances on youtube of each the pieces I have mentioned (I have tried my best to find quality performances):

Poulenc's sonata for clarinet and piano movement 1 and movements 2 & 3 (unfortunately some of the piano gets a bit lost in mvt 3)
Poulenc's trio for piano, oboe and bassoon               
Faure's Elegie for cello and piano                           

Tuesday, 5 June 2012


June is turning into a really busy month for me!

To start with, I have been recruited as accompanist for some ABRSM examinations - 3 flute, 1 violin and 1 trumpet - as well as preparing 2 of my piano students for their own ABRSM exams. They are doing prep test and grade 2. That means that I have at least 10 pieces to learn, 5 rehearsals to attend, and of course the actual exams. Sounds a lot, and it is a lot, especially as they are all in the space of a week.

As well as exams, I have been asked to play for the Arran High School show, "The Wizard of Oz", which is a very long and intense score. I am playing the synthesizer part, which covers all the instruments of the orchestra, as we don't have strings players or most of the other instruments of the orchestra. Oh, and it is in the same week as the exams!

I have the 3 flute exams on the 19th, then head to Arran for dress rehearsal. The show is on the 20th - 22nd, then I'll come back to the mainland the next day for final lessons with my own exam pupils. On the 25th, my pupils and the violin player have their exams, then the trumpet exam is on the 27th.


It's certainly much better than being bored stiff!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Let me start with an apology for taking so long to write! There's not been an awful lot to report.

So, all change on the business front, as I'm moving to Arran. I'm already looking for pupils over there and have postcards ready to go into the schools to try and attract as much attention as possible! Fingers crossed I build up a steady group of pupils like I have on the mainland.

Talking of my mainland pupils, they're by no means being abandoned! I'm coming back for 2 days each week to teach in Stewarton and Irvine. Unfortunately this means I've had to raise my prices for people on the mainland, but hopefully it'll all work out and we can continue to enjoy playing together.

As for my own piano playing, I've not been doing an awful lot in terms of learning new material, but this week I have picked up a book I've had for a while and not played and I'm finding it so much fun! It's Christopher Norton's Rock Preludes, which has a CD of backing tracks so it *almost* feels like playing with a band....actually it feels nothing like it but it's fun.

Another thing, our move to Arran means I've had to leave the wedding band :( Shame, I've really enjoyed it, but there's just no way it's possible for me to rehearse with them every week when the last boat home to Arran is 6pm!

That's all for now :)