Post audition post

This is my first post audition post. So, excuse my rusty blogging skills! This isn’t going to be the most coherent post in all of the blogosphere, but will instead consist of two different things that I’ve been thinking about lately.

First off!

This morning found me scarfing down this new cereal that my dad bought (which is some kind of a combination of raisin bran, kashi and honey clusters of oats, and quite delicious), as well as listening to the latest Contrabass Conversations podcast episode which featured the conclusion of Jason Heath’s interview with Cincinnati principal bass, Owen Lee. Of all of the great advice and thoughts Owen put out there, one thing really struck me that I simply related to. He was talking about his studies at the University of Southern California with Dennis Trembly, and how he would often take lessons every 2 weeks, instead of the customary 1 week. Owen went on to explain why he did this, saying that he felt he wasn’t always as prepared as has he needed to be for the next lesson, and that he didn’t want to waste his teachers time. I was shocked to hear this from a guy like Owen, to be honest with you. I imagined him as being one of those players that cranks out numerous solos, excerpts and etudes through the course of a school year. Maybe he still did (he didn’t really get into specifics), but his saying this would seem to indicate that some things in his bass training took longer to learn than others.

I’ve been studying with my current teacher for roughly a year, and there have been a number of times where I’ve walked into a lesson not being half as prepared as I should’ve been/would’ve like to have been. Now, I’m no slacker when it comes to practicing, but with life and all of its happenings (work, errands, homework, family, friends, occasional rest), it can become difficult to consistently get in that 2, 3 or 4 hours of practicing every day. Sometimes, I’ve even had days in a row where my schedule won’t permit me even 2 hours of practice. The week between lessons passes with astonishing quickness, and here I am, the night before, trying to shuffle together some decent playing for my teacher the next day. I HATE when that happens. Fortunately, my teacher is the coolest guy ever, is flexible, understands that stuff happens, and allows me to reschedule with him.

I’m not sure that I’ve come to an opinion as to whether weekly lessons are the best way to go or not. In a way, it seems as though the level of preparation the student has done with the material should dictate when the next lesson should be. Take me, for example, and my work on excerpts. Sometimes I’ll get in a solid 3-4 hours a day for a full week and still have not made enough progress to warrant more instruction on it. On the other hand, some students are too ambitious and expect too much of themselves, and expect to learn an entire movement of Bach with only one lessons help on it (which would be me, in some cases). I suppose one of the major benefits of weekly lessons would be that it helps the student to work with a deadline, as it were. Knowing that they don’t have 2 weeks to get that stroke, lick or phrase into acceptable/workable shape could certainly be beneficial to some students. In the end, maybe it really depends on the student in question and the aspect of their playing which they’re working on.

Second!

I really love learning new repertoire. Starting work on something completely new and unfamiliar has so many benefits to us musicians. I spent roughly 6 months working on the same material: Bach, Koussevitzsky, Bille’, Beethoven 5 and Mozart 40. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of the aforementioned rep. as much as the next bass player, but, after a while, even great music becomes stale and too familiar. With college auditions done, my teacher and I started talking about what pieces I’d like to learn next. I’d been wanting to learn the Prelude from the 1st suite for quite some time, as well as the Vanhal concerto. He thought that sounded great, gave his stamp of approval, and we dived in.

To my surprise, I rediscovered the joy of practice! I’d sit down with the intention of spending maybe an hour or so on the Prelude before moving on to other things, only to discover I’d been working for 2. It is a wonderful and refreshing feeling to enjoy practice and not to merely trudge valiantly through the hours of work. Of course, it’s not always like this, and nothing stays/feels fresh forever. Alas! I’m sure I’ll be mildly tired of Bach and Vanhal within a month or so.

–Just a side note on that Vanhal: Lemur is currently out of the Vanhal Concerto (Piano in D, bass in C). So I really haven’t started work on it yet. If anyone has a photocopy of it they’d like to mail me, I’d be forever grateful!–

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~ by benjamin86 on March 7, 2008.

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