Want to know what life is like as an ANAM musician? In Between the Lines is a blog post written by one of ANAM’s first year students.
36% Hit Rate
My teacher asked me on the other day, “Are you getting 36% of the notes now?” I think I could reply in the affirmative. Which is better than 35% so there WAS improvement!
My second lesson was pretty epic. I went in with three questions:
1. How do I play fff given my stature?
2. How do I play ppp without wimping out and the notes not coming out?
3. How do I practice (Beethoven violin sonata #7) broken octaves without getting RSI?
This amounted to about an hour and forty five minutes of lesson. We talked about physiology , the physical nature of playing the piano, what it looks like, did various exercises that were quite physical, levers (such as the elbow), which largely amounted to “doing nothing”. Whoever said that playing the piano was easy obviously didn’t think so much about nothing.
So, my first ANAM concert for 2011.
Held in the Salon at the Melbourne Recital Centre, we only had about twenty minutes of soundcheck. Pretty scary considering:
a) The entire piece goes for about 30mins. So we weren’t even going to play it all.
b) Wherever I go, it’s pretty much never going to be the same instrument as the one (or several) that I practice on.
c) If you know about the acoustics of the MRC, you will know how finely tuned they are. You will know that you can hear everything very clearly.
And I’ll admit – I was nervous. In some situations, such as the accompanist, I’m the one that has to reassure the soloist!
So, the actual performance.
Incredible Floridas by Richard Meale is a six-movement work. Before each movement, some of the poetry by 19th century poet Arthur Rimbaud, that inspired Meale was read. I would be lying if I said that the music went perfectly. Quite the opposite in some parts. But guess what? It didn’t matter – it was still effective and convincing. The music is incredibly colourful. Not least because the first movement actually contains some of the ensemble reciting the vowels and some associated colours in French.
The Salon, while scary, was incredibly beautiful to play in. It’s incredibly intimate – there is no difference between the audience and the performer. There is no raised stage and the seating is often very close up. We joked that they could’ve turned out pages for us. The audience was so attentive in this concert; they loved it. Which pleasantly surprised me, really, as I have this conception that Australian music is often very difficult to sell. I was acutely aware of trying to incorporate some of the things I’d learnt in my lesson the previous day. Some things worked – my teacher even commented that he saw me playing further up on the keys for that particular Messian-like sounds for the beginning of the third movement!
I spied a bunch of ANAM people sitting along the back, and lots of the staff came too. The audience were so into it that we even went back out twice. Okay, silly I know – but there haven’t been many performances where this was the reaction. It was lovely to have such positive feedback particularly from some of the staff in the last 24hrs.
I have been asked a few times in the last week or so, “How are you enjoying ANAM so far?” and I can say without hesitation, “I’m loving it”. I love that the people who work there are so helpful and kind. I love that the people studying there are so talented and work hard. I love that the teachers are so experienced and encouraging. I love that I’m learning so much already and it’s only week two. I love that I have a great teacher. I love that I’m getting back into playing all sorts of pianistic things. I love that I feel like I belong and that it’s as if I’m meant to be studying there.