This semester feels harder than last semester was and I’m not sure why. Some of it is that I’m doing a bit more non-school stuff and another thing is that my piano class is pure torture. I dread going to class. My personality and my way of learning is a total opposite to how the piano teacher is teaching the class. She runs (literally – she’s even leaped over piano benches) around the classroom stopping at each student and says ‘play this.’ If you make any mistake she corrects it instantly – “no, that’s the third finger” or “that’s a Bb” and she does it so fast that I don’t digest what she said and I just make the change like a robot. I need to fix my own mistakes to learn unless I get into real trouble figuring out a passage. I find my hands shaking and of course that leads to more errors. New pieces or techniques that she teaches in class she expects us to learn in about 5 minutes. There isn’t a prayer that I can do that. We are expected to practice a minimum of one hour per day which is more than the requirement for our major instruments. Of course I try to practice the horn at least two hours a day and one or the other gets shortchanged. Usually it’s piano so I am struggling in this class.
On the positive side, I’m doing well in theory class and I really enjoy it. We’re doing four part chorals and it’s lots of fun. Lots of rules to follow but I’m good at things that I get specific instructions for. I like my aural skills class but I am realizing that I don’t have the ear I used to have. I am most worried about this class.
The band situation that I wrote about has finally improved. The student who plays first horn and who can’t seem to leave his cell phone alone whenever he’s not playing got caught by a guest soloist we had the other day. He now has to put his cell phone on the piano near the conductor. He has also been replaced as section leader. However, he doesn’t know what to do with himself when he’s not playing so at the last rehearsal he spent his time writing his name in his bell with spit.
In my last blog I mentioned that I auditioned for a community orchestra in NYC. Well, I got in. Yay. We rehearse on Sunday mornings and since I live about and 1 hour, forty five minutes from the venue and the rehearsal is 2 1/2 hours I lose most of Sunday for studying. I’ve been to two rehearsals so far and losing Sunday for studying and piano practice is turning into a challenge though I don’t regret playing in the orchestra at all. I’ve been trying to find an orchestra to play in for a long time. It seems quite easy to find community bands to play in and very hard to find orchestras to play in.
Since the fall my horn teacher has been working with me on my sound and we’ve really zeroed in on sound for the past two weeks. I’ve been doing a lot of listening to pro horn players on CDs and also listening to my teacher play and the other horn students play. I’ve been told that my sound is too bright and I agree and it’s frustrating me. My husband says I sound more like a trombone than a horn. I’ve been working on opening my throat and using different vowel sounds and that helps a bit but not enough to solve the problem. I was able to test a Conn 8D, a Paxman, and a Reynolds and I sound much better on all these horns. They have other challenges but at least I can get the sound I want. My horn is only a year and a half old so I can’t really afford to replace it yet but this isn’t the ‘forever’ horn I had hoped it would be. I’ve got the Conn and the Reynolds on loan for a while so maybe I’ll be able to get past the challenges – like my high range on the Conn and a very painful hand position on the Reynolds. My jury exam is on May 6th. Maybe I’ll use one of these horns for the jury so I have a sound closer to what the judges are expecting.