As the 12th Annual Baroque Flute Boot Camp appears on the horizon, here are a few thoughts on PRACTICE.
At this time your practice routine should include a Live Performance Situation component, that is, play your pieces as if you were giving a concert. Another component to include in your preparation is one of Rhetoric.
Rhetoric. Think about what you want each phrase to mean; what you are trying to communicate to the listener. Even a piece that is not complex has something to say.
Worried about identifying the rhetoric of your piece? Start with this question: is it a song or a dance? If it is a dance, is it happy or sad? If it is a song, imagine what the words to the song might be and treat the phrases as you would stanzas of a poem.
Perhaps it is something else, such as a prelude. What is a prelude, exactly? It is a device to get you and the listener ready for the rest of the piece. The prelude could be a tour de force, or just something that sets the mood.
The rhetorical aspect could lead to interesting decisions, such as a slight change in the rhythm, or of temporarily suspending musical time in order to emphasize a point, in the manner of an oration.
Other questions to ask yourself: What do the words melancolique (melancholy), gravement (seriously), grave (serious), tendrement (tenderly or painful), or other words in Italian or German, mean? These are guidelines not only for the character of the piece but to help you decide on the tempo. Remember: Adagio = "at ease," or not in a hurry; it doesn't mean "play deathly slow and put Kim to sleep." Largo = "broad" or "large," not "play deathly slow and put Kim to sleep." Andante is your gait, allegro is lively. Allegretto is a little lively. Larghetto is a little large/broad.
Confused about the difference between French and Italian pieces? Think of the differences between French and Italian cuisine.
There are new performing challenges every time we play. My life recently has taken me to a place where playing it safe is not an option; playing it safe only leads to pain, angst, and a feeling of being unsatisfied.
If you find yourself feeling lost or confused, uncertain about which way to go, just ask yourself: "What would Lewis and Clark do?"
When Lewis and Clark were stuck in the Columbia gorge during a typical rainy November in the Pacific Northwest with nothing to eat but pounded fish for many days in a row, what did they do? Cry? Quit and die? Turn around and head for home? Dial it down? Play it safe? No. They stayed, considered their options, and then gave it their best effort.
Three days to go.