Friday 18 January 2008

General Update

First of all, I have to say I'm quite pleased with the grade I received on my last Arrangement assignment: 80%! Yay!

I've got another one due on Thursday. In a few minutes I'll be off to the keyboard lab to work on it and have it checked over for obvious glaring errors.

Congratulations are due to my three piano students who took exams in December. All of them worked very hard, and all of them passed confidently.

I've had a somewhat shaky start to this year. I returned from holiday to find that the landlord's agent for the flat I'm renting a room in was in a car accident, and that they wanted us all to move out by the end of January. This was quite stressful for me, but thanks to friends I was able to find out that legally my position is quite strong and I can stay put until at least the first of June. It's all been very much up in the air but I met the actual landlord today, and I think things are going to be alright. Hopefully I'll be able to get on track now and get on with my academic tasks for this term!

I'm waiting to hear from Paxman regarding a quote for horn repairs. I suspect I'll have to drop by with my horn tomorrow, as they've not answered my e-mail which was sent on Wednesday. Perhaps it got stuck in a spamtrap.

Oren Marshall breathing workshop

On Wednesday, Oren Marshall came to do a breathing workshop with the horns at Trinity.

I got a lot of good out of this session, from reminders of breathing exercises long-forgotten to a few new ones I hadn't done before. There was very little playing but what playing we did was methodical and vastly improved by some of the breathing techniques and mouthpiece-alone playing that we did.

The best thing, though, was leaving the session feeling envigorated and energetic after all that breathing; I'd been feeling quite lethargic and unenthusiastic earlier in the day. I will definitely be adding some of the exercises to my daily (*ahem*) practise routine, but I might also try to fit in a one or two hour breathing workout at some point each week.

Some of the exercises we did:
  • Various stretches while breathing

  • Running on the spot, with intervals of sprinting

  • Breathing to a count while walking. This included holding the breath when the lungs are full and when they are empty.

  • Breathing in for a count of one and out for a count of three, with the counts getting faster and faster. Most people would hyperventilate quite quickly after doing this but as horn players we managed reasonably well.

  • Breathing in all the way, 'topping up' a few times, then letting all the air out, expelling a bit more a few times, then breathing normally for a few breaths before repeating

  • Breathing through the mouthpiece, with the stem end in the mouth

  • Breathing through the mouthpiece with an embouchure formed but no tone production

  • Breathing through the horn without tone production, starting on the shortest length of tubing and increasing by a semitone each measure to increase the resistance.

  • Standard 'practise it on the mouthpiece first' playing.