Beginner's impressions

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rayjang

Re: Beginner's impressions

Post by rayjang » Wed Mar 02, 2011 7:44 pm

On Site Practice

We went to the Maple Knoll site and played the program in the dining space where we will be Friday. What a change from the living room setting where we usually practice! The hum of vending machines and dining hall equipment competed. Plus the room is big and it was hard to hear our sound. All the chairs had arms, which would limit our seat posiition. We found three seats without arms in another room, so we grabbed them. And, as Harry had predicted, a lady walked up in the middle of Minuet and Trio and started talking to us. Nothing to do but stop and respond to her questions and then resume playing. LOL :lol:

I am still wondering why pieces (Scarborough Fair) that sound quite decent at home, get quite ragged in the performance setting. I'm amazed at how much overlearning one must put in to get a solid live play done. But, that is why we are doing this, to get performance experience.

We were glad to have done this practice and now know the setup. Friday will be here soon.

Cheers. Ray.

rayjang

Re: Beginner's impressions

Post by rayjang » Thu Mar 03, 2011 4:24 pm

Metronome Time Again

Reviewed the sticky passages in our program pieces today using the metronome at slow tempo. Looking to cement the notes, shifts and timing better. There is something calming about that regular click that helps ease my agitation over yesterday's misplays. I have memorized Scarborouogh Fair, but found it helpful to force myself to follow the score with the metronome practice.

I've also started playing the pieces in different rooms of the house, on different chairs and using my portable music stand instead of my customary lighted big black unit. My next strangeness overcoming strategy today will be to videorecord my practice, that always adds a bit of pressure.

I have to admire the pros who can perform for the public with such seeming ease.

Cheers all. Ray.

rayjang

Re: Beginner's impressions

Post by rayjang » Thu Mar 03, 2011 6:46 pm

Video recording oneself

Getting your playing on disk is great...except for having to look at yuur facial expressions. :( Previously I just recorded my hands on the guitar and did not focus on the face. Good thing, it is somewhat disconcerting. I did not know I have a habit of looking grim and serious as I play. I dont feel that way, but the look on my face suggests that. :lol: What makes it worse is when I flub a note, I will contort my mouth and it is not a pretty picture! :evil: 'For now I can't do much about it in preparation for the performance tomorrow. Good to know though and something to work on. I am reminded of Carlos Perez's look of childlike joy as he plays in concert. That is much more pleasant to see.

The good news is that the sound of the guitar is really resonant, full and rich (when I am hitting the notes right which is most of the time). I am getting a bit of low string squeak on some passages. Will have to work on that. Also, I can hear little hesitations in tempo as I shift long distances on the neck. I'm purposely sitting on the worst chair I can find in the house. It tilts you back unless you perch right on the edge. I notice that as I play I will start feeling tension in the legs as I struggle to stay perched, then have to tell myself to RELAX. I also learned that if you just plop into the chair the resulting guitar position will shift quite enough to throw off your fingering. Hope I can accomodate to the right position during the gig tomorrow.

I re-listened to our ensemble practice session which we recorded Tuseday in the Living Room. ONly this time instead of playing through the camera speakers I hooked up to the Bose Theater speakers on our main TV. I was pleasantly surprised to hear the musicality of our playing and so I'm feeling pretty confident about being entertaining tomorrow. Besides, its an easy crowd and very friendly.

If it wasn't such fun, all this preparation could add up to being work!

Cheers all. Ray.

rayjang

Re: Beginner's impressions

Post by rayjang » Thu Mar 03, 2011 11:07 pm

Commentary for our program pieces

Harry and Alex gave me the OK to talk a little bit about us, and the music we would play. So, I've been exploring the Wikipedia entries for the composers and the songs. I've learned quite a bit. We will offer quite a globally based set of songs spanning many centuries.

Sakura, the cherry blossom festival in Japan, Korea and perhaps China with picnics under the blossoms in April.

Andantino, its a little faster than andante and slower than moderato, Guiliani a noted Italian composer and musician.

Minuet and Trio, a French dance, small, pretty, delicate. JS Bach the marvelous German composer.

Scarborough, northeast seaside town in the UK, where once a 45 day trade fair was held annually enduring for over 100 years drawing vendors from afar.

Calypso, an Afro Caribbean dance originating from Trinidad.

Pavane, a slow processional dance from 16th Century Europe, Fauré a nationally revered French composer of recent times (early 20th century).

Londonderry Air, the county in Northern Ireland, Danny Boy lyrics from 1910.

Canarios, a two person dance with surprisingly perky passion and sexiness. Sanz the Spanish master of baroque guitar and method.

Evocacion, the hauntingly beautiful piece by the still living Argentine composer José Luis Merlin.

Practice under duress

Dear wife, Pat, did a load of wash and had the clothes dryer going full blast as I practiced. All this coping with distraction should be good for performance sometime.

Cheers all. Ray

rayjang

Re: Beginner's impressions

Post by rayjang » Fri Mar 04, 2011 11:13 pm

Our first trio performance!

Maple Knoll Village was hospitable and receptive of our music program. Perhaps the good crowd came from the Friday "Happy Hour".
Maple Knoll Recital.jpg
Trio-mate, Harry was late getting to the site, so I told the audience to give him a big hand when he arrived. I wish I could have seen the look of bewilderment on his face, but we were playing a duet and I did not look up. :lol:

Alex just bought a new classical guitar from a local luthier, Tom Kerr and he played it today.
Alex_Maple Knoll_Mazurka.jpg
We expected, per the norm, that our performance would downgrade from at home practice and I did count at least three train wrecks. Nevertheless, we had sufficient knowledge of the pieces that we could consolidate on the fly and re-connect to finish the piece more or less simultaneously. :chaud: The technical performance skills are something we will need to keep working on that is for sure.

Despite our awareness of the flubs, the audience was appreciative. Comments were made about hoping we would come back. I was especially pleased to hear that the sound of the guitar was discerned as beautiful. Our hope was to acquaint them with the lovely sound of our instruments and so we did.

Alex and Harry are urging me to find other sites to book. I suspect the payment check we got while not large ($95) should be framed for posterity!

Driving over to the event I felt confident, as I walked in the door the butterflies got pretty wild, but I am glad we did this. The next time should be easier.

Cheers all. Ray
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rayjang

Re: Beginner's impressions

Post by rayjang » Sat Mar 05, 2011 2:40 am

Requests, we got a requested piece

Part way through our program one of the coordinators stepped up and said, "We have 3 birthdays today, would you play Happy Birthday"? Reasonable request for an experienced band, but we are not experienced and couldn't respond. Well, we would love to but had not the first idea of the score! We did lead the sing-along however. Guess what we will be learning next Tuesday in our trio practice? Anyone know of a trio arrangement of Happy Birthday?

Cheers all. Ray.

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royscot
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Re: Beginner's impressions

Post by royscot » Sat Mar 05, 2011 8:21 am

Congrats Ray. That must have taken some guts for a first time.
There is a vibrato that occurs without moving the finger: it is the vibration of the heart of the one that feels deeply what one plays. (Emilio Pujol)

Bill Doyle

Re: Beginner's impressions

Post by Bill Doyle » Sat Mar 05, 2011 10:35 am

Felicidades Ray! You are helping me with note memorization using keys and scales so i figure the least I can do is help you to make a simple melody more fun. Do your own arrangement of "Happy Birthday" for 3 guitars using a variety of approaches within a theme, sort of a cut & paste.

Basic melody is 3/4 time… 'G', 'D', 'C' and spice with a 'C7'.The first note is 'D' if you're singing in the key of 'G'... 'G' would be the first note in the key of 'C'. Then your chords would be C,F,G. A . Start in one key at a slow tempo, shift to higher gear in another key to get people tapping their feet. Some ideas to put it together:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGsg1E_dZoY Basic melody using chords in G
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeSzudVOI-0 Terrible lesson but a more interesting version, will give you ideas for doing your own arrangement… same key, just moving to different positions
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipjviiTKrVI “Fingerstyle” arrangement, more classical sounding, quite nice
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crRdn5F2Xm8 Rhythmic ideas to make the song more lively… Reggae-percussive, Country-boom-chuck… also demos different keys (put on your “patience” hat for this annoying instructor)

rayjang

Re: Beginner's impressions

Post by rayjang » Sat Mar 05, 2011 1:11 pm

Our play list

We had fun explaining the geographical origins of these pieces, took the audience around the world so to speak. Japan, Europe,Trinidad, Ireland, Canary Islands.
Maple Knoll Recital.jpg
Harry remarked that we had been accused of having "talent" by one of the audience with whom he spoke, and I also got thanked for sharing the same.

royscot

From my first serious instruction I got introduced to ensemble playing. The CCM workshops, which I have attended three times, also immerse you in ensemble. That sort of walks you into playing with and before others (who are friendly fellow guitarists) and that gives you growing comfort and confidence. Knowing we wanted the learning experience and also knowing our playing would not be flawless (this time for sure) we did not feel too scared of the situation. So that part did not take any particularly gutsy capability.

What did get to me was finding that all my preparation (all I could give it) created a still fragile ability to play. I could repeat at home and sound good. In performance once one or two misplays occurred that could lead to a cascading series of missed notes, timing or all of the above. So, I will post elsewhere on Delcamp asking how better to prepare. Perhaps we should have practiced another 14 or 30 days. So, having practiced as much as possible it still was not enough. Realizing this potential for crashing is what loomed large and I know in several pieces I would think with relief, "Its almost done" as we entered the final passages.

Still glad we did it, there is nothing like doing something for the first time and accomplishing the intended result to entertain. Next time, I trust we will be technically better.

BD

Thanks sir. By the time I work through all your links I should have a handle on Happy Birthday, and how to embellish it too. I appreciate the suggestions.
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royscot
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Re: Beginner's impressions

Post by royscot » Sat Mar 05, 2011 3:00 pm

Ray, I read something recently about preparation for playing in public. I will try to remember where!
There is a vibrato that occurs without moving the finger: it is the vibration of the heart of the one that feels deeply what one plays. (Emilio Pujol)

rayjang

Re: Beginner's impressions

Post by rayjang » Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:05 am

royscot

Thanks, if you find it let me know. I have read "Effortless Mastery" and probably should go back over it again. As I recall its a daily meditation in which one affirms growing mastery of the instrument and the music.

My first solo!!!

Sandwiched in among the duets and trio pieces I played my first solo, Scarborough Fair. I just realized I have crossed a big hurdle :D .

It was only a few weeks ago that I decided to learn it and play it in our program. Although I practiced it every day, with metronome, and numerous times with video recording it was far from perfect. I am coming to the conclusion that a few weeks is not enough time to really lock down a piece so that it plays well to an audience.

My arrangement is from Parkening's Book Two, and the notes are not hard, its the transitions from 12th fret to 1st and in between that I need to work on to make the music continuous. There's a Masterclass coming up in April at the Greater Cincinnati Guitar Society. I'm going to work on it for that, along with Carcassi, Op 60 No 7.

Un Dia de Noviembre Duet

Alex and I looked over the duet score for this Brouwer piece. We think it will be a great addition to our repertoire and is managable. I just played through the melody line and am getting excited about working this up for performance.

Cheers all. Ray.

rayjang

Re: Beginner's impressions

Post by rayjang » Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:27 am

BD

I've worked over Happy Birthday, the fingerstyle jazz version in one of the links you sent. Thanks so much, I like it and I'm going to really learn it well for family gatherings.

Cheers, Ray.

Bill Doyle

Re: Beginner's impressions

Post by Bill Doyle » Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:51 am

Glad you like it Ray, I am learning it right now... it never occurred to me that this is the one song everyone know by heart and demands you play! I am going to work up several versions, maybe a blues version and a samba version... will surprise people and make them laugh.

simonm
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Re: Beginner's impressions

Post by simonm » Sun Mar 06, 2011 11:04 am

rayjang wrote: I did not know I have a habit of looking grim and serious as I play. I dont feel that way, but the look on my face suggests that. :lol:
I have often wondered if Stephan Grapellis permanent smile when he played contributed to his success. I suspect that it was something he developed as a busker in his early days - a smile probably helps get you paid as busker. :D

A typical "secretary" trick taught on many trianing courses is to smile before you answer the phone - it makes your voice sound different and more pleasant. I wonder if music would begin to sound different if you always smiled when you played?

rayjang

Re: Beginner's impressions

Post by rayjang » Sun Mar 06, 2011 12:42 pm

simonm

I have heard, and believe in the telephone smile inducing a psychological set that is conducive to receptiveness from the beholder.

Seems reasonable to me that a pleasant look will also create a more favorable perception in CG. Therefore, I need to work on this aspect. I've started by thinking "Serenity" as I look at the score during my guitar playing and I hope the look on my face mirrors the thought. Will have to break out the dreaded video camera which tells all. There's a lot to this guitar playing isn't there?

Cheers. Ray

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