It’s been a month since I got back from SCOR! New England.  I thought I would have written about it immediately upon return, but It is tough to condense an intense week of workshops and making new musical friends into a few paragraphs. OK, it’s not tough for good writers.  But I needed some prompts to get over the writer’s block, and Beth and Kyle were kind enough to provide some:

[Note: I did not discuss the workshops or the Orchestra Practice in this article.  I will address those separately]

  • How did your Scor! Experience help your playing?
    • I felt more confident in facing new material and in sight reading.
    • My expectations for the future were set higher when I saw people accomplishing the level of playing I hope to reach near retirement
    • Mistakes bothered me less
    • Focusing on sharing rather than performing meant that I could be myself.  I put enormous pressure on myself in general.
  • Has your private teacher noticed any difference?
    • She said I was “faster to follow her instructions”.  I’ll let that sink in.
  • How has your approach to playing changed?
    • I am generally braver, and I also scan for how I want to handle rests when I read a piece for the first time.
    • I look forward to playing in group settings now.
  • How has your ensemble playing changed from Scor!?
    • It’s still too early to tell.  But I know to focus on setting and keeping my own pulse, and to focus on breathing as well as bowing.  This is true of the playing in general.

Although the message in the adult learning workshop was a consistent “you must accept where you are now”, I really was hoping I would be capable of higher grade pieces by now. Our first attempt at working a quartet piece was hilarious.  We were all lost by measure 3.   The experience of getting four strong personalities to communicate effectively was as satisfying as making the music.  I definitely want more, although I think I’ll make the 3-hour drive to Rochester next year instead of a 6 hour one to Rhode Island.   Still, the people were terrific and the schedule fit a lull in the workplace, so who knows.  It may indeed be RI again.

The other significant experience for me was my private lesson.  I recommend everybody take a yearly private lesson with somebody who is not your regular teacher.  They will notice things that will enhance your playing, and they know not to disrupt your existing pedagogy.  In my case, Carly Fleming pointed out that my tone was too forced, and that I need to let the string ring a little more.

Oh, and book early, especially your hotel.