Monday, July 7, 2014

Musical Monday: Chopin Nocturne No. 21 in C# Minor

So for this week's Musical Monday I'd like to go back into June. Starting on Monday the twenty-third and lasting until Friday I went to Piano Week at the University of West Florida. It is a piano camp they have during the summer. Throughout the week we had different classes and Friday night we had a recital playing what we had learned that week.

This is Nocturne No. 21 in C# Minor by Chopin. I don't want to be one of those people who is always dissing their own work, but I feel compelled to mention that I played it a bit too fast I think. Also the dynamics could have been better but I am pleased with it. There actually is this one part that I am really glad I got through it without a complete wreck. I was in danger of that the day before. Chopin never actually published this nocturne himself as it was published posthumously. (I wanted to post videos of some of the others playing but this one gave me so much trouble I don't think I will try.)

Here is our schedule for the week:

10:00 Musicianship
11:00 Collaborative Piano
12:00 Lunch
1:00 Theory
2:00-4:00 Practice time and individual lessons
5:00-6:00 Piano Painting

Miya and me! We have the same teacher so I am sure I'll be seeing more of her around.
       The first class was taught by Dr. Solanki. She is a tall blond lady with a heavy accent which I cannot place. This class focused on ear training. Some of the exercises we did were listening and naming different kinds of chords, tapping/clapping different rhythms, and listening to a melody played on the piano and then writing it down on our page. Of course there were others but I won't name them all. This class was challenging and fun.
        Mr. Riley, an engaging friendly man, instructed Collaborative Piano.  He brought us out of the strictly piano world with singing, and a little bit of conducting. We also used this time to work on our duets we would be performing at the end of the week.

Mr. Riley teaches the Collaborative Piano class. This grand was just amazing to play on.
        Lunch was always fun because we would sit around and talk or a while and then, if there was extra time everyone disappeared into the practice rooms, because you know, that two hour chunk later in the day just wasn't enough. ;) At one we all scampered back into the classroom to await Professor Coleman.
       Theory was really interesting to me. Prof. Coleman is a quiet man but very good at explaining things. When you asked a question he took the time and went way back and explained everything so that you couldn't possibly miss it. He also made jokes which, in spite of their not being particularly funny, amused the whole class.
       Starting at two o'clock we had lessons and practice time. There were nine of us so each teacher got three students every day. We rotated around so I didn't have the same teacher every day. Each one of them have their own distinct teaching style and I learned a lot. Trying to find a practice room that was unlocked proved to be a hit or miss kind of game every afternoon. I got stuck twice in the piano lab, a room filled with a number of electric pianos with headphones, twice that week. If you played your cards right though you could end up with the fantastic grand in the practice hall, or one of the baby grands in the practice rooms. 
Isabelle and I got stuck in the piano lab. And yes, I wore the hat twice that week.
        Closing out our day we got to relax with an enjoyable hour of talking and painting an old piano. Dr. Solanki has been collecting old pianos and having them painted and putting them out all over the city for the public to play on. We painted a beach scene on our piano. It was an upright.The bottom was the ocean, the middle the beach, and the soundboard and top the sky. In the middle of the sound board was an inset where we painted the Piano Week theme notes. Prof. Coleman came up with it, he took the first letter of all our names and picked notes to go with them. Some of them were easy like 'A', but others like mine, 'L' were a little more complicated. Mine is A# because if you start at C with do and go up - re, mi, fa... you come to la on A, and since my name makes a 'Lih' sound the A is sharped. So with a note for every name he came up with a little melody, which sounds kinda neat to play.

Olivia and Abigail painting the piano. Unfortunatly I don't think I got a picture of the piano when the painting was finished. You'll just have to use your imagination I guess. 
        Friday night the day's schedule was a little different. We swapped out Musicianship for making finishing touches on our piano and we skipped Theory so that we would have more practice time to prepare for the recital that evening. For supper pizza was ordered, and we all sat around and laughed and enjoyed ourselves. After we ate, we got changed into our clothes for that evening. Six girls and their bags transformed the bathroom into a locker room. Hair straighteners hair spray, hair brushes, makeup toothpaste, the whole shebang, it all was a little comical. By the time I was ready I only had a few minutes to practice before the recital. I felt very unprepared. 

        The recital was fun, my family and a friend came for the performance. I played two duets and a solo piece. Everyone did so wonderful with their music! All the duets that were played had been learned that week and several of the students' solo pieces were brand new as well. Some of us brought music with us to learn for our solos. The one I played I had been working on a few weeks prior to this.

L-R: Abigail, Isabelle, Me, Miya, Mr. Riley, Olivia, Dr. Solanki, Prof. Coleman, Meredith, Andrew, Easton, Tyler
By the way, I love Tyler's bow tie! 
I had a really great time and I'm kind of disappointed I won't be able to go back next year. Piano week is only for high-school age children or younger if they are advanced enough in piano. Everyone thought Easton was the oldest one there but in reality I was. I felt a little jealous of the "oldest" title, which is utterly ridiculous and completely frivolous. Anyways, I learned a lot and am very glad I got to go. I have never done anything with music besides private lessons and recitals so this was a great experience for me. It really cemented me in my plans for majoring in music in college. 

Until next time y'all, peace!

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