Playing recorder in a group
Today was the second meeting of the current season of the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Recorder Society. I reported last month on how excited I was to begin the new season.
And it’s not just about the tasty desserts that Helen makes for us every month, of course (which basically compel me to exercise before going to the meeting).
We had some new people joining us today, including a woman who had been a member of the recorder society three decades ago, and now was retired and getting back into playing the recorder. It was great having her on board. We have some really good music selections from our director Fred to work on, hopefully toward a holiday performance by our group.
She mentioned it being different and hard playing in an ensemble, since she was used to playing piano alone. Her comments made me immediately think back to where I was a year ago. Coincidentally, almost exactly a year ago, I wrote about the challenges of playing in a group.
I’m so grateful for the opportunity to play with others. It makes me realize that I spent far too much of my life being alone, doing everything alone, and that I was really missing out. Yes, being with others may be more difficult sometimes, but it completely changes my experience of life, making it so much richer.
Fred’s tips I appreciated today
On one of the pieces we are working on, I’m playing the alto 1 line. Fred gave me really useful feedback. He noted that I was holding back and not playing all out. I said that I was afraid of going squeaky on the high G. He said that we should always play all out, and that this alto 1 part is “glorious” and should “ring”. Furthermore, he also reminded us that when we practice (either at home or in a group), we should go beyond what we’d do in performance, and exaggerate the elements of music that we want to bring out. There are a number of reasons for this:
- We must do more in practice so that when we are ready to perform, what we do will actually be easier than what we’ve done already again and again in private.
- Our subjective perception of how we sound is inaccurate: what sounds like “overdoing” to us (without actually recording ourselves) may not sound like much to an actual audience.