Sunday, February 20, 2011

Deadlines looming, weather glooming

I'm learning to play one of these

For the past two years, I have been enrolled in the Conservatoire à Rayonnement Départemental de l'Aveyron -- what used to be known as l'Ecole de Musique; but, as the French say, "pourquoi faire simple quand on peut faire compliqué?"

I take harpsichord lessons with a wonderful teacher, and have been relishing the challenge of learning how to play a new instrument.

I grew up playing the piano, so keyboard instruments aren't totally unknown to me. However, the harpichord has a totally different sound and feel, as you can imagine if you know anything about musical instruments.

Also, I don't have one at home, so I practice at the Conservatoire à Rayonnement...etc... on a lovely, flowered harpsichord (not the Wikipedia Commons Image one above.)

Last year, everything was "just for fun," but this year I have somehow ended up in the bilan du premier cycle, where I am going to have to play in front of a jury on April 7.


As my wonderful teacher keeps telling a panicked me, this is not an examen, just a bilan to "see where I'm at."

Relax, girl. Oh yes, in the meantime I'll be playing my pieces in a "little recital" in late March, which is suddenly more or less tomorrow.

Double yikes.

Deadlines, deadlines. I also have a huge one coming up at work that I really have to get on this week.

For all of these projects that need energy and élan, the weather is not cooperating:

The world from my window, February 20 2011

I've done very well chasing off the February blues this year until, shall we say, today?

Cheery comments are welcome!


  1. Spring is on the way! Don't despair! This is what I keep telling myself. Pretty soon it'll be time to plant radishes and lettuce. That'll help a lot! :)

  2. Thanks for the encouragement (although I'm not a gardener.)

    I am leery of March, here in Aveyron anything can happen. Last year was beyond the beyond, snowstorms and so forth...maybe this year spring will come sooner! Temps haven't been too cold this year down here, it seems like the Northern part of the country got the brunt of the snow and cold. So there could be hope.

  3. You are not alone!
    I joined l'école de musique last September and decided to finally take up cello (I am a piano player). On Tuesday I have my first "audition" and I am petrified! Although it's a very short piece that I will be playing with my teacher, I just started 6 months ago... and, I have never played in public other than my family, piano has always been a very selfish thing for me. So here is a terrified me and, of course, I have a difficult presentation at work tomorrow...
    The weather has cheered up a bit, I hope near you too. Going to try to forget about it all with a walk out with my daughter in really deserted Rodez...
    Good luck to you, I do empathize and I will be thinking of you!

  4. @Muriel Thanks for your comment! There are a lot of adult beginner cellists at the Conservatoire. My main instrument is the violin, and I manage to control my nervousness when I play it, but I haven't done enough keyboard performance to feel calm when playing in public. I even stress out at my lessons :(

    Good luck on Tuesday!

  5. The world from your window doesn't look much different than the world from my window. Comeon spring, hurry up! That looks like a very cool instrument to play. I'm sure you'll do goo at your recital, oops bilan :)

  6. Thank you Meredith. I've played a lot in public (violin) but playing all alone on a keyboard has always freaked me out more. Actually, there's a recital first, then the bilan...

  7. I would love to hear you play "le rappel des oiseaux" by Jean-Francois Rameau if we ever meet. I have heard Angela Hewitt play it on the piano too; it is an amazing piece either way.
    You will get better and better, spring will come back and life will go on. Be proud and confident. The point is to learn, have fun and be happy!

  8. @Nadege...what a nice thought. "Proud and confident"...that's good advice; certainly the advice I'm always giving my students, so why not apply it to myself?

  9. Weather has been a bit triste down here too. I think by the end of February everyone is climbing the walls a bit!
    I love that you're learning to play the harpsichord. Is there no end to what you can do? :)

  10. I love the harpsichord, though I've never learned to play it. What piece(s) are you learning for the bilan?

  11. @Loulou -- Yes, February is one of my least favorites months. March can be lousy too if the weather is bad, which it seems like it usually is.

    Alissa -- I'm playing a sonata by Scarlatti and a piece called Woolsey's Wilde by William Byrd.

  12. I love hearing the harpsicord but I've never tried to play one. I guess there is no hang over time when a key is struck. I'm impressed that you are doing that. I used to play a little piano but, believe me, no special recital was ever requested.

  13. Every day the light gets a little brighter, the sun a little higher in the sky.

    Also harpsichord music by Scarlatti et al. is so joyeuse if that's the word. Don't forget to listen to some of the great soloists to inspire you.

    And most of all play to the joy in the music and your listeners will be ravished if that's the word by the sound.


  14. @ Linda @ Ali @ writerslondon Thank you for all of the encouragement! I had a practice session the other day and already felt less stressed out.
    I'm not sure if listening to great soloists inspires me or not, though...but perhaps I should give it a try. I don't have much harpsichord music in my CD collection yet...

  15. Betty, you won't believe this, but your post has really encouraged me! I think you're brave and amazing to take up a new instrument and then even consider playing in front of strangers. Go you! :) (And yes, spring is coming - even though, from my windows, it needs a hefty boot in the backside)

  16. Just to be clear, Betty, when listening to great soloists on cD, listen to the music (which inspires); try to ignore the soloist as it were.

    Maybe choose a non-virtuoso performance (in pianistic terms, choose a Brendel over a Cherkassky).


  17. The harpsichord! How fantastic! I hope your recital went well. :)

  18. @croquecamille Thanks for visiting! The recital is in one month...but the Ecole de Musique has limited hours over the next few weeks (vacances scolaires obligent) so I won't have much time to practice! Oh well, all of this encouragement has made me feel more confident already!