Writing something most weeks for the website is good fun, but sometimes I sit at the keyboard not knowing where to start. Music from last night’s rehearsal is often a good place, and I set off not knowing where the thoughts triggered from the previous evening will lead.
It’s very much like that today. It seems like the start of what in some academic disciplines is called a random walk.
The one musical phrase which is buzzing around in my head this morning, and has been doing all night, is the simple piano introduction to each verse of the last of the Shearing songs. I am sure Valerie will not object to my saying that it must be the easiest thing she played all evening – just one note in each hand, no chords or anything like that right to the end. But, maybe because we heard it so many times last night, it is there in my brain, buzzing around like a demented bee.
Which reminds me that I added a note about Valerie to the Website this week.
Click here to read it and see a charming photo of Valerie.
Which reminds me that, from her masterful playing of piano score reductions of orchestral accompaniments and custom accompaniments such as in the current concert, it is clear that Valerie is both talented and well qualified. Indeed I was intrigued, but not surprised, to learn that she recently gained her Fellowship of Trinity College London, one of the highest possible performance qualifications.
Which reminds me that many of us amateur musicians have taken TCL exams in the past, from Grade 1 Piano or Recorder, or perhaps Violin, progressing up through as many as eight grades or until such time as sport or members of the opposite sex became more interesting and demanding. Grade 8 was indeed something to aspire to, and the Fellowship is several grades beyond that.
Which reminds me of my own experiences in my 40’s of having singing lessons and being persuaded to take some TCL exams. Before the first exam I was quaking in my boots, not having submitted myself to the ordeal of such scrutiny for over twenty years. The exam was held in what can only be described as the parlour of an Edwardian terrace house in Winchester. It was a small room. The piano was on my left, a large mirrored fireplace on my right, and the examiner was sat at a desk in the bay window. Where should I project my voice? The examiner was far too close, yet not to address him seemed rude. Just to his right was a large plant, which, in keeping with the room, turned out to be an aspidistra. I sang to the aspidistra, which the examiner seemed not to mind as he was kind enough to pass my efforts on that and a number of successive occasions with merit.
From the day of that first exam and even nowadays, when practicing music I visualize the Edwardian parlour in Winchester and sing to the aspidistra.
How do you get from Collaroy Plateau to Winchester? It’s something of a random walk.