Tag Archives: orchestra

YouTube Symphony Orchestra audition prep – Day 8

The deadline for the YouTube Symphony Orchestra is coming up soon. And unfortunately practice hasn’t been going so well.

Two evenings of having friends over meant I could only play through the Caprice instead of doing a good practice session. I designated Saturday as a day of “rest” (and cleaning the pool), leaving Sunday as the first day in four days with a serious practice session. And even after 3 days of hardly any practice, I could already feel my fingers were not as agile or accurate as my practices on Tuesday and Wednesday last week. Amazing. Plus, Guitar Hero World Tour is definitely not helping!

So on Sunday, I got out of bed, cleaned up, and subjected the house to the high screeching sounds of Paganini’s Caprice No. 20. After I was warmed up and ready, I decided that it’s now time to start videoing myself playing, just to see what it looks like and to pratice doing full play throughs.

And it’s so hard! I’ve really only practiced it in parts so far, and can usually get a run or tricky passage after a few goes. But to get a good video means nailing every tricky passage in one shot! Aaargghhhh!!! After about 7-8 takes, I found that I kept on stuffing up 1 or 2 parts, and not necessarily the same parts. Jumping up to the A-F# double stop near the beginning, the arpeggios up the E string, clear articulation and intonation for the arpeggiated chords across the G and E strings, jumping up to the fingered A and then G# octaves…

I could feel myself getting more anxious about getting a good take and tensing up which didn’t help. But I found doing more takes and forcing myself to play a little slower helped me relax.

The other thing I noticed was that even though I thought I was doing dynamics and providing tone colours in my playing, when watching the video playback, it seemed pretty monotonous. I need to exaggerate my playing more.

I’ve decided to give up on my idea of learning Paganini Caprice No. 24 just in case I can get that up to a good standard and just focus on getting a good take. With hosting two dinner parties, my daughter’s Birthday party, dinner at a friend’s house, an Australia Day BBQ and my daughter’s actual Birthday in the next 7 days, I’m hoping I can nail it soon!

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YouTube Symphony Orchestra audition prep – Day 3

I knew I had set a challenging target to get an audition entry in for the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. Two weeks to get the audition piece and a solo piece up to a standard I’d be proud to put on the internet for everyone to see.

Well, it was Day 3 yesterday. The Tan Dun piece has been practised a few times, but I put all of my efforts into the solo piece. I’m regretting not learning the Presto from Bach’s G Minor last year. I had a look at it again on Monday and there were just too many notes. 4 pages of semiquavers to be played at speed! If it was slower, then maybe OK – but with the Presto, it has to be fast and the notes just keep coming. My heart sank – what’s left? The orchestra excerpts that I wasn’t too interested in, which leaves the Paganini Caprice No. 20 or 24!!

Aarghhh!! I haven’t really learnt a Paganini Caprice from start to end. I did look at No. 16 a long time ago, and toyed with the E flat one and No. 5. I remember when I took some casual lessons again a few years ago, it was recommended that I start learning them. But I always saw them as an insurmountable challenge.

Well, it’s here. I looked up No. 20 and No. 24 on YouTube, on my sheetmusic, listened to my recording of Perlman playing them and decided to concentrate first on No. 20. It doesn’t seem that long, and I thought I’d rather have tricky fingerings, double/triple stops, octaves, blind shifts into no man’s land and intonation cruelty rather than a million notes an hour 🙂

The good news is that it seems to be going OK so far. I’ve learnt the notes, now it’s time to fine tune it, nail the tricky passages EVERY time, concentrate on the interpretation side of things, up the tempo of the fast part even more but still keep the clarity of the notes and be able to play it from start to end without stopping or stuffing up badly! Luckily with a video audition, I can take as many takes as I want until I get it right, unlike a live audition. It seems like an advantage, but everyone has this advantage anyway, so it’s a level playing field.

If I can play like Erin Keefe below, I’d be very happy.

I still have to play through the Tan Dun piece with the video/backing. Still time left!