Monthly Archives: January 2013

How to become a master?

Last year I learned to divide problems in urgent ones and important ones. And that you get the best result when you solve the important ones first.

About a month ago I talked about my main objectives to complete before the end of this year. The important one is to accept myself as I am, the urgent one is to be able to express myself through music. Urgent because in a few months I will have my masters exam. Important because I feel that I can’t really express myself when I don’t accept or know who I am. So, the difficulty is to accept myself in order to achieve self-expression.

When I was younger, I thought I was different because I acted differently (and I thought that was my own choice). Now I know I act differently because I am different. As a teenager I liked being noticed because I was different, now I sometimes wish I were normal (although in the end I always realize that being strange is more fun). Because of this change in viewing point, I have a lot of questions about myself

How do I..

– learn to see my qualities as real qualities instead of something out of the normal?

– accept and embrace the fact that I really am different from everybody else?

– accept that other people aren’t able to think and reason the same way I do? [They’re not lazy, they just don’t have the same capacities I have. That doesn’t mean that I am better, they have qualities too, and their qualities are often more usefull than mine.]

– manage to not see myself as a victim, nor as a superior being?

– learn to not always yearn toward acceptation by others (even if I don’t always admit I do that), but accept my own opinion when I think I did something good?

– know what is good enough, seen as I am a perfectionist, but am aware of the fact perfection as I have in mind can’t possibly be reached?

– know when I do good enough, seen as I know that many of my prestations in the past have been lower than my possibilities?

My original objective for this year was “to pass the exam and get my diploma”. I’ve been told that wasn’t really a great goal to work to. But it was a possible one. I wonder if the above is possible or if it can only be that way in my perfectionist mind.

I am, however, more convinced of the possibility of succeeding after reading about the difference of a performance goal and a mastery goal yesterday (in Enjoying the gift of being uncommon, page 117).

A performance goal is about obtaining some well-defined result, like grades at school or production targets at work.

A mastery goal is about becoming proficient – a master – in the process of learning or working.

My original goal, to pass the exam, was a performance goal, and it didn’t give me any motivation. The new goal(s) sounds at times really difficult to achieve, but that only gives me more motivation. It’s not about proving to others what I am worth, it’s about proving to myself that I’m worth being me, and I’m able to keep trying to be better than myself. It’s about learning to express myself in a way that I can say: “This is me; this form of expression shows you a part of my unique identity.”

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12 months

This weekend on the train, I overheard a little boy trying to recite a poem about the 12 months. He didn’t remember all of it, but it sounded really cute. So I looked it up, and am glad to share it with you, in case any of you understand Dutch.

Die gekke juffrouw Boggemog

Die gekke juffrouw Boggemog!
In januari slaapt ze nog.

In februari staat ze op
en doet haar wasje in het sop.

In maart doet zij haar jasje aan
om even naar de markt te gaan.

En als zij thuis komt in april
dan blijft het weer een poosje stil.

En in de mooie maand van mei
dan springt ze touwtje in de wei.

In juni heeft ze nog geen haast,
dan praat ze met meneer hiernaast.

In juli speelt ze met haar kat
en gaat met één voet in het bad.

En in augustus als het moet,
dan wast zij ook haar andere voet.

Maar in september wordt het druk,
dan scheurt zij de kalender stuk.

In een café, rond half oktober
vraagt zij één koffie aan de ober.

En in november drinkt zij ‘t op
en haalt haar wasje uit het sop.

En in december slaapt zij in
met een deken tot aan haar kin.

En iedereen zegt : ” Och, och, och, die gekke juffrouw Boggemog.

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Sometimes I wish I were normal

Sometimes I wonder if being normal would make life easier…

But, then again, even though it is difficult sometimes, being gifted, I experience everything so much stronger, also the good things.

On the good days, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I’ll just have to accept the days like today. And work hard on trying not to have too many of them.

After all, I am the “leader” of my life.

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What’s the use?

I’ve been thinking…

What are my expectations about my clarinet lessons?

Well, when I finish my class, I should:

– feel like I want to start practicing immediately

– know what to study

– have lots of energy

– start to look forward to next week’s lesson

– have learned something and taken a step forward in the progress of mastering a piece

– have the feeling that it was a usefull class

Instead, I:

– don’t feel like practicing at all in the near future

– wonder why I have been studying if my effort isn’t appreciated

– didn’t really learn anything, I’m just more fixated on the things that I already knew I did wrong then before

So I ask myself:

– Why do I go to class every week?

– Is there really something I can still learn from this teacher? (and if yes, what is it?)

– How do I motivate myself to keep practicing?

– How do I see the good things and not only my faults.

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Indignada

I am a good girl. A very good girl. I never ever break the rules. And if exceptionally for some unevitable reason I do break them, I feel extremely bad about it. If I am then treated as if were just another person, with a normal conscience, but not afraid to break rules now and then, I feel even worse.

A question comes to mind: Why aren’t there any rewards to being the good girl? If I weren’t so conscious about my conscience I wouldn’t worry about following the rules too strictly anymore.

Let me explain:

Yesterday I needed a room with a grand piano for my chamber music rehearsal. I got one in the main building. But than I noticed that the rehearsal wasn’t at 16:00 but at 18:00 (or 6PM, which is why I messed up in the first place). I was completely confused, arriving at the wrong time is one of my worst nightmares (I have light dyscalculia, and I hate misreading numbers). I felt really bad, even though I didn’t hurt anybody by coming early.  I decided to keep the room and practice a bit, even though normally I don’t practice in the main building. Now I know why. When I came down at 17:30 the concierge had already gone home, so I couldn’t retrieve my student card anymore (which we need to give in order to get a practice room). In the other building we then used the pianist’s card to get a key.

This morning I was really worried, because how would they give me a practice room if I didn’t have my card. I calmed myself down by remembering that it’s happened to other people and the morning concierge is okay with the student giving some other form of identification, until the main building opens and they can retrieve their card.

Was I wrong… I explained my problem. The concierge looked at me with a “why are you asking me a stupid question?”-face. And then he said: “Well, you needed to have retrieved your card before 16:30 yesterday. How long do you study here? You should know that.” So that’s it? I have to wait until you unreasonable people open the other building?! Not only was I disappointed for not getting a practice room, I was furious for getting spoken to the way I was spoken to, to be treated as if I don’t have any rights, I hated the whole stupid system, and why do they have to be strict all of a sudden. I don’t understand. And I feel bad. Maybe I just should’ve gone later. I’ll never trust in the kindness of other people anymore.

I feel really bad. Because I don’t know if I really did something wrong. If they were right to treat me this way. And on the other hand I know I shouldn’t try to be perfect, because that’s impossible. And look were it’s getting me. Miss Perfect shouldn’t be falling apart like this about a stupid thing. Well, miss Perfect probably would’ve thought of retrieving her card on time.

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Caution: non-professional orchestra

Lately I’ve been wondering about orchestra playing. Are we supposed to play boring? Because that’s what everyone seems to be doing. Playing the notes. Dead notes. No life, no music, just notes. Is it all the conductor’s task? To bring the music to life? To bring the musicians to life? To be the brain of the orchestra? Am I supposed to shut down my intelligence when I enter the stage? Or how does it work exactly?

At least now I know where this ‘I don’t really know if I like playing in orchestra’-feeling comes from. From my experience with singlebrained orchestras (and by that I clearly don’t mean that all great minds are thinking alike).

If this happens even in professional orchestras, I don’t see why a concert with conservatory students should sound worse than one with fully professional musicians. If the level of musicality is the same in both cases. Although, … let me tell you something very unprofessional that happened during yesterday’s concert.

The jazz trumpet player gets up to start his solo. He blow the first introductory notes, and then … he faints. The stand falls down, he falls, his collegues help to catch him. You never know what’s going to happen during a concert, so this did come as a surprise. But now comes the unprofessional part of the whole situation. Half of the orchestra turns around to look what’s happening! Only the drummers continue playing (you didn’t expect that, now did you?), they keep on playing. I’m still trying to figure out why the saxophone players stopped playing. Not very professional. And less when they start again one bar early. The two clarinets next to me who had to play didn’t play either. They lost count. And it’s only with the entrance of the brass that everything falls in its place again.

In my opinion this is really unprofessional behaviour. If the conductor doesn’t end the performance you keep going. No? Is this again one of my ‘non standard’ ideas?

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The naked truth

Why is it that people don’t want to hear the truth? I honestly can’t understand.

After yesterday’s concert people where talking about how they played. I said to two of the clarinetists who played in the last piece: “Yes, I liked how the clarinet section sounded, just this one solo passage at the end was not in tune.” And the girl who played the solo took it really bad. She even said to me that I made her feel very bad, because she had been quite happy about the way she played. I appologized saying that it was absolutely not my intention to make her feel bad. But this morning in quartet rehearsal she kept avoiding talking to me, and whenever she had a remark about something she would look directly at me, even though I had nothing to play at that moment.

So I’ve been asking myself: What did I do wrong?

I feel bad, because I made her feel bad. But the truth is, I just told her the truth (and if it was someone else I would’ve done the same, so it’s absolutely nothing personal), that it was good, but with the insinuation she might still improve this passage (which she obviously didn’t notice, because the whole passage was to low, she didn’t correct it).

So, am I not entitled to try to help her?

I, myself didn’t play good, in my opinion. After the concert the conductor comes to congratulate me with the words: “I know I’m a difficult person sometimes, but you did really well.” And my clarinet teacher said he also liked how we sounded. And I keep wondering if they really thought it was good. Because in that case I should really lower my expectations of me, and of all other musicians for that matter. I desperately want them to tell me the truth. How can I trust my teacher’s opinion if the one time he tells me I did good, I don’t agree with him?

I want to hear the truth, the naked truth. And even though I don’t understand why other people prefer not to hear it, I try to only give my opinion when it can help the other person, and I never ever forget to start with the things that were good.

I used to think everyone thought the same way I did (in every aspect, not only about truth). I’ve learned now that it isn’t as I thought. And I adapt. But they can’t possibly be asking me to keep my opinion silently to myself?!

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5 days ago …

… I should have all wished you a happy new year again. Only, my year didn’t start all that happy, I had the flu. Now that I’m back, I’d still like to share two musical 2013 images which I liked a lot. The first one is from Selmer Paris, a happy new year from my clarinets to you. The second one speaks for itself, I thought it very original.

Selmer 2013

2013 ut

 

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Bouf bum bum

La grande duchesse de Gerolstein is an opera bouffe from the French composer Jacques Offenbach. Maybe you know Olympia, the singing doll from Les contes d’Hoffmann. Or La chanson de Kleinzack, from that same opera bouffe. La grande duchesse is probably much less known, but not necessarily les grand. I’d like to share with you two songs from this opera.

The first is Ah! Que j’aime les militaires, sung here by dame Felicity Lott. And may I say, she does a stunning job, not only with the singing, but also with the comic over-acting. The fact that here French isn’t always pronounced perfectly doesn’t even matter.

The second one is new to me. But I can’t help smiling when I hear it. Le general Bum has the most perfect lyrics! Et pif paf pouf, et tara papa pum, je suis, moi, le general Bum Bum.

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Hello Brahms!

This was just on the radio:

The andante from the trio in ES for clarinet, viola and piano by Julius Röntgen, written in 1921. And don’t you think it sounds a lot like the last movement of the Brahms trio for clarinet, cello and piano?

Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. But if you’ve played the Brahms trio and clarinet sonatas, the Röntgen has a remarkable resemblance and seems to use many of the motives. It made me smile.

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