I did intend to post last week with a one-week update, but was so swamped, I didn't get around to it! Academic classes, of which I am only in two, are going well, although stressful. Four years off may have been too many for me, considering academics were not my strong suit to begin with. This quarter system business also moves pretty quick, especially with classes happening 3 times per week in shorter chunks.
Wind ensemble is pushing through quite nicely. There has been some confusion in the bassoon section with the pieces we have, and the extra we added, but we think that's all sorted out. I will still be playing bassoon and contrabassoon. Saxophone is a brand new adventure for the institution and being taught by a fellow graduate student. I'm back on bass sax which means I'm always on and my lungs are tired, but I'm glad I get to use that monstrosity. It needs a new case though; one that closes and stays closed would be quite the upgrade. My saxophone quartet is the ensemble I'm enjoying the most so far though. More time on baritone saxophone, but working with the classical setup. We're working on a good variety of music and seem to be getting along together well after our first four rehearsals. Hopefully we'll be performing this term!
Lessons are the biggest reason for me to return to school. All seem to be going well. Between weeks one and two lessons, each teacher seemed to be satisfied with my progress. I don't know if that will still be the case this coming week with feeling under the weather since Thursday and not getting in to practice all weekend. In flute land my tone already sounds a ton better with just a handful of tips. I'm also enjoying actually working one some music on flute rather than my typical reading etudes/pieces and not returning to them again; this method obviously make progress more apparent. For saxophone I feel the most pressure because that's where more of my studies from my undergrad were. Getting back into the practice room and working on new rep is pretty exciting. Scale studies aren't as far behind as I expected despite adding on arpeggios which I had rarely worked on previously. Bassoon life is interesting with that being my primary and my current rep list being just a handful of pieces. Our plan this term will including working through a ton of repertoire that I would have gotten through if I had been a bassoon performance student for my bachelors degree. Twenty new pieces checked out from the library are now in my possession (shown here) and will hopefully be close to performance ready in the remainder of the term.
Balancing practice time for those lessons and ensembles is proving to be quite hard. I'm shooting for five days a week on each, at least. Being ill and missing these last four evenings didn't help. Next big performance is in three weeks with the wind ensemble preceded by bassoon studio performance. Later in the quarter will be another bassoon studio performance, as well as a solo act and quartet performance in saxophone studio, and one in flute studio as well. Week 8 has a jazz ensemble concert, wind ensemble concert, clarinet studio concert (which may include clarinet choir), and ends with masterclasses on saxophone and bassoon in the same day as each other. All of that is going to sneak up real fast while also working on a research paper for class. The fact that I have three juries to go with three sets of lessons is a good motivator to keep me getting those practice sessions in.
In the coming weeks, some quick clips from practice sessions may start appearing in my instagram @rkrishnanmusic to track some progress (and to keep be constantly accountable). Now to rest and recover to survive four more weeks until a quick Disney runaway.
I've been in Oregon full time for two weeks now. The first week was very much just getting settled into the flow of town and getting over moving sickness (LJK and I both got sick that week, but staggered so we could at least take care of one another). The second week was the Week of Welcome at the University of Oregon; this is the week leading into the beginning of instruction for the term, but plenty of things happen.
Sunday, unrelated to school, I played in a community in Oregon for the first time: a clarinet choir called Platypus.
Monday, graduate entrance exams: two hours of theory / aural skills, two hours of music history.
Tuesday, lots of practicing bassoon and baritone saxophone.
Wednesday, baritone saxophone practice, jazz audition (baritone saxophone), bassoon masterclass (just observed, nothing performance ready yet), graduate meeting, and advising.
Thursday, some bassoon practice, classical audition (bassoon).
Friday, lots of flute recovery and practice, saxophone workshop.
Saturday, day off to spend some time in Portland.
Sunday today, some scale practice on saxophone, 4.5-hour jazz rehearsal.
The auditions were stressful as I barely had a chance to practice this summer before this week and I have not auditioned for ensembles in over five years. Both ended well though. This term I will be playing a shared role of first bassoon in the top wind ensemble and baritone saxophone in the top big band. I am excited to also be playing in the newly established saxophone ensemble (because I can provide a bass sax, they have started this new group), a saxophone quartet (not sure of the details of this yet), and the clarinet choir. I'm very hopeful that I will get to be a part of other chamber ensembles, especially with a bassoon studio that is more than 15 members. As far as lessons go, this term I will be studying bassoon as my primary, saxophone as a secondary, and flute as just an added challenge for myself.
Bassoon practice was orchestra excerpts, some that I've played in an orchestral setting (Tchaik 4, Mahler 1), and others that I haven't yet (Dukas Sorcerer's Apprentice, Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique, Peter and the Wolf, etc.).
Saxophone practice the first few days preparing for jazz auditions, I played through most of the Intermediate and Advanced levels of Lennie Niehaus's Jazz Conception books as well as spent 90 minutes re-working on my scale studies for lessons that begin tomorrow.
Flute practice was about 3 hours of sight reading and getting some of my foundations back before lessons start on Friday.
Tomorrow begins a new term toward a new degree!