Saturday, August 29, 2015

Solitary Refinement - Hotel Room Practising

All traveling musicians have to practice in hotel rooms.

Mid-June, 2015, I was just returning from Ottawa where I had premiered my newest concerto commission with 13 Strings & Kevin Mallon (Silver Angel by Constantine Caravassilis) and played Vivaldi G Minor RV 495.  I was between houses, so I booked into the Holiday Inn near the Royal Conservatory and near my son’s school.  On June 16, I said good-bye to my son and then practiced for an hour before driving to Waterloo for another rehearsal.  

I was in the midst of my current chromatic interval routine, my Major Third Chromatic Up-Down Fill-Ins and Up-Down intervals and in the fastest and highest phase of the slurred intervals.

When I paused to draw breath, I heard a quiet knock at my door.  Sighing, I thought it was someone who would be complaining, even though it was 10 a.m. and therefore not early.  

I put my bassoon carefully in the corner and answered the door. There was a white-haired, fit man standing there with a ball cap on, looking intently at me… he said that I sounded amazing and then exclaimed when he saw the bassoon… he said that he played sax and was in Toronto for a conference.  He exclaimed again at my staggering fluency and left.   

I returned happily to practicing, moving on now to the very fast tonguing portion of the Major Third Chromatic Up-Down Fill-Ins.  

Moments later, another tap at the door.  This time, I bounced confidently to the door with my bassoon in my hands, fearless, awaiting my next round of accolades…
The small cleaning lady stood there and she was very startled when I opened the door.  “OH!” she said, “I thought maintenance was in your room!”  

One person thought I had transcendent abilities, and another thought I was operating a pneumatic drill.  Each person’s comments had the effect of lifting my spirits and grounding me.  In a life of solitary refinement, we most certainly need both.

Happy hotel practicing and concert trails to all,

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