Thursday Night Commentary

I’m going to try something different this post and give some commentary on a night of teaching. Beware: there’s lots of muzo-speak.

5:30pm (clarinet)

The homework piece is James Rae’s All Change. It’s a fast straight (not swung) jazz piece with lots of anticipation and off beats. The foot tap gets a little wayward, sometimes just going faster than everything else as if it had a mind of its own. Too fast to think! Then there’s some good ol’ C-Eb fun. Lots of dotted crotchet, quaver tied to crotchet rhythms (it’s in 3/4 time) to make counting interesting. Often the student is waaaay to tempted to play the first beat of the next bar before it has arrived.

The next piece is a basic Mozart from my fav Rubank Adv. book. Lots of articulation fun here. It’s difficult to get a light and playful character when the staccatos are all erhr, irr, errh, ahrreh. The piece becomes a good example of error accumulation. Lessons reveal mistakes and it becomes super obvious that the student hasn’t really been fussed on fixing mistakes at home. One mistake every bar just chops the piece up into tiny bits of messiness.

We manage to cram into the last 5 minutes a great duet piece called It’s Alright With Me. All the jazz rhythm corrections from the first piece must have had a positive effect on this one, because it’s well sight read. All the anticipated notes and the waiting for a proceeding note to arrive on a beat is much better.

This is student who regularly puts in good effort so he scores two little chocolate bars as an end of year Christmas gift.

6:00 (saxophone)

This student left to go to Indonesia and Malaysia for a holiday, so off to the mall I go. I think he got a chocolate bar last week.

6:30 (saxophone)

Saxophone time. There’s a book called Sixty For Sax which is full of pieces that have Sax in the title. Yeah, some sound a bit dodge. This was the students first foray into swing, which he was clued up on pretty quick thank goodness. The homework piece was Sax Swings Out but, mwha, whaaaa… he’s only played this one piece all week! Seriously? “How many days did you play?”… “A few”… “And just this one piece?”… “Yes”… “Didn’t you get bored? You know, you’re allowed to play your old pieces. You can even get curious and play all the future stuff.”
It goes okay, so we move onto Scaley Sax (the names are great). That’s sightread pretty well though.

Then onto good ol’ classical Barret, 3/4. His thumb isn’t pivoting on the register/speaker key so all the jumping from low to high isn’t very agile. He’s trying to slide and can’t pivot because his wrist and therefore thumb is angling diagonally down rather than diagonally up.

Constant theme of the lesson was trying to stop him from swallowing the mouthpiece. Teeth a centimeter down, only. He needs a teth guard sticker thing on the mouthpiece.

7:00 (saxophone)

One of my more extraverted and excitable saxophone students. Grrr to the semi quavers that are only kind-of-faster and not twice as fast as quavers. We get that fixed.

One of the stand out fixes for this lesson is queuing lead in notes. We have a 3/4 bar with a minim pause on beat 1, then there’s a quaver rest then a quaver lead in to the next phrase. We spend a lot of time getting the foot tap, breath and a bit of saxophone conductor like queuing happening on that third beat quaver rest. Tricky.

At the insistence of my student, we play this Rubank advanced sax duet more than once; we run out of time. You know what; it’s played pretty well and deserves a gold star! For kicks and giggles I get out a gold star sticker from my stash that I’ve had in my folder for maybe 10 years. Older students think its hilarious earning a sticker.

2x Chocolate bars. A deserving Christmas gift for a year of putting up with me as a teacher.

7:30 (clarinet)

One of my best students yet not even at high school. We play a grade 8 level Spohr which is sounding pretty good. With the opening section I try and emphasise the musicality; more shape, more articulation, more ‘tension’ and ‘release’ with the sound.

I find out that she’s not a hard out Adam Lambert fan anymore. He’s apparently too old. “But he’s younger than me. What are you trying to say?” Turns out he was born in ’82, so he’s actually older than me.

We move onto something new. James Rae’s Hard Rock Blues. This is a great piece. Lots of atitude required. Heaps of of left hand side C to Eb, lots of alternate F#/Gb. Lots of funky semi quavers. Still quite a bit of work required, but there’s good stuff happening so far.

This student scores two chocolate bars too.

8:00 (clarinet)

Last student and I’m done.

So we do the homework (Rubank Adv). It’s all good until the second page where it goes into all these arpeggios. It turns out it’s lots of C maj and G maj arpeggios (well, really I and V from C maj, but anyway).

We do a Bohn from the Rubank Adv. Lots of articulation, lots of dotted quaver semi-quavers. It’s sounding good. We’re running out of time. I’m also running out of chocolate bars because I need some for two students tomorrow. I guess I must have eaten too many myself. I just offer one chocolate bar to this student.

Now it’s my turn to get chocolates. Yay! The mother has been nice enough to wrap me up a box of chocolates for Christmas.

Half are now gone.

Nom, nom.


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