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Posted In: Professional Harpists
I am working on Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp and getting down to the “finish” line.
I had my first practice with the flutist. She is saying I need to up the tempo. And I know I do but those 32nd notes are killers. Has any one been in my shoes?
I should add – that I’ve played AT the harp for 30 years, mostly folk harp. Two years ago a harpist, with a “conservatory mentality,” heard me play my lever harp with an ensemble at a pub – and told me bluntly, if I ever had any decent technique, I’d lost it. Those were fighting words so have taken lessons for 2 years, had two major recitals and now this. I should add I am 78 years old and ready to give it up but know I won’t. Love a challenge.
Is this part of the psychology of teaching – he’s telling me he knows I can do it and I wonder, with all this work, if I really an able.
You are my idol! I have studied for five years with one of the best music teachers I’ve ever studied with. I’m doing Naderman #1 of the Seven Sonatines, and I LOVE the music dearly, but I continue to feel that my finger technique is so slow I’ll never get it where I’d want it to be.
It sounds from what you’ve written that when you get down to it, you have confidence in your teacher, as I have in mine. Even with the frustration, I know I’m not ready to throw in the sponge.
If your teacher is telling you you can do it, and with two recitals behind you, I think you have what it takes to present a great performance.
Maybe the flutist is full of baloney- if she is really in control of her technique, it’s possible for her to play something slower than the fastest tempo she has played it, so maybe it’s time for the flutist to compromise a little on her tempo. If you can both compromise a bit, you may wind up with more confidence in your part.
Whatever happens, don’t give up on what you love!
Trust your teacher. You are amazing. Dont let your flautist boss you about. You are in it together and must play at a tempo that suits you both. The Mozart is really difficult for the harpist but it’s a comparative doddle for the flute. I’ve played both parts and I would play the flute part again in a heartbeat but, after a particularly nasty experience the last time I did it, I have vowed never to play it again on the harp. The whole thing shattered my confidence and to be honest I have not regained my nerve since. It was due to several reasons which I won’t bore you with, but one of them was that the flautist (who I met on the day of the concert at our one rehearsal which lasted exactly one hour) demanded a breakneck speed and I wasn’t brave enough to refuse. BIG mistake.
Just gradually increase your speed by a couple of metronome clicks a day and you won’t even notice that you are getting faster.
Good luck. I am sure you will be great.
Barbara, I had a thought about that harpist with “the conservatory mentality” (what a delightful turn of phrase). Sometimes it makes players like that-with just tons of classical training-absolutely crazy that audiences seem to enjoy hearing a lever harpist play a beautiful simple folk tune on their Dusty just as much or more than hearing them play some really difficult piece like the Faure Impromptu on the pedal harp. I’ve heard one of them comment “what’s the matter with these people? Don’t they understand how hard and complicated this piece is?”
Her snarky comment to you may have come from just a little jealousy. Pretty funny, really.
I don’t know if you can play the first movement at 120 for the quarter-note, but it does not have to go any faster than that, and the useful thing is that if the conductor has a watch on, he can take the tempo from the second hand. The third movement is by far the hardest, though, and this is really a very hard piece to do well. As for your age, as long as you can tune and move your fingers, well, Lily Laskine kept it up for who knows how many years. She is probably still playing somewhere.
These replies were so insightful and I thank you.
So -as of today – I am putting the Mozart Concerto on the shelf for a rest. I will bring it back in a month or, definitely, by January.
The flutist with whom I was practicing – you read accurately between the lines – my teacher and pianist and I all had bad vibes after last week’s first practice. I do have a fabulous flutist with whom I have previously worked and not available during the daytime so now, I’ll only be working with him when he is available.
Whew! Thanks for saving my sanity and the love of this music.
Dear Tayce, Thank you for the historical perspective. That explains a lot! I performed the Mozart several times when I was in my thirties, but I started working on it two years before the first actual performance opportunity. By working up the speed gradually, I was able to get comfortable with it. The flautist and I settled on a tempo of 116 for the first movement, though it would have been easier to get a fuller sound at 112. I used the Urtext edition, but with Salzedo’s brilliant fingerings wherever possible. They make some passages much easier.
A compromise has been reached.
For a recital/program in Dec. we’ll be doing the second movement, only.
My teacher told me to put it completely away and we’ll bring out the second movement then. Salzedo often had his students work on a piece and put it away for a year and then come back refreshed. Whew!!! It was really getting to me and you were all a big help for calmness returning.