Sunday, April 3, 2011

Graduate Recital Report

My graduate recital was a smashing success. I get pretty nervous to play for people. I never play as well in public as I do in a practice session. A few weeks before my recital I had a pretty negative performing experience which prompted me to go get a prescription from a doctor for a beta-blocker, which blocks your fight-or-flight physical response. I got a prescription for propanellol in 10mg pills and tried them in a few different doses in various settings and decided on 30mg, spread over a couple of hours. The day before the recital my friend Kim was flying in, and my daughter came down with vomiting and a terrible fever. So I decided to get out of dodge and go get a hotel room downtown so I wouldn't get sick and miss my culminating recital. Kim and I had a grand old time. We went out to dinner at my favorite downtown sushi place, Yoi Tomo's. We picked up a birthday cake from Cafe de Paris and ate it in our hotel room (Happy Birthday, Kim!). We met with the sound guy at school and laid some footage for some recordings for my "solo album" that I hope to finish next year. Kim and I always pack a ton of stuff in a day.

The next day we went for a pedicure together. I went and visited my alternative doctor who does a kind of physio/psycho-therapy with me. He gave me something to spray under my tongue that was supposed to "balance my yin." Whatever. I just know I felt better afterwards. I took my ipod and my yoga mat to school and warmed up really slowly for about 30 minutes at a time: play for 30 minutes, rest for 30, play for 30, rest for 30, play for 30. I felt nice and warm but not worn out. I think it was a good strategy.

By the time I went on stage, I was still apprehensive because I wanted it to go well, but I had no physical symptoms: no cold hands, no tremors, no racing heartbeat, no short shallow breathing. I had somewhere between 125-150 people in my audience. When I walked out onstage, I looked out at all those people clapping for me and couldn't see anyone but my best friend Kim and my husband Scott. It's kind of weird to look out and see so many people and yet not be able to SEE them. As the night went along, I could recognize more of them as I looked out into the audience.

I seem to remember stopping 3 or 4 times, and that I didn't always play the form of the pieces exactly like I had learned (circling around a few times or skipping some things) but I don't remember WHERE the problems were, and I was able to just move along and not dwell on the mistakes when they happened. It was a more enjoyable experience than I've ever had in a public performance. Usually I feel like I just committed a crime against humanity during and after a recital. This time, it was much better. I don't think beta-blockers will help EVERYONE, but they helped me. I don't think it will help if you have self-destructive thought patterns, or if you don't practice adequately. But it helped me a lot.

I played the Chopin 4th Ballade as well as I ever have, with no issues. I was really proud of it, it being the longest and most "advanced" of the pieces on my program.

I had a beautiful reception afterwards, arranged by my friends Monica and Ruth. The food was delicious and visually stunning. I was totally wiped out, but it was fun to visit with everyone. I felt so much support from my students, from my music teacher friends, from my professors, from church friends, and my family. My parents, Mikelle, and Kevin drove up from Utah to see me! And, my dad's cousin Woody and his wife Susan came! What an honor it was to have so many friends there.

I can't wait to be done studying for finals so I can learn some more music. I ordered the Mompou Chopin Variations and they are at Dunkley's waiting for me to pick them up, along with the Chopin Barcarolle. That would be a nice CD, the Chopin Ballade, Barcarolle, and the Mompou variations. I'm off to a good start.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Downhill Stretch

This coming week I have my last midterm of my last semester of my graduate program. It's a pretty heavy test! I've made 80 index cards and ran out, and had to buy more before I can even touch the listening portion of the exam.

Yesterday I judged all day for the NFMC festival in Nampa, and came home and tried to practice when I totally "hit the wall." I've been practicing about 3 hours a day for the last two years, and I thought I would DIE after about 40 minutes of playing. I got through the whole program, but it wasn't pretty! Try to make ART out of notes when you feel that way. YUCK. So I finished (against my will, or according to my will, what have you) and went to the Game Keeper with Scott to hear Sandon Mayhew (saxophone) and the New Trio Plus which includes Rob Walker on cornet. Usually Chuck Smith plays piano for them, but for some reason Andrew Cortens was on the keys last night. He did a pretty good job. They played one number that was especially good. I don't know the names of any of the music they play; it's all bop and I'm not really familiar with the tunes. But Rob gave an amazing solo, and then Andrew took a solo which copied most of what Rob did almost exactly. It was pretty cool. I also loved it when Rob and Sandon were playing in unison or in parallel motion. The energy was really high and the playing was tight and FUN. I almost gave them a standing ovation, but I don't think it's quite customary in a lounge setting. They also did one Gershwin number which Andrew sang, which I can't remember the title of, but it struck me as pretty unusual to hear a song that is nearing 100 years old played by a bop band, even though Gershwin tunes are all pretty standard with jazz players.

It's been a pretty awesome couple of months, even though I haven't written very much on the blog. I got to go hear Juli Draney play with the ballet, a Brahms set and a Gershwin set. Her playing inspires me. Her practice ethic of late inspires me. I got to hear Lorca Hart's trio live last week. They were awesome. I loved Lorca's manner. I want to play jazz more than ever when I hear these greats. Scott and I heard a fabulous trio at the Blue Door Cafe last week; I never got their names, but the level of playing was impressive! We had a pretty great time at piano club last month; Reed played some original pieces that were some of his best yet. Andrew Armstrong came to Idaho and played a solo recital, including 2 of the pieces that will be on my graduate recital. We had a roaring party here at the house afterward, and he and Juli and I stayed up till 3:30am discussing the virtues of Chopin and Stevie Wonder. Truly one of the most inspirational nights of my life. Juli and I did a play-through for each other of our upcoming concert pieces, and I think it was truly some of the best playing either of us has ever done. It was a high point for me, performance-wise. I'm really enjoying my American Music History course with Dr. Belfy. America's Musical Life by Richard Crawford is inspiring me with all kinds of ideas for what to do after I graduate. And, I buried my grandma, which was very, very sad, but also brought me close to many of my family members, and has brought back a flood of happy and unexpected memories.

I sent out 250 postcard invitations to my recital! I'm getting pretty nervous about it now. What if people actually come? What if no one comes? LOL, I'm pretty worried, either way! My bachelors recital was for about 40 people. This hall holds about 200, and I think it'll be pretty full. I'm excited and terrified. I'm going to try taking a beta-blocker and see if it helps me keep my composure a little better. I'll let you know how it goes.

I've had a wonderful time learning as I've worked toward this degree. I think I've accomplished already what I set out to do. Let's see if I can articulate what those things are: 1. Become a better pianist. 2. Learn more music. 3. Enlarge my network. 4. Learn more ABOUT music, for a springboard to more and significant music projects. 5. Obtain the Master's diploma that I have been coveting! 6. Enlarge my knowledge of existing repertoire. Even though I haven't graduated YET, (10 weeks to go!) I think I have accomplished most of those aims. I think this experience has set me up to be a better musician, and to be able to do some writing and to put together entertaining and artistic concert programs and recordings. I've got my eye on a bright future!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking Forward to 2011

I just went back through my old posts looking for my 2010 resolutions. Turns out I never wrote them down! There's a cool website called that is for goal setting. It's really cool, but it's been down for several days. Here are some goals for 2011:

Graduate with my Master's Degree!!!!!
Play a spectacular graduate recital.
Go to Arkansas to visit Kimberlee.
Play a fabulous concert with Kimberlee.
Work on earning my Personal Progress award with Alexis.
Play all the Chopin etudes, spending a week on each one.
Play all the Debussy etudes, spending a week on each one.
Work on soloing over a jazz standard.
Read the New Testament cover to cover.
Plant 200 more bulbs in the yard.
Make some jam with the summer fruit (I've missed doing that!).
Sew a quilt.
Do 2,500 indexing records (this year I did 2,000!).
Attend the temple more.
Make more of an effort with my nieces and nephews.
Have a perfect visiting teaching record.

I love setting goals. I love being productive! I love a fresh new year. Next year is going to be GREAT!! A year from now I'll be graduated and I'll have more discretionary time (notice I didn't say free time). I want to spend more time working on playing jazz, but there are a few classical solos I'd like to wrap my hands around. Namely, Chopin's Barcarolle and Mompou's Variations on a Theme by Chopin. I want to get season tickets to the symphony next year, too. This year I feel too poor to buy them, even though I get the student price, and too pressed for time, too. Here's to a new year full of new possibilities! What are your New Year's Resolutions?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

My Graduate Recital

Three weeks left in this semester! Or, two weeks + finals week. Can't WAIT for it to be over!

I set up a Facebook event for my recital, which will be Saturday, March 19 at 5:30 at the Morrison Center Recital Hall. All my music is memorized now. I had a great practice session yesterday. If I can get used to playing in front of people, I think it will be a spectacular program. The best news is that I STILL love ALL of my music, now that I have spent 1,000 hours with it! I still have lots to do, though. I need to make posters, program notes, arrange for food and buy a new pair of shoes. I am thinking something like an embellished ballet slipper for shoes. It's hard to find something lovely that doesn't squeak on the pedals. I'm going to wear an ivory colored tea dress. Send me links, if you happen across something that looks like it might work!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Today I went to see Roger Kellaway play with his jazz trio, which was comprised of a piano, bass, and hollow body electric guitar. It was great! I wish they played more at the free symposiums, but I'm too cheap to pay $42 for the evening ticket. They played some music and talked about Roger's influences. People were throwing out names from the audience, "How much are you influenced by the Nat Cole trio?" (duh, of course). Someone brought up Shirley Horn, who I of course love and adore and idolize. She was a wonderful jazz pianist who played classical piano until she got out of high school and then crossed over into jazz. Roger said he had 12 years of classical piano before he ventured into jazz.

This year I've been taking some jazz piano lessons as part of my master's degree. I wish I had time to practice more, but I don't. I put in about 2 hours a week of practice at my jazz piano. It's pathetic, but at least it is SOMETHING. Currently, I am working on writing an arrangement of the Kurt Weil tune, "Lost in the Stars." The lyrics are poignant, and I think it has a lot of room for exploring various harmonies. I am still very much an amateur, but I have written some gorgeous sounds!

At any rate, I was sitting there listening to Roger talk about his upbringing and how he got to be "possibly the greatest jazz pianist to walk the earth" and I got thinking how much room I have to grow in this area. Then I had a revelation: I have reached the pinnacle of what I can accomplish in classical piano. I can continue to play classical piano and be the best of practically anyone around (except for that .0001% who makes a living playing concertos with orchestras, living out of a suitcase, touring the country, with management, ugh, not so fun), but then I would never grow again. I have learned how to efficiently learn music that someone else wrote, playing by memory, music that everyone has already heard. (Here comes the revelation:) If I work at jazz, THAT is where I can grow. THAT is how I can make music that NO ONE else has ever heard before. THAT is how I can make an audience giddy as they hear tunes they already know but in a new way that I thought up. So watch out, world! Tawna Love is going to be finished with her masters degree, and then you are going to be FLOODED with the wonderful sounds I am going to dream up for you. I am really looking forward to this next creative period in my life.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Improve the Shining Moments

Today in church, we sang this hymn. It's kind of a cheesy old tune, the kind that reminds me of an old 19th century revival hymn, or something the women of the suffragettes might have sung. But today the lyrics rang true with me. The message is kind of like my personal motto in life: make each moment matter. Do something valuable in some way with each and every day.

Improve the Shining Moments
Robert B Baird, 1855-1916

Improve the shining moments;
Don't let them pass you by.
Work while the sun is radiant;
Work for the night draws nigh.
We cannot bid the sunbeams
To lengthen out their stay,
Nor can we ask the shadow
To ever stay away.

Time flies on wings of lightning;
We cannot call it back.
It comes, then passes forward
Along its onward track.
And if we are not mindful,
The chance will fade away,
For life is quick in passing.
'Tis as a single day.

As wintertime doth follow
The pleasant summer days.
So may our joys all vanish
And pass far from our gaze.
Then should we not endeavor
Each day some point to gain,
That we may here be useful
And every wrong disdain?

Improve each shining moment.
In this you are secure,
For promptness bringeth safety
And blessings rich and pure.
Let prudence guide your actions;
Be honest in your heart;
And God will love and bless you
And help to you impart.

Isn't that a positive message? That's a great message for me about how to get through this second year of graduate school. The school year officially starts tomorrow, but my class starts on Tuesday. I'm kind of excited, but kind of terrified.

I got a "high pass" on my last two sections of the history predictive exam, so now I'm a regular status graduate student, rather than a provisional one. :) I'm just worried that my physical stamina may not last a full year! I have to remember that graduation is only 9 months away, and really only 8 more months of work, because I get a month off at Christmas. Anyway, my goal is to improve each of the shining moment of the next 9 months. It's going to be a full, beautiful year and I'll have achieved a master's degree! Woot!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Kindred Spirits

Mrs. Larson first introduced me to Anne of Green Gables in my 7th grade honors English class. Watching that movie was like being introduced to myself. Anne is a precocious red headed, green eyed, freckle faced girl with a big imagination and a highly romanticized view of the world. She meets Diana Barry and they instantly become “bosom friends” (incidentally, my best friend growing up was named Dianne, and she was the only girl who lived within walking distance from me; also a red head). Anne tells Diana that they are “kindred spirits.” Isn’t that a great phrase? I have been thinking today about all the kindred spirits that I’ve been so fortunate to stumble across in my life. God has put various people in my path that fill all my different needs, and we have shared a connection which feels so strong that we might be related, only we’re not. Here are a few of the kindred spirits in my world, in no particular order!

Kimberlee is my music friend, but also my BEST friend. Kimberlee and I became acquainted the day she moved away to Minnesota, but that meeting sprang into a fast friendship. Luckily for me, we both have Verizon mobile phone service, so our minutes (rather, hours) are free. We play concerts together, but share much more than just a working relationship. She calls me on the phone when she hears a great pianist on the radio and tells me to run out and buy their recordings. We also share a love of sewing. Kim and I have a pact that we will encourage each other to be good and noble people. She inspires me musically and morally.

Charlene is my Arizona piano teaching friend. She and I became acquainted at my first (and last!) music teacher’s meeting in Arizona and became friends for life. We go to conferences together and have a ball, since we share much more than music in common. We are both movers and shakers in a profession usually filled with older, much more reserved personalities. It is pretty fun to see ideas I’ve shared with her show up in print in her publications. Even though I’m now in Idaho, we’re still great friends.

Gay is my piano teaching mom. The first month I moved to Idaho I met her at a music teaching conference, and she took me under her wing, promoting me to her students as she was retiring. She was instrumental in giving me my start in the Boise area. We also like to go to quilt shows and shops together, and of course, out for lunch.

Dan and Dani are my farmer’s market friends. Scott and I met Dan and Dani at the farmer’s market where Scott sells his granola bars. They sell the finest pork, beef, chicken, and eggs money can buy from their XXL Ranch. We stopped by to buy some meat one day, and the next thing you know we’re sharing a meal at their home and they have taken our daughters under their wing as if they were their own.

Donna is who I want to be when I grow up. She’s a glamorous older lady who is also married to a fly fisherman. I don’t get to see her very often, but we like to go out to lunch once a year or so. She has taught me so much about poise, style and manners. She exercises great taste in every possible way.

Amy is my Idaho girlfriend. I can’t count the times that she has told me about a problem she was facing in her family and I felt like she was describing my own current situation. Her husband and mine are good friends as well, so we periodically socialize together.

Gayle and Steve are my Idaho parents. Even though they’re old enough to be my parents, we enjoy socializing together, which is great especially because Steve is a fly fisherman. Gayle and Steve have enjoyed a meal or two at our house, and they always stay until every last dish is washed and dried. They seem to think that we are the bees knees, which is fun for us, but if I had to pick a different set of parents for Scott and myself, it would be Gayle and Steve all the way.

Christine is another indispensable Idaho girlfriend. Even though I’m a bit younger than her, we seem to share many commonalities in both our histories and our current situations. I can relate to her so much as a sister, a mom, a wife, and a daughter. She’s a girl with great common sense, and also knows how to throw a great party.

Coreen was my best girlfriend in Arizona. When we met it seemed like we had more differences than similarities; I never expected to become as close to her as I did. But we became best friends through our church service, and had quilt night once a week and both made beautiful quilts for our daughters. I miss her terribly.

Reed is like my piano teaching brother. He’s a composer, and he frequently brings me his compositions to try. What a privilege that is, to be a sounding board for his creativity! I love talking shop with Reed. He has an excitement for learning and perfecting his craft of playing, teaching, and composing. I have a great respect for his lifetime of progress, where many others fall off of the learning wagon when they complete college.

Juli is a piano girlfriend who is destined to remain in my life. We met for the first time at music camp at age 14. We ran into each other again in our undergrad at the University of Utah. We lost track after graduation, and then when I moved to Idaho, here she was again! Fate has thrust us together three times, never again to go our separate ways.

I’m one lucky girl with all these good people in my life, and many more who inspire and encourage me. This list could go on and on. Sometimes I think I am so different that no one could possibly understand me or what I’m going through, and then God sends me a new friend in the most unexpected of places. Hopefully I can offer my friendship to someone else and fill a need for them, the way these people do for me, because my cup runneth over.