In a performance based class, preparation for public presentation requires sequential, planned rehearsals that build concentration and focus as well as the stamina to sustain both the physical and the mental challenges. With the High School Orchestra performance coming up next week, class time has had to be carefully used to insure that the students have that necessary “reserve” to be able to not only perform but to also be able to identify, analyze and to make on the spot adjustments to mishaps that may occur. Through the years there have been groups that had everything on edge right up until the moment of performance because they were inconsistent with home preparation and practice, making class preparation more repetitive. However, this semester we have been focusing more on the composer’s intentions rather than on obvious notations on the document. It seems that some of the technical issues have been addressed using less class time. Placing more emphasis on the phrase than on the components of the phrase has yielded more meaningful presentation, which seems to have promoted increased progress. When asked how the composer may have intended the phrase, one senior stated that “a phrase needed to be thought of holistically in itself.” This discussion continued and another responded that “the phrase needed to be expressed as a part of the greater idea of the piece, rather than by just spelling out the notes.” This particular class is a group of string players in grades 9-12, with abilities ranging from those who study privately to those who practice only when they fear embarrassment. In addition to increased focus on expression this semester, we have also looked at the back story of the music being played by using our Fiddle File wiki to post and discuss. One of the selections being performed on Monday is titled The Idylls of Pegasus. Some of the students discussed the myth on the wiki and one posted a picture of the constellation. This prompted two of the students to produce some art work depicting the tale. Another student suggested that those drawings could be projected during the concert and a product is near completion for use at the concert. This morning before rehearsing the piece, the draft of the presentation was projected for all of the students to be able to see the visual representation of the work. Imagery has been a focus of classroom discussion to improve phrasing delivery and the sample performance that followed the viewing of the art seemed to take things to a new level. It was really helpful to hear the critique that followed the rehearsal of the piece this morning and even better to hear the students making suggestions about improving their articulation and dynamics. I am eager to see how things progress on Friday and Monday at the final two rehearsals. The momentum has become much stronger as we approach the performance on Monday. More to follow in review of the concert…

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