I’ve decided to show some respect to a 300-year-old Bohemian composer and play his concerto PROPERLY. That means daily practice and for lazy me, that’s a tall order indeed.

17 thoughts on “Music”

    • Hi Brian, Sorry I missed your question. As is the case with anything that requires effort and practice, the whole thing has been shelved. In other words, I did not touch my instrument at all except on holy days when the church asked me to send a video of my playing a piece of church music. I am totally unreliable when responsibility and industry are called for.

      • …and I’ve missed your answer until now, I should check my ‘notifications’ on Naktiv more often! I guess we’re both guilty…
        I had intended to get back to practicing my guitar in lockdown and do more work on the house and have managed neither, so I know how you feel. Depressing, isn’t it! Winter hasn’t helped, perhaps I need a sun lamp…

        • Hi Brian,
          No, I don’t find it depressing. I am very accepting of my strengths and weaknesses, the latter of which far outweighs the former. Indolence is inherently a part and parcel of me. I have long accepted that any form of responsibility, toil and work is highly disagreeable to me. Practising the clarinet is a lot of hard work. Because it is a reed instrument, it requires a lot of practice to maintain the quality of the notes. We have to play scales and arpeggios all the time and I hate that. Life is fair – if we don’t put in the effort, we can’t be good at whatever it is we want to do. However, I am willing to accept mediocrity as a tradeoff for my sluggard’s lifestyle. That makes me infinitely happy and that’s the way I want to stay. But I do have responsibilities since I play in the church orchestra. But because of tight restrictions in church for more than a year, I have stopped playing for a very long time. On some holy days, I have to play pieces on the video and send them to the conductor who will stitch all the videos together to form a proper orchestra for the church’s online services. That’s the only time I play my instrument. But I have no issues with the sun. We have it every day of the year.

          • You are right, it is what makes us happy that is important. It still takes a lot to reach a standard worthy of an orchestra, on any musical instrument, particularly a reed instrument like the clarinet, however the parts are ‘stitched together’ 🙂 Maybe, natural talent helps… Stay happy.

          • It’s a lot easier not to have to go to church. When I play on video, I am always clothed from the top to the waist because that’s where the video cuts me off. Haha. Stay safe and healthy!

          • It’s a lot easier not to have to go to church. When I play on video, I am always clothed from the top to the waist because that’s where the video cuts me off. Haha. Stay safe and healthy!

  1. Thank you very much, Lim.
    Your photo, naked in front of a stand with the clarinet in your hand and the score open, made me think about how much nudity can open fantastic worlds in the musical field, associating the greater freedom of the body with the greater freedom of the imagination that can create thousands of possible worlds where to walk and marvel. Every note is a touch on one’s own body: therefore, may it increase your interpretative depth… and may it stir the members of the jury 🙂

  2. You set me thinking – 300-year-old Bohemian composer? The best I could come up with was Neruda, but probably better known for a trumpet concerto than clarinet… There are many others, to choose from; I’m just intrigued to know what you’ve taken on 🙂

    • Carl Stamitz (born in the 1740s), German composer but with partial Bohemian ancestry. His clarinet concerto is very well-known in the clarinet repertoire. I am extremely lazy and all my life I have been unable to practise repetitive things like scales and arpeggios, long notes, etc. You can’t be a good musician if you don’t practise – it’s as simple as that. But my son is trying to get me to be serious in my music and he suggested that I should apply for the Trinity College diploma. Both my son and my wife got theirs when they were still students. So I have decided to practise every day, do the exam requirements which are unfortunately a 40-min full concert performance. The exam syllabus includes the Stamitz concerto as one of the permitted pieces. I’ve looked through the syllabus and I’ve picked the absolutely easiest to play pieces to fill up my 40-min time slot. Apart from this Stamitz piece, I will do Mendelssohn’s clarinet sonata in Eb major which will take up a good 21 minutes and a few smaller pieces including Ravel’s habanera which is so hauntingly beautiful. But it all just sounds good; the fact is I must work hard and this is not the first time I’ve thought of getting my diploma. Many people don’t realise how much hard work is involved in music. I always feel sorry for all the concert musicians. They are so badly paid and yet they work the hardest.

      • Thanks for that Lim, Stamitz was another name that came to mind, but at 300 years, I would have been thinking more of the father (Johann) than his son. I know just how much work is involved in playing any instrument (and clarinet is not the easiest, by any means!) so well done for taking this on. With Mendelssohn and Ravel on the list as well, it sounds like an ambitious programme to me! Best of luck… I’m sure your hard work will pay off.

        • Thanks, Brian. It’s not like I’m being ambitious. I have no choice. I would happily play kiddie songs if they permit it. But the syllabus is very demanding. They have a fixed list of what I can play and it must be strictly followed. I’m choosing pieces that I think I should be more comfortable with. I would have loved to do Schumann’s 3 Fantasiestucke because I have done the first part in the graded exams years ago but for the diploma, they demand all 3 parts to be played and for the last 2 parts, it’s easier to play them on the A clarinet which only professional orchestral clarinettists own. So it’s a real headache. Bad musicians like me tend to look out for pieces we’ve played before in the graded exams but the diploma requirements are too exacting. For instance, in Grade 6 or 7 in Trinity College’s graded exams many many years ago, I had to play Lutoslawski’s No. 2 of his Dance Preludes. The score looks alarmingly difficult. My then teacher told me it looked deceptively hard but it was actually very easy. And he was right. So, you would think I should gravitate towards Lutoslawski for the diploma performance and Lutoslawski happens to be in the syllabus but guess what? They require all his 5 Dance Preludes to be played. And for a musician with very limited abilities like me, modern composers are terrifying. So, what I want to say is although my choice may seem ambitious and “professional”, I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say that my choice is motivated more by my lack of expertise and meagre abilities. I’m hoping to do the easiest and the barest minimum to pass but alas, the diploma requirements don’t allow me anything easy to cling on to. Anyway, I have all the time in the world and I intend to take it slowly. Exams are no fun but I intend to have fun.

          • To me, you are being ambitious going for the diploma – the difficulty of the pieces follows on from that!

            I know what you mean about pieces that look daunting actually being easier than you think and the opposite can also be true. This can often be because for a piece to work well, it requires sensitive interpretation more than virtuosic skill. Picking pieces you like and enjoy playing is therefore the most important.

            I don’t recommend performing naked for the examiners though, however much it might increase your enjoyment! 🙂

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