The Arrowhead Trio went on an outing today, to Lynchburg University to be coached by a clarinetist. Our previous coaches have been string players, so it was time to put our clarinetist in the hot seat. We played Peter Schickele's Serenade for Three and our blowhard received some good pointers, as did the rest of us.
So often, the best hint is a simple one. Work on keeping a steady beat. You may have heard this back when you took music lessons, when your mom dragged you to the taskmaster with missing hair who tapped your knuckles with a pencil. Can you believe three over-fifties who have been playing music most of their lives still have this problem? It's time for this trio to add a metronome and call itself a quartet.
I happen to have been focusing on this challenge lately, as I worked on Schumann, and last weekend I got to watch a dozen people show how difficult it can be. The director of our choral society asked 3 women in each row of our chorus to march with the march music in Honegger's King David. Boom, boom, ta-boom, ta-ta-boom, ta-ta-ta boom. It got worse before it got better and then worse again. I must have missed the final call. I noticed no one marching during the performance.
"The simplest things often are the hardest," says Virginia, "and the most noticeable when something goes wrong."
Keeping it simple
2 days ago