“All the world’s a stage.” – A Letter to My Pre-University Self | An Ode to Life

Friday 21.04.17 – 10.27AM

I’ve just submitted a law essay which I believe has redirected me onto the path to Enlightenment, and I need to stop everything that I’m doing in order to write down what’s in my head. Brace yourselves…

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And then he said to me, ‘Isn’t it funny we’re all just people walking around trying to put on appearances. . .’

‘I’m gonna grow a moustache and start smoking. It’s just another way to meet new people.’


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No Man’s Land – thoughts on leaving school, music and law.

First official post of the summer holidays – how’s everyone faring? School ended about a week ago and it still hasn’t hit me yet.

We, the leavers, felt ready to say goodbye, especially those with destinations set in stone. Though a few of us, including me, are now walking through No Man’s Land.

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What is there to do after exams?

Yesterday we did our last ever school exam, A-level music! Perhaps the most inconveniently placed subject in our term, this exam took place in the final week of school, where time is reduced significantly by additional rehearsals for concerts.

The English A-level board OCR timetable their exams several weeks after the Scottish ones have finished. With the seemingly generous number of days available for revision, you think:

Oh it’ll be fine, we have ages. No need to stress.

On this occasion excess time seemed to cause my own learning to regress. I hadn’t been in a classroom for weeks and had lost the ability to write with a pen. The result: unnecessary panic and, more shamefully, boredom.

We powered through from 9 till 11 in the morning, then exited the exam room to take our first breaths of free life. Finally!

After devoting the majority of their time to this subject – for what feels like an eternity – my friends don’t quite know what to do with themselves.
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Mini, the one examining her hair, even said to me the day before:

I can’t imagine life after A2!

The lads on the other hand took to practising the assembling of their camping gear in preparation for an expedition this summer.
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Sleepy hammock time!
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Later I followed Mini as she tore down her revision material. I have never seen her so happy.

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I can see my wall!

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Not posted here, there is also a video of her jumping on those diagrams. I can tell you now that a pile of paper that size crumples an astonishing volume.

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So how do you feel after exams? Is there another purpose to life?

The answers are ‘great’ and ‘yes’.
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The Weekend – teaching, sun, trombones and all that.

After teaching on Sunday, there’s always a period of fifty minutes before brunch (yum) which I find difficult to use productively, as it were, for homework or practice. Even when my stomach is crying out for food, making a piece of toast isn’t an entirely feasible idea since I’d rather stuff my face with brunch. My brain works better with food so I prefer to work after I’ve eaten. With all these options ruled out I’m now here, writing a blog post.

Teaching is going really, really well. My pupils are so creative! Look what one of them drew for me this week:

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She’s playing a piece called Never Vex a Tyrannosaurus Rex which has lots of different shades and characters. Often I’m astounded by how much sound she can make, especially at the very end with the finishing chord. Using the lowest registers of the piano, she makes a huge – and I mean huge – growl. Crazy stuff.

However in another lesson today, I was the one making grotesque noises with my rumbling tummy and croaky throat. I was trying to sing and then kghuugughckeeu came out instead – very embarrassing. The little girl was laughing at me and I had to hum the tune instead. Lesson learned: always eat something before a 10:30am class.

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Yesterday the sunshine brought us outside for our dinner. My friend assembled his hammock underneath two blossom trees and pushed the benches over.

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Then the lads decided to get their trombones and have a little play-through in the sun:

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*blows a big note*

Listen to that echo!

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And then I went inside to do some of my own practice. Starting out efficiently, the quality of my practice receded and I ended up just find cool pieces in the music library to sightread. Ridiculous seeing as I have an audition in Glasgow this afternoon and I still haven’t worked out what to play!

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Hope people are still alive and well during exams.

I have French next Wednesday. Should probably learn some words and write some essays.
But before that, it’s time for brunch! Hoorah!

Kite and the Crane (and exams…)

Last night I spent my evening playing violin for the wonderful Kite and the Crane as part of their EP launch. They’re an indie-folk band based in Edinburgh who make lovely music. Have a listen to their songs! My favourite one is ‘London’.

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DIY masterpiece for Boarding School

What to do if your school forbids the sticking of revision on walls, wardrobe doors, bathroom mirrors or any other surface perpendicular to the floor including furniture?

You head to the kitchen and find a sturdy cardboard box. Flatten this and secure with sellotape.
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My Final Term at Music School

Hello again, I’m back with a fresher mind and lovely experiences to share with you from the last month.

(Can you believe this is my last term of high school? I’m leaving this establishment in 9 weeks!)

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The Brodsky Quartet Workshop

I still can’t believe this all happened.

Yesterday, The Brodsky Quartet spent the morning at school working with a number of our chamber groups. Situated in various large practice rooms, each group was tutored by one member of the Brodskys, and, during our session at least, another would sit in the audience and give a few suggestions. My quartet had the violist Paul Cassidy who inspired us to create a greater range of colours and some more magic for our Ravel Quartet. By the end, we had indeed added more imagination and life to the music! Notes we no longer notes and I eventually sorted out some of my distasteful shifts and bulges – a little personal achievement.

This is what we look like when we are taking a break:
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Last night, after the Edinburgh University Chamber Orchestra rehearsal, I spent the last ounces of my energy on writing an account of everything that was discussed in our workshop and in such detail, like the importance of a single pizzicato note in the cello part. Our session was very intensive and we focussed on every phrase, pulling it apart, finding the sound, putting it all together. He was both fun and firm with his ideas which made us even more determined to get it right!

At lunchtime, we were treated to a short concert, which was of a similar format to the one on Monday night, but an umbrella was used instead of a wheel to decide their programme! Apparently when the quartet went on tour, they weren’t allowed to take the wheel onto the airplane and this was what they came up with.
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Pupils were invited to spin the brolly …

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….and whatever name was on the top (ie. parallel to the floor) when the spinning stopped was the one whose work they would perform!

What a splendid, splendid day. Rather exhausting too. If only they tutored us every week. In fact, they are the sort of charismatic inspiration that I’d like to keep in my pocket for the rest of my life to give me pearls of musical wisdom every day.

I don’t really think that’s possible…

I ought to be more realistic about life, especially since the school concert is in less than a week and things are looking…interesting.

Now, I’m about to have lunch! Yay!

A taster of The Brodsky Quartet

This evening, I battled through a crazy ‘blizzard’ for 45 minutes to make the Brodsky Quartet concert at the Queen’s Hall. Blinded by snow and bruised by the hailstones, my body armour appeared to be useless at protecting me from the sideways snowfall.
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This concert featured their Wheel of 4Tunes, a multicolored wheel that displayed 40 of their favorite works. A member of the audience is invited to spin the wheel and let fate choose the next piece. Having an unplanned programme made it incredibly exciting and encouraged the audience to be involved in the music making; what a wonderful thing to do…!

A lad from our school group managed to jump up to spin the wheel for the fourth and final time. The rest of us sitting in the upper gallery couldn’t help but cheer for him and make a few stifled claps.

He must have muttered something to the violist (who was wearing a very stylish waistcoat) about our school, because the violist then asked in full bodied voice,

Are you a pupil at the music school? . . . We are going there tomorrow morning!

[A little chuckle from the audience]

So we will see you tomorrow then?

To which our lovely lad replied,

Yes. . . Only if I haven’t died by then.

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(We do love that boy.)
With great enthusiasm, the wheel was set in motion and seemed to go on for ages. Finally, it landed on a Tchaikovsky Quartet – I can’t remember which one.

You can also see in the picture their library of 40 works spread across the stage and that there are no chairs – they stand in their performances, with the exception of the cellist. It was a really unique stage presence and completely liberating to watch, freeing up the music in every sort of way.

I would write more about tonight, but I must keep in mind that in about nine hours I will be playing to them in a masterclass!!!!!!!!! Yes, the exclamation marks are still there for now. Goodnight. There will be much to write about after two hours and fifteen minutes of working with them.

Excitement! (And lots of music to learn)

I am aware that I haven’t written anything on here for over a fortnight – apologies for lack of interesting stories! At least I didn’t write about something as banal as snowfall in March – oh wait, it snowed…Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

I guess you could say that I have been ‘busy’, but to be honest my daily routine for the past couple of weeks felt like a distasteful mix of idleness, staring-blankly-into-my-surroundings and uncertainty. When I thought of my coursework, I found myself practising piano. This apparent conflict, confusion or delusion(!) of priorities was experienced this afternoon when I decided to practise violin in the hour before my French Speaking exam; rather than devoting the last precious minutes to revision, I messed around with Rode Caprice No. 5.

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