Better than new clothes…

Prom dress... 12 years later!

Prom dress… 12 years later!

What is better than new clothes? Old clothes that fit again! I have a drawer of clothing that used to fit me back in university and even back in high school… I knew that it no longer fit, but I just couldn’t bear to get rid of it as I hoped to be able to fit into it again at some point… I am pretty sure that there are many people out there with a closet or drawer like the one I have…

Well, as you know, I have been working on losing weight, and though I have not lost much since the New Year (currently 15 lbs down since January), I have been going through my old clothes, and they fit! I even found my prom dress today. Guess what? It fits! Most of the other clothes I have are t-shrits that I really liked, like the Boston Symphony Orchestra t-shirt that a friend bought me for my 18th birthday when our school band went on a trip to Boston… Nothing fancy.

I do have the semi-formal dress that I wore to the music department party, two years in a row, I might add… The boyfriend of a good friend of mine pointed that out really loudly at the second semi-formal… “See, Katherine doesn’t mind wearing the same dress two years in a row!” I don’t think that he convinced her that it was ok in that way.

So, that has been a recent thrill for me. Not buying new clothes, although I have purchased some great new show clothes, but fitting into the old clothes that I wore when I was 18. I don’t know what I weighed then, so I have no clue if I am back to the same weight, but I must be close to the same size for sure!

Tips & Tricks: Practice Everyday

What one thing could you do every day that would improve your playing? Practice. This may seem obvious, but it can be hard to implement at times. It is far better to practice for 20 minutes a day, 7 days a week than for 3 hours one day. The math would make it seem like 3 hours (180 minutes) would be better than 20 minutes a day (140 minutes), but you will accomplish much more and progress much faster with daily practice.

So why is that? The more often you do something, the more natural it becomes. When you think of playing the fiddle, or any instrument for that matter, very little of it is “natural.” How you hold your bow, how you hold your violin, making an even sound with the bow… These are all things that you have to practice, and doing them more often helps the various components of the process to become more fluid and natural. Your body has muscle memory, and every time you practice these activities, your body remembers what to do, and it does not seem as foreign the next time.

The other reason that short practice sessions are more effective is because human beings are able to focus really well for a short period of time. When a person tries to focus for an overly long period they just start going through the motions, but are not actually improving and may in fact be introducing and practicing new mistakes.

I recently heard practicing compared to preparing for a marathon. If someone was going to run a marathon next year, that person would not decide to run 26 miles this week and then 26 miles a week before the marathon and think that they were prepared for it. The same is true with practicing.

Whether you are preparing for a lesson or a concert, having a regimen that includes daily practicing will speed you along your way!

TubaFest 2012

Dad at TubaFest 2010

It is hard to believe that another year of TubaFest is over…  TubaFest?  Yes, you read that correctly…  The Fredericton International TubaFest was started in 2004 by my father, Richard Riding.  Every year for the last 9 years clinicians and participants from the US and Canada have gathered at Memorial Hall in Fredericton, NB.  This year was no exception!

As you may remember, my father passed away last August.  Mom and I had decided to hold TubaFest this year in his honour, and was I ever happy that we did!  Our clinicians included Lance Nagels (tuba) from Quebec City as well as Sotto Voce, an excellent tuba quartet consisting of Demondrae Thurman, Mark Carlson, Nat McInstosh and Mike Forbes.  A tuba quartet is formed of two euphoniums (which look like small tubas) and two tubas.  We had 29 participants from Newfoundland, PEI, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Maine and New Hampshire.

Lance Nagels

Thursday night our clinicians were to arrive…  The members of Sotto Voce flew into Bangor, Maine, where they rented a van and drove up.  We got a call from them on Thursday that one member had been delayed, and the tuba of another member had not managed to catch the same flight as him…  We were supposed to have a lobster supper that night, but their arrival in Fredericton was delayed until 3am!  No lobster that night!  We did meet up with Lance and Jean Sutherland (piano accompanist) for a fancy dinner at Pizza Delight on Thursday night.  It was great to meet up with them again as they have been part of the TubaFest since the beginning.

Sotto Voce (Demondrae, Mark, Nat and Mike)

Friday was our first full day of the festival.  Kim (my husband) ran the registration table.  It was great to see so many familiar faces!  Of the 29 people registered, 25 had attended TubaFest in previous years.  Lance got the workshops started and the guys from Sotto Voce arrived a little later, still looking tired!

TubaFest Ensemble

So what do you do at a tuba festival?  Well, we had a large ensemble in which all of the participants played.  It is quite a sight to see 29 tubas and euphoniums on the stage!  We also had small ensembles formed of about 7 people each.  These groups worked with the clinicians on various pieces.  To round out the activities, we had a masterclass and workshop.

During our dinner break we took the guys from Sotto Voce over to my mom’s house to have the lobster feast that we had planned for Thursday night.  It was a lot of fun to see their reactions to all the cooked lobsters in the kitchen!  We also treated them to local Picaroons beer.   The guys attacked the lobster with vigour!  If you look at the photo, you will notice that the salad in the middle of the table is untouched!  Lobster is always enjoyable, but is particularly wonderful with those who do not have a chance to have it often!

The aftermath…

Feeling incredibly satiated, we headed back over to Memorial Hall for an informal in-house concert.  Many of our registrants come from Maine.  Several of them have formed an ensemble that often opens our Friday evening concerts with the national anthems from both Canada and the US.  Several somewhat impromptu performances also occurred.  Some of Sotto Voce’s music had been left in their dorm rooms, so while Mike went back to get it Demondrae played a fabulous solo and Lance, Demondrae and Mark teamed up to read through a trio.  Sotto Voce also performed a few pieces once they all had their music.  The small ensembles had a final reheasal for the day, followed by an open rehearsal by Sotto Voce.  It was interesting watching a professional ensemble rehearsing.

The Maine ensemble

Saturday was another wonderful day with more rehearsals, another masterclass and a meeting about the continuation of TubaFest.  What with dad not being around anymore to run it, we were not sure if it would continue.   There was a lot of interest, so I see this festival continuing for a long time to come!

In the evening we had our final concert commemorating my father.  Lance and Jean performed Mahler’s “Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen,” a favourite of both of my parents.  Sotto Voce followed up with two pieces, the second of which was written by Mike Forbes and was their premier of the work.  The small ensembles performed with the climax of the concert being the large ensemble, which ended the concert with Ave Maria, also dedicated to my father.  It was a lovely concert!

Lance and Jean

All in all, it was a wonderful year!  I look forward to seeing how things develop over the years and what the festival becomes as time goes on!  With all the interest shown, I feel quite confident that it will be around for years to come!