Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Where do YOU Practice??

On Sunday evening, I played a wonderful concert for woodwind quintet, harp and SATB choir at Grace United Methodist Church in Wilmington, DE.  We'll attach a sound clip soon, because the arrangements are absolutely stunning.  All of them were done by the church's extraordinary organist and choir director, Neil Harmond.  And I must also say that the instrumentalists were of the highest caliber.  It was a real joy.

What, you may be wondering, does this have to do with practicing?

As the choir warmed up in the sanctuary, I needed a place to warm myself up.  The only space available was a closet.  The contents of this closet were fascinating.  "Silk Flowers Only" greeted me when I walked in.  (There must be a story behind this one.) Boxes of used wither coats, a carpet steamer, picture hanging rods, a step ladder, shelves of vases, large candles, used candles, lecturns, music stands....I had the better part of 45 minutes of long tones to take a through inventory.

As I left the closet, the Pastor said, "I'll bet you've never practiced in a closet before!"

I replied, "Well, actually..."

I have practiced and performed in some very strange places, and her comment provided me with the topic for this blog.

I have practiced in:
Countless closets
A Stratford-upon-Avon phone booth.
Locker rooms
The filter pump room for a swimming pool
A restaurant kitchen
Any number of bathrooms at places like a radio station, retirement community, and a train station.
In the car.  I was not driving.
A garage
On any number of porches.

One time, Anne Sullivan, harpist, and I played a wedding on an ultimate Frisbee field.  It was misting rain, so we had to set up under the tailgate of an SUV.

Another time a presenter wanted me to play Debussy's Syrinx from the back of the darkened hall.  The only problem was that the hall was under construction, and I had to walk through the construction mess to get back there, ducking through a hole in a brick wall.  Now, I always scout out any route I am asked to take with my flute in my hand.

Many years ago, I was asked to play for the funeral for a public figure.  What was not disclosed was that I was to stand at the head of the open casket and play as the mourners passed by to pay their last respects.  It was a cold, dark, rainy day, and the door of the tiny chapel was open the entire two hours.  I was chilled to the bone.  My memory says I played the Syrinx the entire time, but that doesn't seem reasonable...

Here is a photo of where I practice these days, at Flute Pro Shop.  This room overlooks a parking lot.  Who knew the drama that plays out in a parking lot??  Apparently not I.  Everything from fistfights, lovers' trysts, car crashes, near-misses, rude gestures, cars backing into the dumpsters-everyday there is another event worthy of discussion.  FPS is located 50 yards from one of the most busy fire halls in Delaware, with several blasts from the siren each day.  Let me tell you, fire fighters speeding through the parking lot is very entertaining when one is doing long tones!

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