After a seven month hiatus*, I finally was back to orchestra rehearsal last night. Even though I complain about it sometimes, I had missed it immensely and was extremely happy to be back. I was neither disappointed nor did I disappoint as it can be tough to get back into playing after such a long break, but after the first movement, I was back on top of the music.
We are playing, among other things, Mussorgsky's Pictures At An Exhibition, which is 1) Russian**, 2) pretty well known, and 3) fun to play. It is also half in A clarinet (instead of Bb, which is what the traditional clarinet is made for) requiring me to transpose as I play since I don't own an A clarinet. I did well at the transposing until I was reading notes in the stratosphere that are just not normal to play so with the added need to play them 1/2 a step lower, I did skip over a few measures until the notes came back down to normal.
Clarinet playing, besides being a little dorky (ha!), is just like any sport or other activity that requires practice. When I have been playing a lot I totally get into the zone where I don't have to think as much about what I am playing. At a certain point my eyes just become decoders that run over the music while some link that goes from my eyes to my brain to my hands makes it all happen. And it all happens instantaneously- I don't think about it, it just happens. Hiccups come when there are difficult rhythms or accidentals that require actual thought. At these points I either just flub it until it comes, or I actually have to practice the part on its own. And it's interesting how I have found myself recognizing patterns in music more and more. For example, now that I have to transpose so much, I have noticed that there are times I just know what to play even though the notes I'm playing are not the ones I am reading. A run*** comes and as long as I know the first note and how it fits in, I just play it. It's actually pretty cool. I hate to admit that my teachers were correct all those years about scales...ha!
I'm so happy to be back. I wish I could join 43294032.3 orchestras and just play classical musical constantly.
*I had to take a class that was only offered on Tuesdays!
**And therefore awesome.
***A bunch of notes in a row.