Tag Archives: music

Audition Materials Are Out!

Audition material for this year’s UBC ensembles has finally been put up, and you can find it here.

For the harp audition I need to learn about 13 pages of music in less than a month… yay… Don’t get me wrong, I can do it, and I will, but it means I need to start practicing seriously again. That feeling of inadequacy is creeping up on me again, and you know what that means? It means I need to practice more. And now that my hands are actually getting better, I can actually do that! Yay!

Anyway, UBC ensembles are open to everyone through audition, including those who are not part of the school of music, so if you think you’d enjoy being part of a band or orchestra, come try out! Sign up sheets will be found outside the Music Office in the Music Building.


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Only Compete Against Yourself

Last Friday, some of my harp friends and I all played for one another.  We were playing some of our jury pieces which we’ll have to perform for marks some time in April (juries are what we call solo performance exams).  While I was listening to my two friends play, I couldn’t help but think, Holy smokes!  These guys are waaaaaay better than me! It discouraged me to see such a gap in skill between me and my friends, even though one is in the same year as me and the other is only a year ahead.  It was hard not to get depressed and think that I’ll never be a great player.

The thing that I realized though, is that our performances can’t really be compared as to who is the better harpist, and it isn’t a marker of how much either of us has learned this year.  I’ve been struggling with tendinitis since November (I still am), and that has seriously limited the time I can practice, whereas the others can practice for four hours a day.  So even though I want to practice my guts out so I can improve and play harder music and sound better and all that, I can’t – talk about frustrating! The other thing is that the other harpists have both been playing at least twice as long as I have.  That’s a big head start.

When I look back at September, I can see how far I’ve come over the last seven months or so.  I’ve come a really long way, especially when I consider the fact that I’ve be injured, too.  I am doing remarkably well, at least I think so, and I’m excited to see what I can do next year, when I’m not injured.  And the fact is, there will always be someone in the world who is better than I am.  If the only way I’ll be satisfied is to be the absolute best in the world, I’ll never be happy!  But I can be happy knowing that I’ve improved a lot and I’m giving the best performance I possibly can.  That is something to be proud of.

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Failure is just a challenge to overcome

Today was my third rehearsal with the symphony orchestra, and I can tell you now, it’s way better than before.

I felt a bit lost at the first rehearsal (all right, entirely lost), but at this point I can come in when I’m supposed to, hit the notes I’m supposed to and play out without fear (well, mostly anyway). At the first rehearsal I was literally shaking with nervousness and thought my heart was going to burst out of my ears.  But I had way more fun today and feel a lot better about myself.  I feel that I am a valuable contributing member of the ensemble.  My first rehearsal was – well, it was my first rehearsal.  I had never done it before, so of COURSE it didn’t go perfectly.  At the time I was very upset, but I have a tendency to be very hard on myself, and now I can see that everything is working out just fine.

I suppose that I’ve learned from this experience that a “failure” is not a permanent failure, it is merely an obstacle to overcome, a challenge to keep working away at.  With time and more experience, it will get better and you will improve.

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Failure is a stinging slap in the face

Today was my first ever orchestra rehearsal.  I have played harp in a large ensemble before today; I started playing too late in high school to ever in be in the Winnipeg Youth Orchestra.

So naturally, I was nervous.  Very nervous.  After all, I’m a total newbie playing with people who are practically professionals, at least compared to me. I could feel my heart rate increase dramatically as the conductor stepped onto his podium, and the rehearsal went downhill from there.

I missed nearly all my entrances. I lost count countless times.  I’ve only had the part for two weeks, and since my hands are still a little injured I can only practice so much every day, and in trying to prepare my solo pieces as well, the orchestra part I got wasn’t quite learned for today.  Mostly, but not quite.  Well, it turns out that all the parts I can do really well are buried under mountains of double bass and brass, while the parts I’m not sure about are pretty much solos.  And all of them I screwed up today.

*head desk*

I felt so awful.  Embarrassed.  Ashamed. I should be better than this!

I know, I know.  There’s still an entire month til the performance (which is at 8 pm in the Chan on March 31, if anyone wants to come), and I’ll have it learned by then. I hope.  It was my first rehearsal ever, it’s okay, yadda yadda…

I just feel like I let myself down.  And that is much worse than anyone else.


Filed under Academics, School of Music

Course Evaluation: MUSC 110

Okay, here comes another course evaluation, this time for MUSC 110, or Intensive Tonal Music Theory. Or something to that effect. Continue reading

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Course Evaluation: MUSC 120

Today I wrote my first university exam for MUSC 105! I think it went okay, and now I just have three more to go! Woo!

Anyway, in the spirit of more course evaluations, today I will be doing a review for MUSC 120 (History of Music I). Continue reading

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On the mend

I haven’t really posted in the last three weeks for a very good reason: I’ve had tendinitis in my wrists and hands.  As a musician, this was a huge road block, and to make sure I healed up in a timely fashion, I had to forego the computer for all but homework.  However, my hands are getting better now!  I’ve increased my practice time to thirty minutes per day, up from twenty, and I’m hoping that by the end of December I’ll be able to play for an hour at a time.

I can’t really explain to you how good it feels to be able to play the harp again if you aren’t a musician or actor or artist yourself; playing the harp is not just something I do, or a hobby I enjoy.  It is a part of who I am, my reason for being here at UBC, and what brings me joy on a daily basis.  To have that taken away… was hard.  The important thing is though, I’m getting better and get back to doing what I love!  I like to think that it’s a good thing that I got hurt now, at the beginning of my first year, so that I can learn to take care of myself and not get hurt again later, like in third year and having a big recital coming up.

I honestly am not entirely sure where I went wrong when practicing.  I warmed up, stretched, took breaks, all that stuff.  What I think it must come down to is that I increased my practice time too much too fast when I arrived in September, and I must also have been playing too tensely. I’ve learned my lesson and I’m increasing my playing time very gradually and spend my time working on relaxed technique!


Filed under School of Music, Wellness

Musician’s Injuries.

Previously I made a post about how to prevent injuries in musicians. However, clearly I don’t really know what I’m talking about because shortly after that I got tendinitis.  It’s been kinda sucky, but I’ve seen a doctor and physiotherapist, and I’m on my way back to being able to play for hours every day. It means I won’t be able to play with the orchestra in December which is kind of disappointing, but no concert is worth a serious injury.

For those who would like information on preventing musician’s injuries, I strongly reccommend reading Playing (less) Hurt by Janet Horvath, and The Musician’s Survival Manual: A Guide to Preventing and Treating Injuries in Instrumentalists by Richard Norris, M.D. (this one is out of print but you can get it on amazon or in e-book form).

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Tendonitis – no posts for a while

Well, clearly I’m terrible at taking my own advice or it wasn’t very good advice in the first place. My hands have been hurting recently, and my teacher tells me that it’s tendonitis.  I’ve caught it early, and I’m young, so my teacher says I should heal up quite quickly if I take it easy.  Of course, that also means no texting or using the computer for a little while as well. So, no posts for a while.  I wanted to write about what I did for Halloween, so suffice it to say for now that I went to a parade and went trick or treating (like the legit going to houses kind).


And yeah, I’m only a tiny bit panicked.

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Reception and Re: Winter Harp

Today was the reception for Major Entrance Scholars (ie. people who won Major Entrance Scholarships), and uh, yeah, I won one… Anyway, there were a lot of amazing people!  I got to meet the chancellor and president of UBC and the director of the school of music (all of whom are really really nice people).  I also met other students, and I think I can really connect with them. I also got the first hug I’ve had since I got here, which is AWESOME because I am a very huggy person.  There was also really good food, so, you know, that’s a plus too… :P


Also in regards to the Winter Harp, it turns out that the harpist they wanted in the first place could make the shows, so I won’t be needed.  Still, I’m really happy – the fact that they contacted me at all is awesome, and I think with the extra rehearsals and stuff I’d get really stressed out.


That’s all for today :)  -Samantha

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