100 Days of Practice - 30 going on 40

so it turns out that practice challenges coupled with the most exhausting part of the orchestra and school year mean blogging is almost impossible! After all of the time spent practicing, then teaching, then rehearsal, then emails and sometimes more practice, and if I'm lucky a little time to work out (like 6 am yoga) blogging is the very last thing on my list of priorities.

 I kept a handwritten journal along the way but the whole getting to the computer thing proved challenging.  So here we are, after the challenge is complete and I am finally turning my journal entries into blog posts....and consolidating!

recap of days 21-40

days 21-30 I was really REALLY bad about journaling so here is what I remember after the fact (And upon consulting my calendar).

The Tulsa Symphony performed so many "Link Up" concerts, which really messed with my horse riding habit (and happiness)! It is amazing how so much of my sanity depends on going to the barn a few times per week.

Days 21 and 22 we had concerts in the morning, so I did my practice at night. 

Day 23 I went to barre class in the morning. This is something I’ve been trying over the last few months. Sometimes I HATE these classes. It can feel like aerobics meets fake ballet class and the “ra-ra” pump you up energy and music really grates on my nerves especially if I haven’t had breakfast before class or am a little sleep deprived. BUT it certainly targets my weak spots! I have been trying to work on my functional mobility rather than just flexibility - hoping to find a little length through strength. So far I think these classes help with that, although I might just go to the adult ballet classes at Tulsa Ballet in the future. I have a feeling that might be a little more my speed.  

After barre class I bought some new trail running shoes in preparation for the Post Oak Challenge Double I registered for this weekend. Theoretically I am running a 10k on Saturday and a half-marathon on Sunday on the trails around Post Oak Lodge but the weather forecast is terrible and I haven’t exactly been diligent about training so we will see what happens.

Day 24 I bailed on the 10k this morning because of the Thunder and Lightening that was booming when I got out of bed and there was no way I was going to run around the woods in that! I practiced instead and taught all afternoon. 

Day 25 I demoted myself to the quarter marathon, which is just slightly longer than a 10k, at the Post Oak challenge. The weather was beautiful and I somehow came 3rd in my division. The only thing I can think is that everyone else was running ridiculously slow because I definitely took my time at a few aid stations and had to walk more than once due to the insanely muddy hills. My hip flexors were so exhausted from unsuctioning my feet from the mud at some points that they simply gave out and I literally could not move faster even if I wanted to. It was crazy! I’ve never felt muscle fatigue like that before! 

We went out for brunch afterwards and enjoyed the sunny day with some afternoon practice and then a date to go see “3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” - I ❤️ Frances McDormand. The acting was fantastic in this film! I loved it! 

Day 26 I was planning to go to 6am yoga but wasn’t feeling up to it by the time 5:30am rolled around. Mondays are riding lesson days and typically a “day off” (that’s a joke) so Jeff and I went to the St. Vincent concert that night. I practiced in the morning and a little bit after my riding lesson but mostly worked on technique. I’m trying to isolate “spots” and small passages rather than just practicing whatever piece for 40 minutes. Focusing on repeating the correct “feeling” in challenging corners of a piece and listening and hearing more quickly  “the ring” in double stop passagework. (Insert horse meme from Laurie Hedlund?) This is tricky for me! My ears feel like they catch on quite slowly and I’m trying to speed it up so my ears anticipate the exact correct motions of intonation. Does that even make sense?

I will say that St. Vincent puts on an exceptional show. I love how it was just her onstage but the performance never felt empty or lacking and it is more than a concert, more like performance art. 

Day 27 I coached chamber music at Union High School in the morning then grabbed a quick snack before performing at a retirement community over lunch. I didn’t have tons of time to practice today because I had to drive to OKC for rehearsal in the evening but I managed to squeeze in a solid hour before Harmony Project.

The OKC Philharmonic program this week is pretty cool and this is my first time working with their new Artistic Director, Alexander Micklethwaite. It is always so nice to see members of this orchestra, several of whom were my professors and classmates during Grad School.

Day 28 I was a trooper this morning and went to 6 am yoga. It felt really good! We only had one Link Up concert this morning (yay!) followed by Musicians Committee meeting. Some of my students from Harmony Project were in the audience and were so excited to see the orchestra and their music teachers perform. I can’t lie, it was definitely more fun to perform for them than for kids I don’t know.  

I taught one lesson and practiced in the afternoon before heading to Harmony Project then grabbed a quick bite to eat before driving to OKC for the 2nd evening of rehearsal. I am now remembering how long these weeks of driving and rehearsing can be! Also, journaling seems to be the first thing to go when I’m out of time and driving everyday. I wish I had a driver! I could get so much done in the car on the way to rehearsals! The 6 am yoga class maybe wasn’t the best idea after all considering how tired I was during the late night drive home. 

Day 29  Link Up in the morning, followed by a haircut, Harmony Project, then down to OKC for rehearsal. I haven’t had a haircut in an embarrassingly long time and was looking really scraggly. Fortunately, my new neighbor is a stylist and a brand ambassador for some of my favorite hair products (Davines in case you were wondering). 

I was feeling fancy after my cut. I recorded some of my practice before and then again after getting my haircut and you can see the visual improvement in the video. 

I mostly worked on a few orchestra excerpts - getting the right bow stroke, the correct feel, using the same bow distribution every single time. This is tough and not necessarily successful. It takes so much diligence and concentration. You can see some of my trials and tribulations while working on Beethoven’s 1st Symphony, 4th movement and Brahms 4. 

Day 30 The last morning of Link Up concerts - yay! I am so excited to reclaim my mornings! It is hard to accomplish anything when you perform in the morning and drive/rehearse at night (and work in the afternoons).  I snuck some practice in before Harmony Project and worked mostly on solo repertoire - Mendelssohn Concerto and Mozart (but I only recorded the Mendelssohn)

This week, I have been impressed with the program and work with OKC. Joyce Yang, the piano soloist is so cool and I always forget how much I like the Paganini Variations.

It was the dress rehearsal and I am excited to see how the audience responds to Mickelthwaite and the contemporary piece”MotherShip” for orchestra and electronics by Mason Bates. It has been a loooong week and I am also excited for the driving to be over soon! 

Day 31 I taught straight through from 10-5 today. Several of my students have solo and ensemble competitions today so I had to start early AND I had to reschedule some students from earlier in the week (due to all of my commuting). 

Jeff came with me to OKC and we had a nice dinner at Kitchen 421 before the concert. I am grateful that he did the driving, kept me company, and was interested enough to see the Mason Bates piece and Micklethwaite, the new Music Director. 


~I did not practice today. I warmed up before the concert and during intermission but I did not do my full hour of work to earn a sticker. I am disappointed with myself but I honestly don’t know where in my day I would have done this. Maybe before teaching? But I needed the sleep to prepare for a long day and concert. Sometimes life gets the best of me.~

Day 32 We got home late after the concert last night but I was up bright and early for a dressage clinic with Laurie Hedlund. It was so cold! I spent my whole class (which started at 8 am...which means I was at the barn by 7:30, which meant I left the house by 7am) shivering. I watched a few classes after mine, huddled in a clean horse blanket, hat, gloves, and a scarf, sipping a warm beverage with all the other shivering participants and horse trainers. I skipped the afternoon portion so I could come home and prep for the Link Up Family Concert. I needed a hot shower to thaw.

After the concert I came home, sat down on the couch and immediately fell asleep. I think I was exhausted from all of the shivering that morning! After dinner, I made a new practice log of things I plan to work on in the coming week or so and practiced technique for about 2 hours - Flesh scales, Rode #4, Sevcik bowing and double stops and the Bach E major Preludio - I haven’t played it in years! 

Day 33 My first full day off! It was blissful! I made banana bread in the morning after yoga, practiced all morning, went to my riding lesson, worked on my last 100 Days of Practice Challenge Upate blog post (OMG I am so behind!) and decided to pull out of an upcoming audition screening. I have been too busy running around and cramming repertoire for upcoming performances to focus closely enough on the excerpts. My new practice strategy is to work on excerpts everyday as part of my technical routine - like etudes - cycling through the standard ones randomly and regularly using the Roundom App (insert screen shot).

roundom app.jpg

A student told me about this app and I love it! I put all of my excerpts and solo repertoire in it, and then I just spin the colors until it randomly lands on my next selection to practice. It keeps me from getting stuck in the habit of practicing the same things in the same order and mixes things up a bit.

Day 34 Back to Union to coach Chamber Music in the morning. Between 10:30 and 2:30 I went home, made lunch, practiced, wrote emails (why does this always take forever?), and cleaned out my inbox...500+ emails erased and I feel like I can breathe again.

I taught private lessons after Harmony Project and enjoyed a rare evening without rehearsals. I made Ina Garten's delicious Weekday Bolognese and practiced. It felt like such a luxury!

Day 35 I went to Antoinette's Bakery early in the morning to catch up on some journaling before the TSO Musicians Committee meeting. This week the weather has been beautifully sunny and totally distracting. I just want to lounge around and read my book in the sunshine! During my practice session, I worked on music for the upcoming SoNA concert and Prokofiev's ballet, Cinderella Yikes! This ballet is tricky and very difficult to read (I resent old handwritten scores and parts).

~I also took a bath - one of the simplest luxuries! I always forget how well I sleep after a good soak!~

Day 36 I had my first private dressage lesson today - I love the lessons you learn on a horse! Their response to your correct action or movement is instant. I always try to replicate this process now when practicing the violin like when shifting for example:

What does it FEL LIKE to shift well? Recapturing that feeling will be more successful and helpful than just searching for the right notes over and over again, or in horse riding, just trying to get over the jump without attention to correct body placement and appropriate contact with the horse. I have such a hard time articulating these horse riding lessons as applied to violin playing but they make so much sense in my head!

After my lesson, I came home, practiced violin, took Blanche for a walk and prepped some food and snacks for my drive to Fayetteville for SoNA rehearsal in the evening. There was no Harmony Project this afternoon, which meant that I didn't have to rush around all afternoon and could spend a little more quality time at home (and working on my technique) than normal.

On the drive, I listened to some great podcasts - I haven't been doing much of that recently but I am now obsessed with "Atlanta Monster." If you like true crime, I think you'll like this one!

atlanta monster.jpg

I got home late from Fayetteville and went straight to bed with sweet Blanche who was home alone waiting for me.

Day 37 I mostly practiced Cinderella this morning before packing, teaching, Harmony Project, and hitting the road for Fayetteville. I'm spending the night because we have a rehearsal in the morning. I am so excited for the food and coffee! It has been too long since my last Arsaga's toast!

Day 38 I woke up early so I could read my book as I enjoyed some toast and a cappuccino in the sunshine before rehearsal. It was the perfect start to my day! Our SoNA concert is a collaboration with the Fayetteville Jazz Collective so we are playing a selection of movie music and big band collaborations like 007, Mission Impossible, Mambo from West Side Story, the Rocky Theme Song, and music by John Williams. They are so good!

I lounged in the afternoon doing absolutely nothing (what a luxury) before rousing myself for a run, some yoga and foam rolling, and some work on my Cinderella part before heading to Sala Thai for dinner. I love this place! Best Thai food in this region of the country.

After the concert, I drove home just so I would be extra tired for daylight savings time in the morning. Boo!

Day 39 I slept in today. I planned on doing a trail run with Jeff but quickly discarded that idea due to the need for practice and prep for our 3.5 hour Ballet rehearsal this afternoon. I worked on my part for about 90 minutes but it is tricky and there is so much music to get through! After rehearsal, Jeff and I went out for Indian food and had a relaxing evening watching Netflix and reading. A few hours spent not working and sleeping in this weekend were much needed! I felt so refreshed and calm by the time I went to bed even though I technically worked all weekend.

Day 40 I woke up early for 6 am yoga then promptly fell asleep on the couch with Blanche when I got home. Oops! I washed sheets in the morning, which made staying out of bed even more difficult.

I played an education concert at 1 in the afternoon with my small ensemble called "America's Musical Melting Pot" We play music from around the world in really quirky arrangements. It always makes me chuckle to perform Vivaldi's "Spring" with trombone continuo. 

I had an amazing riding lesson in the afternoon - I really feel like I nailed some of the timing throughout the jumping course better than I have in the past. The secret to my focus was taking one long, mindful exhale before starting the course. It really helped me tune in to Eliot and bring awareness to our plan and pace...I guess it is true that breathing is the secret to SUCCESS in life. I'll definitely be exploring that more soon!

I taught one lesson and enjoyed Jeff's specialty pasta (it is so simple but delicious) before getting down to work on the TSO mainstage concert music. OMG! It is a hard program! The counting in the "Chairman Dances" by John Adams requires so much concentration. These two weeks - Cinderella and this Mainstage program - are grueling. I'm happy it is spring break next week so I will have a little more time to practice!