Friday, November 5, 2010
Recorder Workshop with Anne Timberlake
Catacoustic hosted Anne Timberlake in a workshop for local recorder enthusiasts last night. Seven people participated, in addition to my bass viol student Alice Nutter, who played bass lines.
Several months ago I asked people what they wanted out of a workshop. I have offered recorder workshops in the past to mixed reviews, so it was important to make sure that the participants get something out of such an event. The response was that it would be good to learn about ornamentation - especially with regard to slow movements of sonatas. Another suggestion was ensemble skills. There are numerous recorder players in the area. You would be surprised to know that there are several local groups that meet to play consorts on a regular basis. I want to create a real community through early music in Cincinnati, which will in turn fulfill part of the mission of Catacoustic.
So, it was perfect when I contacted Anne (currently in Richmond, Virginia) and found out that that very day she was planning a trip back to visit her family in Indiana. She stopped by Cincinnati on her way.
The workshop was excellent. She communicated about ornamentation that made it seem quite accessible. She thought a lot about this topic to prepare for the workshop and had a step-by-step process for everyone to follow. She asked people to prepare a slow movement of a Handel sonata with and without ornaments. Things she talked about:
1) Why does one ornament?
2) When to ornament and when to leave the music alone
3) Types of ornaments - vibrato, mordents, trills, turns, fast scalar passages, rhythmic alteration, short versus long (articulation as ornament), etc.
4) Stylistic appropriateness and grasping the composer's intentions
5) Understanding the bass and rudimentary theory - looking at the bass line for dissonance, parallel octaves and fifths
6) Call and response with ornaments: she would play an ornament and ask everyone to play what she had just done.
Anne played several versions of recordings of this movement and asked people why they liked or didn't like them. She also demonstrated some tasteful and not-so-tasteful ornamentation examples.
Following the ornamentation session, everyone played consorts. Anne got people to talk about musical ideas - that before one plays a piece, you should figure out what the composer is trying to COMMUNICATE. Is the piece a battle or warlike piece? About sighing, about love, etc. After that she talked about having similar ideas of articulation and gestures based on what the piece is trying to communicate. She also got most everyone to take a turn leading the group with cues.
It was a great way to spend an evening, and everyone learned something, which I hope they will take back to their own personal musical lives.