I left shortly after the morning lectures started (re-read yesterday's blog-- I do NOT understand Polish!) to find a lovely cafe where I had breakfast. After that, I went back to the Academy and listened to a few Polish lectures (and though I definitely didn't understand everything, I did take some information away from each), until it was my turn. SURPRISE!! The equipment didn't work! Thankfully Marcin and his handy-dandy zip drive were in the audience, and I was able to present my topic, "How Loud is Too Loud?" without too much headache.
Do YOU know "How loud is too loud?" Loudness is a psychological concept-- but decibels (sound intensity) aren't. I spoke about the human auditory system and how it works, what we do to damage it, and how we can protect it. I saw a lot of shocked faces after my presentation, so hope I helped this audience to consider the things they do that might put their hearing in danger (and seriously, folks-- for musicians, it is SUPER important to maintain our hearing skills!!). The one, super easy take-home-message is, WEAR EARPLUGS! If you have any questions about that, send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
After my presentation, we all had lunch at the Academy Cafeteria, and then I began my marathon 3-hour master class. I met with 6 students for a half hour each. In a completely bizarre turn of events, I had only heard or played two of the pieces I was presented (usually you know all the pieces played), yet I feel like I was still effective with all of the students. The very cool thing is, you don't have to talk about the notes on the page to be a useful instructor (that's an Insider Secret!). With almost all of them I talked about technique, and different ways to approach their instruments and what they were playing. Thankfully most of the students were (or at least seemed!) comfortable enough with English to understand what I was saying, and I do hope I gave each of them something to think about. Whether or not they adapt my ideas into their regular viola lives is completely up to them and their teachers, but either way, I'm pretty sure I gave them some ideas to stretch their understanding of viola playing.
After that, I was blessed to be able to share my interpretation of Rebecca Clarke's Shorter Pieces for Viola and Piano with pianist Anna Starzec-Makandasis. She was an absolute joy to work with these past few days, and performing with her in front of an audience was no different. THANK YOU Anna!!! I'm very happy with how I played, and feel like I was well-able to project how I feel about these six shorter works. I got some really nice comments afterwards, and look forward to sharing with you the audio recording I know was made at the concert.
After that, Spencer and Nicholas played THREE (yes, THREE) full sonatas back-to-back without a break!!! They were all Romantic-style/era pieces I'd never heard before, and they are all completely worthy of being a staple in the Viola Repertoire. Kudos to Spencer for finding these Gems, and to him and Nicholas for giving a Seriously Killer performance!
Then, finally, we were off to dinner. It was quite lovely, with lots of laughter and many languages (mostly Polish and English, with a bit of Italian, Russian, and French thrown in), and a LOT of light.
Well see... now we've finally come to the Very Memorable Dinner I shared with Spencer and Nicholas last night...
We went to DARK RESTAURANT. Unwittingly (seriously) we ended up at the only completely blacked-out restaurant in Poznań (and I believe Poland). What? Well-- we arrived (after having read a few reviews and being attracted by their vegetarian- and vegan-friendly options (we'd eaten a LOT of meat in the last few days)) at a place that looked a bit spooky. But it was raining and we were hungry and tired and we could understand the language on the sign... so we went in and waited for a while at a long table in a dim room, listening to other customers chatting and laughing in another room...