Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Meeting Sir James Galway

When I was eleven years old I started playing the flute because my best friend at the time started playing the flute the year before and I thought it was really cool.  My parents rented an Artley for me and then when I was 15 invested in a professional model Gemeinhardt.  

For the first ten years of my musical education, my flute and I were not far apart. My life revolved around my band friends and activities. I was a music major (flute performance - I never had any aspirations of becoming a band director!) when I started college, 

and met my husband (euphonium and tuba) in the marching band at the University of Utah.

In the late 70's, when I first became aware of music around me, Jean-Pierre Rampal was the big name in recorded flute music. Then James Galway started making his way into the record stores. Most people would have heard him first in John Denver's 'Annie's Song'. When I was in high school I bought my first cassette tape of Galway. (I just looked on iTunes to confirm the name of this album, but it looks like the pieces were absorbed into other compilations.)

In addition to marrying a band geek, we've raised four band geeks: 

two flutists,

a French horn player 

and a percussionist

(and we are getting ready to get our youngest set up with her first instrument - another flute.)  
We have also acquired a son-in-law band geek who plays french horn with the 
UMW Symphony Orchestra.
And THAT's how I found out that James Galway was coming to Fredericksburg!

I will admit that once I was married with small children and began moving around the world with my USMC husband, there were years that I didn't even know where my flute was.  I didn't really start playing with any regularity until we moved to Fredericksburg and Mike retired from the Marine Corps. We became charter members of the Fredericksburg Community Concert Band and some friends and I started up the 

Fredericksburg Ayres (Fredericksburg's Finest Flute Ensemble!)
Marla Snyder, Kristine Clifford, Julie Lauver and moi

So for the last 15 years my life has been flute enriched again, just in time for Sir James Galway to come into my life and re-energize my love of my flute. 

In addition to the concert, those with VIP tickets were invited to a question and answer session the morning of the concert.  Unfortunately the lighting was horrible and my pictures did not come out.  I didn't have any good questions to ask (- until after the session then I thought of a great one, but I'll have to keep it to myself I guess...)  

A Few Nuggets From Galway
  • Get into a practice routine which starts with long tones, moves through scales, etudes then a nice piece of performance music. (He still does this!)
  • Your embouchure should be relaxed - not 'smiley' like band directors tend to teach their beginning flute players (and I will be conscious of as I start my newest flute player on her flute adventure.)
  • Three pressure points: lip, right thumb and left crook in the index finger. These three points will support the flute.  The fingers should be relaxed and natural.
  • The keys should be 'stroked' not 'hammered'.  
  • When practicing the long tones, practice playing these at a variety of dynamics, especially pianissimo and maintain intonation throughout. He said when playing pianissimo, you are not lessening how fast the air is blown, you are lessening how big the airstream is.   This really made me stop and think, because we are always told to 'support' those soft notes, but what does that really mean? Well, Sir James just told me!  
After the concert, which was just amazing, the VIP ticket holders were invited to a reception to meet him.  

Marla Snyder, moi, Sir James Galway, Sue Cosgrove

My dear husband was the great photographer, and his only question for Sir James Galway?  "What's your favorite beer?"
His response? 

Guinness, of course!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

February Quilting Queue Update

I ended January's quilting post with a to-do list of things I wanted to accomplish in February.  The list was definitely attainable...well...until I joined three more Block of the Month (BOM) projects.  In my defense, the only thing I did NOT do was finish Mike's quilt. It sits here patiently waiting for me to finish hand quilting it, but alas it got pushed to the end of the queue. Again.

The things I was able to keep up with this month:

Craftsy BOM 2013 February blocks

Folk Cat block

Sue Spargo Dancing Birds BOM

I left the month of January with these three very manageable on-going projects, plus the Civil War quilt for Mike I mentioned earlier.

But I couldn't leave well enough alone.  

The next three BOM projects all teach a technique I had been introduced to, but wanted more practice with.

This is the Lucky Stars BOM from the blog: http://www.dontcallmebetsy.com/p/lucky-stars-bom.html
This BOM teaches paper piecing.  I'm making the 6.5" blocks and the 12.5" blocks.  I've had a fat quarter bundle of Cuzco by Moda fabrics sitting on my sewing table since January waiting for just the right project, and this was it.

And even though I was sure I wanted to use these fabrics for this project, it didn't make it any easier to start pulling the fat quarters from the artfully fanned bundle... sigh...

The next BOM project I'm doing is teaching a technique called Quilt As You Go (QAYG), so after you make a block you quilt it and at the end you somehow stitch them all together.

 I really didn't want to buy any more fabric in order to do this project, but was stuck on what to use for it.  I got inspiration from the marked down fabric at my new local quilt shop, The Crazy Cousin, where I spied a Civil War reproduction background fabric. 


Something to do with the plethora of CW fabrics in my stash!!!!

The link for this BOM is:

I've actually gotten the next two block made for this BOM, but she posts the quilting directions two weeks after the piecing directions, so the schedule isn't quite monthly....     

I also started this fun BOM from GenX quilters: http://www.genxquilters.com/2012/12/sisters-ten-modern-bom-2013.html

I love the fabrics, and the piecing is not necessarily a new technique, but the layout at the end is very different and I'm curious how this will all play out.

Okay so not only did I make 14 extra blocks that I had not planned on doing, I also COMPLETED two more quilts.  This first was a wall hanging that I had made years ago from a kit I purchased from http://www.connectingthreads.com/Quilting.cfm

I had completed the top and had it all basted waiting for me to machine quilt it, and I just wasn't ready to take that plunge until now.  So this month I quilted and bound it and it is sitting in my office waiting for me to change my decor from winter to spring.  

The last thing I'm going to show you is a crib sized quilt I made for my new grand-niece (great-niece?) who I'm expecting to be born before I go to bed tonight!  I wanted to make an 'I Spy' quilt for her from the many fabrics I had already in my stash. So I just started cutting out 3 1/2" blocks and then started sewing them together:

I was able to complete this in a little over two days. When I put it in the chair to take a pic of it, Polly was sure I had made it for her and promptly posed for it!  

One cool thing I did for the first time ever was to add this piping to the binding.  I LOVE the effect and hope to make my bindings AND my borders more interesting from now on.  I sent the quilt off and just this week got great feedback from the Paquettes up north that they love it! Now I just need to wait for baby pics!

My last comment for this post is an invitation for you to check out any of these blocks on my Flickr page.  Because these classes are taught online, the people taking the class can't see what everyone else in the class is doing, so the instructors encouraged everyone to post their blocks on Flickr. So if you are interested in seeing any of these blocks in more detail, check out my Flickr page here:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/ppaq614/