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Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

King Solomon, Beta-blockers and trumpet players
with Classical Music Agony Aunt ALICE McVEIGH

Dear Alice,
Congratulations on your Schelomo with the orchestra -- I thought it was fabulous. What did it feel like?
PS Elgar's second was sensational too.

Dear Annie,
Gosh, that's really hard to describe. For around two days before it I was not existing, I was so nervous. I didn't want to eat (especially on the day) and couldn't sleep much -- the bloody piece just kept insinuating its way into what I'm pleased to call my brain. I wanted to practice but forced myself not to, having pulled a minor hand muscle the previous week ... maybe that's why it was so bad this time!!! (the Dvorák was nothing in comparison, at least in terms of nervous tension). I responded to the wrong questions and attempted to teach pupils the wrong pieces. My head was ... somewhere in King Solomon's time. I even dreamed about it!!!!!!!!!!!!!

King Solomon at Alice McVeigh's performance of Bloch's 'Schelomo' with the Bromley Symphony Orchestra on 17 November 2007. Photo © 2007 Keith Bramich

But -- let's face it -- it was always going to go OK. It's a piece I've loved my whole life and frankly not half as hard as many cello concertos -- and I took two beta-blockers!!!!!!!!!! So I enjoyed every note. It was afterwards that I had a reaction I'd never had before: almost a bereavement feeling. Withdrawal symptoms. Feeling really low and depressed because it was over. I guess I was high as a kite and had to come crashing down!!!!!
Just getting back to 'normal' now, whatever that is.
(Is it possible to love a piece TOO much?)

Ask Alice

Dear Alice,
My problem is that i don't play well enough to keep my boyfriend. We're in the same youth orchestra and he is principal trumpet and i am about the worst of the violins. i think he already likes the principal trombone more than me.

Dear Anon,
I'm pretty sure you're wrong.

Principal trumpeters -- especially principal trumpeters -- don't want competition. Believe me, his dream is of a snug, modest (preferably second) violin to keep the home fires burning. Even if he admires the principal trombone's playing he wouldn't want her ego cluttering up his life outside of orchestra. No, HIS ego is the only one he wants to deal with.

But do YOU want to deal with it? Are you sure you love someone whose idea of getting kicks is drowning out a load of harmless string-players? Wouldn't you do better with the second bassoon, or a cellist (not one too far up the section)? Also, trumpet players are notorious cheaters on their partners, and I get the impression that this would really bug you.

My very first cello teacher, from Latvia, Robert Hofmekler, always counselled me thus, 'Never go out vees a trompet player!!!!!'
(And I never did.)

Copyright © 23 November 2007 Alice McVeigh, Kent, UK

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