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Point Counterpoint? And Next Piece to Tackle?

averageviolistaverageviolist 76 replies13 threads Junior Member
edited June 2011 in Music Major
I'm a 9th grader going into 10th, and I'm going to Point Counterpoint (PCP) this summer. It's a camp in Vermont (I live on LI right now, so in terms of distance it's reasonably close to drive to), and if anyone's gone there before, I'd like to know what it's like. Did you enjoy it? Was it musically stimulating? Would it look good on a resume? I want to major in Music Performance/Composition, and I wanna bulk up my resume along with my music.

(I'm a violinist-violist, equally confident on both instruments, but going to PCP on viola.)

To give an idea of my ability, in the last 2 years, I've studied the following solos from latest to earliest:

Fritz Kreisler - Caprice Viennois (had about a month to study it because I was originally riding on the Wieniawski Polonaise Brillante in D Major, then I had a giant technical block in the form of the last page with all the tenths that I could not play). Played this for NYSSMA this year, Level 6 - got a perfect 100 on it. The judge made note of my "expressive interpretation".

J.S. Bach - Adagio from the Unaccomp. G Minor Violin Sonata

Fritz Kreisler - Praeludium and Allegro (studied this for about 2 months because my private teacher, who's also the high school orchestra teacher wanted me to push myself). Played this for NYSSMA last year, Level 6 - got a 98 on it because I practically failed at playing the C# Major scale and the sight reading was messy. Judge also noted interpretation.

Jules Massenet - Meditation from "Thais" - played this for NYSSMA as well, Level 5 - perfect 100. Judge noted interpretation and tone.

And the following orchestral pieces in the last year (some with high school orchestra, some in stuff like LISFA, All-County, and pit orchestras that I can remember):

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky - Serenade for Strings, first movement - school orch

Ludwig van Beethoven - Symphony No. 5, finale - school orch

Leonard Bernstein -West Side Story (the actual thing) - pit orchestra

J. S. Bach - Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, complete - school orch

Leonard Bernstein - Selections from West Side Story (this is an arrangement but I don't know who it's by) - All-County

Pietro Mascagni - Intermezzo from "Cavalleria Rusticana" - All-County

Giuseppe Verdi - Overture from "Nabucco" - All-County

Percy Grainger - Irish Tune from County Derry - LISFA (I can only remember this piece for some reason)

Do you think PCP would be a good fit for me? It's mainly a string quartet/piano quintet camp as far as I can tell, and I have some quartet background - I played the Trout's 3rd movement at the camp I went to last year.

In addition, I've been trying to decide on a good solo to practise for next year, preferably something that I can audition on. I was thinking about the 1st mvt. of the Vieuxtemps 4 (violin), the Chaconne from the D Minor Unaccompanied (viola), the Szymanowski violin sonata in full (violin), or the Stamitz D Major (viola). One of my very close friends is a violist, also trying to major in Music Performance/Education, and he recently played the Stamitz for NYSSMA - Level 6, and he got a 97. I think the Stamitz would probably be the easiest one to tackle, along with helping out with the lack of Classical pieces in my repertoire, but then again I'd rather play something that I like, and my favourite piece of the four would probably be the Szymanowski, followed by the Chaconne.
edited June 2011
17 replies
Post edited by averageviolist on
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Replies to: Point Counterpoint? And Next Piece to Tackle?

  • mom4mom4 207 replies9 threads Junior Member
    I can't answer your repertoire questions but PCP was the best summer music camp for my son, a cellist who's now at BU Music School. He loved it, made great friends and thrived on the musical environment. He was there under the previous owners but in late spring 2010 we stopped by the camp and met the new owner and staff (we were in the area for my daughter's graduation from Middlebury College, which we "discovered" when we picked up my son from his first year at PCP). I think you'll have a wonderful summer!
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  • cellocompmomcellocompmom 232 replies14 threads Junior Member
    My son went to PCP for past 3 summers and had a wonderful time. Each year for a longer session. He is going to Interlochen this year for 6 weeks but had a great experience at PCP. Great faculty who really care and the owner is wonderful! PCP has a real sense of community. Hoping to send my younger son there sometime but he is already attending other wonderful music camps of his own. So many great choices. The son who attended PCP is a rising senior who is planning on being a composition major with either cello performance double major or comp. major with strong cello focus. This intense interest in composition came from PCP. Have a great summer.
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  • cellocompmomcellocompmom 232 replies14 threads Junior Member
    I would hope your teacher would work with you to select the next piece for you. My younger son is a serious violinist who has played a lot of the pieces you have mentioneed and I know his wonderful teacher always selects what he should work on next based on areas he would like him to focus on. I am also a music teacher-but not of cello or violin and I always try and pick something for my students that they not only love but will take them to the next level. Just my thoughts.
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  • averageviolistaverageviolist 76 replies13 threads Junior Member
    Thanks for the responses all! To mom4: did your son go to any other camps besides PCP? If so, what were they, and what were they like? To cellocompmom: All my solo pieces so far were jointly decided by me and my teacher. We've talked about my future repertoire selections many times, and those four were the ones that we thought would probably be the best. We were considering the de Falla Danse Espagnole and the Mendelssohn - both we thought required a bit more patience than what I could give. At this point, my main concern is with technical issues, because apparently my technical skills are lacking compared to my interpretive ones. Not to say that any piece should be considered an etude or something (well, except for the ones actually named etudes) but we want to work on bow control/finger dexterity in the higher positions and chord intonation before we start diving into harder repertoire.

    Edit: By the way, what division did your son going to Interlochen apply to, and what did he play? I was considering going to Interlochen, but I ended up not getting the scholarship I was looking for and decided against it.
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  • cellocompmomcellocompmom 232 replies14 threads Junior Member
    My Interlochen bound son is a cellist and is going to high school orchestra program for 6 weeks. He will also take a composition class while there. The violinist who is 13 is going to Greenwood for 3rd year and also be returning to Advanced Violin program at Ithaca College. You will love PCP. You will find a lot of levels of players there and somehow it works. You can work as hard as you desire and you will find wonderful support from the faculty. The cellist got into several programs this summer and while it was hard to say no to the others he is very excited about going to Interlochen. (Except that they have to wear uniforms.)
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  • musicprntmusicprnt 6216 replies37 threads Senior Member
    The pieces you have chosen are relatively high level (I might question working on the Chaconne at this point, most teachers I have seen tend to work through Bach sequentially and usually the Chaconne is something high level teachers don't work on until the other ones are knocked out from what I have seen). That said, the real key to all of this is how well you play the pieces, because on an audition that is what matters. If the time comes and you think you are going to audition for music school your audition repertoire will need to meet their requirements, but after that it is about how well you play it.

    More importantly, I think it is really important to get an assessment of your skills, your strengths and weaknesses, to see what you need to do. My recommendation might be to seek out a high level teacher to have an assessment of your skills. Being on Long Island you have a lot of options in terms of finding a person to do this, Stony Brook for example has a pretty good violin department or there are the music schools in NYC where you can arrange an assesment. I recommend this to get an assessment from someone who is on the other end, auditioning students into music programs, because quite honestly not all teachers know necessarily what it is like these days in terms of the level of playing that is required to get into auditioned programs, and especially on strings it is really, really high. Plus it never hurts to get an outside assessment, to get 'fresh eyes' looking at you.

    One thing I can suggest doing for yourself would be to go to the recitals at the pre college programs at Juilliard, MSM and Mannes, they are open to the public and free and it can give you perspective on what levels are like relative to yourself.
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  • averageviolistaverageviolist 76 replies13 threads Junior Member
    @cellocompmom: Thanks for all the info! I'm sure I'll have a great time there. :)

    @musicprnt: How would I arrange an assessment like that? How would I contact the teacher? I don't imagine it's as easy as calling them and asking them if they would mind listening to me play and rolling out a review just like that. Would it cost money? My family's really hurting for money right now and my mum doesn't like spending money on music-related things anymore, which really sucks, considering that I'm planning on majoring in it. But whatever.

    Thanks for the responses guys!
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  • fiddlefrogfiddlefrog 1209 replies10 threads Senior Member
    It seems to me that you need to learn something extended, ideally a complete concerto. From the information we have, you seem pretty musically sophisticated for your stage of technical development. However, you have an overabundance of short pieces listed. Pieces that might challenge you, but are less bearish than Mendelssohn, include Haydn C major concerto (don't underestimate the difficulty of this! It's quite difficult to play in tune and cleanly, let alone expressively); Bruch G minor concerto (or, perhaps, the second concerto of Bruch); Saint-Saens 3; Lalo.
    If I may say so, I don't think it's appropriate to consider Danse Espagnole and Mendelssohn as alternatives. The latter is a much, much bigger project than the former.
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  • compmomcompmom 11549 replies81 threads Senior Member
    For composition, we recommend looking at Walden School in Dublin NH, for another summer. There are also opportunities to play at Walden, alongside visiting musicians who are generally "world-renowned" with a focus on more recent composers.
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  • mom4mom4 207 replies9 threads Junior Member
    My son didn't like going to overnight camp until he went to PCP.
    He previously went to Blue Lake in Michigan and the Debut Orchestra program in LA--both orchestra programs, and the Debut Orchestra was a really unique, special experience (but short).
    We thought he would be happier and perhaps develop more musically in a small-ish chamber music program; kids can get lost in large orchestras.
    I think his love of PCP was a combination of his being ready for a longer camp experience, Lake Dunmore and Vermont, the music, making music, and the people at PCP.
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  • musicprntmusicprnt 6216 replies37 threads Senior Member
    I understand about the financial constraints, normally those assesments are one on a fee basis and probably aren't cheap, can cost up to a couple of hundred dollars in my experience....

    Couple of alternatives for you:

    -I don't know PCP but usually in chamber music situations like this they have instructors on the instruments as well as chamber coaching. Maybe if you mention to the people at the camp about your desire to go into music and wanting some sort of assessment of where you are,maybe someone there can work with you? I don't know if you have individual lessons as part of that program, but you may be able to arrange something informally. A lot of the time the people working at these programs have gone through top level music programs, so they can give you an idea. T

    -Have you talked to your current teacher about your desire to go forward with music? Besides their own advice, they may know someone who would be willing to listen to you and give you advice either on a reduced fee or free basis (it doesn't hurt to ask). Obviously, you would need to be diplomatic about this, you wouldn't want to say "well, Mr. X, I am seriously thinking of going into music, and I think i need someone else to assess my skills", wouldn't go over well. But if you said to him "You know, I have been seriously thinking of going into music, about going to a high level music school, and I am looking to try and figure out where I am and what I need to do to progress to get to that point.Looking at the requirements and what I am hearing, it sounds to be very competitive to get into a good music school, where do you think I stand at this point? I also have heard many people say it was pretty valuable to them to get an assessment both from their primary teacher and from someone more directly involved with admitting students to programs.....what do you think? And if you think it is a good thing to do, do you have any contacts or people you know who would be willing to listen to me?". I know it can be hard to talk about family finances, but mention to him that funds are tight and it would be great to find someone willing to do it either free or relatively cheaply.

    As far as repertoire goes, as fiddlefrog pointed out, usually when working on repertoire teachers generally teach longer pieces, the standard is full concertos, usually starting younger with the so called teaching concertos (Reading, etc), and then usually working up through the concerto pecking order. Vieuwtemps 4 is usually a piece taught later, usually teachers do pieces like the Mendelsohn and Bruch and Lalo before doing that (depends on the teacher), it is a progression of sorts. It is important to learn the entire pieces, because generally the movements are all very different from one another, and show different things in terms of playing (for example, the first movement and the 3rd movement are generally fast in a romantic concerto, the 2nd is slow and more lyrical and showcase different things). When you audition for schools, you are expected to know the entire piece and even if you only play sections, they will pick and choose from among the different movements (plus you usually have to have more then 1, such as having a romantic concerto and a 20th century concerto). I highly recommend looking at the websites of music programs and seeing what is required on violin or viola during the audition, it will give a view of what you are expected to know.

    One other question, have you had to learn the pieces you have done by memory? I know it is a stupid question, but I have run into students whose teachers weren't making them memorize it, which for most concertos and show pieces is the way you would be expected to audition on them and it is important to learn it that way.

    And as I mentioned in my last post, one way to see where you stand is to go to the pre college recitals at places like Juilliard,MSM and Mannes to see the level of playing, their programs are on Saturday and the recitals are free. They may post them on their websites, or you can go there on a Saturday (usually the recital season starts in October) afternoon and sit in and the only cost is commuting into the city.
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  • averageviolistaverageviolist 76 replies13 threads Junior Member
    @fiddlefrog: Yeah, me and my teacher have mainly been working on pieces in the NYSSMA handbook - probably a very flawed style of learning pieces. Based on what I've said previously in this thread, which of your/my proposed pieces would you think would probably be best for me?
    If it helps any, I'd say my weaknesses are probably extended runs of sixteenth notes that aren't in sequence and thirds in sequence (a la Paganini 1).

    @compmom: I looked up the site and it said it's for 18+ :(

    @mom4: How are the accommodations? Was he allowed to bring a phone/laptop or such? Was it in a cabin? How many people to a sleeping area?

    @musicprnt: Since I'll be going to the pre-college Mannes program next year I think I'll definitely have that available at least. Perhaps I'll ask teachers as well at PCP. Me and my current teacher are very close (she's my first private teacher, and she's also my orchestra teacher!) so I think she'll definitely know lots of people.

    We never learnt pieces with the specific intention of memorising them, but I ended up doing that anyway. For longer pieces I imagine I'll have to actually work on that. Again, as I asked fiddlefrog, out of the pieces presented in this thread (and maybe a few that haven't been, but would be great to work on) which would you suggest I learn next? Of course, this next decision would be talked over with my teacher, but I want to know what people think would be a suitable course; most sites that have suggested repertoire have very... wide-ranging pieces. A couple I saw suggested Praeludium and Allegro in the same breath as Czardas and Vieuxtemps 5, so I was deeply confused.
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  • stradmomstradmom 5197 replies51 threads Senior Member
    If you're looking at some sort of list of "graded" rep, then it might seem as if pieces are far apart. However, as you no doubt know, it's as much "how you play it" as "what you are playing." For instance, that first page of P&A is deceptively simple... Many students get to college and find that their professors have them begin on pieces that they first encountered years and years ago in order to work on technique.

    Is your plan to go for violin or viola as your primary instrument? Which do you plan to study at Mannes?
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  • averageviolistaverageviolist 76 replies13 threads Junior Member
    That's very true as well. In terms of admitting students, I'd rather let in someone who played the Mozart G Major like a dream than a butchered Tchaikovsky.

    After thinking about it for several months I think I'm going to make viola my primary instrument, not only because it's a much rarer instrument but also because I love the timbre (so dark and soulful!) of the viola. Of course, that'll mean I'm going to be missing playing the melody, but I can stand that. :P

    Oh, and yeah, I'm going as a violist to Mannes.
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  • stradmomstradmom 5197 replies51 threads Senior Member
    As the parent of two violists, both of whom started out as violinists, let me offer you a hearty welcome to the dark side!
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  • averageviolistaverageviolist 76 replies13 threads Junior Member
    LOL. Thanks for the gracious welcome!
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  • musicprntmusicprnt 6216 replies37 threads Senior Member
    Congrats on getting into the Mannes program, I think that is going to help you a great deal, those programs are structured around getting students onto the right track, and I think it will be good for you because it will give you a lot of experience with what it means to play music on a high level and the kind of work it takes (programs like mannes require work in music theory, ear training, orchestra and chamber as well as individual lessons), and you will be around other top notch players as well which will help drive you forward. I suspect the orchestra experience is going to be a bit more challenging then you have done before which is going to help. One thing I recall from my school orchestra days is that school orchestras tend to play movements of pieces or arrangements rather then the entire piece in its original for, at mannes you will probably be playing whole pieces.

    You definitely need to work on memorizing the pieces, that is going to be required with your teacher at Mannes (concertos and show pieces, sonatas and modern pieces are generally not memorized in my experience, including modern concertos). As far as repertoire, I think your teacher at Mannes will probably be the best guide for that (I don't know the Viola rep other then a couple of pieces, like the Walton and Hindemith concertos). One thing I have seen Viola students work on is the Bach solo cello suites (I have heard some fantastic recordings done by violists, to me it is as good or better on viola then on the cello:).

    A couple of points/suggestions:

    -Your viola teacher at Mannes will probably do an assessment on you, since you will be new to them and they will put you on something they think it appropriate. One warning is the teacher may put you on something you may feel is 'moving back', but don't take that as a slap at you or anything like that, that is very common with new teachers, it is done because they may feel there are things you need to work on that that piece brings out, that has happened with my own child on the violin. As others have pointed out and you did as well, the key to all this is learning technique, the pieces they choose are generally chosen to further your technique and build up the things you need, it isn't the pieces per se as what they teach you. There are a lot of teachers out there who rush their kids through the concertos, to get them fast to pieces like the tchaik and sibelious violin concertos, and it is a mistake, because often in rushing the kids end up with big gaps and end up playing the high level pieces, well, crappy (I saw a video recently of a 10 year old playing the Beethoven, which is a travesty, to say the least, normally that is attempted in college).

    -If you are serious about going into music, how much time do you spend practicing? If you are serious in the next several years about going into music, it takes a lot more effort then less serious students do. I can't suggest how much time it would take you, but in general with kids tracking towards music (I am talking strings here), the general range is from 2-4 or more hours a day (it varies, obviously). It takes a lot of work and effort to get playing to the level required to get into music programs, it is basically a grind to get things into shape. The difference between good, very good and excellent doesn't seem like much, but to move from one to a higher level takes a lot of work, and practicing is the way that happens. So called natural ability can often take someone through a school music program doing really well, but take it from me, at the next levels up that won't work. I realize it is hard to do that with school work and such, but you may want to start ramping up your practice time if you already aren't . Don 't start practicing multiple hours if you have been doing 30 minutes or an hour now, build it up, slowly increase it.

    One piece of advice, take breaks in the middle of practicing, Maybe every half hour of practice time take 10 minutes or so in break, it seems to help maintain practicing and also seems to help avoid some of the issues with aches and pains and strains string players have, my child found that out when they ramped up from where they had been to where they are now.

    Wish you luck, hope this helps.
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