Blog 7: December

December began with Mikko-Pekka’s second visit to Mannheim which included our mock auditions playing to the class on our own reeds. We played the same three excerpts one by one and then commented on what we could hear from each others reeds (not the excerpt performance). This was a really useful exercise not commenting on the music, but just what we can hear from the reed – mainly things like resonance, response, evenness etc. Mikko-Pekka enjoyed being in Mannheim and took us all out for Glühwein in the Christmas Markets. I managed to split, pre-gouge and gouge 2kg of cane over those few days which was exhausting but an activity that needed doing. I have also ordered a tip profiler which is arriving in February and I am very excited for this.

After Mikko-Pekka left, I went back to Cologne to get my bassoon back from Christoph. He did a great job with the tone holes and we tuned the instrument when I was there with about an hour of tweaking. He also carved me a wooden handrest specially for my hand and fitted a Heckel screw attachment to my bassoon. If anyone needs any overhauling or work on their bassoons I highly recommend Christoph!

Mannheim was really beginning to feel Christmassy with all three Christmas Markets popping up over the city. This feeling usually comes later in December but because of the markets and lights I was feeling in the Christmas mood earlier this year.

I went home for a very quick weekend visit and worked on the National Children’s Orchestra Winter Course. It was great to work with many friends who also work there and it is always a lot of fun looking after the children in the orchestra. I traveled back on the Monday and having arrived that afternoon, I had a concert with the Incontro Bassoon Quartet. It went very well and we all treated ourselves to a big Turkish meal after the concert. Hans, our contra professor, arrived the day after for some more classes which was great. We continued work on his practice system and plan to make some contra reeds in his next visit sometime towards the end of the semester.

To mark the end of 2019 in Mannheim we had another Klassenabend. I was extremely happy that one of my best friends Poppy came to visit me in Mannheim! She visited our school friend Paula in Cologne and then came to Mannheim to visit me and watch the Klassenabend. I showed her around to the Hochschule, the castle and all the Christmas markets. In the concert, I played the Tansman Sonatine again with Atsuko which is a super fun piece, as well as two of my arrangements played by Ole and the rest of the class. I arranged the overture from the Nutcracker and also Sibelius’s Finlandia – both recordings are on my YouTube and Facebook and we all had a lot of fun playing them. I was very grateful to have friends watching the concert; thank you Poppy, Anna Lena, Lyson, Sarah and Jannis! The day ended with drinks in Zentrale with the class and then we headed to a Karaoke bar. We then ran into Michael who is an ex-classmate and now plays in the National Theatre in Mannheim and he invited us for drinks at his flat. We had a really fun night and I think I showed Poppy a good time in Mannheim!

It was a great end to the year and am looking forward to my last month and a half in Mannheim before the end of my Erasmus.

Thank you for following my blog and I hope to see you at the next one!

Ashby x