Starting to feel like a proper piccolo player again

When I play piccolo in session, I typically hang out in my lower octave–which, for those of you who are musically inclined, is notated at starting at D above middle C on the staff, i.e., the D just below the bottom of the staff. BUT: that’s actually an octave up from a flute playing the same octave, because a piccolo’s pitched an octave up from a standard concert C flute. So if I’m hitting what’s written out as a D above middle C, I’m actually hitting a D that’s an octave up from that.

Because it’s been so long since I regularly played piccolo, I’ve been staying in that octave for a couple of reasons. One, I haven’t yet regained my old ability to not get louder if I get higher–and a piccolo playing higher notes is pretty damned high. Two, my embouchure also hasn’t been steady enough to not only hit those notes, but hit them cleanly and purely, which is vital on the piccolo. I hit a higher note wrong, you will be able to tell. And the last thing I want to do in session is be the person hitting the obvious high, squeaky notes. *^_^*;;

But this is starting to change. Thanks to regularly going to session–and, more importantly, regularly practicing at home every few days–I’m starting to get my proper piccolo embouchure back. We finished up last night with “Da Slockit Light”, which gets up into what’s written out as my middle octave (which is the third octave on a flute). I was quite happy to get some good notes out up in the neighborhood of G and A! I did notice I was slightly flatter in that octave than I am in the lower one, though. Not sure yet whether this is because I still need to improve that embouchure or if my piccolo needs some tuneup work, or both.

Meanwhile, a fiddle player I hadn’t met yet (I don’t know if she’s new to the Renton session or if she just hadn’t been there when I’ve been before) gave me an awesome pointer. I told her I was learning several tunes off of sheet music since that’s where my background is, and I’m not as solid learning things by ear. She recommended I record myself playing various tunes I’m interested in, reading off of sheet music if need be, and then work on learning the tunes just by listening to myself play. Which sounds like an awesome idea, and I’m going to have to try that!

Note also: “Da Slockit Light” is a gorgeous little tune, and I’m going to have to learn it properly. It’s also got a bit of “aww” with its origin. It was written by Tom Anderson, and according to that Wikipedia page, “Slockit” means “extinguished”, and the title is a reference to people moving away from the area where he grew up.

Also noted from last night’s session: “Dunmore Lasses”, “Out on the Ocean”, and “Kid on the Mountain” are my latest additions to TunePal. Once I get a better handle on more of the tunes in Matt’s PDF, I’m going to start burning through the TunePal set as well!

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