We often hear the word “stodgy” to describe a certain style of playing. What does this word really mean and how can get get around it?
Last nights playing was certainly stodgy and as Harold described it, it was like we were all trying to climb on top of each other volume wise.
Stodgy by definition is heavy, peasant like consistency or dull and lacking in imagination, and in that sense it’s quite an appropriate description. It means we are playing for the sake of playing, not looking for or striving to bring out the nuance of the phrase and the lightness of the playing.
Many reasons can be attributed to this and in our ensemble it’s a very transient issue which we get on top of quickly. Some of the reasons simply aren’t musical either, I have listed a few below:
The time of year; people are tired, stressed and just struggling to get to the end of the year with the myriad of pressures upon them
The weather doesn’t help, grey skies, threat of rain never helps
The size of ensemble…we were big last night and that makes it hard to hear, therefore we tend to play louder rather than softer.
Fatigue of repertoire; you might be tired of playing phantom and frustrated but I have two major concerns on this piece. One is that we have to go over the same issues time and time again and don’t seem to grasp the detail that is delivered every week and secondly, if we stop playing it, will we lose all the hard work we have put in? Under normal circumstances, we would have done our concert and our contest and moved on, but right now we are looking at a 6 month extension and a major regroup following lockdown and that requires endurance and patience.
Identifying the causes of stodginess, means we can take steps to alleviate them, lighten up, soften, don’t work so hard, get your head in the zone early and forget the outside world, play for enjoyment first! I notice a lot of players don’t do any form of warm up and this is a trick I use, I have a 30 sec warm up that is use everyday, as soon as I play it I am centred on task and my brain tells me that I am in my happy music place and I can stop worrying about my business etc, it is a habit that helps!
Still, it was a solid night, and great to see some of our members returning after absence and illness, thank you for returning and all your hard work