Nicola Jurgensen, principal clarinet player of the WDR Symphony, wrote a blog. Here is a short part of it, translated into English. After the long trip from Germany and a hot night under the ventilator she meets her pupils for the first time. With her there are three more German musicians, Ludwig (French horn), Manuel (Oboe) and Christian (double bass), the driver Paulin and the interpreter and Congolese contact person Maggy. After a 40 minutes ride we arrive at what is at the same time the Kimbanguiste headquarters and the house of Armand Diangienda, conductor of the orchestra. Normally it takes half that long, but today we celebrate the International Women's Day. Hundreds and thousands of merrily dressed women and girls have gathered together in the streets, parading in long rows and carrying posters. Some streets are closed, Paulin has to take deviations. When we arrive at 10.30, none of the Congolese musicians is present. They only know we are here from today. So we sit down on the veranda and recover from the drive, physically and psychologically shaken Hard to transmit our impressions, like the chaos in the streets which probably (we take that for granted) reflects a certain order, but that does not reveal itself to us. Or the living quarters where we managed to take short glances into the houses and backyards. After a short time the adjectives for what we saw started to cease and it got silent in the car. But now we are sitting in Armand's house and wait for the musicians. From the beginning Some time later indeed there begin to appear people with instrument cases. Recognizing the shape of the cases (this here might be a French horn, that over there a tuba, or: might be a clarinet!) we get up accordingly and introduce ourselves to the musicians. This is Junior, first of the five clarinet players. I start to look for a room in this house full of nooks and crannies, and after some time we begin. Play a scale, I propose, or something you like. He starts with some part from the fourth movement of Beethoven's 9th symphony. From the moment his problems appear. I think about how to begin with solutions and how to translate my orders into my somewhat rusty French. Like Junior, Jasmine who shows up an hour later is playing on a very basic level. But both of them are good in first sight playing and it doesn't take long for them to play the easy Mozart duets I show them - maybe because the one who at a certain time is not working with me disappears into the corner of the room and practices his part. I don't want to reduce their enthusiasm, so it takes me quite a while, in fact until afternoon, to ask them not to play while I am working with another one. To start solving their problems I do easy exercises. Then we take to the Mozart duets. I play the second part. After all we want to play some music. Never tiring Around noon there comes Doble. While in the dining room we are served lunch in the presence of Armand on a flower decorated table, the three clarinet players are testing the mouth pieces and reeds I have carried here. I can hear them next door: Scales and Mozart, Mozart, Mozart. It will carry on like this until six in the evening, and I never watch them eating or even drinking some water. Breathing As we discover, in fact all of our woodwind players have got problems with their posture, their looseness and with their breathing. So we decide to give a little workshop in the afternoon, headline Breathing and Relaxing". Manuel, fluent French speaker, will lead it. We do a circle, standing there without instruments, and together try some relaxing and breathing exercises. Manuel is fantastic! He creates a cosy atmosphere and is able to say things clearly. But it is really hard for them just to let their arms hang down. Junior has an especially hard time just to relax his muscles. We try to explain the importance of looseness for working on a musical instrument. So in a short break he comes up to me and asks somewhat shyly whether he has to stop pomper" now - to work on his body with weights. No no I say, you only have to explain your body the difference between weight lifting and clarinet playing. Manuel and I decide to start the days with our exercises together.
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