I have no words. It's been too much, too great, too inspiring, too stimulating, and finally too exhausting.
Over four days in Appleton I heard two of my students outdo themselves performing in masterclasses. I helped one find a bocal, and joyously encouraged another to purchase an English horn. I bought an oboe. The Ingle Oboe Studio is SUBSIDIZING this convention, I've just realized!
I've been blown away by player after player, piece after piece. I'm returning home with a new eagerness to play better, do better, be better.
I saw my teacher. I saw my mentors. I saw friends and colleagues. I saw former students and current ones. I've made contacts for the future, and had beautiful conversations in the now. I sold some CDs, and met some reed business customers and blog readers.
I performed, and some of it went really well, and I know now how I'm going to improve that program going forward.
The thing that made the greatest impression on me this time around was how FRIENDLY everyone was. It's not JUST that many of us see each other only once a year at this conference. It's not JUST that we all are sympathetic to anyone trying to make it work on this instrument that we love - people forgive water in the keys, resistant reeds, unexpected noises, and celebrate the performances that transcend the instrument.
It's that the great and famous players, the teachers, the amateurs, the students, are all just folks. You can fall into a conversation with anyone as you wait for the next concert to happen or sit in the cafe taking a break from the exhibition floor. And we all had common ground, and everyone was open to learning, and everyone wants to know what equipment you are playing on and what you like about it. How your orchestra is doing. What you're working on professionally.
I'm friendly, and I trust and love humans as a generality - but I don't have this kind of easy, open camaraderie with random people in the post office line, and I wouldn't approach just any celebrity to speak about my appreciation of their work. But at the convention we are just people, all working on it together, and I loved that sense of community.
When the great Alex Klein came out onto the stage on Friday night, he was in the midst of an extended and public setback, which I will not go into here. The musical world has been abuzz. There are many thoughts and many rumors. But his arrival on the stage was greeted with the longest ovation of the entire conference. His performance - from memory - of the Silvestrini Etudes was thrilling, imaginative, amazing, magical. And the reception from that audience was tremendous. It was an outpouring of love, respect, affection, and validation. I was a part of that ovation, that audience, and the experience brought tears to my eyes. In the double reed world, you can have setbacks, but we don't forget what you have done and been for us. The oboe players - they have your back.