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Showing posts from September, 2009

In Recovery

I am in recovery this week. I don't mean I'm sick, though that is also the case, with a cold that Zoe brought home from nowhere I can determine. I mean, where does a nine week old baby go that her parents don't? It's a mystery to me, but she definitely was the originator of this bug that Steve and I are both fighting. But this is not my point.

The time immediately following an audition, or recital, or any other big project is always a recovery period for me. I find it impossible to work - in my own practice room - with the intensity I'm accustomed to. It doesn't matter whether I won or lost, or how I felt about my performance - I think it's just a reaction to finally being DONE with a big project. I've worked and worked with an end in sight, and once that end is passed I can coast on my previous practicing a little. Cease to be so critical of myself. Let myself enjoy the new plateau for a few days or a week.

In 2003 I prepared for a competitio…

Upcoming Concert

South Bend Symphony Orchestra
Saturday, 9/26, 8:00 pm

For tickets go to southbendsymphony.com. Student tickets are always just $5!

Masterworks I
Rimsky-Korsakov - Russian Easter Overture
Bernstein - Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
Rachmaninov - Piano Concerto No. 3
Gleb Ivanov, piano

We had our first rehearsal last night and this concert will be GREAT! Come and check us out.

Getting Back on the Horse

I did a 10K yesterday morning - it was my longest run since having Zoe. I had planned to do the 5K version of this run and to try to better my time from two weeks ago, but then decided to get my distance up before my speed. With a strong base of miles under me I can add some intervals and speed workouts over the winter and be fast again (i.e. back to my not-fast 8 minute mile peak from last year), whereas adding speed too early is a recipe for injury. Accordingly, since I had done a 5.4 mile run last weekend I used the 10K as a nice easy long run with water stops and a t-shirt at the end.

On the oboe, I also feel that it's useful to have a critical mass of practice in before expecting the little fancy nuances to come easily. I've worked hard since about 10 days post-partum to bring my playing back to an appropriate level, and now eight weeks later I'm on my way to my first post-Zoe orchestral audition. I can't wait to see how it goes!

This is Not What I Went to School For

This is not what I went to school for. I am a performer. I love teaching, and I have great students and I enjoy every minute I spend with them, but the amount of time I have to spend NOT teaching in order to teach is becoming absurd.

Scheduling them all in the first place is a major jigsaw puzzle that has to combine my free hours and theirs, taking commutes and timezones into account, and remembering that some of them are taking hour lessons, some half-hours, some forty-five minutes, and some change week to week depending on how much time or money or prepared material they have. Some take lessons every week, some every other week, and some at erratic intervals throughout the semester. Then there's billing - those who pay me monthly need new invoices each month that reflect how much they paid me last time and all of the adjustments that came up over the past month - how many times they missed and whether those absences were excused or unexcused - how many reeds they haven'…

Idle Thought

I should be practicing right now. Putting in the hours to prepare for my audition on Monday. But this morning before I left home to teach I chose to use my time making a chicken salad that we could eat for the rest of this busy week, and now after my Notre Dame student I am cheerfully enjoying my lunch at the local coffee house, Zoe snoozing beside me in her car seat. Sometimes it's healthier to use your time taking care of yourself instead of your reeds. Or at least I hope so...

Different Sounds for Different Situations

I played a recital Thursday night with the wind quintet from my orchestra, and I LOVE playing with these guys! There's such good communication and trust in the group, and it's so much fun to play with fine musicians. Although we hadn't worked together since last spring, it felt familiar and easy - just like riding a bicycle. Your body doesn't forget how.

Chamber music is usually taxing playing, so I was glad that I had been practicing as much as I had, but it is always amazing to me how different it feels - physically - to play with others instead of alone. There's a difference in the quality of sound and tone that I strive for in a small group. Alone, I work on integrity of line, and on clarity of sound, and on achieving fullness and richness in every register. In quintet, though, I have to be able to blend with the clarinet or flute, or hide in the texture, so my normal solo voice is only very occasionally useful. Mostly I need a duller sound, with much ol…

My Favorite Metronome Games

The metronome is a musician's most important tool. It's useful when you are just learning to play and to read music, but it remains tremendously valuable to advanced students and professionals as well. As a teacher, I can easily identify the students who work regularly with a metronome - there is both a clarity and a confidence in their playing which is hard to duplicate - and can also hear immediate improvement when a student begins to work with one. As a professional oboist, I don't leave home without one, and I don't think I ever play a full practice session without at least referring to mine, and more often using it extensively.

Here's the thing, though. The metronome does not need to be a mindless tool, turned on at the beginning of the session and clicking away constantly. And it has a lot more uses than just checking the printed tempo of the piece you're working on. It is not a barrier to creativity, but ideally can be a spur to it. I have numerou…