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Showing posts from November, 2009

Warming Up

This has been a goofy week, since I've been based away from home playing South Pacific. Zoe and Steve and I have been staying with family in Chicago, and loving it, but I haven't spent any time on the oboe besides the six hours a day that I'm in the pit. I'm enjoying that time, actually - I'm using it to work on some specific vibrato ideas and on soft dynamics and on consistency, all of which have been getting short shrift at home recently. Since after the initial learning curve the music for the show isn't difficult, I can pay attention to my playing in a focused way, and having all those hours under my belt is a nice change from the 25 minutes at a time I can grab at home with the baby there. What I do miss, though, is a good daily warmup.

Warming up is important, both for physical exercise and on the instrument. I can't just pick up the oboe and start playing. Actually, I can. I can do it, and I can do it well, and I can get away with it for days…

Trust the Oboe

A few weeks ago my quintet performed in a library. We were backed up into a bay window, and due to the way the bell of the horn faced (back into the window) and our relative positions in the quintet (kitty corner, with my ear right where his sound was reemerging from the window) I actually literally could not hear the sound of my own instrument when he was playing. He's a very good and very sensitive player, so I knew he wasn't doing it on purpose (and probably wasn't aware of the trouble I was having) and also knew that in the middle of the performance there was no way to reset the quintet to eliminate that acoustical anomaly. I knew I was producing sound from the way the reed vibrated in my mouth and the way no one in my quintet was looking askance at me, but as far as my ears could tell I was just sitting there wiggling my fingers.

What a dismaying feeling! I'm insecure enough about my pitch and sound - ESPECIALLY in a wind quintet, where the oboe really can sti…

Turning Over

Zoe can turn over now. She's been working on this skill for days. Initially, it required a lot of squealing and a lot of effort and sometimes she got stuck half way and had to shout for help. It's been improving markedly, though, and now she whips over from her back to her front with cat-like speed every time I set her down. Two inconvenient things about this, though. Once she gets onto her tummy she can't turn back over, and she doesn't exactly like being on her tummy, so she has to squall for assistance in getting back over. And two - she is so enamored of her new skill that she really can't do anything else. Like sleep, say, or eat, or sit calmly on my lap while I eat or work. No, she has to be TURNING OVER all the time now, and even though she's so tired by the end of the day she can't do anything but wail, she still would rather turn over over and over than actually fall asleep when put down.

I can remember when I was this focused. When I could…

Even in my Sleep

Zoe woke me a few nights ago from a dream. In my dream I was in some odd Arctic camp, and my father walked in. My dad passed away in May and really hasn't shown up in many of my dreams so I was very excited. In my dream I hugged him, and immediately asked if he had brought those English horn reeds that I need to send to that guy.


I might be a little overextended, yes?

Upcoming Concert

This week I perform with the South Bend Symphony. The concert is Saturday night at 8, at the Morris Performing Arts Center. As always, student tickets are only $5!

Masterworks II
Signature StringsEuclid Quartet Strings dictate the evening’s musical selections starting with the beautiful Vaughn William’s Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. Continuing the string theme is Martinu’s Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra, performed with the “electric” personality of South Bend’s own Euclid Quartet at Indiana University South Bend. Ending the concert is the romantic Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 2.

Click here for tickets and more info.

From One Extreme to Another

In the time it took me to edit my last rant down to a non-homicidal level for publication, I had a rejuvenating weekend in Chicago - a perfect antidote to all the nonsense in my life during the past few weeks. Great company, great music, and tons of great food. And Zoe was everything I had daydreamed about my daughter being.

In the first place, it was a treat to play Loeffler with Sharon and Paul. We had performed this work together five years ago, and worked hard on it then. We were all well prepared this time around, and five years more advanced in our own playing, and it went together like a dream. Our short rehearsal was one of the most gratifying experiences I've had in a while.

We stayed over Friday night after our first rehearsal and had a late-night dinner and yummy red wine. My pianist, Paul, is also the most satisfying cook I know - everything he makes is designed to have the maximum possible calories per bite, and therefore is the most delicious thing I've ever…

Overwhelmed

I have too many students. It used to be that the teaching was all fine except for the scheduling and invoicing - but now I can't see straight during the lessons either. Or maybe it's just this week that feels like that. I know that all day Monday I dragged myself from lesson to lesson feeling like a boring teacher and having no amazing insights for anyone. Then the same thing happened Tuesday. Wednesday was a little better, but then Thursday we had some baby meltdowns to deal with and I had a hard time recovering. It's not that I've never taught weak lessons before, here and there, but that I worry that this trend can only continue as Zoe gets more and more active and needy, and I get more and more overbooked. Of course, a full night of sleep once or twice would probably help, too.

I feel like the Ten of Wands in the tarot deck. That's the card with the guy carrying a tremendous burden of wands, with the destination far far off in the distance. The responsi…

Upcoming Concert

This weekend's concert is going to be a major event. You can see the video promo for it on my post of October 20. It's a benefit concert to support the Lakeview Lutheran Church's outreach to the homeless, and I'll be one of many performers. I'm excited on two counts - first, because I get to play one of the Loeffler Rhapsodies for oboe, viola, and piano; and second, because the concert will also honor Paul Hamilton, LVLC's music director and my long-time collaborator.

Paul and I have been working together since 2001, and in that time we've given recitals at some of Chicago's top venues and many of its completely unknown ones. I've dragged him to Springfield, IL, South Bend, IN, and Tokyo, Japan. We've created and performed numerous arrangements from literature that really should have been written for the oboe. Paul is unmatched as a collaborator because he never says no, no matter how difficult a 20th century orchestral transcription I plu…