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Showing posts from December, 2009

Public Face, Private Face

We are home from an amazing long week of Christmas visits, with four full sets of different family circles getting to coo over and handle Zoe and meet her and play with her. And she was amazing! As sociable and friendly at the last party as at the first, she smiled at everyone and was happy to be held and bounced or to show off her almost-crawling skills for HOURS. I personally begin to fade pretty quickly at a big gathering when I don't know people well, but Zoe remained the life of the party over and over, and for surprisingly long periods.

What I noticed was this, though. Every time she came back into my arms, whether after 15 minutes or an hour and a half, she'd get a little squirmy and a little fussy and want to feed just a little bit. Sometimes she'd nap. And I began to realize that I was the safe haven for her that made the rest of her social energy possible. Her public face was consistently delightful, but when she came back to me she could let the private fa…

Live Music is Best

As an addendum to my last Upcoming Concert post, I'd like to point out that it's WONDERFUL in this day and age to not only have live music in the Nutcracker pit but to be using Tchaikovsky's original complement of winds and brasses instead of playing one of the reduced versions that so many groups are having to resort to. It's difficult material, but everything fits on the instruments and the colors he gets from the orchestra are beautiful and unique. It's a treat for us, and I wonder how many of the audience members are aware of what a rarity this is becoming.

Before the show and at intermission the lip of the orchestra pit is full of parents and young children looking down at us, learning about the names of the instruments or just calling down to their friends and neighbors and teachers. That's an experience I remember from my childhood, but one which today's children are exposed to less and less. The dance company in my own community in South Bend has…

Who Can Do It All?

Last weekend I played "Barbie at the Symphony". It was an educational presentation in which Barbie appeared on a big video screen and interacted with our conductor and spoke about classical music and about the orchestra - all as they related to her and her various movies and products. That I didn't mind. Barbie has a right to promote herself. And I don't basically mind Barbie as a concept. I never played with Barbie dolls as a child - I was more of a tomboy - but I like any toy that promotes imagination and independent play and making up stories. The unrealistic body image thing is fine by me, too - everyone looks different and I think little girls probably understand that a doll is pretend and no two people look alike and that a little girl isn't going to look like a grown-up lady supermodel anytime soon. And if they don't understand that then they can learn.

Here's what bothered me, though. Barbie kept reappearing between pieces in her own perso…

Upcoming Concert

Nutcracker! I always love playing this show - yes, it's hokey and yes, we play it every year, but it's great music, and hard enough to remain fun and I love that the audience loves it and there are always special moments of music making in the pit somewhere. Oh, and dancers. I can't see them but I'm sure they're there. I bet they're great. All weekend out at the McAninch Arts Center at the College of DuPage. Click HERE for more info.

Priorities

Here are some things that are very important to me:

My amazing baby.
The oboe, and the improvement of my playing.
My own health and physical fitness.
The quality of my teaching, reeds, and general professionalism.

Why, then, have I spent the day catching up on emails and printing invoices and tracking down bank problems and being frustrated with Zoe when she wanted attention and playtime, and why did I sleep in and do a crossword instead of going running, and why am I now eating lunch and typing a blog post while she naps when I really haven't practiced properly at all yet?

I talk about priorities with my students all the time. Not because I particularly need the oboe to be their priority, but because I know that everyone is overscheduled and no one has enough energy to be amazing at everything, and I want them to understand that they can choose how to spend their time. You can choose to prioritize homework, or sports, or music. There's never enough time to do everything, but wha…

Upcoming Concert

The Christmas season has sneaked up on me this year more precipitously than ever before. I emerged from my semi-permanent state of barely-getting-by last night to find myself in my first Christmas Pops rehearsal of the year, and after a good night of sleep (thank you, Zoe!) and a solid dress rehearsal this morning I actually am beginning to feel some stirrings of holiday spirit. Not to the point of shopping, mind you, but at least I'm humming the tunes and I've spent my afternoon cooking and baking instead of making reeds and stressing. I will admit that I used to scorn the schmaltzy music of this season, and still do when it manifests as muzak in the stores - but I've come to love the annual traditional festive concerts with their choirs and soloists and familiar songs and odd arrangements.

This weekend is South Bend's Holiday Pops, tonight at 8 and tomorrow at 3. Click HERE for tickets and more info.

Next Thursday and Friday I'll be playing Holiday Pops with t…