Skip to main content

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 persona - not as an actress but as Barbie - always in a different glamorous place doing something glamorous. She was in Montreal in a figure-skating event, she was in Tokyo with her band, she was giving a speech in Geneva. she was in a Paris ballet studio preparing for a role. I may have the details skewed (I was working, and also very very tired) but over time we saw Barbie herself doing an enormous number of creative and high-profile professional activities at a very high level. That did hit close to home. What I am learning most recently in my own life is that there really are only so many things you can pursue at any one time. Don't get me wrong - I do think girls can do anything they want and be anything they want. I just increasingly realize that a person can't do EVERYTHING, and I'm a little insulted that Barbie can. Bad message.

After the last crazy couple of weeks of my life, I have decided to reprioritize sleep over exercise, and I could not be happier. Honestly my actions aren't that different, as I've found it impossible to get out for a week or so, but my attitude sure is. Now instead of lying in bed from 6:30 until 8 hitting the snooze button and hating myself for not running, I sleep until 8 and get up without beating myself up. It's been four days since my decision and I'm glowing with renewed vigor. This is definitely temporary - once Zoe sleeps better and I have a few earlier nights under my belt and maybe it gets a little less COLD out I will hit the streets again. Fitness IS important to me, and my body is important to me, and I know I feel better and more energetic day to day when I run regularly. But I can't do everything, and I can't be a great player and a great mom and a great teacher when I'm trying to cram too many things into my day and holding it all together with caffeine. I have to still be a runner, but I don't have to be hard-core about it at this precise moment in time.


Popular posts from this blog


When my students get too MOUTHY with the oboe, I put them in a corner.


They tend to play the oboe only from the TOP of their body, north of the collarbone, and it winds up unsupported.  Fussy.  Weak.  And out of tune.

So I back them into a corner, and have them stand a foot or so out from it, facing out into the room.  And I challenge them to find a sound that resonates BEHIND them, out from the corner of the room that they are not facing, to fill the space without blowing directly into the space.

It's a weird metaphor.  I wouldn't have any idea how to describe the physical technique to do it. When I find it in myself, it feels like my back is puffy and my body is round, and large, and barrel like, and also collected and zipped up, and supremely powerful.  If you know me, you know that these statements about my body aren't remotely true.  But that's what I feel when I'm blowing well, and filling the room, and owning my resonance.

I teach resonance.  I talk …

Five Minute Reedmaker: Length of the Windows

My Five Minute Reedmaker Season Two seems to be largely about experiments.  People ask me how LONG, how THICK, how SLOPED, etc - and I'm running the experiments for them and for you.

I've been posting these videos on YouTube, and sharing them from my Facebook Page, but haven't totally kept up with sharing here on my blog.

Here are the ones you may have missed:
Length of the Heart
Fallacy of the Long Tip
Moldy Cane

And here's the new one:

Here's the YouTube playlist with all of my other Five Minute Reedmaker videos.  You could subscribe right there if you wanted to - I'm dropping a video each week until I run out of ideas this season.
Here's my website, where you can order reeds or cane or ask me questions.  Questions will keep these videos flowing! 

Here's how you can send me your own reeds to analyze and improve on video for your learning pleasure!

Generosity in Programming

I had the most interesting conversations with a few of my students after my first recital performance last weekend.  One thanked me for exposing her to so many interesting new pieces that she had never heard before.  One admitted unabashedly that his favorites were the familiar ones, the ones he already knew from his previous listening.  And both of these observations rang true to me.

See, I LOVE learning new music.  I really enjoy digging into a piece and breaking through an unfamiliar harmonic language to get to the depths of it.  To discover the composer's intention, and to find the universal emotion or experience at the heart of the work, and then to communicate that meaning back out to an audience.  This challenge is fun for me, and I think I do it well.

I have to be fair, though.  By the time I have put that kind of work into a new piece, it's not new to me anymore.  By the time I get it to the recital stage, it's an old friend.  I find great pleasure in performing i…