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Showing posts from March, 2010

Not Perfect, But Not Dumb

We have mentioned before that I can be a little controlling. Everyone is aware, I hope, that I adore my daughter. And I will admit that I was skeptical early on of Steve's parenting style. But the other day I was upstairs making reeds. Nearly done for the day, even - I had a caseful of them ready to mail, and heard Steve and Zoe coming upstairs. Heard the cheerful chorus of the Diaper Changing song from her room across the hall. I waited for the end of the song and ambled over to pay my respects and found him lowering her oh-so-gently into the crib.

"Get out before she sees you!" he crooned, in the baby voice.

It's a measure of how far I've come that I did not question, I did not discuss, I did not hesitate. I dropped to my hands and knees and crept backward out of the room on my belly, careful to stay below the level of the crib bars.

Because no amount of being right or being Mom trumps naptime.

Staying on Track

How do you know if you're turning into a crackpot?

We all know them, right? The player who has sat principal in his small-town orchestra for forty years with no reality-check. The one so secure in his position that he's just always right, and no one around him is senior enough - or knowledgeable enough - to suggest that maybe his sound is getting weird and his intonation is off the charts. The player who has all the work sewn up so that every sub in the area has to go through her. These tend to be nice and lovely people, but something about the playing or the approach has just taken a strange turn in the absence of any real form of competition. I suspect these people turn up in all disciplines, but I know them best in the orchestral world.

It's great to be comfortable in your position, but you have to be vigilant about your playing too. Little habits creep in. Not bad ones, at first - you start to get a little lazy about reed-making, and think you've discovered a…

Logistical Morass

You know that old puzzle about the fox and the goose and the grain and the guy who wants to ferry them to the other side of the river but can only take two at once and can't leave the goose with the grain or the fox with the goose? That's completely what I feel like this week, trying to make my baggage efficient to all the gigs I'm doing without forgetting anything.

I have one case that holds an English horn and an oboe, and one case that holds any two instruments, and single cases for everything but the EH. I needed the oboe, oboe d'amore, and English horn to teach with yesterday, as we are gearing up for this week's St Matthew Passion over at Valparaiso University (click HERE for details and tickets) and I wanted to be able to play along and check reeds with and for my students that are involved with that. But this morning I need two oboes to teach a methods class (at Goshen College), and tonight I need just my one good oboe for a quintet recital (in Plymouth) …

Ceding Control

In the quintet I play in now I am not in charge. This is a new thing for me, and although I've been in the group for nearly four years now it's only recently that I've begun to realize how healthy it is.

In a chamber music group the rehearsal process is basically democratic. Every voice has equal weight, and we discuss our musical and programming ideas and decide as a group how we are going to present ourselves. This is as it should be. In every group, though, there is a leader, tacitly understood to be the go-to person for cues or musical decisions. So when we don't explicitly talk about who is setting the tempo or starting the piece or leading a ritard we all basically look the same direction and the same person generally takes charge. This is not explicitly stated, either - I don't step into a new quintet and ask who the boss is. It just becomes clear over time and as we interact. There's a little bit of a tradition of the flutist being that person, b…

This is What I Want to Show Her

At Christmas, I was talking with my mom and with a long-time family friend about the difficulties of juggling work and the baby, and she commented that they had been so lucky in their day to have husbands who could support them staying home with their little babies. And I think I was lucky to have my mom at home with me, yes, but that's not a way that will work for us.

We took Zoe to a young artist competition a little while back. Steve was running the competition and I was one of the judges. We heard some talented young people, and Zoe cruised around with Steve moving candidates from room to room, then played with me on our lunch break and crawled around on the floor showing off her skills, and then slept in Steve's arms throughout the final round. Everyone commented on what a good baby she was, and what a trouper, and while I know that she is unusually sweet-natured and cheerful, I also know that with our current lifestyles any baby would need to be this easy. Neither of …

Performance Thoughts

Steve was helping me to edit some sound clips for my website (they're not up yet - that's my next project) and it's amazing how hard it is to come up with 30 seconds of CD quality material from an hour long recital that was well received and that I felt very good about even at the time. There's always something a little inconsistent, or a little bit of water in a key, or a little bit of a rough attack. There are moments, too, when in playing from memory I catch myself starting the wrong note and instantly switch to the correct one. It's not finger slips, it is memory slips, but more along the lines of an "er" in an otherwise articulate conversation than a complete loss of train of thought or than a garbled or meaningless speech. In general I prefer to play from memory because of the intensity of focus it requires, and the lack of anything physical between me and the audience, and a little bit of a mumble every now and then I think is a small price to …

Upcoming Concerts

This week I am preparing for our Chamber Concert here in South Bend - Sunday afternoon at 3. Details are HERE. It's a fun little collection of little pieces, and should be a charming way to spend an afternoon.

I'm also very excited about our Symphony Quintet's performance on a new series down in Plymouth, IN, at The Vine restaurant. This will be next Tuesday, March 16th, at 7:30pm, and is an opportunity for this high-quality group to perform some high-quality material in a concert setting instead of a strictly educational one. (We like both, but rarely get the chance to give full concerts, so this is fun for us and will be for YOU, too!) I don't see any website info for this event, but feel free to email me for details...