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Showing posts from May, 2010

This is Not What I Went to School For, Part 2

I am on page 287 of a book on FileMaker Pro - less than one third of the way through - and I think I'm still just reading about how to import my list of customers. I just finished a section on "Sub-Summary Parts and Printing" (that followed one on "Leading and Trailing Grand Summaries") and I am utterly glazed over. I have not yet opened the program on my computer. I am not actually stupid, but I've never seen anything as apparently confusing as trying to set up a meaningful relational database.

My reed business has grown since I started it up in 1998 - and has really outgrown my little Do-It-Myself Excel (now Numbers) spreadsheet. I have become frustrated by the limitations of my system, and I am aware that I need to upgrade and start thinking of myself as a real business.

It is hard to be entrepreneurial. My education was focused on the rarified details of creating classical music. The academic classes I took were entirely music-related - Baroque …

Starting Summer

I have to be busy to get anything done. I think this is not too unusual, but it surprises me every year at about this time.

I've been on break since last weekend. My symphony jobs are off in the summer, the colleges have ended, the demand for reeds is down. I just finished the last recital of my spring series, and took the last audition that I had scheduled.

I now have time to start on the new music I'd been itching to explore, plan my next set of performances, rework my website, learn some new software, clean and purge the house, improve my double-tongue, and write far more thoughtful, detailed blog posts, as I had been intending to do. But what I actually am doing is baking desserts and breads and eating the heck out of them, taking Zoe to the park to swing, napping, watching movies with Steve…there's really no excuse for how completely not busy I'm keeping myself right now, except that it's summer!

Fortunately I do still have the half-marathon that my sister …

Who Are You?

I wonder who Zoe is going to be. I don't know how much to read into the traits she has as a baby - that she loves a particular teddy bear, for example, or hates to have her diaper changed but thinks that having her bottom wiped is completely hilarious. These won't be identifiable features of her adult self, I suspect. I don't have a sense of her personality yet, and I don't feel like she'll be a real person to me until she starts talking - for now she seems like some sort of endlessly enchanting pet.

This, though, I have noticed. She's very stubborn about the way she approaches things. She goes at her own pace. She's learning to walk right now, and has just about got it. She can take a few steps from a standing start to one of us. But she knows her limits. If you try to plant her in the middle of the floor she refuses. She will not stand up. She collapses her legs beneath her and insists on sitting. As soon as you let her go, she turns and crawls…


I'm preparing excerpts now for an audition, and I know them too well. I've had a long break from thinking about orchestral excerpts, what with the baby and the dearth of actual job openings this year, and as I re-explore them I am trying to bring a little space and perspective to bear on them.

I have practiced these snippets SO MANY TIMES in the past. My interpretations of these solos and difficult passages from the repertoire are valid. I have studied them for years, listened to many many recordings, taken lessons with numerous wonderful teachers, and considered them deeply. I have drilled them and drilled them, and all of them are memorized, and I know exactly what nuances I'm making and when.

But, you know what? Those nuances aren't HOW THEY GO, they are just HOW I PLAY THEM. They are not wrong, but why should I be a slave to my younger self? There are other ways, and other approaches, and I'm having a difficult time finding them. Even when I spend an hour…

One More

My final Spring Recital is next Friday, May 21, at 7 pm at Lake View Lutheran Church in Chicago (835 W. Addison). This year is the first time I've kept a program going for this long - I brought the material out in January and this will be my fifth performance. I've added an encore that I really enjoy, but otherwise it's basically the same. What I love about this is that I really feel comfortable with the music. I know it very well, and I know what my talking points are, and I know what the energy arc of the performance feels like.

My challenge now is to continue to like the music long enough to get it performed once again, and to continue to pour energy into the promotion of this recital for one more week. It's easy to get complacent now that I am at the end of the run, but just as in a race, when the finish line is in sight, it is NOT time to coast and relax. One more time!

Sooo - if you are in the area, please come. The program is varied and fun, and audiences …


This feels like a quality day. By which I mean that in my practicing, my running, and my life I am ready to focus on one thing at a time and put in the extra energy to do a great job.

This morning as I practiced, I didn't get through a ton of material. Nor did I need to - this is an off week gig-wise, and my final spring recital is still ten days away and I know the music pretty well by now. What I did focus on was sound and resonance. I went through my warmups very very slowly, paying careful attention to the resonance of the oboe, and worked to equalize the sounds and timbres of the individual notes and intervals. As I sped up the arpeggio and scale studies, I was careful to go no faster than I could manage, and sought a good sound over the whole range of the instrument with no "garbage" between the notes. Not particularly fun work, but important. I did the same thing in one of my recital pieces - inched my way through it with the goal of making the oboe sound co…

I'm Not late, I'm on Baby Standard Time

If you're putting a concert together fast, the thing you really focus on is the transitions. In limited rehearsal time, you can trust the musicians to play the big juicy melodies, but getting from one section to the next or in and out of tempos is always a challenge, so that's what you work on.

I like being a mother. I LOVE spending time with Zoe, and playing with her, and watching her learn to stand and lately to stand unaided and to eat by herself and to take her first few steps along the furniture. There's a gentle structure to her days - wake up, snuggle, eat, play, nap, etc - which varies in details but not really in substance.

I also have found that I can still be a good professional musician. I can report on time, and pay attention to what I am doing, and give a good performance, and get the job done. I can be a great teacher. I can keep my reed business going and get all of my shipments out on time, every month. I can keep myself and my students in reeds. In …

Relaxing for Success

I enjoyed our performance of Beethoven's Emperor Piano Concerto Saturday night - our soloist, James Tocco, was lovely and musical and refined, and what I really noticed is how calm he seemed. His body was relaxed, and his face was relaxed, and his fingers flew over the keys with an energy that was all the more impressive coming from such a comfortably poised figure. I certainly don't mean to imply that he was deadpan, or boring - there was plenty of communication in his body language, but very little tension, and it stood out to me because this is something I work on very consciously in my own playing.

I do believe in moving when I perform soloistically, especially in recital or concerto appearances. Meaningful movement helps to confirm my phrasing choices to the audience and to my colleagues, and can really augment a performance. What I try to eliminate, though, is unnecessary motion - mannerisms like toe tapping or arm-flapping - and unnecessary tension, especially in my…