Skip to main content


I'm tapering for my BIG RACE, which is tomorrow morning. The taper makes a lot of sense - I obviously want to start my run feeling as fresh as possible, and not risk being tired or sore from a recent hard workout. So this whole week I have been resting - or at least, not running - and eating heartily. After all, I have to do something with the hours I'm not running, so I might as well cook. As a result, I feel fat and sluggish, which is not making me confident about racing 13.1 miles tomorrow. My mind knows that this is smart, but my legs aren't quite as sure.

Training for this race has been interesting - I have been more structured about it than I had been for previous, shorter races. I had expected that the distance would feel overwhelming, as I had really never run more than an hour at a time before. I built up gradually though, adding just a mile each week, and it really turned out that the distance was not a big deal. As long as I go nice and slow, which is my specialty, and just stay patient and keep running, I can easily run 14 miles. During my other, non-long runs each week, I tried to push my speed as much as possible, to keep my legs turning over fast and to remind them what running and racing feels like. I did some fast intervals, and some longer steady hard runs. It's rough on my body to run both fast and far at the same time, so I have not done that, and won't until tomorrow.

I know the result that I am hoping for. I expect to finish, I intend to run the whole way without taking walk breaks, and I hope - if the stars align and my taper has worked and I'm as strong as I think I am - to do it in two hours. I'm not nervous about the run - there are no stakes if I don't finish or do as well as I want, but I am excited and anticipatory.

The whole process really reminds me of audition preparation. I work on minute details, and I work on playing a long list of excerpts and trying to give a great impression of myself over the course of that performance, and of course I work on my reeds and equipment, and my hope is that on the day, on the stage, everything comes together to make a magical performance in which I surpass my previous best efforts. For an audition, too, I tend to taper off the hours I practice in the last few days - I want to be fresh and not worn down physically and not mentally sick of the pieces.

Obviously I am not actually a fast runner. There is no question of me competing for an actual prize or impressing anyone but myself out there. But the great thing about this activity is that I can really throw my energy and my self-discipline and my obsessive nature into it, and work for steady improvement, and achieve great personal goals - but with no stakes. Unlike my music career, where my every appearance is public and audible and judgeable, when I run I am accountable only to myself. It's freeing and structured at the same time. Perfect.


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…