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Showing posts from July, 2010


I love watching Zoe interact with new people. She seems to soak up information like a sponge, and people may tell her different words for things or play different games and suddenly she's learned something new. For instance, last Christmas it was her cousin Colin who finally taught her to crawl. She had been working on it and wasn't far off, but when he showed her how it just popped. Or, more often, after we've visited someone else we notice a ton of new behaviors right away. She's always learning.

I am not too old to learn. This has been an amazing six weeks. We've been away from home now for over a tenth of Zoe's whole life (!), playing with colleagues and friends old and new, and mostly staying in other people's homes. I'm paying attention and have made some resolutions for my return home.

1. I will clean up the kitchen right away after each meal. Having Steve's mom with us for 2 weeks reminded me of how clean a person can keep things withou…

I Love My Car

I love my car. It fits me.

We've been traveling for nearly a month already, and when we travel as a family we go in Steve's car - it's bigger, and since he prefers to do all the driving it just makes sense. But we needed to drive separately to Lancaster for this week's festival, for complex logistical reasons that need not be discussed here. Getting back into my little bug all by myself was just so freeing!

I love my car. It is zippy and responsive. It's a stick shift, which makes me feel powerful and makes good use of my busy energy. The seat and all of the controls fit me just right, and the steering wheel is skinny and nubby and spins easily under my hands. The car speeds up when I push the gas, and roars encouragingly when I shift from gear to gear. It operates in a satisfyingly mechanical way - although I know it's full of computers like every other car I am not aware of them while driving. I can feel the road and hear the engine, and when I have dr…

Upcoming Concerts, Ohio version

I am writing this from a coffeeshop in downtown Lancaster, Ohio, where I am based performing with the Lancaster Festival Orchestra for the rest of this month. We have a few too many amazing concerts and events to list, but you can check out the details HERE.

We met for the first time yesterday and I am thrilled by the quality of the orchestra and conductor. This is going to be a great couple of weeks! Our first performance is tomorrow night - Roman Carnival Overture, Pines of Rome, and Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. We meet our piano soloist, Olga Kern, tonight, and I have high expectations.

What a treat to have a new orchestra to play with this summer! I know only a few of the musicians here, and so they don't know me either. Coming in with no expectations gives me a chance to show myself the way I want to be - obviously I will play as well as I am able, but I also want to be a unitasker in rehearsal. No crosswords or sudoku for this girl - I am going t…

My First Mistake

I had a friend whose father had a quirk. When he bought a new car, he would drive it home and immediately use his key to put a nice big scratch in the paint. His rationale was that you tend to drive a new car overcautiously for fear of marring the shiny new toy, and he didn't want to go through that unsafe phase. He just got the first scratch out of the way as quickly as possible so he could move on.

In a concert, I sometimes have that same overcautious feeling at the beginning. Before I make a mistake, it is possible that I might have a perfect performance. Maybe this will be the night in which I am awesome in every entrance from the start to the finish! Of course, that is not really possible - there's always something I could do better - and it's also not a particularly productive way to think. It makes me play tentatively and boringly. Generally, once I get that first mistake out of the way I can relax and move on. I can open up and take some risks, and ultimate…

Other People's Eyes

I'm seeing Zoe through other people's eyes this month, and it's an education. Day to day we live together and I know her intimately, but I seldom am able to step back and really see her as others do. We spent two weeks in a cabin in Vermont with my mother and my siblings, and are now up in Michigan staying with a marvelous host family for a week and a half. We will have new hosts for two nights this week for a runout concert, and at the end of this month we'll be in Ohio at yet another host's home for two more weeks. Because she's sociable and delightful and adorable, she is the object of everyone's attention, of course, and watching other people watch her I can see another side.

I have noticed this tendency on the oboe, too. As soon as I ask a colleague to listen to me, I become horribly aware of the little inconsistencies in my playing. The feedback I get from them is helpful, but the self-awareness is almost more so. Practicing alone, little things…

Upcoming Concerts, way up North

The Pine Mountain Music Festival is a long-time gig for us - Steve and I have been playing up here since 1998, but financial troubles had forced the festival to downsize and for the past two summers we have not been able to participate. This year, although the festival is not back to its former glory as an opera, symphony, chamber music and teaching extravaganza, we are delighted to be back here playing La Traviata and enjoying the spectacular weather and good company. We have friends in this orchestra and in this town that we can only see up here - colleagues from other states and our wonderful hosts.

I love playing opera! I don't necessarily think I would be cut out for a full-time opera orchestra job - I really do like being on stage instead of under it and getting my solo bows every so often. The music written for opera is so great, though, and I adore listening to the singers and there are always significant challenges that come along with playing an accompanimental role a…

She Is So My Daughter

I am beginning to recognize myself in Zoe. She is the most methodical baby I have ever seen. She learns a skill and by gum, she works at it until she has it. She's been climbing stairs ever since she started walking - up is easy. But for quite a while she had no idea how to get down, or even that she didn't know how to get down. She'd just turn around and take a big step and tumble into my arms, which was exceptionally nerve-wracking for me and resulted in a lot of gates being placed in our house. Eventually we convinced her that downstairs was different. I taught her to sit down on the step and scootch forward to get her legs down and then stand up on the next step and sit and scootch. She was excited by this new knowledge and wanted to work on it, but I had work to do and wouldn't leave her unsupervised on the stairs.

It's been two weeks since then, and we arrived Saturday night at my mother's house on the way to our Vermont vacation. Her porch is se…