Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from December, 2010

Best. Baby. Ever.

Zoe is so proud and happy that she can talk now. At least enough that she can tell us what she wants - up, down, water, apple, cookie, etc. So we have traded the why-can't-you-understand-me tantrums for the why-aren't-you-obeying-me tantrums. She is so totally transparent that I find her hilarious.

* * *

Our family filled my mom's house over Christmas, and so there were cell phones resting on just about every surface. Every time she found one, she picked it up and held it to her ear and started "talking" on it. For that matter, she also "talked" on TV remotes, a wooden ostrich, and a powder compact. She likes to comb and brush her hair and mine, which she does with normal combs, a small paintbrush, wooden spoons, and that same powder compact. Little bits of wrapping paper were co-opted into use as wipes - she walked through the house wiping all the faces and knees she could reach. I love that she's trying to make sense of her world by using…

We Are More Alike Than We Think

He: I can't believe how much I ate today.

I: I couldn't practice all day yesterday while we were driving here.

He: I thought that bag of caramel corn in the car was bad, but I had, like, seven cookies and a beer between lunch and dinner alone!

I: I only got a half-hour of scales in this morning before the baby woke up, and I sounded terrible!

He: I already weigh a pound more than yesterday.

I: I just don't know if I'll be able to make any time for the oboe with all the family here.

He: And you can't really refuse pie if everyone else is eating it - you'd look like a jerk.

I: I cannot afford to take a week off, with that audition in the middle of January. I've got to play well every day so I don't lose ground.

I: Everyone else is just enjoying their vacation. Why can't I? Why must the oboe be so demanding?

He: I really wanted to be at [goal weight] by January, but there is just so much food at this holiday.

I: I can't believe you're this…

Upcoming Concert

We rehearsed this morning for our Home for the Holidays concert here in South Bend. As usual, it is a huge extravaganza, with a big chorus, a marvelous soloist, and a bell choir. I was surprised and pleased that we managed to play almost all of the show in our single three-hour session, and even to rehearse a few things. BUT our first performance is tonight, and that just doesn't feel appropriate at all.

The service cuts that this orchestra is already experiencing, even without an approved contract in place, are hurting us artistically. We only meet about one week a month as it is, and a single run-through is not enough for us to get reacquainted and feel like we know each other's playing. I know that this concert is "just" Christmas music, and we will be OKAY - everyone knows the songs and the audience is there to get into the spirit and not to criticize - but that is not a reason to play out of tune and sloppily. That is not an excuse to have poor ensemble an…

Philosophical Differences

A conductor I played for recently has a very different rehearsal philosophy from mine. I am really trying to make every minute that I spend on the oboe count. Even if I am playing Christmas schlock, I want to play it as though it counts and as though I care. It's part of my larger mission to make myself a better player who deserves a better job.

This conductor chooses music easy enough to play on one rehearsal with a professional but unspectacular orchestra. We rehearse once, on the day of the concert. He goes straight through every piece once, apparently uninterested in the missed notes and key changes, and barely shapes the phrases at all, and drops his hands the moment we reach the final note, as if a proper sense of finality is an utter waste of time. The idea is that we, as professionals, will take care of the problems ourselves, and meanwhile we won't be physically tired or emotionally spent at the concert that night because we've just basically "marked&quo…

Seasonal Changes

As the season changes, so does my routine. I am such a creature of habit that I fight these changes for as long as I can, but I need them too.

I went to the gym this morning and hopped on the treadmill for my first run in over a week. What happened? After my Halloween half marathon this year I managed to keep at it. I was delighted with my ability to recover quickly and get back into my training cycle. I felt optimistic and healthy.

But that was still autumn. Somewhere toward the end of November things changed. It got horribly cold, and the mornings got dark, and I got really busy and mostly, I got unmotivated. From my normal 20-25 miles a week I abruptly dropped off to 3-6. I kept waiting to acclimatize and to crave going out again, but that hasn't happened. I'm not proud of this, but it seems that I am no longer a winter runner. I remember being hard-core and bundling up and slithering around on ice and snow, but not in the last few years. Nothing about the frigid temper…

Upcoming Concert

This week I am playing for the Mannheim Steamroller tour in Fort Wayne, Wabash, and here in South Bend. It's an enjoyable show - I've done it several times before. I actually get to dust off and play my English horn, which is always a treat. Because the other two towns are a couple of hours away this will be yet another week when I don't see a lot of Steve and Zoe, but that's very much what this season is about for a musician. The music is not incredibly inspiring and the hours are long, but with any luck these weeks will pay for the January lull. Or at least maybe for the Christmas travels...

I'm an Enabler

I think I'm enabling my students. I make most of their reeds. It's easy enough for me to do, and I earn a little extra income, too. Because of my reed business, I make them all the time, and I pretty much always have 10 or 20 with me to sell if anyone is in trouble. Although I officially require three days notice for new reeds, I am a softy and will cave for anyone who asks nicely.

However, that means that many of them decline to learn the skill for themselves. After all, they are probably not going to grow up to be professional musicians, and reedmaking is a difficult, time-consuming skill that is basically untransferable. The tools are expensive, too, and that's often a big sticking point for parents. Many of my off-site students take half-hour lessons, which is not nearly enough time to work on reeds-in-progress and also learn music. As it is, if their reeds need adjusting the lesson can be half gone before we play a full scale, much less get anything real done. Ev…

Upcoming Concert

And so it begins.

From now until 2011 every note I play in public will be Christmas related. I don't mind - I like the music and I like feeling festive and I know the audiences love having someplace special to go this month and feel the spirit of the season. And some of the music is even challenging enough to be relatively fun for us to work out. Not much of it, mind you...

Saturday 12/4, 7:30 PM CST
Whiting Park Festival Orchestra
Whiting, IN
Click HERE for more information.