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Showing posts from January, 2011

Audition Recap: Lesson Learned

Here's what I learned from my recent audition. I learned that being able to play a given excerpt SOME of the time, on a good day, is not at all the same as being able to play it well, all the time. Of course I knew that already, and would have told any student the same thing. If you can't play it well at home, why should you expect to be able to rock it in performance?

I went in to that audition needing to advance. I took over a year off from the audition circuit after Zoe was born, and when I started back up this November in Kansas City I played competently but not wonderfully, and didn't move to the semis. It's not that I've ALWAYS advanced, certainly not, but as a performer it's one of my few sources of external validation. Because I can't control what the committee is thinking or wants, I can't put too much stock in not advancing at an audition - sometimes they just might want a different sound or style than I have. But if a few auditions go b…

Exciting Upcoming Concerts

The South Bend Symphony has a great concert this weekend that I've been really excited about. If you are in town you should definitely try to attend, as it features Prokofiev's thrilling Symphony no. 5 AND our marvelous concertmistress, Zofia Glashauser, playing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto.

However, I will not be there. This Friday and Saturday I am playing Strauss's Ein Heldenleben with the Milwaukee Symphony, and loving every single minute. This orchestra sounds spectacular, and here's why. They rehearse. They have plenty of time to really listen to each other and get things right. This morning, our service was a wind sectional, which blew my mind. Almost 2 full hours with only the winds and brass, just on this one 40-minute piece. The conductor worked with us on every detail. Intonation, articulation, ensemble, balance, style. And still we have another full orchestra rehearsal tomorrow as well as the dress.

I haven't sat in a winds-only rehearsal si…

Listening and Learning

I went to a concert Saturday night. Liang Wang, principal oboist of the New York Philharmonic, came to Fort Wayne to play the Strauss Oboe Concerto, and of course I drove the two hours to attend the event. There are far too few oboe soloists in the world, and I was thrilled to have access to such a high level performance.

Wang is a great player. He has won many high-profile jobs in the past several years, and now sits in one of the most prestigious chairs in the country. Obviously I do not have that kind of job, so I should have been sitting there soaking it up like a sponge, right?

But I'm not sure that that's what learning is. I took away a great deal of inspiration. He plays with tremendous freedom, more than I would have dared in that particular work. His musical opinions are clear - he plays unapologetically and distinctively. He uses a huge variety of colors, including some that are not objectively attractive, but that set a mood or deliver a point. His playing is…

Almost Eighteen Months?!

I don't know kids. I have never particularly cared for children, and I have not paid attention to the children of other people, and I do not read ahead in the development books. So nothing has prepared me for how incredible Zoe is.

Eighteen months still sounds babyish to me. If we're still counting in months instead of years she can't be a kid, right? Just a baby. But I am astonished at how much a person she is. She's a real person, and a real member of the family, and she has real thoughts, and emotions, and agendas for how she wants her day to run. I didn't imagine this.

We went for a walk yesterday in the exciting two feet of snow, and it was just like walking with a child should be. She suggested the walk, at 9 in the morning, and we got out her boots and snowpants and mittens and coat, with her narrating the whole process, and headed out into the cold. I watched her learn about footprints, and about what kind of snow she could walk in and what kind made …

The Gym in January

I got out to the gym this morning, and did a hard workout on the treadmill. I feel strong and confident. I have more energy than I've had all week. We were still home by Sesame Street time, so I'm at my normal practice level. In fact, I'm less stressed about my audition and actually enjoyed my first hour of playing quite a lot. Zoe got a chance to play with other kids and unfamiliar toys in the Child Watch, and was ready for her nap this afternoon. Steve got to sleep in and enjoy his coffee in peace. There is no downside to going to the gym.

Why, then, has it been so many weeks since I've been? Why do I spend my mornings at home glowering at the snow out the window and wishing Steve would get up to take the baby so I could start working? What on earth is better about a second cup of coffee and a cranky bored toddler than a trip out?

It's just January that feels so overwhelming, of course. It's dark outside, even at almost 8am. Zoe and I both need clo…

Audition Preparation Update

In preparing for my upcoming audition, I have been putting in a significant amount of time in on the oboe.

First, I've been doing careful warmups and taking care of some reed and attack details that I'd gotten lazy about with all the Christmas busy-work. Second, I'm playing one of my two required concertos every day and making sure that my personality can shine through both. One of them will be the very first thing I play in the audition, so I need to be ready with my best foot forward.

The bulk of my time has been spent working on each excerpt individually - recording, listening and critiquing, and recording again. When I listen, I am making sure that my defense is in place - that the notes and rhythms are correct and in tune, and that the style is appropriate - so I don't give anyone a reason to eliminate me. I'm also putting my offensive strategy in place - trying to make each excerpt interesting, compelling, and unique enough that the committee will want to…

New Years Resolution (Oboe Style)

I know it's not that cool to make New Year's Resolutions, but there's something so clean and fresh about a new year and I see no reason to maintain my old bad habits when there's an excuse to quit them cold turkey.

Here is my resolution, and please hear me out before you judge me. My resolution is to brush my teeth before playing the oboe. Always.

I am always hungry. Between running 20-25 miles a week and nursing Zoe (a little, still), I never seem to be full, and a couple of hours is my limit for going without food. My colleagues can attest that I always have an apple and a bar of seriously dark chocolate and usually a peanut butter sandwich with me and I usually eat at intermission or between quintet shows. I'm not comfortable playing the oboe overfull, but I'm not smart or alert when I'm hungry, so a snack is quite essential. And on a 15-minute orchestra break it is hard to eat a large apple AND visit with all of my friends AND fill out paperwork AND …