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Showing posts from May, 2011

A New Fingering

I will be performing at the International Double Reed Society Conference in Tempe on Wednesday. It's been more of a challenge than I expected to bring my Pasculli and Silvestrini pieces back to performance level. Largely because I've been performing and traveling a ton lately, and struggling to find practice time. Also because I am frankly tired of working on the same 15 pages of material that I've been playing for a year. I thought there was probably nothing new to discover this month and so my practice has been pretty mechanical and not too inspiring.

I was working through Pasculli this evening, and buried deep on page 4 I discovered a fingering I could improve. A better option, in other words, for one note in a 15-minute piece that has more notes in it than some of my students have played in their whole lives.

I jumped all over that opportunity. I was delighted to find something interesting to work on. The change is ONE fingering on ONE thirty-second note, and of …

Zoe is Awesome, III

This afternoon, Zoe woke up from her nap and told me about a grasshopper who was green, and lived under the carpet with Elmo. We decided to check under our rugs for a grasshopper, and when we didn't find one she decided she would wait, and sat down in front of a rug which she periodically checked for grasshopper activity.

It seemed totally bizarre to me, but not incomprehensible. I understood exactly what she was talking about, even if it was a little fantastical. Steve confirmed that on Sesame Street today there was in fact a grasshopper under a rug and lots of discussion about it. Zoe had explained all of the pertinent details to me so we could talk together about it. That's brand new behavior. Her conversations until now have consisted of isolated words, referring back to an experience we had already shared.


Yes, I remember seeing the peacock at the zoo.


Yes, that peacock did jump up on our table. That was kind of scary, huh?

nod. Chicken!

I remember that…

Never Trust an English Horn

So I've been practicing a ton on the English horn. It's fun. I have to say, I think oboists have the best auxiliary instrument in the orchestra - flutes have to play piccolo which hurts the ears, clarinets and bassoons have really heavy things to carry when they double on their auxiliaries - except for the Eb clarinet, which is just silly.

And as I was practicing away I started to really struggle. The low register just wasn't speaking well. So I readjusted. All of those crazy little tiny screws on the instrument regulate the keys and pads and their relationships to each other, and members of the oboe family are notoriously finicky about well, everything. Changes in temperature or humidity, moisture touching the pads, someone looking at them sideways - it's easy to mess up those little adjustments. So I fixed it, and things were okay again.

I went to my Tuesday recording session, and there were only a few bars of EH, but again I was struggling. The attacks weren&#…

Sleep is Energy

Another lesson learned. Relearned, I mean.

At the beginning of this month I had a little break from orchestra work. I felt inspired and energized by the (gradually) improving weather and my various upcoming events - audition, IDRS recital, half marathon. So I formulated a new productivity plan. I set my alarm an hour earlier and slipped downstairs pre-dawn. I wrote pages and pages in my journal while nursing my hot coffee in blissful solitude. I watched the sun rise, then headed out for a run, all before the household woke up. Once I got home I was all glowing with endorphins and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast with the baby. Then once Steve appeared I headed up to my studio for a good solid practice session.

My plan was great. It had everything - alone time, family time, oboe time, running - and by early afternoon I was secure enough in the work I'd done to go out to the zoo or the park with Zoe. It was perfect, heavenly. For about 5 days.

Then my running started to feel…

Upcoming Concert

I am performing this weekend with the Milwaukee Symphony and the Bel Canto Chorus, at a venue in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, which is really fun to type. Yes, we are playing at the Oconomowoc Arts Center. In Oconomowoc. I might be a little punchy after all the hours I've spent in the car this week. Getting to Oconomowoc, you know.

It is a rare pleasure for me to perform with this fine ensemble, and I am playing English horn, another rare treat. It's particularly fun because yesterday I was down in Indianapolis visiting Carlos Coelho, the marvelous oboe repairman. My horn had cracked and now is not only fixed, pinned, and polished, but also thoroughly readjusted, and cared for as only Carlos can care for an instrument. It works effortlessly and I feel I can do no wrong on it.

Also, I am only playing on one piece, it's substantial enough to make me feel like my drive was worthwhile, and it's first on the concert (so I get out early every night). In other words, every n…

Keeping Busy

I had a really interesting gig last night. Technology is amazing.

I'm playing next week for a big event which is being taped at a huge sports arena in Chicago, and about which I cannot go into further detail. As I understand it the engineers are concerned that in that space our live music won't be heard or recorded at a high enough quality to put on television, so we met last night at a posh recording studio to rehearse and lay down some safety tracks. I love this amount of attention to detail. It's worlds away from the kind of attention and resources an orchestra at our level can devote to ANY project, EVER. This is how the big guys do things.

The challenging thing about a recording session like this is that the performance has to be perfect. Sometimes the notes are very challenging, more often they are not - but you never know that until you get there that day. What's on the stand can be four notes or the Rite of Spring, as my husband, the bassoonist, discover…

Update - Summer "Break"

Now that my college teaching and primary orchestra seasons are over for the summer, what am I doing to keep busy?

Never you worry.

I will be giving a recital at the International Double Reed Society Convention in Tempe on June 1, playing three of the Silvestrini Etudes and Pasculli's Fantasia on Poliuto. Both of these works were on my Chroma program, but since they were by far the hardest parts of that program I am putting in significant time in bringing them back up to speed. It feels event-appropriate that these two pieces, though composed over 100 years apart, are both by oboists. Both are extremely technical, pushing the oboe (and oboist) near to the limit, but both are completely possible, as the composers knew well.

I'll be running the Sunburst Half-Marathon on June 4, with my wonderful sister! I'm training hard and hoping to rock it and beat my PR.

I perform with the Peoria Bach Festival in early June - Bach's Easter Oratorio and one of his very difficult Orche…

Zoe is Awesome, II

Zoe is talking our ears off these days. She regularly says two words at a time, because single words are for babies. Never three, though, as befits her only-as-fast-as-I-want-to-go attitude. (We were at a one-year-old's birthday party recently and I was fascinated to see the baby practicing walking by holding his mother's hands. Zoe never never did that. If she can't do it "Self" she will not do it at all.)

I love that her first constructions are not subject-verb sentences, but descriptive labeling. Now she says Sad Baby and Awful Dog and Humongous Stick ("Mungo Tick") and Terrible Cough and Run Fast and Mommy Duck (about a female mallard, not as a command to me). I sense a lucrative career in advertising, which is fine. At least it's lucrative creative.

The amazing thing is that I've been with her almost non-stop these past two weeks, due to my recent oboe avoidance, and even though I've observed every step I am still shocked by how f…