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Showing posts from June, 2011

Practicing What I Preach

Last week was the South Bend Symphony's Dake Academy, a chamber music camp for high school musicians. I love this camp - we get to spend so much quality time with a small number of students and really make a difference in their level in a few short days. But the time commitment for the faculty is huge. We are working 8 to 10 hours a day all week, running masterclasses, coaching chamber music, teaching seminars, rehearsing in our faculty quintet and in the orchestra, and then because I'm a glutton for punishment I also throw a party in the middle of the camp which requires a full evening of cooking and preparation. And of course when I am at home, Zoe is frantic to see me, and won't (and shouldn't) take no for an answer, so there has been no practicing, exercising, or writing. If you've missed me, that's why.

At Dake I gave a woodwind and brass seminar on being a supportive second player. Obviously, this is a complex skill which I greatly oversimplified in …

Conditions on the Ground Can Change Rapidly

Conditions on the ground can change rapidly.

Three days ago I started composing a blog post about the current state of my oboe playing. It was all about how I am struggling right now and not physically playing well and feeling desperate about it.

It took me a good three days to edit it into an essay I could publish. I needed to find the right way to spin my story so that I had a lesson that was relevant to others, because I know that this cycle of self-loathing is a normal part of creative life and everyone has been there. So rather than just writing what I felt - that I suck - I was working on putting that feeling into context, and establishing how I got there. I also spent some time figuring out how to turn the post around at the end - I wanted to have some solution to the problem in mind to show readers that I wasn't just whining, but actually working to solve things.

But you know what? After three days of analyzing the problem in writing and coming up with ways to work on i…

It Pays to Have Options

I am playing Bach this week away from home. And although the music is hard, my rehearsal load is very light, so I have plenty of time to practice.

And for some reason, my third octave key has just quit working. I have used my screwdriver to open it all the way, and have closed it again one iota at a time trying to find the sweet spot where my high F#, G, and G# will just sing out. No go. I have cleaned it out thoroughly with cigarette paper and blown the excess water out of it. No go. What I need to do is take the key off and explore the hole - clearly some tiny piece of debris is in there ruining everything for me.

I didn't bring my entire oboe room with me, and I don't really have all of the tools I like to make this fix. I could improvise, sure - I do not fear taking my oboe apart - but my actual gig this week is Bach and there are no high F#s in the Easter Oratorio, and I can wait two more days to have my equipment ready to hand.

Meanwhile, though, I am trying to wor…

Upcoming Concert

I am on the road today driving down to Peoria for the Peoria Bach Festival. They are already in the midst of a full week of performances, lectures, and Bach-related events, and I will be playing Friday and Saturday nights in a J.S. Bach Orchestral Suite and the Easter Oratorio. Beautiful, difficult, fun music in a nice little town with friendly people. If you are in the area, come and check this out!