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Showing posts from December, 2011

I Earned This One

I earned this cold.  I earned it by burning the candle at both ends all semester long, staying up late to write or wind reeds even though I had to be up early to teach, forcing the second practice session instead of the nap, caffeinating instead of exercising to get through my afternoon lessons. 

Finally, I earned it by giving in and teaching my final student last week, who was obviously ill and mucusy, instead of sending her right back out to her mom’s car with a Christmas cookie and a smile as I briefly considered doing. 

As a performer I don’t think twice about going to work sick.  I have played concerts with a bottle of cough syrup beside me that I drank like water.  I have played with broken ribs and recently excavated wisdom teeth.  It takes a pretty serious illness to keep me home, because that’s what it means to be professional. There isn’t a co-principal oboe waiting in the wings to slide into my seat and cover my job, and when I play freelance gigs it’s an article of faith t…

Upcoming Recital

Jennet Ingle What's Going On? I am giving a recital at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago on January 6, at 12:10 pm.  This program will be a shorter, more traditionally classical version of my upcoming Moveable Feast performance. It is free and open to the public.

This Chicago program will feature a veritable travelogue of works, drawing the listener along with me to Tunisia, Naples, and Scotland, along with the wide-open spaces of our own nation.  I am also featuring the Bach G Minor Sonata, as a personal home-coming.  I grew up hearing and internalizing  the complex counterpoint and fugues of J. S Bach, and in many ways his works for a musician - especially an oboist - feel like coming home.  It's a piece that terrifies and thrills me, and I am eager to present it in beautiful and historic Fourth Church.

What Else is Going On? The full version of A Moveable Feast, starring myself, Paul Hamilton, and cabaret singer Justin Hayford, will be presented on:

Januar…

Zoe's Musical Beginnings

I've mentioned before that I started out on the piano by figuring out melodies.  Connecting notes and trying to learn how they worked.  I'm fascinated to observe that Zoe's initial approach to the instrument is totally different from mine.

She sits at our new piano and plays random notes, and tells us what to feel.  If she is playing slowly then the music is sad, and we should cry. When we are "crying" she either gets up and hugs us so we feel better (so awesome!) or bangs faster, to indicate that the music is now happy and we should dance. 

Her other piano game is accompanying herself - she plays "chords" in alternating hands while she "sings" the ABC song or Camptown Races or Sesame Street.  She makes us sing along.  She loves it when we clap at the end. 

When I was little I wanted to know how music worked. Although I make my living as a performer now, I learned about the interpersonal aspects of music later.  Her immediate interest is in h…

Working On It

I am still thinking about a method for getting my energy and focus better directed so that I might finally win a big audition. 

Several people have recommended books - Zen and the Art of Archery, The Inner Game of Tennis, Performance Success, The Power of Full Engagement - and these are all books I own and have read before, enjoyed, and drawn inspiration from.  I've got them pulled out and ready to refer to.

My December has not been generous with time either for practicing or for reading and intellectual speculation.  So many Christmas concerts, so much travel, so much stressing out over the phone with Steve in Tennessee, so many reeds due.

But what I am doing is performing.  I've had a Nutcracker or a Pops concert or at least an orchestra rehearsal almost every day since the 1st of the month, I'm treating this as an opportunity to really analyze what's going into my performances.  How often do I really focus well, and what did I do to get there? 

Here are some thing…

Upcoming Concert

Our annual Home for the Holidays concert takes place tonight and tomorrow afternoon, here in the beautiful Morris Performing Arts Center.  I've been playing Christmas Pops all month, in various towns, and despite the repetition and schmaltz I always enjoy these concerts.

There is something so nice about a community tradition like this.  I love to see all the people at the symphony who come only once a year.  Families all dressed up in red and sparkles.   Everyone out at the same time, enjoying the ornate hall and the festive atmosphere.  At this once-a-year pops concert I don't even chafe at all the normal symphonic rituals - the walking out and bowing, the formal tuning procedure, the standing up and sitting down.  I kind of enjoy this showing off of our traditions.

So come on out, if you live nearby.   It's fun to slow things down and turn off your phone for a couple of hours to enjoy the magic of the season with the Symphony!

DETAILS HERE.

I Fear the Bach

I admit it.  I am scared of J.S.Bach's big G minor Sonata.  And I'm not totally sure why.

I've performed it before, back in 2002, and it went fine.  There's no horrible backstory to make me dread it. 

It's beautiful.  I like the themes, and the interplay between the oboe and the piano.  Or, actually, between the two hands of the piano and the oboe.  The three-line counterpoint is complex, and interesting.  The second movement has a lovely melody that is almost romantic.  The third is a fun fugal romp in cut time, followed by a terrific 12/16 section that can't decide whether to lilt or gallop. It's fun to play.  So I don't dislike the piece at all.

Endurance is a factor in this work - it does go and go and go, for 15 minutes, and Bach does not give me a lot of comfortable long rests in which to regain my composure, but I have played more grueling pieces- the second Schumann Romance, for example, and the Strauss Concerto, and I don't fear those as m…

A Successful Accent?

Remember how Yamaha made me better?  Here's another awesome example of the same phenomenon.

I have a very young student who has been struggling to get her oboe playing off the ground.  She's hampered by the dreadful instrument rented to her by the local music store. 

The "oboe" she has does not sound good, which is not too unreasonable as few fifth grade oboists sound good on anything.  Regrettably, it also does not work.  If I adjust it carefully myself, turning all of the little screws (which are loose and wobbly in their holes anyway) to their most perfect positions, and then put a good reed on and CRANK my fingers down really hard, I can make that thing play almost all of the notes it should.  When she does it, the oboe basically thumbs its nose at her and refuses. 

As a result, the feedback loop she needs is totally severed.  When she looks at her music, and translates the dot she sees into an F, say, and remembers the fingering, and then tries to produce the sou…

New Piano

We just bought a piano.  I feel like such a grownup.

Now, despite taking lessons from third grade through eleventh, and despite graduating from a conservatory with a two-year piano requirement, I cannot play the piano at all.  If it were just about me we would not have bothered.  A piano is a BIG piece of furniture, and it weighs you down and ties you down.  It's a commitment.

But I remember having a piano in my house when I was growing up. Unlike a keyboard, or a record player, or even a radio, which an adult has to operate for you when you are small, a piano is always right there.  I spent hours just fooling around on it, and picking out tunes, and figuring out how it worked.  I could play the M*A*S*H* theme by ear before I entered school, and could pick out melodies from Disney movies or Broadway shows.  I determined that there is only one place on the keyboard that you can start Chopsticks and have it work out with no black keys.  I discovered a dominant seven chord all by m…

Willie!

I was listening to The Essential Willie Nelson recently while driving home from Tennessee. And the great thing about the collection is that you quickly forget how weird and annoying his voice is, because the songs are so beautiful and so diverse and so well presented.  But every now and then he does a duet, and you hear someone else sing - someone with an actual voice.  When Willie enters again, the sound is jarring, a little painful - and so awesome.  For example, THIS.  And THIS.

He's such an oboe.  Those entrances sound like the way it feels for me to come in after a beautiful clarinet, flute,  or french horn solo - the oboe has a harsh edge after the round, warm quality of the the other instrument.  I have to remind myself to embrace the sound of the oboe and not try to hide.  I love how unabashedly Willie Nelson uses the nasal bray of his own voice as an asset and how he draws us in despite ourselves.

And this is exactly what I want to do. When I give a solo performance, it&…