Hello, Newsletter Readers! I found myself sitting at my computer
planning updates for those who like hearing me perform, to those who
like my reeds, and to those who take lessons from me - and decided to
replan one nice big update for everyone who is the slightest bit
Incidentally, if you are reading this and it did NOT arrive conveniently
in your inbox, from me, and you would like to periodically (every
couple of months, totally unspammily) receive something like it, please
and add your email to my mailing list. Once you are on it you will
never be forgotten, which I cannot otherwise promise. Sign your
oboe-loving friends up, too!
Everything is in development and everything is in motion.
Quintet Performance October 18
I am looking forward to a full recital with the South Bend Symphony’s
Wind Quintet. We’ll be at the Snite Museum of Art on Notre Dame’s
campus, at 5:45 pm on Thursday, October 18. The group will perform gems
from the quintet repertoire, with a focus on the music of France.
The Symphony Quintet is one of my very favorite things about my position
here in the SBSO. We have a wonderful, intimate musical interaction,
fun repertoire, and a strong personal connection as well. Most of the
shows we do are educational in nature, but somehow they never get boring
with this group.
I can hardly wait to rehearse and perform an hour-long program of legitimate rep! For details click HERE.
And More Performances
Looking ahead to the spring, I will be giving a joint recital with the lovely and talented flutist Dr. Martha Councell-Vargas
from Western Michigan University. Martha and I have been friends for a
long time and are thrilled to be collaborating this year. We’ll do a
program of works by female composers, and mostly living ones at that.
Performances will take place at WMU and at Valparaiso University in late
February. All details will be on my website as they become available.
I have another program in my mind - a mixed chamber music performance
which I’d love to do in an intimate venue here in South Bend. This
program is purely speculative at this point, but rest assured that when
it happens you will hear about it.
Jennet Ingle Reeds
is in the midst of a Back-to-School Sale! I am offering 10-15% off all
finished reeds through September 30. In case that doesn’t keep me busy
enough, I have also introduced English horn and oboe d’amore Blanks and
Sort-Of-Scraped Reeds. By next month I plan to add processed cane to my
offerings - keep an eye on that website!
At the end of this month my private students will meet as a group for
the first time in a performance masterclass called Barret Night. Each
will play a few etudes for assembled family, friends, and oboists, with
the goal of increased comfort in public performance. We’ll compare
notes and award prizes, then play some more and eat cookies.
This event is specifically designed to get us over the hump of walking
out in front of an audience, speaking, and performing. It's a skill
that can transfer to all areas of life - think of teachers lecturing,
businesspeople addressing meetings, secretaries having to lead the
office in a chorus of “Happy Birthday - and is obviously crucial for a
In addition, when we learn etudes and studies only well enough to get by
in lessons, we miss that magical last step - the step in which we turn
an assignment into a piece of music. Only real performance practice
does that, and if ISSMA Solo and Ensemble is the only time that a
student performs in the year, he or she won’t improve very fast.
I've done this class before, but not in several years. I hope to have
mini-recitals and oboe studio events much more frequently this season.
We will have fun!
I can remember at least two old cranky violinists coming to talk to young me about NOT going into music. There was a session, for example, during a Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra retreat in which a real RPO professional (who was probably 47 but whom I remember as ancient) told us that, statistically, no one who graduates from music school wins auditions for jobs because there are only like 4 jobs out there in the world and 7000 hotshots coming into the job market every week.
I may have misremembered the details of this speech, but I remember the emotional jolt. It was designed to discourage.
Last weekend I was presenting at a Double Reed Festival, and heard some oboists grumbling about another presenter who had evidently given something of the same talk to a roomful of masterclass attendees and participants. High school students and cheerful adult amateurs.
And look, there's an element of truth to this. Classical music is not a growing field, and it is leg…
Here’s my FAVORITE thing about that Shaquille O'Neal video everyone's sharing this week - it’s how HAPPY he is playing this silly game and how little he CARES what the oboe actually SOUNDS LIKE or how to play it.
Almost as if the oboe is not a giant obstacle to overcome.
Instead of focusing on the CRAFT of the instrument, the precise fingerings, the quality of the sound, the finesse of the vibrato - his focus is on DELIVERING the SONG. It’s on COMMUNICATION, not perfection.
What a LIBERATING concept!
When I am playing my best, I find that I can surpass the STRUGGLE and come to a place where my focus is on communication. I can sing through the instrument, and I can use that voice to reach out and find someone else. This is really what being In the Zone means for me - it's when I don’t have to engage with the OBOE and instead can be generous with my VOICE for the audience.
I seek and strive for this Zone all the time - it’s the whole point of practicing! I practice long…
I must not talk enough about warmups. I say this because recently, in my last lesson ever with a student leaving for college, I was mentioning something about my warmup regimen and his jaw dropped. Apparently long tones and intervals and scales with varied articulations are not part of his daily routine, nor had it ever occurred to him to use his band's warmup period to improve his playing. And I'm not telling this story on him, but on myself. Obviously I need to address the warm up period because it is fully half of the playing I do, and sometimes more.
Much of practicing is focused on learning a specific piece - either something you are performing at a specific time in the future, or an etude for your lesson, or the piece you're playing in band or orchestra. You are working on the specific problems or techniques that that piece requires. Of course you are working in as efficient a way as possible, and at the end of your practice period you can play the passage or pi…