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Showing posts from July, 2013

More Parks Concerts

These are the decorations that greeted us at the gorgeous park in Cedar Lake last Saturday.  What an unexpected delight! 

I have more outdoor concerts this weekend.  And actually, I'm looking forward to them.  Last week's performances were fun in exactly the way I expected them to be, and the weather is even more excellent this weekend.   If you should find yourself in Northwest Indiana, come out and join us!


Tonight in Griffith, and tomorrow in Crown Point. Details HERE.

Playing Your Own Part

A college-bound student came in yesterday with a report on his summer activities.  He’d played a gig with a local college orchestra as first oboe, which was the same position he’d held throughout the past year.  At this concert, though, the regular second oboist was not available, and a professional had been hired.  My student had felt nervous and uncomfortable playing first chair to a player who was obviously older and more experienced, and imagined that she thought poorly of him, and kind of wished that the roles had been reversed because he felt out of place playing solos that she should rightfully have had. 

And this is a common misunderstanding among younger players, and a reasonable one.  Of course, in a high school band, the best player will be picked to play first, and the second best will play second.  Of course if the first chair player is not working hard and practicing, someone will challenge him.  Of course second chair is a phone-it-in position and third chair might as …

Upcoming Parks Concerts

This week I start a series of outdoor concerts with the Northwest Indiana Symphony.  I’ll be doing those for the next three weekends, in seven different little towns. 

Here’s what I’m looking forward to.  Our conductor, Kirk Muspratt, is a master at programming pops concerts.  The seemingly unrelated batch of pieces I’ve been preparing will all make sense when we start playing, and he will segue them beautifully and really keep the audience paying attention and enjoying themselves.  The mood will shift and sway, from upbeat to melancholy to nostalgic and back again, and everyone will leave feeling great.  I’ve seen him do it over and over and I have every confidence that he’ll pull it off again this summer, and I admire that skill and enjoy watching it.

Here’s what I’m not looking forward to.  Sweat, insects, clothespins on the music to keep the pages from blowing off, long commutes with questionable maps to tiny parks, rickety stages.  Outdoor concerts are particularly unfun for obo…

Five of Cups

I’m on vacation this week, up at our family’s camp on Lake Carmi.  This place always makes me think of the Tarot, as it was here that I first learned to read the cards.  Though it’s been over a year since I’ve had time to touch a deck, I love the early morning reflection of a daily card, especially here where the world is peaceful and beautiful (and everyone else sleeps in).

This morning I drew the Five of Cups, which is an unusual card for me.  It’s about regret - looking at what you’ve done and wishing it had been different.  This is totally foreign to my personality.  On the rare occasions I’ve seen that card - most often in readings for other people, I have focused almost exclusively on the two full cups in the background.  Don’t dwell on the past!  I point out.  There’s so much more to see and do and LIVE than the three spilled cups - look around and find the joy instead of the sorrow.

But this morning I think the other aspect of the card is speaking to me, and reminding me not to …

Superior to the Music?

My husband and I were playing a gig together a few weeks ago.  Rare for us.  And we were debriefing in a coffee shop between services, and he said, “You know, I looked at my parts for this concert a little, but there was really nothing to practice.  I hate feeling superior to the music.”

And in that statement is a great and valuable lesson for a musician.  The more experience you have playing orchestrally, the less likely that a given piece will hold true technical challenges for you.  There’s nothing in, say, Haydn 104 that I can’t pull off on my instrument.  No scale passage too fast, no rhythm too complex.  I understand the stylistic constraints of playing Haydn and I’ve heard and played the piece many times so the solos are known entities.  So should I not practice before a Haydn concert?

Obviously this is not the case.  A given symphony may not present technical challenges, but the oboe always does.  It doesn’t matter that I can play the solos if I can’t enter securely on the low …

Pushups?

I did five pushups this evening.  I’ve been off running for two weeks now, with tendinitis in my foot, and although I’ve done a bit of biking - commuting, is all - nothing for me tops the pleasure of rolling out the door for 6 or 10 miles and checking my watch to see how close I am to my goal time - per mile, per route, per plan.  I miss my marathon training like crazy.

Last night I was chatting with a good friend at a gig, and brought up my frustration at being off my feet.  She said she’d gone through the same thing, stopped running a year ago, and recommended pushups.  I said she was crazy.  She pointed out that you could count them, and improve your number every day.  And I said she was awesome.

Why did that simple statement make all the difference for me?  Running has been my dream sport for years not because I am a good runner, or fast, or apparently able to do it without injury.  What I love is the numbers.  I can go out for a run and push myself to achieve more than the day befo…