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Showing posts from May, 2014

How Not to Plan

I was listening to Marc Maron’s podcast as I commuted to Chicago last week, and enjoying an interview with actor and comic Aasif Mandvi.  Mandvi delighted me by quoting an old acting teacher - whose name I did not, regrettably, catch- in saying something that I have come to understand is true.  I’m paraphrasing, now. 

You can’t prepare the whole monologue, because you never know how it is going to evolve or what it will mean to you in the moment.  You never know where it is going to take you.  Just prepare your entry point, and figure out how to get in, and then use your instincts from there. 

This is something I’ve known and worked with for a long time.  You can’t craft every second of the plan - you can’t know in advance exactly how you are going to present any given note or phrase.  It could be that a colleague tosses you a turn in an unexpected way, and you choose to respond to that. It could be that the audience is giving you a particular energy and you need to wake them up, or c…

Stepping Back

More on the eerie parallels between exercise and the oboe.

I’ve been struggling with my running all spring.  Mainly because I quit it all winter, honestly - but for the past few months I’ve been dragging myself through workouts, ignoring the twinges of old injuries, and assuming that I was one good run away from a real breakthrough.  As recently as a few weeks ago I figured I was just a couple of long runs away from a successful half-marathon at the end of this month.  I mean, I wasn’t actually accomplishing my three and four milers without walking, and I hadn’t ACTUALLY done anything over six miles since November - but I just knew that if I kept pushing through these uncomfortable, gasping, leg-burning miles I would pop back into the body and fitness that I had last May. Turns out it doesn’t work like that when you’re forty.

I’m playing the Strauss Oboe Concerto with a community orchestra on June 12, and somehow, shockingly, my first rehearsal with them is this Tuesday.  This has re…

If I Were a Real English horn Player

If I had an English horn job, I would get a lot more reading done. 

I like playing the thing fine, and I even don’t mind schlepping it around since I got my BAM Ultralight case a few years ago.  I don’t love making the reeds, but once made they last a really long time and I could get used to that.

What I will never grow to like is the sitting around.  There’s always a pretty solo for the English horn somewhere, but waiting for my piece and then waiting for my entrance gets old pretty fast.  But on the upside, I’ve finished two New Yorkers today, and the stack of unread reads in my room is shrinking nicely this week. 

If I did this regularly, there's no telling how caught up I might be with my life. 

AND, we have another concert tomorrow. 

This week for me is the Illinois Philharmonic, in a concert of Bernstein and Prokofiev, which I love, and Glazunov, which I read during.  Fun program.  Beautiful music.  Details HERE.

Breaking Through the Plateaus

You’ve heard before that Zoe is struggling with the cello. It turns out that not every week is as fun as the first week.  And we almost caved and let her quit a few months ago, which I’m sure would have been a relief to her teacher.  We’ve been dragging through this semester, waiting for summer and a much-needed break.  And then last week we went to her lesson and she ACED it.  Had a huge breakthrough with her counting and plucking, got to play a little bit of a duet with her teacher.  Seemed to be re-inspired.  Has had better practice sessions ever since. 

I have a high school student who can’t count.  Has NO rhythm or internal pulse.  We’ve been banging our heads against the walls all year trying to solve this problem.  She’s an adept mimic, which is how she’s made it through the system this long - if I play something for her she can play it right back, and if she hears a lick in band often enough she can approximate it pretty well.  But all year she’s been totally incapable of inde…