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Showing posts from August, 2014

Practice+ App - and my FIRST EVER GIVEAWAY

You know how, when you are practicing, you need to have your metronome on your stand and turn it constantly up and down as you work through a technical passage?  And you also want to play in tune, and make sure you are staying consistent with your pitch.  So while your metronome is clicking away on your stand, you also have to turn half-way around to look at the screen of the big tuner which has to be plugged into the wall because it eats batteries otherwise.  And if you also want to record yourself to listen to your progress, you have to have your laptop on with the big mic plugged into it, and that’s on still another surface, so you have to move your stand around so you can orient to all three, and then your giant stack of music-in-progress falls off the stand and onto the floor and out of order and the next ten minutes are spent not practicing at all but just trying to return to normalcy. Does this sound familiar?

I was sent a free promo copy (full disclosure) of an app called Prac…

Experience Counts

It’s fun to be a grownup.  It’s fun to be good at something.  I love it when I can feel my own progress.

Daphnis et ChloĆ©,by Ravel, is a monumental musical work, and one which is legendary among orchestral musicians for its difficulty.  There are approximately ten million notes to play, at very fast speeds, in unexpected meters, in the extreme ranges of the instruments, and, like most of Ravel’s music, it’s very exposed and changes tempos all the time and requires exceptionally soft playing in addition to great power.  I’ve performed part of it - the second suite - at least three or four times and each time I work hard at it for weeks before the cycle, and resolve to nail a few more licks, and do, but I’m far from being flawless.  It’s just that hard.

When I was newly out of school and freelancing in Chicago, I got a last minute call to cover Daphnis in a Civic Orchestra rehearsal.  Yes,  a rehearsal, and only the second suite, but at that time in my life I had just “graduated” from Civ…

Everyone Makes Mistakes

I’ve been home for four whole days now, and I’m still feeling inspiration from my IDRS visit.  Today I’m thinking about mistakes. 

Everyone made some.  I heard 17 individual soloists in two days, and not one played perfectly.  Not one person gave a CD quality performance.  Which doesn’t in any way mean that I’m saying that they played badly. 

The players I heard were world class.  They were all very individual, and presented different sound concepts, different reed approaches, and different personalities.  Any attempt to rank them would be absurd, and any attempt to count mistakes or compare performances in that way would be hateful, and that is NOT what I’m doing. 

Sometimes when I take auditions, I can get very focused on perfection.  And sometimes when I am performing on stage I have to really fight NOT to obsess about small mistakes - finger flubs or missed attacks or out of tune notes or dropped endings. 

And I know players far more obsessive than I - and certainly more flawless …

IDRS 2014 - Day Two and OUT

I'm writing my Day Two report while all of my colleagues and friends, new and old, are well into their Day Three experience.  I was terribly sad to leave NYC, and IDRS.  In past years I've found myself sort of oboe-ed out by the third or fourth day, but I was nowhere near that point last night when I had to begin my schlep to the airport.  On the up side, I am home and spent the morning with Zoe and Steve, and I'm safely on the correct side of Lake Michigan well before my concert tonight, which was the important purpose of my travel plans - but there are SO MANY MORE great events happening at NYU.  Best of luck to everyone performing!

Yesterday, among other performances, I enjoyed THREE recitals featuring music for oboe and bassoon.  Be prepared for a husband-wife recital coming down the pike in the next year or two, as I loved much of the new music that I heard. 

First I enjoyed hearing ToniMarie Marchioni and two of her colleagues from the University of Kentucky.  Beaut…

IDRS 2014 - Day One

It's too much.  How can you see it all?  When there are two and three and four events happening simultaneously, all over the campus in multiple buildings, and when so many of these events are ones that I would leap to attend at home, and when it is just simply not possible to be in two places at once?

Here's what I did see - a lovely recital by Minkyu Yoon, featuring four "Fantasy" works by Telemann, Bozza, Arnold, and Pasculli.  I've played three of those works relatively recently, so it was really fun to hear the different ways that he interpreted them.

A fascinating masterclass by Michael Rosenberg - in which he spoke beautifully and fluently about improving resonance and sound just by using your body differently.  Most of the suggestions that he had for people struck a chord with me - I've felt these concepts in my own body when I've been playing well, or have struggled to articulate them for students.  I am absolutely ready to apply his ideas both to…

IDRS 2014 Day Zero

I arrived in NYC yesterday after one of those ghastly get-up-at-3:45-to-drive-to-the-airport mornings, and the first thing that happened is...nothing. I successfully navigated transit to arrive at the NYU address given on the conference website, was sent to a different campus building to register, and learned that the accommodation I'd booked was another 6 or 8 blocks beyond that - so my memory of the pre-lunch period of my day is one of being hot and tired and dragging my roller suitcase, oboe, and tote-bag for MILES.

But things got so very much better.  Monday was technically pre-conference, so I was in town exclusively for rehearsals.  I found myself a delicious and healthy lunch, enjoyed people-watching in Washington Square Park, and reported for my rehearsal (not, unfortunately, in my recital venue, and not even in the venue I'd been told a few weeks earlier.)

I've written before about my poor success rate with first rehearsals with new pianists, and I was definitely …