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Showing posts from February, 2016

Joy of Music

I played a concert tonight in Fort Wayne and we had a piano soloist for Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. Jodie DeSalvo was absolutely marvelous.

The thing that impressed me the most was the absolute joy she projected every time she played.  From the moment the piece started - even in the very first working rehearsal - with our excellent principal clarinet wailing up to the high note, she was listening, engaged, visibly enjoying what she heard.  She reacted with obvious delight to what the orchestra gave her in the opening, and responded as soon as she started playing with some fun of her own.  I have played Rhapsody in Blue dozens of times, and never heard it as fresh, playful, and rambunctious as it was this evening.  She performed this 90 year old work as if she was making it up on the spot, and the orchestra responded with energetic glee of its own.  The audience loved it, and brought her back for three curtain calls.
Sometimes we can get caught in the trap of going to work just so…

The Struggle is Real

I talk so blithely about how the oboe is not your friend. How it is a different instrument every day.  How complicated and annoying those tiny reeds are.  In our quintet concerts this week I commiserated openly with the high school oboists in the audience, and told whole classes of kids that REEDS are the hardest thing about the oboe.

Which is not untrue, but I can say it so easily, and write about it so preachily, because most of the time I privately believe that I am past it.  I make so many reeds that SOMETHING will almost always work, and I have the skills and savvy to cover for most deficiencies and the showmanship to perform through reed inadequacies.  At this point in my career, it's pretty easy to be "good enough" in any given performance, and I'm always striving for the more elusive "great" or "awesome". 
It's been a long time since I had to fight my way note by note through a concert, hyperaware of every register shift and articulat…

Reed Pro Tip: Rotate!

Does this sound familiar?  You have a favorite reed.  It feels great, and you play it all the time - at school, at home, in lessons.  The response is right where you want it, all the time, and it just seems to get more and more comfortable for you the longer you play.  It's a GOOD reed.

Then, tragedy strikes.  A flute player jostles your instrument and the reed breaks.  Or it cracks against your teeth.  Or it just finally gets too old to play on.  And you are left looking at a case full of unfamiliar reeds - some too new and hard, some too old and close to death, and inevitably there's a concert or a competition coming up that very week.  In a panic you order a reed from your teacher, or the store, or your favorite online reed-maker - and even though it's new, and customized for you, it DOES NOT feel as blissfully comfy as that sweet older reed did.  It feels hard.  It makes your mouth hurt.  The response is unexpectedly slow, or alarmingly fast.  It distracts you and cause…