Skip to main content

Ramping Up

It's finally time.  We're done with the season, Dake is over, we've had our vacation, and there's nothing standing between me and recording my first professional CD, except the actual preparation of the actual music.

So here we go. I've got all of the repertoire I'm considering up on my stand. (Most is set, there are just a few question marks at the very end.) I've scanned all the piano scores to Paul.  I've been practicing and making reeds enough in the last week that I no longer hate myself.  All I need to do now is learn all of my music, to an incredibly high degree of accuracy and awesomeness, so I can lay these tracks down WHEN IT COUNTS and come up with a product I can be proud of.

But I've never tried to do this before, not to this extent, not all by myself.  I know how to prepare a recital's worth of music, and I know how to perform for an hour in front of an audience.  But my preparation needs to be a little different to make a CD.

In a live performance, I am always working on managing my energy and my embouchure so that I can get all the way to the end of the program feeling strong.  Inevitably, I choose a reed for its functionality over the one that might sound the best, and I choose a reed that's a little too easy so I don't exhaust myself early on.  I plan breaths that will get me through long passages with enough reserve oxygen to go forward into the next page and next movement, though in the privacy of my practice room I might prefer different, riskier choices.  And although I always strive for technical perfection, I know in my heart that an hour long live performance will not be perfect, and I can forgive an error or two as long as I am performing excitingly.

But in a recording studio, when perfection is possible, when I can always go back and do it a little better, or I can change reeds to give me a different sound or level of resistance for the slow movements or the French pieces, and when I can stop and start to give my embouchure a rest in various places - well, I'm not totally sure how to work on that. I'm excited about the possibilities, but I'm not sure how to optimize my time.

Thus, I have a chart. I love a whiteboard, and I've made a chart. I've broken up my longest movements into chunks, and I've noted every movement, and I've considered all the aspects of each work that I want to have thought of and worked on.  I figure if I can check all of these boxes before I meet my pianist, three weeks from now, two weeks before my session, I should be in pretty good shape.  Our rehearsals will illuminate more details for me to work on, and if I keep at it all the way through the end of August we should have a great product to put out there.

That, anyway, is my hope.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Discouraging Words

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. 

Quit NOW. 

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…

Shaq and the Oboe

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…

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

We took a vacation this summer.This is not news to anyone in my life - anyone who knows me or especially Steve on Facebook followed along with all of our pictures.We took our travel trailer out to Arizona - via St Louis, Tulsa, Amarillo, Roswell, Santa Fe - and then stayed a week in Clarksdale and Flagstaff and visited some ancient pueblo ruins, Sedona, Jerome, the Lowell Observatory, the Grand Canyon.We swam in swimming pools, lakes, and icy mountain streams.We hiked.Eventually we came home again, via Albuquerque, Amarillo, Tulsa, and St Louis. (our inventiveness had somewhat worn out).After a week at home we took another trip, and drove to Vermont via western NY and the Adirondack Park (stayed an extra day to hike a mountain), lived four days in East Franklin VT, and came home via Catskill and eastern Ohio.
This vacation felt different from all of our previous ones.In the 21 years we’ve been married, I can name only one - maybe two trips we ever took that were not For Work or For …