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Showing posts from August, 2020

Micro Rests

For oboists, endurance is a huge problem.  We can play an endlessly long phrase, because of the way the instrument is constructed, but we can really only do that a few times in a row before our embouchure starts to get fatigued.  We develop a buildup of air that feels exhausting to hold onto, and the thought of sustaining that kind of energy over  an entire page of music, much less a 45 minute recital program, is intimidating.   There's almost always a lesson, a week or two before a jury or a recital, where my student comes in and says, "I just can't DO this! I can play every detail in my music, but I can't put the whole thing together!  My mouth comes right off the oboe when I try - I'm going to fall apart in front of the audience, and it's going to be terrible!" Look, I'm putting this on my students now - but there's a moment a week or so before MY performances that feels exactly the same! I have not outgrown this moment of panic.And at that po…

On the generosity of Instagram practice accounts

Classical musicians are trained to make it perfect. To make all the notes correct, to make it sound like the CD, to do it the way everyone else has done it. The only way to shine is to be BETTER - which means cleaner, more in tune, more perfect. We DO NOT SHIP until it’s perfect, which is why so many people struggle with performance anxiety and stage fright. Live is scary because you can’t control how perfect it is.But here’s what the kids are doing, over on Instagram. They are making “practice accounts” and sharing their work in progress. They are sharing snippets of pieces, little technical etudes, minute-long snatches of what is happening. They are sharing the messy middle.The first magic in this is that the process of recording yourself, listening to what you’re doing, making judgements for yourself about what is good ENOUGH to share, trying again to make the snippet REPRESENT where you are in the journey - that PROCESS is making you better.The second magic is that seeing your br…

Choose the YES

Special moments come at the least expected times.

This video, the one I circulate periodically whenever Facebook reminds me of it, was literally just a gig. I didn’t know Sullivan when he reached out to me to play because he needed the video for some application or other.  I didn’t even ask what it was for.  I only had a day or two to prepare the music and I was annoyed that it was so hard and annoyed at myself for accepting the gig and annoyed as I drove up to the church he had booked which proved to be basically unheated.

I love what I do, but some gigs ARE an annoyance.  Holiday pops runouts leap to mind here. Endless drives through the snow for ungratifyingly formulaic performances of insipid music.  My annoyance level going in to this was about the same.

But it turned out to be marvelous fun!  Once I got going, the challenge turned out to be the BEST kind of challenge, the thing that is difficult but totally attainable if you bring your A game and your focus.  That’s the kind of c…