Tuesday, October 30, 2007

New stuff

Not much to report on the Little Orchestra front - we did get to Russian Xmas Music this time and I am happy to have chosen the EH part. K (our new 2nd oboe) did a fine job on the 1st part, as expected. And L (student who played 2nd on last concert) even has a little solo on the 2nd part - she is playing vln on rest of concert. Glad the oboe section seems to be settling in.

The insane birthday party weekend (for my son) was all weekend so I didn't even practice - that will all be on the other blog if you're interested.

Monday I played principal for University Orchestra (where I have usually come in at the end to play EH). They are playing Suppe's Morning Noon and Night overture and Beethoven Piano Conc #5. Also Mozart 39, but of course we don't play that. It was ok, and the conductor is a MARVEL of organization. But the pitch was just awful, and I felt really weird in this sea of squawking, this will make me appreciate my other gig! It is only until December as their regular principal is having a baby.

In other oboe related news, I got my old teacher's Laubin oboe back. Janet Brackett was my first teacher, and her husband gave me this oboe when she died. I have never played it much, it was out of adjustment. But is seems delightful now - these are highly in demand oboes, and the repair guy was very impressed. There does seem to be a bit of binding in the low c#, but after 20 years of sitting there will be some oddities. But it plays great, and I would use it in the symphony (if I played it a bit more to get the tuning - it is different than my Loree!)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


The concert Monday went fine, I only played the EH on mvt 3 of Scheherazade - pretty but short. I did not play the oboe part as they have a second oboist already - she is so cool - 76 and still going strong (well, mostly!). She brought me this little poem that apparently Danny Kaye recorded in the 40s:
I was forced to be a hobo
Because I played the oboe
For the oboe is clearly understood
To be an ill wind that no one blows good!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Amazing grace!

Wow, the bells actually sounded pretty good today! I was really worried but they pulled together and it was lovely. I guess I am just stressing about all the stuff going on - I actually forgot I have to play Scheherazade tomorrow - not a big part but I have to show up! And of course we have to find someplace to park D, I think he will just go to Jim's rehearsal with a color book - thank god we are at the point where he kind of entertains himself. I feel kind of badly because he will be up later and there is school, but that is the way it goes. If we get a sitter, we would be out $20 plus the extra 2 hours of my time driving to get her, driving to my house, going home, and driving her home! Big pain. One of my oboe blogger friends is having a baby and I know her folks don't live close, so I hope she has sitters lined up! That was the biggest problem we faced, finding good sitters so we CAN still play.

email updates

I'm trying a new thing, it seems I can have an email sent to people on "my list" if I have a new post - so I'm testing to see if it works...

church music

This morning I am trying to fit making two reeds in before running off to direct the bells. This is probably the worst I have felt about the bells since I have started. Seems like there is more dropping out than usual - although it is mostly people who are sick or on vacation. But I'm just so tired of begging people to play, trying not to make them feel guilty...I just want to say, fine! Don't come. Whatever. I just want to play, maybe alone. In my spare time I need to go to the bell store and get some music, but I don't even know what to say about how many ringers I have, which pretty much determines what we can ring. Perhaps I'm feeling a bit burnt out?

Tomorrow I have a lesson with G - the mysterious G as Patty calls him! hehehe. Although he does make fabulous reeds, he isn't taking new customers anymore. So I feel I must come up with something to play - making reeds seems to be the easy out. How did I ever do this in college? Oh yeah, that is ALL I did!

Friday, October 19, 2007


This week has been insanely busy...but more about that later (and probably mostly on my other blog). For now I will just say our first rehearsal for the Dec concert was great - we are doing Lt. Kije suite (fun fun) and a piece by my friend Brent that will be a world premier - it is his piano concerto, very Gershwiny and he will be the pianist! Sounds great - and he put in some lovely oboe bits (I'm sure just for me!). We are also doing Russian Christmas music by Reed but we didn't get to it, has big EH solos which I have decided to play (I love being in charge). I figure while our orchestra is little and they let us make these decisions, I will just play the good stuff!

Tonight we are going to see the big symphony play Verdi's Requiem - love that piece, I have sung it but never played. Our first tpt player (in the little orch) will be one of the many extra brass players offstage, and I know a lot of the symphony people so that makes it even more fun.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Always a relief when you can look back on the concert! Mostly I did ok, I was annoyed with myself for succumbing to what, nerves, finger stupidity? Anyway, in the Proc of the Nobles there is a pretty exposed downward passage in thirds with 5 flats that just does not lie well, and I just didn't play it! Fortunately the clarinets were very strong there and I don't think it was any big deal -- that song is all about the brass anyway. I played all the other stuff perfectly *sigh*.

The Haydn went surprisingly (?) well, the strings really cleaned up some of the hard little fuguey bits. And our poor flute didn't have a coughing fit - she is struggling with some sort of cold - and she has big solos in that symphony (101, the clock). The most interesting part was in the second mvt it really does sound like a clock, and there is a grand pause in the middle where I suppose you think the clock stops. Well David (conductor) and various other masterminds thought how funny if he just bent over like the doll from the aria in the Tales of Hoffman (which we did last year)and the concertmaster (Dr. Phil, hahaha) whips out this big key and winds him up (complete with ratchet sounds from the percussion section. I think the audience was kind of surprised (out of their sleep?!!) because when D bent over they all started to applaud. Then P holds up the giant silver key someone came up with and they all cracked up. I hope Haydn would have enjoyed the moment, at least for our (not terribly sophisticated) audience it brought their focus to the orchestra again, I think we probably have a lot of "drifters".

Oh and I got a solo bow at the end, always a good thing.

The Brahms Double was great, I think pitch was better than it had ever been and all the little solo-y bits in the orchestra went well. The soloists were both really good, and after the concert the cellist went out to TGIF with a bunch of us - fun although the service was REALLY slow.

We have tried to go to the Outback (which closes in our town at 10pm on Saturdays) and various other places, some people have their kids so we can't do bars very well. My friend in a far off place says she has an arrangement with a Thai restaurant where all the members of her chorus that want to go pay $20, and they basically get unlimited food (no ordering, just lots of yummy different stuff) and soft drinks. Great idea IMHO. It is fun to go out, but I want to eat immediately!

So a great opener for our season. My biggest annoying thing was before we actually started the president of the board comes out and makes a "greeting" speech. I have no problem with them upping visibility, but it should be SHORT!!! This poor woman went on, and read from the program (which I have to believe MOST of out audience can read for themselves) EVERY concert for the orchestra and the chamber group! And then she introduced a woman dressed as a pumpkin (??) who announced a few more things, not really sure why she was dressed as a pumpkin...ALL of which were in the program. Then she introduced David, but after he came out and we all stood and were ready to go, she still had her prepared speech, so while he stood there she read from him bio (in the program) about his accomplishments! Argh! This all could have been said in about 30 seconds - Welcome, special thanks to sponsor XXX (applause), please note our future concerts listed in your program on page X, and now here is David XXX! Pet peave of mine.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

concert week!

Tonight was our last rehearsal before dress - went ok. I made a few stupid mistakes, but overall everything went fine. This is the concert with the Brahms Double (nothing much for me - lovely soloists), the Haydn SYmphony 101 (clock, I actually have 2 really ALONE solos, very nice, easy; however I did play in the wrong key twice) and the R-K Procession of the Nobles (we finally had harp and all SIX horns- sounds great!)

Anyway, it is really fun carpooling home with M (clarinet and my college roommate), her husband plays bass trombone so he leaves after 1/2 hour and we go on for the rest. She meets him anyway after work at my exit so it works out perfectly for me to take her to her car. We have been listening to different versions of the Enescu Romanian Rhapsody #1 (which we play in March)...big clarinet and oboe thing at the beginning.

Monday, October 8, 2007

lesson, coaching, whatever

I had a great session with G today - first my reeds were good, and although he did take a bit off the tips I feel like I'm really getting them in the ballpark. Then when we were playing some Telemann duets (for pitch, which he said was really good too!) he pointed out I was using a stupid fingering for B-Bb (which is an awful trill). I just used the normal one, I know about the little plate you should hold down but I never manage to slide over for it while I'm sightreading. But he told me to hold down the Ab key and trill the A finger - wow!! Works great, is kinda like the Ab -Bb trill so it's easy to remember; and it sets you up perfectly for the naschlag at the end of the trill (lower neighbor, which is Ab in this case). YAY!!! I'm so excited I want to play the Mozart again just so I can nail that stupid trill (not really).

The third thing I was working on was my articulation - esp low notes, and I felt I made significant progress there also. I will play this etude (Singer IV, #10) again for him in two weeks, feeling really good about it.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

I actually practiced both oboe and EH today (!) AND I finished those 2 reeds for my lesson tomorrow! Yay. Since I teach myself I have extreme guilt if I'm not actually prepared when I go play for G. So I'm feeling pretty good - tomorrow I go to college orchestra to play the 2nd mvt of Scheherazade (spell that, whatever!) on EH - I've never done this piece but it should be fun. Their concert is the 22nd and I will also play for the dress. Any EHers out there who have comments on this piece I would love to hear about it.

I even worked on our music for orchestra - the only challenging thing is R-Ks Proc of the Nobles. Doesn't SEEM hard, but there are a few tricky exposed things which I really don't want to mess up in the name of "I'm too cool to practice this potboiler". Some of those potboiler pieces are really hard (eg: Sorcerer's Apprentice, NASTY, but fortunately not too exposed)

Saturday, October 6, 2007

reeds reeds reeds

It is a beautiful fall day today - but I am feeling very virutous working away indoors. Lots of laundry and moving D's closet into the new space my dad put in, but also I am making my 2 reeds of the week. I can't believe how hard it is to fit in just 2 reeds; but every week I get to the weekend and think, what has happened to my time??? I am glad I am having lessons on Mondays because that lets me cram on the weekend, and of course I can just take a week off if things get busy (aren't they always?) but being accountable for playing something every week is really good for me. Hopefully that is showing in my playing.

Friday, October 5, 2007


One of my blogging friends has a comment about how audiences perceive art, including music, and whether creators do or should change the art to satisfy a viewer/listener. (oboeinsight.com) Wow! Great subject, and since I can't seem to comment on her site (my problem) I will expound here.

When I was a full time graphic designer, it would totally crush me if I made some beautiful poster or brochure concept and the client didn't like it, especially if I had had a "vision" . Sometimes the idea would just come to me, and I knew just what to do (sadly, the client didn't always realize this). But it was really different for me than playing. When I play the oboe in the orchestra, I just try to get as close to what I think the "perfect" rendition of the piece would be, at least the oboe part. But I don't have control over so many things, like tempos, what the other sections are doing, even my reed squawking (although you could argue I should have made a better reed...)

I guess really when I'm making a piece of art, I am trying to get as close to the "perfect" vision I get in my head. So now that I've thought about it, it is more the same than I was aware. But I still have way more control over things in the graphics arena than the music arena, even when (maybe especially when) I did a solo concerto - I couldn't practice and make the various instruments sound better, or the tuning in the orchestra better, or the individuals be able to play more cleanly.


Thursday, October 4, 2007

happy day...

I had a fun rehearsal - I think I played ok, and I am really excited for the upcoming season. Just got some new cds from Amazon - went to their Used section and bought 3 "new" used disks. What a deal - all together about $15! We are doing the Enescu Romanian Rhapsody #1, big oboe clarinet thing. Can't wait. Pitch seemed good to me tonight, I want to start playing scales with a tuner again. And I had my one and only student for the first time this semester - I don't want any more since I would have to get a sitter if I had to be there earlier. Wouldn't mind if they came out to my house, but no one seems to want to...

My dad has been here all week and a lot has been done in the house (see other blog) and that makes me happy too. Tomorrow I want to get to the gym and make reeds as well as practice, and also take a huge load to the recycle plant. We don't have garbage service where we live, and today I went to the dump for the first time in 7 years - we recycle almost everything. But the great thing was it only cost $7 to get rid of all my trash! Yay.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

No more butterflies

Ahhh! Madama Butterfly has died for the last time (at least here) and we got paid (yay!) so I am moving on now. Yesterday was kinda crazy busy, started with a "coaching". I have too many goals I think, but the main ones for this fall are
1. REALLY work on reeds,
2. be more critical of myself about "squawky" notes when they don't articulate right away (I especially have trouble on real low notes and low A G# and G) and
3. pitch (as always).

It is not like I sound terrible, but I don't want to get into that middle aged rut where I never improve either. I am so lucky to have the ability to practice most days, unlike a lot of people my age who have full time jobs and families - yes, I worked a ton as a student and it is totally different now. Not that I'm complaining, it is great to be where I am, I just don't want to waste it!

So I found a great etude in the Singer book (newish aquisition for me, I didn't use this one in college) that works on staccato low notes, which I will play for G next week. I got one of those snazzy clip on tuners from Korg which I should actually use more - I think my pitch is a lot better but I want to be one of those "solid" people. Thank GOD our trumpet player is really good, he actually plays with a tuner on his stand much of the time. Not that he seems to need it, but that is probably WHY he doesn't seem to need it. But the flute and I have some issues, and also the clarinet (at the opera anyway), I really wish we could play in a quintet together but that doesn't seem to be happening anytime soon. Clarinet has heavy job commitments. But flute is married to bassoon, so maybe we could do trios (they have daytime hours free like me). suggestions?