Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How can we be halfway through summer?

Well, the wonderful Fireworks concert was cancelled. Hopefully it will happen again next year, those of us in town (and quite a few had come for the concert) played an impromptu march by the river - I think we had aspirations of a "flashmob" but no one was that orgainized! It was nice to see everyone, and I brought my "camping oboe" which is an ancient ring system that my DH got on Craigslist. I guess this counts as a gig. I am working on contracts for the opera, being the manager is a huge pain mostly, but I do like being involved! Also, I am afraid I would never get hired again if I quit. At least for that gig, so I slog onward. The theatre is having lots of growing pains with a new general manager. The "usuals" from the pit orchestra are all worried about being hired this year - I guess I have always figured it was wonderful while it lasted, but not to count on anything. Oddly, this fall they are doing Fiddler - which has a real oboe/EH book, I am pretty much the obvious choice for this but maybe they won't hire more than a combo...seems like a shame for such a big show. With all the trips to visit family and camps and our "free" tickets to the local theme summer is booked up! In just over a week we have our first symphony rehearsal - Opera starts in less than 6 weeks. Excited!!!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

No rest know!

Well, since my last post where I was bemoaning the fact that I had no gigs for the month of July, I now am playing two first oboe things, summer band concerts on clarinet every Monday, and a parade on soprano sax. We are also going to be gone for over a week, and another week in August, so suddenly my summer feels pretty crammed. 

I have been working on articulations and feel like I have made some good progress, although there's always further one could go! One of the concerts I'll be doing is a sub gig, I really hope they are wildly impressed with my playing, so they hire me again. 

The other is our wonderful Royal fireworks concert, which we all thought would be canceled this year, but it looks like we will eek out at least one more year. This concert is for instrumentation of handles will fireworks music, and we play arrangements and original pieces for that ensemble (20-odd oboes, 4 eh, 16 ish bassoons, 8 horns, 8 trumpets, serpent, and percussion). It always ends with fireworks music, and of course there is fireworks over the river set to the music. We play on a floating stage in the middle of the beautiful parks, I love doing this gig every year! 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Summer goals

This summer was really depressing me for a while, as I finish a crazy spring playing all the time, I am faced with no gigs at all until late August. But after thinking this over, it will be so nice to have some actual practice time! So many things go by the wayside as I frantically prepare for each gig in turn. 

Here are the things I hope will be much improved in the next two months:
Soft low articulation
Single tongue speed
Variable speed vibrato

Of course I could go on and on, but I think that's enough to focus on. My litmus test for that low articulation will be Brahms Symphony 2, 2nd mvt, 2nd oboe part. Holy cow what a nasty mess that is! So glad I am not playing it next fall, I will be playing first! Did this on an audition last spring and couldn't believe how hard it was.

For the single tongue speed, I can play two notes in a row quite quickly, almost as fast as my double tongue. I have noticed if I slowly add notes, first three, then four then five, I can actually get going quite a bit faster.  So far these are all same pitch, but I plan to do different pitches in a week or so.  

The vibrato I've been working on for a while, I put the metronome on 60 and start with one about a poor measure, then increased to two, then three, and four, than five. At that point I do a whole note trill for two bars. Immediately following that back to five vibratos per bar, four, three, two and straight. This is way more difficult than it seems, and it's really great to add color to long notes. I noticed that I should probably practice my trills too, but holy cow lets not get carried away! 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Backwards practicing

I have always practiced all my major scales pretty much every day. But this week I started playing from the top going down instead of my usual way, starting at the bottom going up a couple of octaves.  Who would've thought this would be complicated any way? I am surprised that even though I have played these exact notes on the way down nearly every day for four decades, when I start at the top I really have to think about what comes next! Who would've thought I had neglected such an easy thing. I guess there really is no limit to what I can practice. 

Monday, March 17, 2014


So funny that my last post was entitled "the end of things". Since then, it has been revealed that my little orchestra is struggling to even finish this season financially. I am hopeful that we will at least make it through this season but the future is not looking super shiny. It really breaks my heart to think that through mismanagement we may lose this wonderful organization! 

We just finished our young artist concert, symphony played well and of course the soloists were all stellar. We were supposed to do symphonie Fantastique for our final concert in May, but apparently this is out of the question now. New repertoire has not been decided yet, it has really stressful. They're hoping to put something together in less rehearsals to save money. 

The theater is having a benefit, for which I will be playing oboe. It appears to just be a bunch of love songs from Broadway musicals, called "easy to love concert package". It appears to be just the songs with no storyline at all. Should be fun, and it's so much easier with just one instrument! Gypsy (opens in May) looks like I'll be playing at least four things, won't know for sure until we get the books and decide how to divide things up. 

In happier news I am trying a Loree Royale oboe right now, is used but seems to be in very good condition. I will decide next few days if I'm going to take the plunge. It's kind of tainted by the fact that their may not be a symphony next year, where will I play this fabulous instrument??

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The end of things

Finally some of my insanity is ending! 
The oboe audition is over, and while I didn't win or even get to round two, I'm sort of impressed with myself for getting it together enough to present myself at this crazy point in my life! I played ok, but ok is not the standard at auditions these days-- even podunkville 2nd oboe auditions! There were some fabulous players duking it out, and I got to meet some great people. Slightly sad I wasn't in the running, but I'm really happy I won't be making that 4 hour (one way) drive!

Today is the last show of Crazy for You. Bittersweet really, so happy to get my time back but I will miss my "pit mates" - hahahaha! What a good word. The poor conductor never got the hang of actually conducting from the piano - sad since the band is really good. But we will mostly be together again in May for Gypsy, with yet another new music director. 

Symphony doesn't start up for another week, so my sax 4tet is taking that rehearsal time, we have a little mini recital at the end if February. When I'm not insanely busy, playing in sax 4tet is really fun- I play Bari and it is so different from my oboe stuff. 

In the aftermath of the audition, I wonder where I should put my energy, I'd like to focus on reed making for a whole, and I'm thinking hard about IDRS this year and the fancy new oboes there- but is it worth it? I think I'll never get that big dark sound out of my old Loree. It needs to be overhauled anyway, and I will probably sell my old Laubin. All speculation for now!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Oboe Audition

Everyone knows that auditions only come at the worst possible time, and this one came along unexpectedly in the middle of all my madness! It is in Little Brother's Town, about 4 hours away, so I'm not really hoping to win the audition, but I'd love to get "second" place - where they may call me to sub a couple times a year. Also, it is a good thing to update one's resume and go over those excerpts we all know and love... I can't believe the last time I updated my resume was 2005! Seems like I must have another one around somewhere, but that is the latest one on my computer. I have finally removed all the school ensembles from my list of groups, and it still looks pretty full. I sound impressive on paper anyway! And it is exciting to realize that some of those nasty excerpts are lurking around in the back of my brain still. I'm hoping to get through everything without a major crash. The only excerpt I have never done is the 2nd oboe part of Brahms 2nd symphony, mvt 2. All low articulations very soft - my worst thing! But amazingly I played it great tonight, we'll see what the reed Gods have decreed for next week.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Back in the pit

Doing the show Crazy for You, must say I thought it would not be very hard, and in some ways it's not, but it has certainly been a challenge! I'm playing parts of books 3 and 5, so my instrumentation is oboe, English horn, clarinet, and bari sax.  I like playing the bari part even though it's a pain to put the two books together. Especially for my sub, who can only play clarinet and sax. No one else in town can cover the oboe parts, guess that's a sort of job security!

Of course one show is not enough, i'm missing opening night of Crazy, because the symphony is playing our family concert. We are doing PDQ Bach's  Beethoven's fifth - it's a sportscast (you can find on YouTube) funny funny funny. During the cadenza I get to have an altercation with the conductor, and I win, while he gets a 42 bar penalty! 

It always seems like there are so many gigs all at once, and then nothing for months. Next week, between shows for crazy for you shows (5/week for 5 weeks), is the Black & White Ball for the symphony. The chamber orchestra plays big-band, pops, light classical and jazz stuff– I will play oboe and bari sax.

It seems like a lot of stuff going on now, but when I read it down it doesn't look like that much. Guess I'm just tired, it is opening week for two different things after all! And of course I do nothing but play music, the rest my life goes along smoothly and perfectly.