Saturday, December 25, 2010

On Christmas Day

How wonderful to finally reach this day of peace, after the insanity that always seems to preceed it! After the final White Christmas on Dec 19, I have been "music free" - kinda fun. We did go to a fabulous concert by the Clarion Brass Ensemble - really top notch group here - for a taste of their concert go here

We had a lovely Christmas morning, I was reminded why I never cook, and my hubby hooked up the big tv to youtube! We can finally see them without endless reloading and jerking pictures! Fun fun. In honor of our new hooked-up-ness, here is a Christmas recording of me and some random other people

Thursday, December 16, 2010

4 more White Christmas-es

Wow, the month is flying by! So glad to be on the last week of WC, it has been fun working with everyone but it isn't my favorite show. I do feel like I have improved quite a bit on clarinet and sax though.

The orchestra concert was a reasonable success - more ticket sales than they expected and we made ALMOST as much as they had hoped on the raffle. It is just sad how much we are struggling to stay alive here. Hopefully things will look up next year. The music was ok in the end, no actual ORCHESTRA music, but for a pops concert it was ok. Of course, in the past this hasn't been a pops concert (or at least 1/2 has always been legit); but if that's what it takes...

Hopefully we will be picking the next season in January. It is fun to be on the committee that proposes the schedule, I always try to suggest at least one good oboe piece! We also have our benefit ball in January - I'll probably get to play my sax for something...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Another messiah

Overall, things went pretty well considering. Since they cancelled the rehearsal (snow) we were contacted via phone about coming 2 hours earlier before the gig. Previously we were supposed to come at 5 to touch a couple of things before a 7pm concert. So everyone was coming at 3, and we'd have a regular rehearsal from 3-5. Except.

No one called the trumpets/timpani players! This would be their only rehearsal, and they were all set to come at 5:30, the "manager" got all defensive and it was kind of terrible, but they did fine. They all got there by 5:20, we ran the tpt stuff and were done by 5:30. I don't get the natural trumpet thing though - our tpt players are terrific and can play anything on all the various modern trumpets. I get that it is fun to have a challenge, but this takes me right back to jr hi. Oh well.

The tenor soloist was terribly sick and we had a sub, he did great (always a relief!). The other soloists were our "usual" ones and all did a bang up job, fun to just sit back during the arias and enjoy! Our usual 2nd oboist couldn't do this concert so I had my friend M play, we don't get to play together enough anymore. It was fun and we did get to grab a quick bite between rehearsal and concert. She is playing 1st oboe with the Expensive Private College and they are doing the Brahms Vln on Monday (big oboe solo)! She will be fab I'm sure, wish I could go.

I have finally succumbed to illness - REALLY sore throat. I can't even talk this am, and I feel terrible. I have one more WC this week, but then 2 days off.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas gigging

So White Christmas continues, starting to feel like we should mark each night with a tally scraped on the pit wall. But last night the 3 wind players all had subs (bet that was interesting) and we were at the Little Orchestra rehearsal for the Christmas concert Dec 11. I'm sure it will be fine, apparently there is a choir, a child to sing the bit from Home Alone, some grown up soloists and us backing it all up. Blech.

I had hoped it would be cool orchestral arrangements (one guy is arranging the whole concert for free, which is lovely). But it is super disorganized, we are getting our parts in .pdf via email, which is great, except that out of 14 songs I only have 5. I asked our "librarian" and she said it was no problem, there just wasn't oboe on any of those. Somewhat annoying, but whatever. So I show up last night and the arranger guy (who is also conducting everything) is like, where is the oboe? This is a big solo! But there are no parts to be found anywhere. Grrrrr.

So I'm missing a paying gig (WC), to show up for a less paying but usually more satisfying and consistant gig, but I have nothing to play. I *think* I will end up with music for 7 pieces, and that is ok with me - I don't have to play on everything (although it is WEIRD for the oboe to not have parts if there are other winds in an orchestra!). I did get some reading done, the magazine I've been bringing to WC finally got opened in orchestra rehearsal!

The other crazy thing is the weather here has been bad - so bad they cancelled the only Messiah rehearsal Tuesday. So I'll be playing that tomorrow night (another sub for WC) with no rehearsal. Not worried about playing it, but keeping track of which mvts we are doing is always a challenge (we do the Xmas part and about 10 other random bits, including HC of course!)

The endless nights away are starting to wear on me, things would need to be different at home if I did this all the time! I see very little of J these days because before work he has his "puttering" time (usually messing with cars or some such) and when he gets home he goes directly down to his email in the basement, and I have to leave in usually 1/2 hour depending on when he gets home. And of course he is usually asleep or the next thing to it when I get home. Fortunatly I see D after school every day, makes me so glad I'm not teaching this semester!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Another openin'

White Christmas, full steam ahead! This show has been a challenge for me (which I wasn't expecting) since I had done it before - but with full winds. This time we are covering with just 3 winds. Very different, LOT more "solo" stuff and all of it on clar/sax - not my comfort instrument!

The poor mc is trying, we can tell she is, but her inability to cue us is really problematic. Of course, as the show goes on we will know what is coming and how to respond, but I've written in voice cues on every song. I wish she could just sit in a pit with an experienced conductor one night to see how it works.

Last night we asked (again) about a slower rit on a measure in the overture. No singers - nothing on stage - so if we could just stretch the measure (which is printed with a rit) just a bit more to make the changes. We weren't coming in on the upbeat (which she commented on) and we kept saying we just needed one more second...Finally (this has been going on for 3 nights now) last night she said "you mean, you actually change HORNS there?! DURING the number?!"

Uhhh, yeah. I realize she is busy trying to play the keyboard and she is 4 feet above us, but you'd think she would notice that during the overture there is sax line stuff, oboe solos, flute stuff (and picc), and clarinet trios. All with 3 people - but I guess she is distracted. She didn't realize changes could occur DURING a number. OMG.

But, show is coming together! Should be a good opening. So glad I don't have any other music to worry about until after t-day.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Are you ready for a White Christmas?

So! Ritzy Private College gig (Charpentier Te Deum) went well, Joint Chamber Group Benefit for the Little Orchestra went ok too, now all I have to focus on (this week) is White Christmas! Blah. It's a little worrisome that the mc has never directed from a pit before - but she's getting the hang of it. The whole directing with your head as you play is complicated!

Mostly I'm worried about my own playing - stupid F# major on clarinet! And many switches back and forth. I decided to bag the EH playing, sadly cuz I never get to play anymore, but it seems stupid to drag out another horn for 16 bars that are not even exposed. Seemed like there was more the last time I played this, maybe it's a different scoring? I also seem to remember a big tenor solo in How Deep is the Ocean that went up to D, but it only goes up to C in this score. Huh. Oh well.

Opening Thursday. And my BFF from WaDC is coming for Thanksgiving!!! Poor guy - he will be overly exposed to White Christmas, but whaddya do?

Monday, November 8, 2010


Bunch of musical stuff this weekend, although rather LESS practicing than I had hoped! Sat we had our first and only orch rehearsal for WHite Christmas, the very nice, I think quite good, pianist they hired to take the place of the Fired Musical Director has never directed from a pit before. This is a bit terrifying, as she had never even heard of the concept of the "head nod", which is generally how you conduct from the piano - at least when you are changing tempos. They way our pit is constructed, there is no one in front of her, two groups out to the sides (we can't really see each other) and she is up on a 4 foot platform. She seems willing and interested, but it is hard to imagine it being a whole lot better before next week. Oh well!

I also had forgotten (from 2 years ago) a lot of the clar/sax stuff in there - much of it is fine but with 3 winds instead of 5 my part is much more exposed. And there are a couple of places I pawned off a hard part, and now I can play it (yay!)

Sunday I went to a masterclass on the Lindemann/Sobel method of wind playing - OMG this was a wonderful class. Those are saxophone players, and the teacher (email me if you're interested in his name) is also a sax player (and doubler of everything) - but the class had trombones, flutes, couple of saxes including me, and a euphonium player. I regret not bringing my oboe, but I wasn't sure what the class was about. This was high end stuff for sure, connecting the air with your fingers and body movement - subtle and amazing. Some of the participants were from the Big Symphony, and while they did play beautifully, he had great points to make for them as well as even me, the lamest of saxophone players.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Is this normal?

Back to "normal" after WSS, I guess! I thought things would be all calm and serene, but so far that is not the case. Partly due to White Christmas horning in already - first rehearsal this Sat! And there is a LOT of sax, I really should look at it. I guess I am happy I have this monster (6week) run to keep me occupied, I am very sad about orchestra right now.

We have a local arranger (he does a lot of stuff for B movies and cruise ships) who offered to arrange our whole Xmas concert for free! This is wonderful news since we have no money, and it is tough to put on a fun xmas concert with the same old stuff every year. So. He is very late getting arrangements to us - and as they are coming (via email) piece after piece has NO OBOE. And there are no bassoons in the whole concert. And only 2 horns. Etc.

This is so disappointing - we have worked with this guy before and I was afraid this would happen. The arrangements - which I haven't heard, only seen a few wind parts - look awfully jr high, if you know what I mean. The flutes (doubled), clarinets (doubled) and oboe (thank god just me) are all exact unison parts for 2 arrangements. That is at least 5 people playing unison for the entire piece. Not what I'd orchestrate if I had access to a full orchestra. *sigh*

Friday, October 29, 2010

Continued insanity

The demo at my son's school went very well (although nothing like I expected!) The kids were really interested in the instruments - I played them all, a little from WSS but mostly just little songs they knew. I'd guess most of them had never seen an instrument close up (sad).

But tonight is opening for WSS! SO EXHAUSTING! Seems to be going pretty well and both shows are sold out. Yay. So glad this is just a benefit, can't imagine lugging all this stuff for 6 weeks. I will have ob/eh/clar/ten for White Christmas, but that's still only one BIG case. And we'll be in the pit, not on stage. Kinda fun to be on stage though! I like being able to see, and even though my riser is cramped, I think it looks very impressive (which is what it is all about, after all).

But before that - I'm stupidly playing for the Old Lady Music Club, which is a lovely organization but not super quintet is doing the Barthe Passacalia and Ibert Trois Breves Pieces (so cute). Then I'm playing the Poulenc Trio but instead of bassoon we're using opheclide! Then the pianist will pick up a cello and we're doing some trios that were originally for reed trio, but we'll do ob/cello/opheclide. That ought to wake people up.

And I stupidly said I would play in church Sunday. Not that I mind, but this has been a crazy week, and Sunday is Halloween! So of course we are going out for that too. Fun stuff - son will be a south american indian. Wish I had more energy to think of a costume, but I probably will just show up (we go to our friend's house as no one comes out to the wilds of Mica Peak). Happy halloween everyone!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Moment of Insanity

WHY...did I volunteer to play all my doubles for Ds school this morning?! Moving all the cases and stands is a pain, and setting up is a pain, and PLAYING them is a pain...but his teacher is so thrilled - she got the soundtrack and I guess she'll play a little from that then I'll play my part for the kids so they can see how it fits in. And I'll talk about why I have so many instruments, and what they are. My guess is I'll play a little blurb on each one, and that'll be it.

So hopefully I will be feeling like I did a good deed later today. I have the hauling down to two (big) loads - just for fun I should weigh in. After tonight I can leave the stands at the theater (not the instruments, I'm just worried that way) so even though it will still take two trips it will probably be 1/2 the weight!

Since this is my blog I am going to whine about playing on a platform for a few moments. I got to the theater and since this is a concert version of the show (West Side Story) we are onstage. It didn't occur to me that they might put me on a riser. These risers are 2.5 feet up, and the worst part is all my stands. Many of them (bass clar in particular) have a fairly large footprint, and they have to be in a certain place so I can grab them FAST - there are a lot of quick changes in act I. Because of the riser, we only have about 3 feet from back to front - and I had at least another foot I was using out there. But I think I got things to work, although that was with only two of us on the riser (me taking up most of the space!) Tonight the third guy (book 2) will be there, I guess he can take his 1 foot of lateral space I left him! hehehe.

Friday, October 22, 2010


My brain is full of fingerings (usually the wrong ones, or the right ones for the wrong instrument anyway!) Definately the hardest doubling gig I've had. I was pretty impressed with myself when I played ob/eh/cl/tsax last year, but this is WAY harder!

I finally got the cuts - as I suspected, since it is the concert version many numbers are just gone. I only had 6 bars of EH left, and it was all high enough to play the exact notes on oboe so I decided to bag the EH. I am disappointed but it's one less thing to deal with. AND only one double reed (the least of my worries!)

I am having a lot of trouble with the upper BC register. Apparently this is not uncommon, especially with the type of octave key I have on this rental (no J, it was not better on the Bettony). Also can't seem to get high F on the Tsax w/o playing E first. It kinda sounds jazzy, so it might be ok. Probably just weak sax chops, but if anyone has any suggestions I'm open!

Only problems with the bari are AIR (holy cow that is a beast!) and physically moving it around. It is huge! Good thing about the cuts is that I'm completely done with tenor and bari after Act I. Kind of a letdown, but then I can focus on the rest.

Monday, October 18, 2010

East west...some way or other

West Side Story Update. OMG doubling becomes exponentially harder when you add instruments. I think I can say reed instruments are even MORE of a pain than doubling other instruments, at least those others are "fixed" and play somewhat the same every time you pick them up. But I'm playing SIX different reed instruments for this show, which means at least 6 reeds to keep wet and happy during the whole show (and 8 if you count the double reeds as 2, which I think I will just cuz). CRAZY.

And who would have thought each instrument would have its own quirks - like the top register of the bass clarinet is WAY harder than I expected, and I can get "in the zone" but as soon as I get that going, I switch to saxophone and wreck that whole embouchure. Kinda glad this is a benefit! But I expect overall I will do fine, WISH we had cuts of at least the big numbers we won't be doing. I KNOW they have this information (like they are probably cutting some of the big dances since it's a concert version), but for some reason I can't get across that I really don't mind adding the little cuts later. I guess they think it's better to give them to us all at once (at the sitzprobe!)

I did get one biggish cut from one of the singers last night - but most of them only write down things that directly pertain to them - and as we know most show singers don't actually count (come on, you know it's true!) they just come in "when it's time". So I have one cut that leaves out 2 pages of oboe (NOT the instrument I'd choose for cuts, but at least I know). And it looks like at least one of the EH parts (2 in the whole piece for a total of 16 bars) is good to go. Hopefully it is a big solo. It is the melody, so it's possible.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

calm before the storm

Mahler is all done, I'm not totally happy with my own playing but I'm not devestated either. Overall I think we did a pretty good job, and it was a great experience.

Now I have about two weeks before West Side Story, or the Extreme Woodwind Doubling Experience. I have procurred a bass clarinet stand from a friend, and since the bass clarinet was not quite playable, I rented one at the local musicmart. It is a LeBlanc, seems to be pretty good AND it comes with all those nice things like a peg and a neck! I do feel bad about J and all his hard work on the other horn, but maybe someday it will play.

The bari is still in the shop. Scary, but I've been assured it will be done today! Of course, I was assured that every day since last Thursday. The lady who loaned me her BC stand said she has had work done there and the metalwork is exceptionally good. So I feel a bit better...Just hoping it works smoothly. I've been practicing on tenor so at least I have the fingering thing going. It is scary to do this MANY doubles - since the oboe/eh parts are only a TINY fraction of the score. Usually I have those places for comfort, but I'm way out on a limb this time! Oh well, at least it is a benefit. On the other hand, I don't want other musicians (particularly) to hear me "not so good".

It is exciting though. And my quintet is playing at the end of the month - just a short thing we'll play Ibert. I'm also going to do some stuff with my friends who play piano/cello and bass things, so I believe we will try the Poulenc Trio (for pno/ob/bsn) and he will play ophicleide. !!!! Then we may try some reed trio stuff with the clarinet part transposed for cello and the bassoon part on serpent. They are really fun people (and professional musicians, so hopefully this won't suck!)

So I'm just trying to get all my reeds stockpiled before the end of the month - who knew it was so expensive to buy all these reeds?!!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

It's Mahler time!

Has been really interesting putting this concert together with EPCO (expensive private college orchestra). I am surprised at how different it is with so many PEOPLE! We have nearly twice as many bodies, and it is hard to hear. The conductor is searching to cue people, a problem exacerbated by the fact that we have been in a different venue every night!

Musically it is coming together, but we're running out of time. We do have a sound check tonight, our only opportunity to play in the church. This is also our first time to play on our new moveable stage (available for rental!). Last year you may remember I painted plywood boards black so we would have a hard surface to play on - this did help a lot but the new stage should be even better as it is 4" high and interlocks in 8' pieces. We'll see!

I am worried because they are not planning to bring the shell tonight - I think it helped a lot but the concern is there won't be room for it. I don't understand that thinking, since there is no "wall" the stage just has a curtain then it becomes a huge backstage area. But no one asked me! Hopefully it will be ok - Mahler isn't too impressive if your giant brass section is swallowed up by curtains.

My husband has been asked to take pictures during sound check - he is "into" photography and has some really nice equipment. The orchestra certainly can't afford a professional photographer, and it seems like a great idea to have pix of this extravaganza.

Monday, October 4, 2010

What's goin on?

Today I have a clarinet lesson! It is really fun since I only do it once a year or so - but the guy who played in La Boheme is my "teacher" and he's really amazing. I believe he got a lifetime acheivement award from the Clarinet association (whatever it is) this year. Hopefully he can help me with that high range and some of the "in between" stuff that makes playing the oboe breaks look like cake.

Our WW5 is planning a 1/2 concert with the string quartet in November, I think we are playing Barthe Passecalia (from the Yellow Book), Ibert, Arnold Three Shanties, and Haydn-Muth (also from the esteemed book). Fun! And I do think it is helping us wind players play together better. The pitch in the opera was so amazing, it gives me new confidence that "it's not always me"!

I'm in this musical "club" (mostly elderly females - I'm definately one of the youngest) that meets once a month and has a music program. As a performing member I'm asked to play 20 minutes once a year or so - and I thought it would be fun if the quintet could play this year - and it is conveniently scheduled 2 weeks before our concert! But it is also the same day as West Side Story opening, which 4 of us are involved in (with a total of 16 instruments!) But we can announce it and maybe some of these people will see the Little Orchestra has some talent too.

So that's all coming up - but trumping everything is Mahler 1 this Sat/Sun! I can't wait. I've been asking about the bells up on the bulletin board, apparently most people hold them up higher than I was thinking! I was going to go on the side of the stand, but I tried it last night over the stand and I think it will work. The only problem is my stupid bifocals - can't read the music when I do that! Such great music though, we are combining with the local Expensive Private College Orchestra (Thursday first day together) and it should be a huge sound. Just worried about fitting us all in place!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

La Boheme

OMG this is the best music ever! Well, some of the best music ever. I am LOVING that I get to play! The orchestra is quite good, and I don't think I'm making a fool of myself (which is nice). They have brought in a conductor from NY, and I am quite amazed that he does in fact have distinct upbeats and downbeats! This is rather unusual for an opera/choral conductor (in my experience). I am finding him very easy to follow and obviously really knows the score - some conductors blame the musicians for "not following" when they are just lost. Very annoying.

Today we had the sitzprobe, only time we will actually see the singers. I think things went ok, few scary places but we have 2 more rehearsals. The best parts of this music are the luscious chords that just grow out of the phrases - it is just wonderful to feel your note fit in this huge sound.

Tomorrow the community band starts up for fall - once again I am planning to play clarinet. We have a new conductor and they may not like the idea since I leave at the break (so I can put my 8yo to bed). THe last 2 conductors have been happy to have him come to rehearsals, but we'll see what this one thinks.

And the little orchestra started up last week - we open our season with Mahler 1 (another fabulous piece of music!) and Tchaik Romeo and Juliet (which we previewed this summer).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Doubling mania

Fun times here on the peak - yesterday a package arrived with the bass clarinet neck! For anyone who may have forgotten, J got me a bass clarinet for my birthday (fixer upper) which he had basically fixed up, but it had no neck. This is a huge problem, and he was actually contemplating MAKING one (OMG) but fortunately he found one on line. Seems to work great! Now I am getting excited about the BC, but it does need some adjustment work before it gets the green light.

Tonight I'm going to play tenor sax with my friend's dance band, just to get playing again. It really helps me to have a group to play with. I have about a month til rehearsals start for West Side, so all my weird instruments need to be ready by then. Of course I'm just assuming my oboe playing will be fabulous (hahaha).

I am having the best time rehearsing for La Boheme - the winds are truly a joy to hear. I am a bit concerned about how they are going to fit us all in the pit though - lots of percussion and people, at least there is no keyboard. And it is kind of weird they hired double winds except oboe! I don't know if they just couldn't find someone, or what - but you'd think they would have given me the 2nd/eh book to cover some of the exposed parts (which the conductor sings while he looks at me mournfully). Music is great though, and I can't wait for the sitzprobe (when the singers come in) on Sunday.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Crisis du jour

I am running around putting out fires left and right (isn't that the definition of motherhood? Does this mean I'm the "mother" of the symphony? Huh) Several things I don't feel like I should post even anonymously, but the latest crisis is kind of my fault - I BRILLIANTLY found a 2nd oboe (our usual player is back from summer break early), and even though she will have no rehearsals she has played everything on oboe or violin so she'll be fine for this pops concert. BUT...

She goes to school at Snazzy Private College. Which is about an hour north of my house (and another hour to the concert). Our concertmaster teaches at SPC, and he was happy to give her a ride. Unfortunately, he miscalculated his car space and this evening he called and was so sorry but he couldn't fit her in. The other two people who live anywhere close are unavailable, and they are kind of occupied since it is the conductor and one of the soloists (my great friend M). Anyway, I had SAID I would get her if necessary, and it looks like it is. Which means I leave my house at 9 for a 11:30 call.

AND my husband had offered to take photos at the concert, so he was planning to go with me, but now he really doesn't want to leave 90 minutes earlier than WE have to take 2 cars. Argh. But I AM the only person who seemed to even care if we had a 2nd oboe (and that is not a paid position, so it is hard to find anyone). Feeling frustrated and a bit "used". I'll get over it - I am quite excited for the upcoming season and I have several good reeds!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Season off to a bang!

Well, this isn't the official season yet, but since we didn't have any actual gigs in the summer, these two summer pops concerts seem like the beginning. And the first one went well - private concert at the country club - about 250 people! Perfect weather, we were in a tent overlooking the lake and it was wonderful. Of course last time we did this gig it was 105 in the tent. Yes, you read that correctly.

I am really worried about our little gang of musicians, the money is really tight. They are probably making the January concert strings only. I am sad but it's a good call, we are backing up a celtic band for the 2nd part of the concert (family concert) and they'll just change the first piece to something appropriate.

But we are on for Mahler 1 in October! After hearing us muddle through the Tchaik Romeo and Juliet I wonder how it will be - we weren't terrible, but it wasn't amazing. I am stressed because there is no money for and EH player, so I was juggling horns and outdoors that sucks. My reed was all dried out - I had planned to ghost some notes with the clarinets before the solo and not ONE of them spoke AT ALL! I was kinda freaking out, but the solo miraculously came out ok - and it is doubled with the cellos (not really a solo then, is it? but we all know the cellos are just there for backup)

No rehearsals til Labor day - we have a sound check/rehearsalette before the concert.

In other news, it appears I will be doing the giant reed 3 book for west side story! This is the book with flute, picc, oboe, EH, clar, bass clar, tenor sax and bari sax! Holy cow. I am planning to play the flute/picc stuff on oboe unless it just doesn't work, and then we can switch parts around. Since the last time they did this show they had ONE wind player for all FIVE books, I'm sure it will be great. I'm excited to do it anyway - and J has let his "aquiring" side go mad on Craiglist - I now own a bari sax and bass clarinet - neither of which is currently playable, but we have hopes this will change. *sigh*

Friday, July 30, 2010

Art Festivals and Lack of Fundage

Last night our Little Symphony had a financial board meeting, and they invited orchestra members to attend, I guess to get more fundraising ideas. It was so depressing! Everyone seems to be trying so hard, but we have a huge deficit in this years budget Every time someone raises funds, another grant falls through or donor opts out. We now have NO major donors. They are talking about cancelling at least one concert just so we can function - and we only have a total of 5 concerts. *sigh*

I have volunteered to increase our presence on the internet - not that I have much of a clue but I can get us on the free local calendars and Cr@iglist events. Any other ideas out there? After playing with the Middle of Nowhere Symphony - where they have a HUGE (comparitively) budget I'm just depressed. We live in the same size towns, but the arts don't seem to be very supported here. Maybe I'm just not asking the right people.

Which MAY be the case, because this weekend is a big art fest in Little Town, and it is a big deal. The orchestra has a presence - the quartet and ww quintet will play (we're doing the Poulenc Sextet - so cool! and these fun Hallam pieces) The board members will pass out season brochures and I guess have a ticket buying table. Don't know how worthwhile that will end up being, but you have to try!

Friday, July 23, 2010

More Fireworks

Tonight we start rehearsals for the Royal Fireworks Band - concert Sunday. It's pretty old hat by now - we do Handel's Fireworks music of course, and every year there are a couple new arrangments, but most of us have done it many times and it is a great way to get in shape over a few days! Lucky for me I had the Helena gig last week, so lots of rehearsals for that (and much more exposed stuff). The RFB is fun since we are just members of the section - like violins. There is NO COMPARISON to playing principal oboe, having all those others to count on is a huge advantage. Of course, then you don't get those Diva Moments where everyone listens to YOU, and I must admit those are kinda nice.

So anyway, I'm thinking of sending the Loree off for an overhaul - the Laubin is in such good shape now it shouldn't be a problem. I've been playing it all summer. Everyone here says to send it to Carlos Coelho at - any opinions?

Hoping my old EH is sold - I haven't heard but tonight (at rehearsal) the buyer's teacher will be there. I think for the money it is a screamin deal.

Planning to carpool with the Mysterious G - hopefully in the snazzy convertable! He is growing most of his cane in his backyard now, and I really like the reeds he's making. It really is every bit as good as the super spendy stuff from France. I have some cane growing at my house, but our rocky "soil" is not ideal. Just kinda fun to have cane, maybe someday I'll end up with some that I can use!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I'm practicing like mad these days, and to quell my nerves about playing prinicpal for a group I've never heard before I took a lesson with the mysterious G (reed making demigod). Feeling much better about things in general (although this is a very nerve-wracking thing), MG said to watch out that my vibrato is too much in places.


For years I have struggled to have any tiny wiggle, my long-ago undergrad years peppered with jury sheets complimenting my tone or rhythm but "needs more vibrato".

I did all those undignified huffing exercises, where you slowly try to build up those diaphram muscles. I studiously avoided the evil throat or lip vibrato that is only fit for instruments like the saxophone. I tried making wavy lines over the long notes to remind me to kick in the "wobbles". Nothing worked for me - all the other oboe players were doing it, but I just didn't really hear it.

Then my 2nd year of grad school (!) I started singing in the (very good) school choir. I took some vocal lessons (what the heck, they were free with my TA-ship) and discovered that vibrato is actually a NATURAL occurance.


Totally against everything I had been working so hard on for years, and these crazy singer-people were saying, don't do that! Apparently if you use good air and keep your body relaxed the sound kind of "spins". You actually have to freeze muscles to NOT have vibrato - which can be damaging to the voice over time (many rock type singers strain their voices singing super loud straight tones all the time).

My vibrato is sort of a weird combination of diaphram throat and even maybe lip vibrato, it just sort of comes out and I don't think about it at all. Except sometimes on big long notes in a cheesy solo I punch it up a bit, maybe a bit Kenny G (OMG say it isn't so!) So thanks for the heads up MG, I'll keep a lid on in the symphony - even if we're playing schmoltz.

One more thing - I totally use vibrato on the clarinet. I know some people say that is a big no-no, but I think it sounds good in moderation - NOT all the time. And I've had compliments on my sound from actual clarinet players, so there. Always seemed very unfair to me, that oboe players were beleaguered by not only the horrible reed problems (sorry clarinet players, you have NO room to talk) but also the vibrato issues that were a completely non-issue for my clarinet collegues. So unfair.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

summer gigs and stuff

So long since my last post - seems kinda silly to post when I'm just doing the same thing! But Annie is finally over and it was mostly fun - the pit was great (IMHO). I was worried that I wouldn't have anything to do after the show, but I was asked to sub for a chamber group while the usual oboe player recovers from heart surgery (she's doing great). They rehearse once a week and the most interesting piece to me is the Bloch 4 settings for Chamber orchestra, really fun and not too challenging but not boring. I've never heard it before, and it has been fun to play with some new people in town.

Then I got a call from the HSO, a group about 5 hours away. They need a principle oboe for their Fireworks concert, an outdoor "Spanish Nights" theme. We will do lots of Carmen excertps, Espana, Bolero and Caprricio Espanol. I'm kind of nervous since I won't be able to go to any rehearsals until the Thursday before Sat concert, but I've played most of this stuff and there seem to be excellent rehearsal notes. Seems that many people are imported to play, so I won't be the only one.

Then our local Fireworks Concert is the next week, which is the oboe (and bassoon) extravaganza - 20 (or more) oboes, 4 EH, 16 bassoons, 8 horns, 8 picc tpts and percussion. This is the instrumentation of Handel's Fireworks Music (the real version!) and we've done it every year for 31 years - really fun to see all my oboe playing friends every year. Besides the Fireworks Music, we play arrangements of various pieces. It's a free concert, and of course the highlight is the coordinated fireworks during the Handel. We play on this floating stage on the river, and the audience is all over the lawn of the big park on the bank. Fun.

After a family vacation, the little orchestra is doing a pops concert, labor day and then season opener (Mahler 1!). I haven't been playing the clarinet since Annie, but I'd like to keep those doubles going - and the jazz band is patiently waiting for me to come back with my tenor sax on Tuesdays...What happened to slow boring summers?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


I've been busy doubling! On oboe, Eh and CLARINET! And my $30 Buffet J found at the Value Village is actually doing a great job - all the real clarinet players are very impressed. So any trouble I have is due to operator error, not faulty equipment.

The show is Annie Get Your Gun, and it is really quite perfect for my initiation into real doubling. I played clarinet for Gigi, and doubled on Pirates of Penzance and Music Man, but those were more grass roots productions. I think I did get paid, but this is a union job, and it has been a LONG time.

Many oboe players start on the clarinet, so it is an obvious double, but I started on oboe (after piano lessons). I am loving (mostly) the part, I even have several "solo-y" places which are really fun. I like the places with 2 clarinets in harmony best, it is a blast to play with M.

This weekend for some reason the PTB decided NOT to do a show on Sunday (Mem Day), so I surprised my honey and took him to the big city to see Candide - his favorite opera of all time. This is a show that is rarely mounted, and he had never seen a live production, so it was really fun to go - the pit was great (although the sound guy was NOT), and the oboe/d'a/eh part was played by a guy I knew from Tacoma Symphony days. Did a great job too, and what fabulous music! Kinda sad to come back for AGYG, but it is fun in it's own way (and they're paying me).

Monday, May 3, 2010


What a great experience! The Barber (vln) was the best we've ever done it and Dr Phil was terrific! I even felt good about the big solo in the 2nd mvt, and the horns were glorious when they come in later - I swear Howard Shore stole this stuff for his LOTR score. Gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.

The Brahms 3 went pretty well too, there were a few terrifying moments, but when I think of how far the symphony has come it is so exciting. One of the more exciting bits is that our 2nd clarinet had his appendix out the day of the concert, so there was much scrambling around to find a replacement that could play that night, sightreading! This was further complicated by the fact that the Big Symphony was playing Don Juan at the same time, so 3 of the best players in town were occupied. This isn't the biggest clarinet mecca, so people were getting stressed, but one of the retired players was in town, he still subs with them and is playing a fair bit. Fortunatly he got the word at 4pm and was in his tux on stage at 6:45, seeing the Barber for the first time! Fortunatly he had played the Brahms many times, but I'm sure that was an adrenyline rush for him.

Now on to Annie Get Your Gun, and my (hopefully) not too sucky clarinetting on 4 numbers.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Concert week!

Today I pick up some new reeds (guilt guilt, but they are soooo fine!) from the mysterious G - who has decided to go public if anyone is interested. Gary Plowman is the awesome reedmaker, and he can be reached via email

He is working on a website but right now he just has the email address. I'll post a link when he gets a site up and running. His reeds are fab and he is a terrific guy too.

Anyway, stopping by to pick up reeds (he adjusts them right then if needed, advantages of living close by! AND I save postage). Then off to convocation where my student is playing the Hindemith. Much better than ME playing the Hindemith! She should do great. Back home since I have a cancellation at the college, and see no point waiting around 5 hours, then back over for one more lesson and orchestra rehearsal!

Tomorrow is dress, then our last real concert at the college. Sad in a way, but we are working on the church and it will be fine. And less than 1/2 price. WITH the latte bar!

Very excited to hear the Brahms today, have been working on the easy looking but deceptively hard triple meter things - this is the 1/2 note part that is off from the rest of the orchestra - I can play all those quick passages just fine! This is offset by my less able playing of the Barber Vln 3rd mvt - NASTY quick passages but I'm hacking away at them - I think all but one will be pretty solid, and fortunately that one is with all the other winds (hiding behind the flutes!) I can get most of it, but it's soooo long something always gets messed up. Grrr.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

a princess is a delicate thing...

Tonight is the last night of Once Upon a Mattress - fun show! And really well done for a HS production. We are in an open pit - just a space in front of the seats. They only hired 3 winds, no brass and a combo (keyboard, guitar, bass and drums). I think it is quite effective, and hopefully they are glad they hired all three of us.

It has been a really busy week with all the shows and rehearsals, orchestra rehearsal, lessons, Catapult Day at Ds school (daddy was highly impressed) and Grampa G comin to town. Fun! A trip to Cabe((as is planned for today - but no obligations beyond the show. Forcing the boyz to go, or they don't get the awesome steaks tomorrow at the best steakhouse ever.

I was surprised that I had some rhythmic "issues" on the Brahms (3) - first mvt and I blame the strings for not laying down a steady beat - on the other hand I should be able to play it no matter what they do. So I guess I better practice! Also if anyone has ever played the Barber Vln that 3rd mvt is a bear - really awkward passages at warp speed. AND if I feel like more is needed, I have all that clarinet stuff for Annie - I'm assuming I can play all the ob/eh stuff. Of course, there seems to always be SOME passage of hardness in most shows!

Sunday, April 18, 2010


I have been a terrible blogger, but since I played in a recital I suppose I must post! All went well, ended up playing the Hindemith after our flutist for the Dring Trio was called to boot camp! Apparently they just whisk you away for that, she left last week.

I was very brave and spoke to the audience before I played, just a few sentences about Hindemith. I love when people do that so I figured I should too. There were about 7 people performing, it was very nice even though we weren't allowed to use the hall on campus. This is the same hall the symphony has been priced out of playing at - sort of a shame. But I loved the church we played at - big and resonant - I really wanted to play something schmaltzy! Too bad we didn't have any rehearsal time there.

I have spent the past week frantically trying to learn the 3rd mvt of the Barber Violin cconcerto. The 2nd has this beautiful oboe solo, but the 3rd is what I have to focus on as it is faster than...well, some fast thing! And it is hard (whine whine). But so cool, I can't wait to play it.

Also working on my music typesetting - can't get my midi to midify (keyboard to talk to the computer), but I got 3 pieces from Once Upon A Mattress input to transpose down 2 whole steps. NASTY transposition, and it's going to the lovely key of Gb so I decided not to try transposing by sight, I can do up or down a step if it isn't too tricky, but this is NOT my thing. Then I felt sorry for the flute player and did her parts too. I'm sure I'm getting musical credit somewhere in orchestra heaven.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

spring gigs

Yay! I am so happy to report things are picking up. I did get the call for Annie Get Your Gun (not my favorite show, but it is a long run and it pays well!) Lots of people I love to work with are playing and it's my favorite local conductor. AND I'm getting to stretch my doubling wings as this book has oboe/EH/clar. Just took the "new" clarinet into the shop so hopefully it will be amazing when it comes back - Jim got it most of the way but it needs fine-tuning.

Also playing for Once Upon a Mattress, HS production for the Little Orchestra Conductor. Same great wind players on this one, and it is only one week. Pay ok, and has been a really fun gig in the past. Only oboe which I expect will be a no-brainer.

AND we start rehearsals for the final orchestra concert this week - Brahms 3 and Barber Vln Conc. Haven't played either one, should be fun.

Finally we are actually having quintet again tonight (first time in MONTHS!) but due to three of us playing for AGYG for 6 weeks, I think we're taking some time off. We need to discuss options, I'm very discouraged about the fact that we have only had two rehearsals since December! I'm hoping to do a few Saturday rehearsals since we can't meet on Wednesdays during the run.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Things are picking up again (sooo glad!) After a mostly dead month or two, we had an orchestra concert last weekend, which was great. I am really excited that even though we are being financially squeezed off of the college stage, the local church has been really open about working with us to make their venue more appropriate. The biggest things were the carpeted floor, and no shell. Our conductor has a portable shell (HUGE pain to move) at his HS, and he brought that over. It takes hours to tear down and put up even with help, but it was a big improvement. He also bought 12 sheets of plywood which I (me myself!) painted black. Those were put under the strings to see if it helped bounce the sound - which it did! We may get enough for the whole stage, and we'll buy our own shell to be stored at the church. Very exciting.

The concert itself went very well, 6 concerto winners. We did Rach Pno I (1st mvt), Dvorak Cello (1st mvt - nice oboe parts), Beethoven Vln (1st mvt - more good oboe stuff), Ibert Flute (yes! more oboe!) and 2 singers did Puccini, Mozart, and Massenet selections. Fun.

Two of my students participated in solo contest that morning, they both did very well. Probably playing at the edge of their ability, I was really proud of them. I try to have them do state repertoire, they don't have to unless they are trying to go on to state contest, but I think it is good for them. They are both freshmen, so off to a good start!

Then I got 2 gigs! One is just a HS choir concert, but I get union scale and it is a show up and play thing. Nice. I know a lot of the people playing so it should be fun. The other is a musical but it is only 4 shows (not weeks and weeks) - Once Upon a Mattress. Also good pay. I was starting to feel like I'd never get another call, so depressing. But I think the economy is really hurting the music industry.

I have been playing the clarinet and tenor for community band and my friend's stage band. Just trying to get my "doubling chops" up for future gigs (hopefully). It is pretty fun, although kind of enlightening! My first band concert is Monday, and I'm pretty excited even though I've played oboe with this group many times.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Finally I have some things to play in! And I'm sick!

Wouldn't you know. I just felt that tickle in my throat yesterday - and it was so sore by night I couldn't sleep. Hopefully it will stay in my throat until Monday, when I can cancel things until Thursday (or Friday if I have to). But tomorrow I am playing in church, and I really don't want to cancel because it has been over a year since they asked me (with changing music directors and so on). Hopefully it will be ok.

I am playing the slow mvt of Marcello for communion (nice for Lent I think) and an obbigato with the choir - then I'll play on various hymns/praise tunes.

This week is our competition concert - and we are doing some lovely concertos. Unfortunately we are in the carpeted church again, lovely they let us have the space for a reasonable price, but it isn't as nice as the college hall we used to play at. We'll be back at the college for our May concert, but next year is still up in the air. I'm betting we're at the church the whole season. Money is just too tight. *sigh*

My baby reeds are gearing up for solo contest - which is next Saturday! So exciting to see them madly practicing, I love it. Sadly, one of my BRs is grounded - isn't it weird to be grounded from lessons? And she's not allowed to play for contest either - seems odd to me. But supposedly she'll be back for lessons in a couple weeks, wouldn't surprise me if she just dropped out. That would be really sad as this particular student was really working hard lately.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dry spell

Wow, it has been ages since I've done anything musically. Of course I'm still teaching, but our orchestra has had to cut rehearsals back drastically due to budget cuts. But now we have a concert in 2 weeks, and we had our first rehearsal. Must say it was a bit rough! I'm sure it will come together by the concert though - all concerto winnners. Some of the biggies are Ibert Flute (m3), Dvorak Cello (m1), Beethoven Vln (m1), and a bunch of vocal things I can't keep straight. These people come from all over the country to play with our little group, which is amazing!

I've been playing clarinet in the community band. I get a bit frustrated with myself, but it is fun. I will play oboe on one piece that has a big solo, but that will be fine. I also played tenor with my friend's dance band (just a rehersal) last week, and for the most part I did pretty well! The music is really unfamiliar to me, so I'm really working on sightreading skills while everyone else knows these "standards".

The heat is on for my HS students - solo contest is in 2 weeks! I think most of them were kind of shocked when I pointed this out. But this will be great for them, I love contest time - everybody practices!

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Our family concert was yesterday, and my clarinet-wielding friend really played amazingly well on the Shaw Jazz concerto. I must say it was kinda fun playing the saxophone, although I'm glad it was THAT concert. Looks like there may be an opening in a dance band which I might consider doing as a sub, but I don't think I want another weekly gig. But excellent to get those sax chops going.

The Mother Goose Suite went well, this was the "real" music on the program, the rest being little fun bits like D's favorite Russian Sailor's Dance - that was one of the first pieces I playing in a symphony back in the youth orchestra days. Now we have a hiatus for about a month (budget cuts) before our next rehearsal.

Quintet is finally rehearsing again this week, and I'm hoping to nail down some concert ideas for March/April. We really need to get going or there won't be any space available - all the schools have overflowing concert halls in May/June. I'd love to play some of the stuff on the Imami Winds album, but I think that would be out of reach for a concert that soon.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

stuff goin on

After my last post the conductor of the little symphony called and asked me to play the tenor sax for our next concert (which is in 6 days). I was kind of glad, because I'm trying to improve my doubling chops, I'd like other musicians to see that I can play sax, this is a kiddie concert and I don't have a lot to play, but still! It was a bit nerve wracking to have less than 12 hours notice (and no music) before playing an instrument I'm not all that comfortable with. AND I had actually forgotten that my "new" sax has not been played with others - but it went fine (at least no one told me I was terrible). We are doing the Shaw Clarinet Concerto (jazz) and my old college roomie is just wailin' on the clarinet part!

The Laubin also made it's public debut on Thursday - big success I think. Seems to have a really lovely tone and the pitch is great. I ALSO played my new Laubin bocal (in the english horn, part of the mouthpiece) and that is great too! I do need to get more familiar with the upper register, the notes just seem to sing out there but I'm not used to it being so easy and was overadjusting.

We are doing the Mother Goose Suite, and I will play eh for that, the only piece of any difficulty on the program. The eh has a few solo-y bits that are higher than the usual eh fare. The biggest worry is that we are in a new venue (a church with a carpeted stage). We don't get any time in there except the hour before the concert! We did do a Messiah concert in the space, but I really don't have a sense of the sound - one of the attendees just told me you couldn't hear ANYTHING from the audience except through the mics. I hate the idea of mics for the orchestra, and I don't think we have anywhere close to the equipment that would take, but DD is trying to build a stage before next week! Just plywood sheets painted black, but what a huge undertaking, and all without being able to test at all before the concert. Crazy.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Still haven't had a chance to "test" the Laubin in a rehearsal - nothing going on til Thursday. But yesterday I went to j's band and played clarinet. It was really fun! Since I play out of tune (somewhat) on clarinet it doesn't bother me nearly as much. Hehe. Anyway, I'm playing 3rd, which actually had some great parts, and I am quite sure I won't be bored with this. I will play oboe on any solos he needs (as there is no other oboe available) but mostly I'll just be 3rd clarinet. This is great practice for me doubling.

This weekend I was a judge for our young artists competition. I was pretty excited to be asked and it was fun but I also felt a lot of pressure, deciding people's fates. There were at least 8 people in the winds category (the only one I judged) who flew in from the east coast from big name schools. It is kind of unfortunate that the local students really don't stand a chance with such competition, but there was a definate tier of abilities. Several of the locals did a good job, but they were not even close to the professionalism of these fancy imports. Having said that - it is exciting there is such interest from all over the country, and it was so hard to narrow down the top 5 spots to just one winner. I was exhaused and sooo glad I didn't judge the other 5 catagories.