30. June 2005 · Comments Off on I’m Gonna Wash That Music Right Outa My Ears · Categories: imported, Ramble

… or maybe I’ll exercise it out. I should go to AVAC to exercise today, and perhaps that would cause the Les Mis soundtrack to switch off.

It’s the same every morning; I wake with a Les Mis tune in my head. It’s not the same one each time. Today it was a Gavroche one. I still have “snippets on the brain” and the only way to clear them out is to put on music or go do something that finally erases them. It’s a challenge, to be sure.

Last night I dreamt I was IN a production of something. As in on stage … in a costume. So the thing is, someone told me the best thing to do would be to go naked to the place we were performing so I wouldn’t have to deal with clothes. Uh-huh. Weird dream. I kept trying to hide myself in blankets (I haven’t a clue where they came from!). I realized that no one else came to the show unclothed. Oh dear!

See what oboe playing can do to a person?

Fortunately I have never actually gone to work without clothing on. Whew!
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I’ve been receiving a larger number of hits than usual, and I suspect it’s because of the IDRS list; someone there posted my audition page URL. So hello to all of you who have dropped by … hope you visit again, and feel free to drop me a line if you have any additions, corrections or information you think I might like to receive.

Show Count: 26 done, 29 to go

Les Mis is going well, but of course the thought of 29 more shows with the “sewer solo” means I have to get some reeds going. So far I’ve been rotating through a number of reeds and things have worked well for the most part. (My batting average is far above any baseball player! My income is far lower. Go figure. There have only been two shows that left me dissatisfied with my performance. I can’t get too upset about that!)

I am thankful for the job; I can’t say that enough. What a gift it is to get this summer work, when I originally thought I’d have months of no playing jobs. Yay for work!

Having so much work, though, makes it difficult to get reeds made. SO … any of you want to send me reeds? Just email me and I’ll tell you where to send those reeds you are dying to have me play. ;-)

(I continue to order reeds from the Handmade Reed Suppliers list, but I’m not finding any consistency from the makers so far. Ah well. Reeds — they are beasts in my little opinion.)

So … it’s nearing 1:00 AM. I suppose it’s time to rest my weary head. I get home quite late, but it always takes me a while to relax after a show. (Yawn.)

27. June 2005 · Comments Off on A Survey · Categories: imported, Ramble

I just took an MIT survey.

Does that make me smart?

Hmmm. I guess if I have to ask that question the answer is NO, eh?

Since I used this URL as my primary blog, I figured I’d paste the link here. I suppose I could have easily have chosen to use the pattyo as the URL, but I think I do actually blog more here. I only found a few places where I thought the survey had problems. At one point I’m asked if I know a teacher (they ask other professions as well) and if that person is an acquaintance, a friend or family, and then asks if I met the person online or offline … trouble is I have several friends, some acquaintances and some family members who are teachers, and I have met different people in different ways. So there’s a problem there. But MIT didn’t ask me about the set up, so I couldn’t tell them about this little glitch.

Anyway, if any of you other bloggers want to join in the fun, you can take the survey as well.
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26. June 2005 · Comments Off on Back Home · Categories: imported, Ramble

Sometimes things don’t work out quite as planned. But that’s life. I didn’t sleep well at my hotel. Not at all. Then I felt ill in the morning so I just had to sit around.

Last night … no, this morning … I got home at 1:05 because my commuting friend’s oldest daughter, her sister, and her niece came to the show and wanted to meet the performers. It was cute to watch her daughter and niece jump up and down with excitement as they met “24601” (Jean Valjean), Javert, Enjolras, the Thenardiers, Fantine, Cosette, and more. They even asked me for my autograph, which was awfully cute. But needless to say, I’m a zombie now!

The final two shows of the week went fine, but my dear (first) oboe was acting up again. Something seems just slightly out of whack. Only enough so that the problem comes and goes. Of course I have to face the fact that it may also only be my imagination, but I really don’t think so; when notes are suddenly so difficult to get I think it’s more likely that something is leaking. I own Carl Sawicki’s book, The Oboe Revealed, so I’ll do a little checking today and tomorrow.

I was speaking with the conductor last night and he was saying he really loves this orchestra. He even suggested that, should someone in their “traveling band” have to take off a few days, he’d want to call us in. (When a city has no minimum pit requirements they don’t hire locals. This happens, in fact, in San Jose, where we have a very weak contract.) Unfortunately this doesn’t work for my particular position because when they are carrying the players with them they use one less woodwind and both of those that travel do more doubling. I don’t, and can’t, play sax, clarinet or flute, and I sure don’t plan on learning now!

I now have Sunday and Monday completely off, so I’ll finally try to get the house straightened up again. And, I hope, make some reeds. 23 shows played, 32 to go. I doubt my reeds can last through that number of shows. Shoot, I’m pleased that they’ve done so well this far. (I’ve used four different reeds. I mostly have used three of my faves — one for the first half, one on the second half until I’ve completed the “sewer solo”, and one for the remainder of the show. Sometimes I add a fourth for the bow and exit music, hoping to break it in for one of the other three spots. There’s nothing more frightening than playing on a new reed when I have a big solo that begins on an uncomfortable note. Well, except I guess it’s more frightening to know the oboe is slightly misbehaving on and off.)

Anyway, life goes on. Shows will continue. And I think I need to organize my time better! That’s show biz, folks. Well, unless you’re a star and have hired help for the house and all.

Next lifetime ….
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25. June 2005 · Comments Off on Ah … Vacation! · Categories: imported, Ramble

It’s 9:15 AM. I’m in my hotel room. (Yay for Hotwire.com!) I like to do this once a run if I’m able; this time it made sense because we have two doubles (meaning two shows in one day) in a row, and San Francisco will be a bit crowded this weekend so I didn’t have to deal with potential Saturday traffic problems. So today I don’t have to get ready to leave the house by noon. I don’t have to rush. I don’t even have to make my bed! Last night I was “home” by 11:15, rather than the usual 12:15-12:30 (depends on traffic).

So this is nearly the end of week three of Les Mis. We have two shows today. After tonight we will have done 23 shows. We are nearing the halfway point. Time is going by quickly. I still stress about my big solo, but that’s just the way I am; I’ll deal.

I did have my pesky old “on the verge of blacking out” experience again yesterday. (Really, things don’t go fully black, but I feel like I’m losing it quickly) I’m wondering if it’s diet related. After what I ate for dinner yesterday my pulse was just racing like crazy … and it wasn’t at a point where I was nervous about anything. It’s time to watch what I put into the old body, I suppose. But who knows what really causes it? Sometimes I think I’m taking a deep breath (perhaps too deep?) and then, even while I’m blowing air through the instrument, I’m still somehow holding my breath as well. That sounds ridiculous, I’m sure, but it feels that way. I’ve had this blacking out thing for about the past four shows actually which is why maybe the dessert notion is just a silly and erroneous guess … I don’t eat the same thing every day and I don’t indulge in sweets and caffeine all the time (as I unfortunately did yesterday) either. I was just in denial for a while, hoping it would go away if I didn’t mention it. Ah well.

Anyway, life is “interesting” here in Oboe Land. I guess it’s like my own little amusement park; plenty of scary rides, a bit ‘o fun, and never a dull moment.

No show tomorrow! This is unusual … I’ve never not had a Sunday matinee. I guess they put the matinee on Friday in order to avoid the wildness that will probably be happening here in SF tomorrow. I’m fine with that.
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20. June 2005 · Comments Off on Les Mis · Categories: imported, Ramble

I’ve now done two weeks of Les Mis. We’ve done “only” fifteen shows so far, rather than the usual eight per week, since we began a bit later in the week that first week.

I have iTunes radio on right now. If I don’t put something on I have Les Mis tunes running through my head. I enjoy most of the music, but do I need a break when I am not doing the show. iTunes has a classical station that plays newer classical music so I’m enjoying hearing things I’ve rarely heard (Gorecki’s third is on right now – a work I’ve never played). Having show music running through one’s head can drive a person crazy.

The shows are going well. I’m still moved every time I hear Jean Valjean sing the prayer in the second act. Randal Keith, who plays that part, is absolutely incredible. I’ve been told, too, that he’s a great actor (I can’t see anything on stage). Sometimes I wish I could take a night off and see the show, but that would require hiring a replacement to audit two shows and then play, which would be a loss of income I can’t quite afford right now. Hmmm. Maybe I should fly to Toronto (they are headed there next) to see it. Oh wait, that would cost more than hiring a sub!

The audiences are on their feet after EVERY performance. Often folks who come down to the pit tell us that it’s the best performance of Les Mis they’ve ever seen and heard. If you get a chance to come see it you might get tickets now … this production will not be back. The next time it comes around you’ll probably be hearing a fake orchestra for the most part (called “virtual orchestra”) and I’m guessing the cast will be reduced as well.

Five more weeks to go. (Shoulda been eight, don’t you think?)
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20. June 2005 · Comments Off on Music Quote · Categories: imported, Quotes

Any musician who says he is playing better either on tea, the needle, or when he is juiced, is a plain straight liar . . . You can miss the most important years of your life, the years of possible creation.

Charlie Parker (1903 – 1992) US singer, In “Hear Me Talkin’ to Ya,” by Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff, 1955.
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20. June 2005 · Comments Off on We Aren’t All That Way · Categories: imported, Ramble

I knew a book was coming out about the classical music scene. I knew it would be full of sex and drugs (I don’t know about rock and roll, but there will be plenty of classical music). Yesterday I read a newspaper article about the book here. I found it troubling. Extremely so. (If you click on the link please know what you read you might find offensive.)

The headline reads “The truth of making sweet music”. So is this book telling the truth about all of us? I don’t think so! In fact, I know that it’s not.

I didn’t sleep my way into any orchestra. Not once. Because the author of this new book did, and, from what the article implies, knows other that have as well, does not make it true for all of us. I don’t know one person who slept his or her way into the orchestras of which I am a part. Yes, some have loose morals. Some have done unethical things. (All of this in my little opinion of course.) Yes, some have done drugs (although I can’t say I know anyone now who does that sort of thing), although I never did and I never saw anyone who did.

But is this so different than any other profession? There are people who sleep their way to the top everywhere. And there are others who don’t. There are drug addicts and alcoholics in every profession. That doesn’t mean that the profession has demanded this of them. This is a choice made by the individual rather than the profession.

I would guess, in fact, that the author of the book will find her new career as a writer will prove that music isn’t the only profession that offers up people with poor ethics and morals. She might sleep her way to the top of this new profession as well; this is her choice, not a job requirement.

So I’m bothered that the article is written as it is, and I’m hoping the book isn’t implying that we all get our jobs based on our sexual offerings. My understanding was that there was more in the book than sex; I had thought that it was also about the demise of the classical music business. I guess I’ll have to wait for some reviews.
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19. June 2005 · Comments Off on It’s Official and Lots Of Rambling · Categories: imported, Ramble

Les Mis will not be doing the originally planned three-week extension. I have mixed feelings. Playing 80 Les Mis performances would have been even more taxing than the 55 I’ll now do. But the income! I will miss the three weeks of work. The family will too. But this is life and there you go. Being a freelance musician is stressful. I’m thankful that I have several guaranteed jobs (Opera San Jose and Symphony Silicon Valley) that I put on my calendar and know will happen. (Unless we ever pull another San Jose Symphony (RIP), that is.) So anyway, we will play our last show on July 24. And this will be the last time this tour will come through San Francisco. So if you want to see it, see it now!

This week of Les Mis is especially long. We are doing nine shows, rather than the usual eight. Our work week begins on Monday, in case you’re interested. Scheduled were shows Tuesday through Saturday night plus the normal Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday matinees, and added to all this is an evening show tonight. Next week is a near-normal week, but we have doubles on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday rather than any Sunday show. While two doubles in a row is tiring, it’ll be great to have two days off in a row! Normally my only day off is Monday. (Mondays then become my “recover and clean” day.)

I’ve been playing on my newly purchased oboe just during a few loud tutti passages of Les Mis. Since I’m not sure how much it had been played recently I have to break it in carefully, and even if it didn’t need that I want to be more familiar with it before I play it on any exposed passages. So far, though, I’m liking it a lot. It’s a little less rich than my oboe, but the low E is actually more reliable. This makes me wonder if I have a bit of an adjustment problem with my “first” oboe. (Rather than calling the oboes new and old I’ve decided first and second make more sense. After all, the newly purchased one is actually older than my “older” (first) oboe.) It’s so much fun to have another instrument! I still think I got quite the deal, too.

Last night was one late night. One thing about musicians; many like to go out after and seem to have unlimited energy. Because I commute with a friend, and I hate looking like a party pooper, I said yes to going out. I was designated driver, so it was soda water for me. I’m an introvert, so partying for an hour and a half was a bit much for me. And then I had the hour drive home.

Extrovert musicians are a bit of a puzzlement to me. Many of us are introverts (and I always “test” at the extreme introvert level); we “come out to play” when we play, and otherwise we are somewhat quiet and enjoy our privacy. But there were quite a number of people at this party (most from the Mambo Kings orchestra) and I guess they were having a great time. I didn’t have a bad time. It was just … as maybe Kelsey, my daughter would say … “meh”.
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… I bought a new oboe (well, new for me), and I ordered (finally) some music glasses, along with a new pair of regular glasses. It was a very expensive day. And I need my Les Mis paycheck!

The oboe was a good deal, and it will be nice to have a second instrument in case of an emergency or an outdoor concert. I’m still not sure what I think of the horn. It’s not as comfortable as my current Marigaux, and it’s older. Buying an older instrument isn’t a great idea normally, but this appears to have barely been played, and it’s also a Marigaux which I like. (None of the rotten forked F stuff I seem to get when I play a Loree.) If I eventually decide that the oboe isn’t something I want to work with as a professional musician I can either rent it out or sell it to a student because it would suit any of them just fine (and is better than the instruments most of them have). In any case, it was worth the money and I’m glad to have located it!

I’ve been struggling reading my music for eons. I have progressive lenses, but they weren’t working. When I ordered my new glasses the person helping me explained why I was having such a problem seeing my music; my progressive lenses had a good portion of reading and distance correction, but miniscule intermediate correction, which is what I need most for reading music. So we’ll see how these new ones work. The conductor won’t be in focus, but as long as I can see his or her gestures I’m fine with that. My new regular glasses are necessary because my old glasses are so darn scratched. (I’m repeating over and over, “I will not clean my glasses by wiping them, while dry, on an article of clothing…”.)

Les Mis went well tonight. Today is a double show day. The big question is … drum roll … where will we eat for dinner?!