21. March 2006 · Comments Off · Categories: imported, Ramble

Sarah, of A Glass of Chianti, joins in on the discussion about physical traits and instrument choices. Thanks, Sarah!

… and Dan joined in too. Thanks, Dan!
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21. March 2006 · Comments Off · Categories: imported, Ramble

I wanted to respond here to Flutefish’s response to the post about choosing an instrument, because I know a lot of people don’t read the comments in the discussion area.

(And my apologies, Flutefish, to misnaming you at first; I had just read my Yo-Yo Ma post and had misidentified you because my brain was still on that blog entry. Sorry!)

I was hoping for a response like hers. When my husband came home, prior to seeing that Flutefish had already written, I asked him if he’d read the blog and he said he had, and that he wanted to post something but refrained. I said, “But what I wanted was for people to respond and say this attitude was nuts!” Well, I probably didn’t say those exact words, so excuse the quotation marks … but that’s what I do believe.

So anyway, I’ll now post my opinion; I think it’s ridiculous and unfair to suggest that someone can’t play an instrument because of certain physical traits. (Okay, some physical problems me exclude a person; you have to have five fingers on each hand to play the oboe, for one thing. But those requirements are few.) I say give ‘em a chance; you never know what they will do until you let them try. And even if you are absolutely certain someone hasn’t the possibility of becoming very accomplished on a particular instrument, there is still no harm in letting a person try. Even should a person not excel, you might be developing a fellow supporter of the arts. Turning someone away may very well do just the opposite.
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21. March 2006 · Comments Off · Categories: imported, Links

But I’m not certain that it’s the listed English horn soloist’s back either. Thoughts? ;-)

I do want this CD!
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21. March 2006 · Comments Off · Categories: imported, Links

There are days (many) when I wish I lived in New York. For instance:

One simple reason that Stravinsky, who died at 88 in 1971, is still waiting for his due is that audiences seldom get to hear the full range of his work. So give Isaiah Sheffer, the artistic director of Symphony Space, credit for rectifying things with the free, 12-hour “Wall to Wall Stravinsky” marathon on Saturday. Some 55 Stravinsky works were performed by 323 participating artists, including 4 orchestras, 2 choruses, 16 chamber ensembles, 16 pianists, 15 vocalists and, amazingly, 18 bassoonists.

Read all about it.
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21. March 2006 · Comments Off · Categories: imported, Ramble

I wonder why the bullets to the right (by each link) are larger in Firefox than they are in Safari. Hmmm. I like the smaller ones better. I haven’t a clue how they look in IE, Netscape or anything else.

Help, anyone?
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I’m not really sure what he thought about the performance.

21. March 2006 · Comments Off · Categories: imported, Ramble

Terminal Degree responded to my comments about listening to Yo-Yo Ma, and I responded to her. I must say I’ve never worked with a more gracious person—and his joy in his music making is a delight. He reminds me of what music can do for and to us!

Then I read Michael Kaulkin’s current blog about attending a recent pianist’s concert. I’m not sure joy would be that artist’s middle name, from what Mr. Kaulkin writes. His blog then took me to this. Yikes. I hope this is all an exaggeration.

And yeah, sometimes the situation at a hall can be annoying. Sometimes the fans are loud. Sometimes we have to deal with noises and smells and temperature problems. But when an audience has paid top dollar to attend, I have a feeling canceling wouldn’t exactly cause them to go out and buy any more recordings of an artist’s works, and it certainly doesn’t help the biz. I realize I’m no star, nor will I ever be, but there have been times I’ve had to suck it up, along with my colleagues. I’ve played in ice cold conditions and I’ve played in 112 degree weather. I’ve played when there’s been fan noise and I’ve played in mildew-filled halls.

Of course if solo artists out there decide to lecture audiences (many of whom are fairly devout fans, I suspect) and make the experience as unpleasant as that particular concert mentioned above sounded, I suppose Terry Teachout’s prediction will come true sooner rather than later. Audiences aren’t the only ones who can be annoying. And those (sometimes annoying) audiences are paying a hefty amount to hear someone who then turns around and makes them feel bad. Not a smart idea. At least in my opinion.

But I do think that the concert experience can’t be reproduced in one’s home. (I can guarantee you won’t be lectured by the performers … nor will you get to see the joy on Yo-Yo Ma’s face as he plays.) I’m pleased to see that Robert Gable agrees.
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I know that a lot of parents choose instruments for their kids; my parents chose oboe for me, in fact. I first played flute, but so did my older sister. I suspect I was rotten, and my parents suggested a change so I wouldn’t be competing with someone who was not only my older (and far cuter!) sister, but also a better flutist. I do recall my mother saying, “How would you like to play oboe?” or something like that anyway. I said, “Sure, what is it?” Yes, really. I honestly didn’t know what was being chosen for me. So we’d listen to the classical music station and my mom would say, “That’s an oboe!” when one would play (although sometimes she’d then say, “Oh, maybe that’s a trumpet,” —a muted trumpet can sound something like an oboe). But anyway, I didn’t really choose the oboe for myself. But once I learned the instrument a bit, it did seem to choose me. I just connected to it right away. I knew it was “me” and I knew I wanted to be an oboist. I think, too, it fit my personality; I sure don’t have a flutists personality! (Do we become the personality because we play a certain instrument, or do we play a particular instrument because of our personality traits? I wonder.)

So I realize that not all students are choosing the instrument because they love the sound and the repertoire. I hope parents are choosing it because they like it, though. I fear that some are still choosing it as a College Entrance Key™. I really don’t like to think about that much, as it simply isn’t a good reason. Still, I’ve had some students who, I suspect, got into oboe because of that reason but managed to then moved on to “I’m playing it because I love it.” So I guess even that “CEK™” reason for choosing our instrument works out.

There’s an article about choosing instruments, and they even included oboe in the discussion:

“For oboe, you have to have fingers that can spread out wide enough to cover the keys,” she says. “For clarinet, you have to be sure that the tips of fingers are not tapered. You have to be able to cover those holes. With the flute, you look for a teardrop lip, to avoid it. It’s a beautiful lip shape, but the lip comes down and splits the airstream – and that makes it hard to play.”

I’d never heard the information about clarinets or flutes before. (Fill me in, you clarinetists and flutists!). Interesting.

But yes, oboe has a wide spread … more so than that of clarinet or flute. And for some it’s very hard on the hands. There are other issues with oboe—embouchure issues, for one. Still, I like to give every student a chance at the oboe, even if I think it might not work out in the long run. I’ve had students surprise me. I’ve been proven wrong and I’m more than happy about that!

21. March 2006 · Comments Off · Categories: imported, Quotes

The nature of this melodic instrument par excellence, being poorly suited to virtuosity, gives rise fatally to monotony; this is a pitfall that not all composers are able to avoid.

-L’Art musical, 19/48 (1880): 338 found in the book The Oboe by Geoffrey Burgess and Bruce Haynes
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