07. May 2006 · Comments Off · Categories: imported, Ramble

Dan blogged in response to the MQOD by Paul Hertelendy.

I suppose it would have been wise for me to blog right away about that as well. Yesterday was a busy day, though, and I just didn’t get around to it.

Dan’s correct: we don’t drool into our instruments. We blow warm air, and that causes condensation. It causes a lot of condensation if the room is cold (thus our instruments are cold) and our air is still warm. You will see me put the top joint of my instrument under my arm to try and warm it up sometimes. During this run of Don Giovanni in fact, I do that during the longer periods of rest that I have sometimes, because the pit has had a tendency to be too cold. (Management recently purchased two space heaters, which is helping, but I’m in the middle of a row and I still find myself getting cold at times.) We oboists are especially concerned about condensation (we just call it water) because the bore of our instruments is so narrow at the top; it’s much smaller than that of a clarinet.

But no, we don’t drool. And, for the most part, we don’t spit. We do have to control our saliva, which can sometimes be a challenge. Some of us (not me … whew!) have more trouble with that than others. I have a feeling we might salivate more than your average bear just because we always have to have a moist mouth and we have played for so long we’ve adjusted to that. (Funny—I get dry mouth when I have to speak publicly, but as nervous as I might be when playing I never get dry mouth then.)

Wasn’t this more than you ever really wanted to know?

Yesterday afternoon was spent at a CMEA choral festival. Jameson is in two choirs at his high school, so I sat in the room where all choirs sang and listened to whatever choirs came through while waiting for his. Turned out I was blessed to hear not only Jameson’s two wonderful groups, but two other fabulous choirs (from Mount Eden, in Hayward) that were simply amazing. Their director is the sort that I can’t understand very well; choral directing can be a very bizarre thing! He doesn’t direct time, for the most part, which is, to me, so important as an instrumentalist, but he directs words and shapes. It looks as if he’s drawing designs in the air. The students certainly knew what to do, though. And they did it beautifully. The two (out of the existing four‐the other two performed earlier in the day so I didn’t get to hear them) choirs I heard from Lincoln High School (where Jameson attends) were also great. And of course they were all given high marks. I don’t care much for the whole grading thing—I just love listening to the human voice.

Oh … and the two choirs in between all of those? My alma mater, Miller Middle School. Very cute kids. Lots of hearty singing. Their director has clearly done a great job with them. I can’t think of a more difficult age to work with! Good middle school teachers are a blessing.

In my readings recently, and in the movie Music From the Inside Out, I’ve run across instrumentalists talking about the human voice, saying they attempt to phrase and become like the human voice. Most instrumentalists I’ve met absolutely love the human voice. I often tell my students to sing through their instruments. I sometimes, though not often enough, I think, have them sing a line before playing it. And I’ll even tell them to put words to a line to help them see where it is going and what it is saying. If I’m having difficulty getting a note to respond I often add words … it’s a little trick I have … and it really does help with note response. Honest.

Oh, and speaking of singing … if you want to see spit, try watching some singers. They can really spray all over the place! And no one puts them in the back of the hall because of that.

Me? I don’t spit at anyone. I don’t spit through my instrument. And I only drool when sleeping.
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