07. June 2010 · 4 comments · Categories: Ramble

And ungracious=BAD

Okay … so now I can blog about the mishap, and be honest about the whole darn thing. Because “honesty is the best policy” (although, to be honest, that isn’t always the case).

Why it happened:
When I’ve played this work in the past, I haven’t used the grace note fingering for the G#-A# grace notes before going back to the G#. I’ve used the regular A# fingering. But years ago, after the last time I played this, I went to a fabulous player to be coached (because I was having other “issues” which, as it turned out, were all about English horn adjustments that were out of whack). The player said, “Why are you using that fingering rather than the trill fingering? Hmm. Oh well, you don’t seem to have a problem with it!” In other words, while the player puzzled over my choice, I wasn’t told to change it. But change it I did. For this entire past week. And I had no big problem with it, although it never felt comfortable. Last night, right before playing, I thought, “Don’t blow it, don’t blow it! How are you fingering it again?!” That is not something you ever want to think. Really. And then the silly brain in my head and my pesky “finger brains” (as I call them) had a strong disagreement on what to use fingering-wise. So somehow the brains had a huge fight and nothing worked and it was all one big horrible mess. Time-wise it was only probably about 3 or 4 seconds of misery. Personally it felt like everything was in slow motion and it took eons to get back to the right note. (If I’m remembering correctly I did play the low D# and down just fine, but that second triplet that follows what were non-existent grace notes was some odd jumble of bizarreness. And I mean terrible, odd note bizarreness.)

Whether it was heard as horribly in the audience I don’t know. But I know it was noticeable to every one of my colleagues (thank goodness they were honest … I hate the “Oh really? I didn’t hear it at all!” kind of lame comments that some folks give), so certainly it could get a mention in a review (thus, no review checking for me … sometimes it’s just better not to know!).

I nailed the final solo … I was so darn ticked at myself I had to. Otherwise I’m not sure what I would have done!

So I felt, as I told my wonderful colleague Mike, who was sitting on second oboe, “I ruined the entire piece.” Because, you see, I was once again thinking everything is all about me. Wouldn’t ya know?

But then the bigger, more horrendous, and embarrassing issue:

What happened next?
Pout, pout, pout. I handled my embarrassment entirely ungraciously. I lecture my students on this all the time: “If you blow it, don’t show it!” But did I heed my own advice? Nope. I hung my head in shame right after the final notes of the work. I couldn’t even look at the conductor. I prayed he wouldn’t acknowledge me. I thought he didn’t … but then I realized that the acknowledgement I was thinking (or was that praying or wishful thinking?) was for the trumpet player was actually for me. At that point, though, it was too late to stand up. Now that is just plain rude on my part.

So I heaped visible shame and ungraciousness on top of a bungled solo.


Yet I have to accept it … since it did happen.

Now I could easily NOT blog this. I could easily leave this private and not acknowledge the error OR my poor behavior after. But that’s not who I am. I want — I hope! — that other can learn from my mishaps and misbehavior. I hope I can learn from it too.

The Rest Of The Story
Of course I had to “get back on the horse” (so THAT’S what an English horn is called?!) for the second concert. I went over and over the very easy solo, going back to the fingering I used to use. It’s so darn easy. WHY did I think I needed to change? Geesh! I got to the “moment” and yes, it worked! I can’t say it was as easy as pie, because of course I knew what could go wrong, but I got it. And I got the final solo, which is the one I was more worried about all week, too. And the rest of the work as well. I wasn’t 100% thrilled with what I did — I felt my reed was giving out on me — but I’ve been told by both colleagues and audience members I trust that they didn’t hear any issues.

The Funny Part
After the work was over (probably only about 20 seconds, really, after the worrisome solo) and the audience applauded so many in the orchestra looked over at me and smiled. Those next to me grabbed me with a “you did it” kind of squeeze. It was all rather funny and uplifting and even maybe a bit embarrassing. But I loved it.

There are times, in this business, when you just need some love and understanding. I have to say my music pals gave it to me both after my massacre of the measure (Hmm. Shall I call that “MoM”?) and my success of today.

Man, I love my musician pals! 🙂


  1. patti with an i

    We love you too, darlin’!

  2. Aw, thanks, patti with an i.

    You all have really been a great blessing to me. I’m so honored.

  3. Since you didn’t read the review, I did. Not to worry, your name, along with the names of many other soloists, was never mentioned.

    We have all been there. Beat yourself up for a bit but then move on. There will be many, many more opportunities.

  4. Oh I DID manage to brave it and I read the scathing review. Honestly, the performance wasn’t as awful as he thought. *I* was awful in one measure, and certainly that could have been mentioned, so I’m thankful that he didn’t single me out. But I enjoyed the majority of the concert. My husband was there on Sunday and he’s a stickler for Mahler. He enjoyed it tremendously. Go figure.

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