… and only sometimes … one needs an oboe mambo.

The first orchestra only opera rehearsal (one of two) for Opera San Jose?’s Where Angels Fear to Tread is over. It’s always good to get through that and see what I have in my fingers and what I don’t. It’s also good to get the actual tempi we will be playing. Trouble is, I simply don’t have a fast tongue and a “sparkling” section is going to be a challenge for me! Here is my poem for you today:

I recommend
to all the young:
please teach yourself
to double tongue!


Of course in that instance is more about the E flat to F fingering … just darn awkward when it has to be repeated like that.

I was pleased that some spots on which I spent a good amount of time worked pretty well. There is still one section that needs more work to make me comfortable, and I spent more time on that this afternoon. I will continue to work on it, of course. Over. And over. And over. I simply HAVE to have it in my fingers so very well that when the nerves kick in — and they probably will — my fingers take over and make it work! In this section the start is fun, but it’s that last measure —— those leaps at tempo can be a bit of a challenge. Silly half hole!


I was happy to note that the one section with the high F#s was just fine. In addition, no one would hear me if they weren’t: the entire orchestra is blasting away at that point. Still, I have my pride so I worked on that section a ton and have it in the “fingerbrains” now.

I think it’ll be a good opera. I really should see if I can get to a piano tech … unless that’s already happened: I’d like to see it if possible, as I love knowing what’s going on on stage. (I’m unable to see one thing due to where I sit in the pit.) Do you have your tickets yet?

The prolific writer-producer who developed True Blood for TV is back at the premium cable network with Virtuoso, a Fame-like musical drama that has received a pilot pickup, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

Ball will write, exec produce and direct Virtuoso, an hourlong period drama set against the complex and volatile backdrop of 18th century Vienna. Virtuoso follows a class of young musical prodigies from all over Europe at the prestigious Academy of Musical Excellence.

… but I don’t get HBO, which is where this will be. Too bad.

Oh, and Elton John is somehow connected to this as well.


Ramón Ortega Quero talks about his CD, and you get to hear his beautiful playing as well.

YouTube Info:

Our flight to New Orleans today was delayed for maintenance AFTER we had boarded (I’m a flight attendant). I started talking to the passengers and realized we had a barbershop quartet in our presence. I asked them to sing and most of the passengers began video taping! It was such a great moment… The mood changed and our passengers were awesome for the whole 5 hours they were on the plane! One of my favorite moments!!! Thank you to Port City Sound for creating a wonderful memory!!! #usairways

Liang Wang, oboe; Giora Schmidt, violin; Lily Francis, viola; Felix Fan, cello

I’m sure I’ve put this up before, but it’s worth more attention!

While I am passionate about music, it is also my job. A job is work. A job is, sometimes, very hard work.

I have another passion, as many know, and you can see my efforts from that passion by going to my photography website. That passion is not my job. I wouldn’t be upset if it became a bit of a job, though: I have sold one photo (that was fun) and made enough to cover … oh wait … no, I didn’t make enough to cover anything. Never mind about that.

Here’s the funny thing, though. My other passion is also work.

This is not to say I don’t love the work. I love the work of music, and I love the work of photography. But anything one does become work when one strives to learn more, grow more, and improve, I think.

I’m sure you all knew that. I suppose I did as well, deep down. I’ve just not thought about it until now.

When we first start something like a “hobby” it’s pretty much new, exciting, fun, and doesn’t feel like work because … well … perhaps because it’s new and exciting. But if we are trying to do our best, work kicks in at some point. And here’s the thing, at least for me: if it never became work I’d probably be bored with it. If it just came easily and there was no striving, I think I’d walk away saying, “Well, that was fun. What’s next?!”

This is just a little ramble I’m spitting out without thinking much, before I head out on my real ramble (I like to walk, in case there are readers here who don’t already know that). While I walk I frequently use my camera. Here are just a few things I’ve made recently on those walks. I’ve posted all of these on that other website, but I’m guessing readers of all things oboe might not have visited that site yet. (If you do go over there you can choose to follow that blog and you’ll see more as I post more.)









Johann Kuhnau: Magnificat in C major
Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir; Ton Koopmann, Conductor

Bach: Meine Seel erhebt den Herren, BWV 10
Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir; Ton Koopmann, Conductor


Above you see a page of the opera I have coming up. Our first rehearsal is this Thursday, and this has to be in my fingers by then. It doesn’t look difficult to most, I’m sure, but I found the one spot (by the yellow tab) a bit of a challenge. So what do I do when that happens? I practice. A lot. With a metronome.

I practice s l o w l y.

I call the metronome one of two things. It’s either my best enemy, or my worst friend. Why? Because I depend upon it, but it’s always telling me what I’m doing wrong when it comes to keeping a steady tempo. It makes me angry. I want to toss the darn thing out sometimes. But I need it. (Okay, so maybe it’s more of a worst friend … who needs an enemy?) Obviously I don’t use it for everything, but for the fast, technical work I sure do.

(Side note: I’m embarrassed to post this because I know so many players would say, “This part you are showing … this is NOTHING compared to what we have!” But hey, I’m an oboe player. I’m supposed to worry about reeds. Trust me!) ;-)

I put the metronome on something that allows me to play it perfectly. Not close to perfectly. But absolutely perfectly. That might be painfully slow to begin with, but that’s where I begin. Then I work up to a speedier tempo but forcing myself to play it at least five times perfectly at each tempo. Yep, it takes a long time. When I get speedier I start to keep track of where I am. At this point I’m at 96 to the quarter, and I was at 92 earlier. When I go back to the studio (after writing this, in fact) I’m guessing my “finger brains” won’t like 96 much, so I will begin at 92 again and see how much faster I can get it. I’m hoping for 100. Tomorrow I’ll start slower again, but I hope (as always) to pass whatever highest number I have on that tab. It’s like playing leap frog all on one’s own.

Two big words:


That’s all it takes.

No biggie … right?

But one day of this won’t do it. It takes days and, at least for me, those days must nearly all be in a row. My students know my “5X/4Days” rule: play it perfectly five times in a row, four days in a row. The thing is, I want those notes — those fingerings — to be so deeply embedded in my “finger brains” that I won’t lose it (I hope) when I have to make it all work and the nerves kick in. My 5X/4Days rule helps with that.

Oh … and about those post-it tabs. They are SO handy! I use them as I first listen to something, to mark the pages I know I’ll have to focus on. I use arrow post-it tabs in rehearsal to point out where I need work when there is simply no time to pull out a pencil and mark things. I keep some in for the entire run, so I can quickly go to pages I know I want to run prior to each rehearsal or performance. They are handy dandy things, and I highly recommend them!

Now it’s time to go have a visit with some music, an oboe and some reeds.

Oh … and the metronome!