I just read an article about the possibility that certain instruments will disappear from youth orchestras, due to the lack of popularity. They “now risk becoming extinct.” The header reads “Big beasts of the orchestra could become extinct in ago of YouTube, arts chief warns.”

And what, you wonder, are these “big beasts?”

I’d think double bass, tuba, timpani, harp, contra-bassoon … you know, the ones parents regret having their kids study because hauling them around requires a car that can carry them.

Is that what you’d think as well?

But if you then read the article it says this:

The sheer physical size of the instruments, the complications of the reeds, and the expense of lessons has led to these instruments being sidelined”, he explained.

So here is the actual list:

… the days of the oboe, bassoon, french horn and tuba could be numbered, an arts chief has warned, as interest from the younger generations has dwindled to such a low that the instruments now risk becoming extinct.

Okay. Got it. Oboe is a beast. I’ll agree to that! And yes, reeds … the major hassle of the oboe and bassoon. But the headline had made me think the instruments HAD to be large. Gotta love those headline writers!

But honestly, I don’t see instruments becoming “extinct”. Needed desperately, sure. But orchestras will continue to use them unless we start omitting them from compositions. Hm. Beethoven symphonies without the oboe solos. Sure, why not?

In addition, I hardly think YouTube can be blamed for the demise of these instruments should they becoming less popular. But maybe that’s just me. I think it’s a silly excuse.

Okay … nit picking over ‘n out.

I did find it interesting that these instruments are difficult to come by in the UK. My oboe teaching colleagues that I recommend in the Bay Area and I have had to turn down students, we get so many.

Why, you wonder?

I have more than a sneaking suspicion it is still that parents think oboe is that magic “key to college entrance.” That would make sense: the UK probably don’t NEED the “key to college entrance” like our kids need here. I yearn for the day when all my students tell me they are taking oboe because they simply love the sound of the oboe! It could happen. Maybe.

I pick up my oboe and English horn tomorrow, after having left them in the shop for a rather good amount of time. I knew I had no work all summer (rats) and this would be a perfect time to be away from them.

The cost?

$1,100 total.

Yes, really.

Needless to say, they needed a lot of work. They are old. Things go wrong. Plus I’d been rather negligent and hadn’t taken them in when I should have. (Once a year is the smart thing to do. Or at least once a year!)

This is part of the musician’s life. We purchase our own instruments. We maintain them. And many oboist (not me) replace them frequently. (Do I need to add the reed expense bit here? Hm.)

All I can think about at the moment is, “How many students will it take to pay for this expense?!”

I’m glad I really love to teach (most of the time: recently there have been a few students who have pretty much refused to practice and that makes it less enjoyable). In case any readers think I make enough to survive with my performing groups please know my main source of income is actually teaching, NOT performing! I would, in fact, make a better income if I gave up performing all together and filled rehearsal and performance time with students. Crazy, isn’t it?

Jakob Tryggvason; Vertu guo faðir, faoir minn
Schola Cantorum; Haroar Askelsson, Conductor

Waldemar Ahlen: The Earth Adorned
Formosa Singers; Thomas Caplin, Conductor

I don’t usually accept requests to review books, music, cds, or the like. I don’t like to take the time to do reviews, to be honest. But sometimes an offer comes that I can’t refuse!

Monteverdi: Adoramus Te, Christe

Tomkins: When David Heard
The Gesualdo Six

Teachers beware … they continue to send this stuff!

How are you doing today? My name is James Bright. I want a private
lessons for my daughter, Sharon. Sharon is a 13 years old. She was
formally home-schooled and ready to learn. Kindly write me back with
the following information: Area of specialization, Fees,
location/meeting point and make-up lessons. Also, get back to me with
your policy and any necessary information you think that might help.
The lessons can start by first week of August, 2018. Looking forward
reading from you.

My best regards
Mr James Bright

Henry Purcell: Rejoice in the Lord Always
Sidney Sussex College; David Skinner, Director

Byrd: Ne Irascaris Domine
Siglo de Oro