Are you bad at auditioning?

I always was, yeah. When you’re on the job, it’s so collaborative. It’s about everyone. When you’re auditioning, it’s only you. It’s so not related to what the job will be, really.

—Catherine O’Hara

Yep … it’s like that in music too. It’s one of the many reasons I really dislike the audition process, but what can you do? It is what it is.

I read it here.

25. November 2017 · Comments Off on MQOD · Categories: Quotes

I’ve been a woman for a little over 50 years and have gotten over my initial astonishment. As for conducting an orchestra, that’s a job where I don’t think sex plays much part.

—Nadia Boulanger


By Edmond Joaillier, Paris
Bibliothèque nationale de France, Public Domain
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10792503

13. October 2017 · Comments Off on MQOD · Categories: Quotes

“Well, I wanted to learn the oboe as a child and my mother couldn’t afford it so I learned the flute and a little bit had this strange immature feeling that it was my second choice for the six or eight years I studied it, depending how you count (recorders included or not).But it was crazy for this album now coming back to it after all those years later, like looking at a not so cool part of my childhood, flutes were always a bit naff, and looking at it so much later through a timeglass and seeing another thread and linking it together and bringing it forth to now.
—Björk

I read it here.

13. September 2017 · Comments Off on Yo-Yo Ma · Categories: Quotes, Read Online

My mother was a singer and my father was a composer, musicologist, and string player. My father was very analytical, so I had really good training in that way. I started playing the Bach Suites—the first suite is all about patterns and change—just little snippets at a time, two measures a day. By connecting them, you actually are figuring out in a pretty substantial way, what are the patterns? So in a short time, I was able to learn a lot of music. A little bit is doable. It’s not Mount Everest—it’s a mole hill. My father would say, “If there’s something that’s very difficult, split it into four parts where you can actually solve a problem by first solving little problems.” That was an unbelievable time-saver later on. And my mother really addressed the idea that you acquire technique in order to transcend it. Because the point of music is to be moved. Just because you can play a piece doesn’t mean you’re reaching deep inside somebody else.

But there’s so much more. Do read it all!

17. August 2017 · Comments Off on MQOD · Categories: Quotes

I was in the fifth grade, and I was trying out different instruments. At first, I tried trumpet, and I was going to go with it, but then they told me I needed to try the oboe because of my straight A’s.

I’ll just leave this with no comment. Aside from commenting to say “no comment,” that is.

Yesterday a friend dropped a reed and it proceeded to fall through a crack in the floor. This happened during a concert.

Let me tell you, this is worthy of many, many tears! I know the friend didn’t literally cry, but surely must have felt a bit like doing so.

Double reed players spend hours on reeds — it can feel like a lifetime! We are dealing with plant life. Every piece of cane is different. Every piece of cane is in a state of change. We take our knives to this material, and each tiny scrape can change a reed drastically. One bad scrape and it’s done for.

If I hear a student say “I LOVE LOVE LOVE my reed” or some such thing (always using that dangerous singular “reed” rather than “reeds”!) I sometimes respond with “I’m sorry.” I don’t say this completely in jest: if you love it that much it’s just sad because 1) it will change and 2) you are probably relying on that one reed. (I could continue to list other reasons, but for now I’ll leave it at that.)

A non-reed player can’t quite understand why we all go crazy over reeds. When we get that rare batch of really great cane it’s rather like getting a huge sum of unexpected money in the mail: it’s wonderful, you can definitely use it, but it will go away. One difference between the two, though, is that the money doesn’t change value: a $100 bill doesn’t suddenly morph into a $5, but the cane just might opt to change at some point. Maybe it’s more like a bottle of good wine. Hm.

Most of my students aren’t interested in making reeds. They are young, they are FAR too busy (oh how I wish they weren’t pushed to do so darn much: how can they do anything well and with passion when they are running from one “this’ll get me into college” thing to the next?), and, honestly, they really don’t want to bother. I have colleagues who require their students to make reeds. I don’t. I’ve taught two reed making classes in the past few years and not ONE of those students continued with the process. They merely developed great respect and admiration for the reed makers from whom they order! (That is actually one of the main reasons I wanted to teach the skill … that, and getting parents to understand how difficult the craft is.) I think I’m now done with teaching the craft: someone else can take over on that. I have hated reed making for years, and it’s better to learn from someone who doesn’t despise it quite as much as I do.

But I ramble. Mostly I wanted to share this quote from the wonderful oboist Aaron Hill:

Reed making is what it must feel like to try to keep an endangered species from going extinct. We cling to a few precious living specimens for hope and guard them with every bit of strength we have. Many attempts to reproduce good reeds either fail entirely or don’t reach maturity.

Here is a nice interview with Aaron and this link takes you to some great YouTube videos by him. He teaches at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He’s a great player and I have no doubt that he’s also a great teacher.

29. October 2015 · Comments Off on MQOD · Categories: Quotes

I can whistle almost the whole of the Fifth Symphony, all four movements, and with it I have solaced many a whining hour to sleep. It answers all my questions, the noble, mighty thing, it is “green pastures and still waters” to my soul. Indeed, without music I should wish to die. Even poetry, Sweet Patron Muse forgive me the words, is not what music is. I find that lately more and more my fingers itch for a piano, and I shall not spend another winter without one. Last night I played for about two hours, the first time in a year, I think, and though most everything is gone enough remains to make me realize I could get it back if I had the guts. People are so dam lazy, aren’t they? Ten years I have been forgetting all I learned so lovingly about music, and just because I am a boob. All that remains is Bach. I find that I never lose Bach. I don’t know why I have always loved him so. Except that he is so pure, so relentless and incorruptible, like a principal of geometry.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

16. October 2015 · Comments Off on MQOD · Categories: Quotes

My father played oboe and when I watched rehearsals I could never see him behind the violin section. So all I knew was that I didn’t want to play oboe because nobody would see me.

—Maxim Vengerov

Read more here.

30. March 2015 · Comments Off on MQOD · Categories: Quotes

You don’t have to be educated to enjoy classical music, you get educated by listening to it.

—Alice Sara Ott

I read it here.

24. February 2015 · Comments Off on MQOD · Categories: Quotes

Classical music was my first love. It’s given me such extraordinary joy and has been a huge influence on my work, particularly in the classics, where you have to know where the coda comes and where the climax. You make your own symphony out of the words. I do regret that I didn’t continue studying classical piano, which I started to do as a kid.

—Christopher Plummer

I read it here.