I am studying up on flute music at the moment, due to several flute auditions that will be occurring soon (one is for symphony and one for opera, so I have my studying work cut out for me!). I’m on the panel and I want to be absolutely certain I know the music well.

As is typical, included are not only orchestral excerpts, but a concerto (or two).

The latest video of a work for flute and orchestra that I listened focussed on the soloist in the video, but behind her is a flutist in the orchestra, seen for the entire work. I’m betting that flutist had no idea how clearly she is seen, and how it is pretty darn obvious she isn’t impressed with the soloist. At the end of the work the orchestra musicians are applauding … except that orchestra flutist, along with the principal oboist. They just sat there.

This is a good lesson for me. We can be seen. Even if we aren’t totally impressed with the soloist, looking like we can’t stand the playing is unnecessary, and not applauding just looks rude. At least to me.

Some time ago now a musician posted some very negative things about a concert s/he was involved in. The person was primarily saying how awful the music was.

I would caution people about this.

Yes, sometimes we play music we don’t like. But to tell our audience that is unnecessary and could even be harmful. Some might love the music and think it’s the best thing ever. Others might skip buying tickets because of what they read from a performer. And, honestly, it just isn’t necessary.

I even try to be quiet about a performance as I’m walking to my car if there are things I want to complain about. (Mind you, I don’t always succeed!) I don’t want to tell an audience member about the mistakes; most of the time they haven’t a clue that something went wrong, and if they do they usually understand that that kind of thing happens. (Ah the joy of live music!)

Huron Carol, arr by Sarah Quartel
L.A. Choral Lab; Michael Alfera, Conductor & Artistic Director

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina: Magnificat Primi Toni
VOCES8

Over on Facebook a friend gave musicians (and others could use this too, really) a very good reminder. She urged those who were sick to stay home. As she said, this time of year is a very busy month for musicians (well, not for me … but so it goes) and that most orchestras do have a sick day. Coming sick to work can affect so many others. It’s not fair to them. Yes, you might lose income. That’s difficult. But is it fair to think only of one’s self?

As she wrote, “missing one service may keep others from missing much more.”

I read her post the day I was feeling fairly miserable. I had been thinking, “Oh I think I can probably make it through the opera — it’s short!” After reading her post I immediately contacted our personnel manager and let him know I was sick. He found a great sub. I stayed home in bed. I am better now. I’m also very grateful for that Facebook post.

So thank you, Meredith, for your wise words!

I was sorry to hear of the death of Sir Stephen Cleobury when I woke this morning. You can read the announcement here

Oboeinsight has slowly been disappearing. Not literally, of course, but the number of posts has diminished tremendously. I keep it running only because there are a handful of people who occasionally check it out, and I know there is one person who visits on Sundays for the music. (Hi, dear sister!) I won’t be taking it down completely. Yet. But I do apologize to those of you who used to find it entertaining. I just haven’t had much I’ve wanted to write about here that I haven’t written about before!

I had thought about writing a “Yes, I can see you” post about the one orchestra member who sat, expressionless, while others applauded a conductor. Some orchestra members were moved to tears, so this one person was rather obvious. But I decided to skip it.

Oops. I guess I just wrote about that!

I thought about writing about the brass players who whisper to each other during performances when they don’t have anything to play, distracting both orchestra and audience members, but opted not to.

Oops. Too late again!

And to that one player who sings along, again during performances, well, that’s just plain tacky. And extremely distracting. And rude.

But I’ll skip all that. Who needs the negativity?

Okay … goofy rambling aside, I’d say I’d try harder to keep this up and running, but I think I’m just running out of steam. So it goes ….

02. August 2019 · Comments Off on Why Continue? · Categories: Ramble

A friend recently said he was packing in his particular art form, at least for now. He was weary. He mentioned that the mediocre things seemed to receive the most praise. The poor quality work seemed to get the most attention.

It’s true. That can happen.

I don’t name names. I won’t go there. But there are musicians that are extremely popular that I consider pretty awful. The “general public” (whatever that means!) might enjoy something that, to me, is simply not good. Sometimes it’s an artist they love. Sometimes it’s a composer. The same can go with photographers … some that I see as not-so-great are big hits.

But you know what? I’ve decided that it not my problem!

Coming to that conclusing was very freeing when it happened.

Whether a person likes my work or not is not what I will dwell upon. Because of my faith, I strongly believe I am called to do my best, and I’m called to glorify God. But I’m not called to be popular. I’m not called (or guaranteed) to make a lot of money (if any!). I’m not called to win over people. That is up to them, their ears and/or eyes, and how God may or may not move them. Trying to appeal to the masses … trying to make a lot of money … trying to be better than someone else … that just can’t be my goal.

That being said, of course I sometimes get envious. I sometimes wonder why I only went as far as I did in music (although, in truth, I know it had a lot to do with my laziness!). I sometimes wonder if I’m really just a bad musician/photographer and haven’t a clue that I am! But surely I must be “okay” at music, having survived in this music business for nearly forty-five years. I can hope! With my photography I haven’t a clue. I like what I do. That will have to suffice.

So I hear and see other work that is not only less-than-stellar but is just, plain and simple, bad. That is not my problem! I must let that go.

There will always be mediocrity. For all I know I’m only mediocre at my music and photography and simply don’t know it. But I attempt to do my best and I think that is what is of utmost importance.

02. August 2019 · 5 comments · Categories: Ramble

I do love teaching. Students bring me such joy, and it’s a honor to guide them in their oboe adventure.

When students keep in touch and I learn about an impending marriage I find happiness in offering to play for their weddings. I’ve had the honor of doing this three times now. The last I played was a few years back. That student, who is one I have always held dear, has now had a baby! WHAT a wonderful time I had the other day spending with Caitlyn, her husband Héctor, Caitlyn’s mother Barb, and the guest of honor, baby Tahlia!

Caitlyn asked if I would bring my oboe and play for Tahlia. Talk about making me even more honored! That was something I had never been asked before, and doing so is something I will never forget.

With Caitlyn’s permission I post the video she just sent me. Thank you, thank you, Caitlyn! (I’m hoping I loaded this properly, as a unlisted video so it won’t be seen without my sharing it … I’m really not sure how all this works!)

27. July 2019 · 2 comments · Categories: Ramble

MANY years ago a university student I was teaching — one who wasn’t practicing, failed her scales, and really didn’t like me — wrote to another oboe instructor in our area during spring break. She asked him if he would be able to teach her. She told him it could even be on weekends, and she could find a room at the university that he could use. She did this without my knowledge.

Sort of.

His response to her email was to suggest she contact the oboe instructor on campus, and named me.

He also Cc’d me on the email!

No, he didn’t know she was going behind my back. He didn’t deliberately cause her harm. But it sure DID cause a problem. I wrote to her and asked if there was an issue. She never returned my email, and she never took lessons again.

A few years later she would up at the other university where I was teaching! She pretended not to know me. She wasn’t studying oboe at that point, as she’d moved on to conducting. But one day she emailed me to see if I could play for the orchestra and I responded by asking why she didn’t just play in it herself. I suspect she somehow thought I’d forget who she was!

The music world is small. What we say and do, even when we think it is in secret, usually ends up getting known. Silly behavior done out of anger may come back to harm us. Vindictive behavior nearly always will, or so it seems to me. I wish more younger musicians would realize that. They do and say things that cause them great harm. I witnessed this recently and I can only shake my head.

And yes, older musicians do this stuff too. But they should know better so I roll my eyes rather than shake my head.

Careers can end quickly. It may be frustrating to have to hold one’s tongue (or fingers if one is using social media and writing things they shouldn’t). But it has to be done if you want to navigate safely through our tricky business.

Think, dear musicians. Think!