I just paid a rather large sum to continue this site for one more year. It is likely that will be the last annual fee I pay: I don’t make anything through oboeinsight and the over $200 fee is just a bit much. So enjoy for the year. Then … well … maybe not!

11. May 2019 · 2 comments · Categories: Ramble

I’m sure people have noticed I barely write here any longer. I’m not sure if I’ve said all I need to say (and yet I know I’ve probably said MORE than I need to say), but I do wonder if I can keep this going much longer.

Part of it, too, is what I think is the Death of Blogs. What might that be?


Yes. I do think that Facebook has killed off much of the blogworld. No matter how much I encourage it, people don’t like visiting my photography site or this site any more if they can read the snippet and see the (less than great because they mess with it) image at Facebook.

And so it goes.

Will I grieve the loss of this blog? Not really. Things change. Things die.

BUT (you knew I had to do that, right?), I won’t just disappear at the moment. I will ponder and decide over the summer. But continuing to pay to keep this site up and running just might be enough to get me to stop.

Meanwhile … I hope some people still visit this, listen to the music I share, and get a bit of something out of my rambling and goofiness.

I especially hope that people land on the etiquette page. (Having witnessed some pretty horrible behavior recently I think many have lost common sense when it comes to performance behavior. May I just yell this out, “NO, it is not okay to use your phone during a performance even if you aren’t playing the work that is currently being done. People can still SEE you! And no, you can’t dress differently than everyone else in the orchestra. There is a dress code for a reason. And yes, even if you sit in the back what you wear matters. And no, talking out loud just because YOU have finished playing your part, when others are still performing — and an audience is still listening — is not okay and not normal. It is disrespectful and rude.”

Okay, rant over. The people who should read that don’t read this blog in any case, so it’s pretty pointless.

Here are a few more excerpts. As you can see, things have changed between versions. I won’t share ALL of the things that differ between versions, but I’ll at least share these.


The last time we played this I had an issue with this rhythm, which is odd for me, as rhythm has usually come easily to me. Now I’m wondering if perhaps I had done the revised version prior to this and was merely thrown by that. I really don’t know!


I’m hoping to find some time to share more about our upcoming concert which includes Stravinsky’s Petrushka. Stravinsky tended to change things after writing a work. In next week’s concert we are doing the revised version. The copy I had at home differed greatly.

Here is the first page of the copy I was thinking we were doing, which would have me playing both fourth oboe and English horn:

Here is the first page of the music I have now received, where I play only English horn. There are only two oboes in this version:

The most interesting thing, though, are the changes of notation and even rhythms. I will share more later. Right now it’s just too late and my brain is too tired.

I learned of this group a week ago, but was out of town and couldn’t post this. But now … here you go:

The mission of Envision Oboe is to provide oboe students with financial support which will further their music education through specialty classes, workshops or other unique learning opportunities.

Envision Oboe is a non-profit organization. Our mission is to provide oboe students with financial support which will further their music education through specialty classes, workshops or other unique learning opportunities.

Recipients of financial awards are determined through an application process which is reviewed by our board of directors. The amount and number of awards given are based solely on the funds contributed by our generous donors.

Some popular reasons that people choose to donate to our mission include:
Having the desire to help make a special learning opportunity possible for a deserving student
Believing in the value and importance of music education
Being an arts supporter who loves the oboe
Commemorating a special oboist or musician
Celebrating a family member’s love of music
Providing funding for a student to attend an educational Oboe program of choice
Whatever your reason, we are grateful that you are considering a donation to our organization.

We value every donation, large or small. Please make your donation below, or send a check to:
Envision Oboe
6457 Glenway Ave. #174
Cincinnati, Ohio 45211

Donations are very welcome, and what a wonderful thing to do! To donate please go here.

07. March 2019 · Comments Off on Jennifer Gersten on Classical Music … and More · Categories: Ramble

From PBS NewsHour:


I have grown quite weary of the “calming classical* music” or the “music to help you fall asleep” stuff. I also grow weary of the “It’ll make you smarter” thoughts. I much prefer people have a yearning to hear the music. And I’ve always hated the places that play classical music to discourage people from lingering.

*I use lower case “classical” to refer to all the music in our symphonic/opera/concert hall (etc.) world.

And then there’s this:

People have sent this my way. It’s made its rounds on Facebook. And something about it troubled me immediately, but I didn’t want to go all Negative Nellie on people so I just thanked them. But now I read a comment on one of the Facebook pages that explains my discomfort:

I aggressively disagree. Generally speaking, art and music are not mere ‘decorations’, but expressions of human points of view that are worth listening to. Art, literature and music can teach us great things that we would not otherwise see, not just a way to fill up space and time.

—Vernon Garcia Rivas

Again … thoughts?

21. February 2019 · Comments Off on Conductors and Kindness, Part 3 · Categories: Ramble

So … to more of my little story. I have now moved on to college. I auditioned for the band and orchestra conductor (yes, he did both) and he said, “You know you have to play in both so you’ll have to rearrange your entire class schedule.” I didn’t argue. One never argues with a conductor, right? So yes, I changed everything to accommodate him. Besides, he seemed like a genius to little old me.

Turned out, though, that he was a bit of a sexist guy. Much of the time I was seated second to a young man. Mind you, he was a fine player, but we were actually equals for the most part. But not to this conductor. Still, I learned a lot from him and he wasn’t abusive although he was frightening. He made sure he had an air about him that made him special and nearly unapproachable.

Meanwhile, I won a position in a local symphony orchestra in my sophomore year. Doing so, in fact, came back to haunt the “You have to play in both groups” conductor: by the end of my sophomore year I’d fulfilled my performing obligations and I dropped at least one of those groups for the rest of college. The symphony orchestra I joined had a conductor who was notorious for temper tantrums and abuse and yes, I witnessed all of that. I also witnessed a “You’re very happily married aren’t you?” moment with him. (I married Dan in my sophomore year.) My “Yes,” response apparently gave him permission to try and kiss me. Go figure. I cried and he backed off. After that we had, for the most part, a decent relationship considering his issues. He liked my playing, and I learned a ton about expressive playing. He picked a lot of music that featured English horn, which was my position. I loved his conducting as it was just so amazingly musical and there were unbelievably amazing moments. And unbelievably miserable ones too.

He liked me.

Until he didn’t.

When he decided to hate me he hated with a vengeance. It was painful but it was also a good lesson for me. I had colleagues who had forever dealt with his abuses and only when he started to go after me did I learn to truly sympathize and admire them for their tenacity throughout his abuse.

But of course this last conductor was someone I dealt with as an adult. And an adult CAN, if necessary, leave. Students have a harder time with that, as my dear student is demonstrating.

So let me repeat to those in youth groups: if you are not getting encouragement, if you are not feeling as if you are accomplishing something, if you only feel berated by a conductor of a youth symphony. GET OUT. The only way these abusers of power will get the picture (or get fired) is if students and parents say, “Enough is enough.”

I’ll stop here. But I may write more about youth orchestra conductors at a later time. I’m so angry about this particular (unnamed) individual that I think I might have to revisit the topic.

12. February 2019 · Comments Off on More Of Conductors and Kindness · Categories: Ramble

This is part two of my short little series. At this point in my writing I am in high school.

I had been warned that the band director in high school was scary. I heard that he yelled a lot. I heard, as well, that he was very good and we had a very highly ranked group.

Those things were all true. We had three bands (A, B, and C). Everyone, of course, yearned to get into “A band”. We played a lot of orchestral transcriptions. We played some pretty good music. I learned a lot.

That director said horrible things to people. One example: a flutist was being yelled at so she started to cry. He then called her a baby and would occasionally look over and say, “Diapers, diapers, diapers,” and she’d cry some more. Yes. Really. Amazingly she never quit. One of the boys who was a bit of a prankster a very fun kid in junior high had some sort of encounter with the director while he was a freshman and the last I saw of him near the band room he was crying. He never returned. The director took a boy by the collar and held him up against the wall. All four years he yelled and screamed. No parents stopped him. I think everyone thought he was just the artistic sort and, thus, behaved like a true artist. He was just an awful man.

And yet … he gave us all music lessons after school. He stayed late into the day so we could hang out and practice. He joked around with students.

And I was teacher’s pet.

So I was “safe”, while others were abused, and I don’t believe I fully understood just how horrendously they were treated.

Toward the end of the year we always held a surprise party for the director. We’d arrive early, getting someone to open the band room door for us, decorate the room, and have a lot of food and the smelly cheese he loved. We’d buy him a gift. It was called “[insert the director’s last name here} Day.”

So we loved our abuser. As so many do.

I also played (sporadically) in a youth orchestra. The director there was a bit of a screamer too, but no one seemed to take him too seriously. I just thought he was weird. One day, at a music camp, I was eating a snack. If I remember correctly I offered something to some friends and he wondered why I didn’t offer anything to him. So I offered the snack to him as well. He pinched my cheek and said he just wanted to see if I would sacrifice for him. Go figure. Powerful men … they love to know these things I guess. They play their games. We accept it. Or we did.

On the positive side, I did have a good private instructor (Hi, Bob Hubbard!) during high school. He was recommended by the band director, but was in no way like him. He was fun, helpful, informative, and I even practiced for him at times! (I was a very good faker back then, so I did get away with a lot.) Then, in my senior year, I also played in Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra. Bill Whitson was the director. He was wonderful. I credit him and that group, along with my private teacher, with my going into music.

So my high school years were full of joy of making music, but also full of yelling and screaming. The high school band director did continue to treat me well until I got into college and … horrors! … had a boyfriend. Then it was all over.

I’ll write about my college years soon. But now I’m weary.

I have hesitated writing more about this topic, but I’ve decided I’m going to write a bit of my own story, starting from the beginning of my music making. Some of this is good, some is not so good, and some is simply horrible. Some I knew was horrible, but sometimes I was just so accepting that I thought the way a conductor treated musicians was normal and even necessary.

But let me start at the beginning.

I began my instrumental music making in elementary school, taking piano lessons every other week, sharing the early morning Saturday spot with my sister. (Prior to that, and after as well, I sang in school and church choirs. Singing was always a big deal with my family: “Happy Birthday” was sung in four part harmony at our house!) I don’t really remember much about my teacher Miss Penner, other than that she was old, kept a tissue in her sleeve (which I assumed that all OLD people did, she was nice, and she was single which was unusual in that day. Funny … odds are she was younger than I am now!), and I liked earning points so I could go into her other room to choose a prize. I played a few recitals, and I think I was nervous, but I really don’t remember. I know I didn’t learn any music theory and didn’t have a clue how a major scale was created, I just knew the fingering … 1,2,3,1,2,3,4,5 or 1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4 or some such thing. I had good rhythm. I knew when I played a wrong note and if I didn’t my mom would yell out “Wrong note!” (She did this with flute and oboe as well) I did fine, but wasn’t stellar. But Miss Penner was kind. I never saw her get angry. Not even once.

I started flute before beginning oboe. Mr. Kucera (sp?) went from school to school to teach us. He was a kind man. He walked with a cane and I thought he, too, was very very old. (But weren’t ALL teachers old?) I was fearful when we had to read all the notes out loud for some reason. It might be that I was too introverted and speaking out loud caused great anxiety. But he was nice. I did fine, but I suspect not as fine as my older sister who also played. After sixth grade my parents suggested oboe and I said, “Sure, what is that?”

Oboe was me. Oboe fit my idea of sound. The instrument worked with my somewhat larger hands. I loved it. I hated it. Well, mostly I hated the reeds! Immediately after moving to oboe I took music summer school and the director there was an oboist so he helped me a wee bit. Then I had a teacher come to my house for a year or so. Mrs. Kruse set me on the right path. She worked on my reeds. She was kind. She moved to Pleasanton and soon had a child on the way. (Funny: I thought she, too, was OLD. Now I realize she was certainly not old. She was just starting her family!) We drove to Pleasanton for lessons. She continued her kind ways. She rescued me many a time with reeds she would make for me. She never grew angry with me, even while I’m sure she knew when I hadn’t practiced.

While I took lessons from Mrs. Kruse, I moved on to a new piano teacher. She doesn’t need to be named. She was cold. She was certainly a better teacher, but she wasn’t someone I connected to. At that point, in junior high, my band director suggested I play the Grieg Piano Concerto with the orchestra (first movement only). I had been studying it with the piano teacher. In the key of A minor. As it was written. I still knew nothing about music theory. I mean NOTHING. So I didn’t understand why the simplified version I was playing with the school was different, but it was. I’m guessing it was a key that someone decided was better for the students. I honestly don’t know. What I DO know is that I started the opening piano solo in one key and when I got to the bottom of that opening I was in another key world, because I’d reverted to what I knew. The rest of the performance was a mess. SO much of a mess that my band director (Mr. “T”, a very kind man) told me years later he immediately erased the recording.

I walked off the stage and when my mother came to get me I said, “I’m quitting piano.” She agreed. My cold piano teacher saw me again (I don’t know why I returned) and she said, “I hear your concert didn’t go as you planned.” No words of comfort. Nothing. Just a cold cold comment. And that was it for piano.

High school was next. And that’s when things changed. Stay tuned … I’ll probably continue this tomorrow. Right now my hands are tired!

01. February 2019 · Comments Off on Start With Stravinsky · Categories: Ramble · Tags: , ,

It’s a nice way to begin a morning, I think. And a new month, as well!

Igor Stravinsky: Pulcinella • Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra

From the YouTube page (I love it when all the musicians are listed!)

October 28, 2018
First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica

Benjamin Hoffman – principal
Jimin Lee
Kako Miura
Gabriel Maffuz-Anker
Zachary Brandon

Chiai Tajima – principal
Evan Johanson
April Paik
Wynton Grant
Alex Granger

Leo Plashinov – principal
Alice Ping
Marissa Winship

Juliette Herlin – principal
Mia Barcia-Colombo
Javier Iglesias Martin

Daniel Carson – principal
Sam Shuhan

Doug DeVries – principal
Emma McCartney

Robert Walker – principal
Laura Arganbright

Ryan Wilkins – principal
Lieza Hansen

Rachel Nierenberg – principal
Ian Petruzzi

Jonah Levy

Connor Rowe