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!

27. July 2019 · Comments Off on Acknowledge the Listeners! · Categories: Ramble

I’m currently watching a wonderful video of Piazzolla’s Four Seasons by a trio. I won’t name them and I won’t paste the video here, but honestly, I’m enjoying it tremendously.

BUT (You knew it was coming, right? That’s why I won’t post the video here: I don’t want to berate the group in such a public way.) they finished one season with flair and the audience really applauded. Clearly they loved it.

The trio didn’t even LOOK at the audience. Not even a smidge of acknowledgement. Perhaps they didn’t want the audience to applaud until they were finished with all the seasons, but the applause made sense and was well deserved. I think not acknowledging the audience dismisses this group of people who have paid money and come to enjoy and be entertained. Without them, after all, the trio would be playing only to themselves.

Oh. Wait. That’s what it looks like they are doing!

26. July 2019 · Comments Off on Back With My Babies · Categories: Ramble

My main oboe and my English horn had been with Mark Chudnow for a while, as they were leaking horribly and I knew other work needed to be done as well. I went to pick them up a few days ago and, ah!, what a difference.

Our instruments can go out of adjustment in subtle ways sometimes, making me think, instead, that it’s either my reeds or me causing problems. EVERY time I take them to Mark I’m reminded of how important upkeep is! I’m grateful to have him close enough that I can drive to and fro (although I hate that drive), so no shipping is involved: I had once decided shipping would be a time saver and while that’s true it also means things might go out of adjustment due to the jostling in shipping.

Next up for me, beginning week after next, is a four-week long run of the musical Wicked. This summer has been void of work aside from teaching the students who have stayed in the area (most do travel), so I’m extremely relieved to get back to work … and back to some income!

Ah, the musician’s life: we don’t get vacation pay and if we have no work we get no checks.

I barely remember playing Wicked, which I did for a three-week run back in 2014. I’m sure it’ll all come back the minute we start playing it, but I look at the music and think, “Really?! I played this before?!” I’ve listened to the recording, though, and watched the conductor video we are provided, and of course I DO recognize the music. So I have no doubt it’ll be back in my fingers in no time.

Now to line up reeds: playing for four weeks, eight shows a week, can be a reed eater. In addition, I overlap Wicked with Opera San José’s Die Fledermaus.

Let the work begin!

31. May 2019 · Comments Off on This Site and Its Future · Categories: Ramble

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.