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!

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!

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!

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?

Facebook.

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.

26. April 2019 · Comments Off on More of Petrushka · Categories: Ramble

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.

Revised:

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!

Revised:

25. April 2019 · Comments Off on Petrushka · Categories: Ramble

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.

07. April 2019 · Comments Off on Envision Oboe · Categories: Ramble

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.