I’m not really one for Marian hymnody but, well … this is so beautiful I’m sort of letting that go for the moment.

Diego Ortiz, Alma Redemptoris Mater a 6 voci, Cantar Lontano, Marco Mencoboni

Pavel Chesnokov: Milost mira (The Mercy of the World)
Kiev Frescoes Choir

And it can be from the comfort of your own home? I’m a fan of Christina Pluhar and L’Arpeggiata, with many thanks to a friend for introducing me (Thanks Edie!) I was happy to land here today:

Goncharov: Krestu Tvoyemu (We Bow Down Before Your Cross)
Illumni Men’s Chorale

Philippe Jaroussky with L’Arpeggiata and Christina Pluhar: Monteverdi “Si dolce”

So sweet is the torment
that lies in my heart,
that I live happily
because of its cruel beauty.
May beauty’s fury
grow wide in the sky
without compassion;
for my devotion shall hold
like a rock against
pride’s unrelenting wave.

False hope,
keep me wandering!
let no peace
nor pleasure befall me!
Evil woman, whom I adore,
deny me the rest
that compassion would give;
amidst infinite pain,
amidst broken hopes
shall survive my devotion.

There is no rest for me
in the warmth or the cold.
Only in heaven
shall I find rest.
If the deadly strike
of an arrow injured my heart,
I shall heal still,
and change my destiny,
death’s very heart
with the same arrow.

If the frigid heart
that stole mine
never has felt
love’s ardour;
if the cruel beauty
that charmed my soul
denies me compassion,
may she die one day
by me pained,
repenting, languishing.

A Prayer of Saint Patrick
Nederland Zingt

Joseph Gregorio: Dona nobis pacem
Illumni Men’s Chorale at Pacific Lutheran University

I’ve heard “Long, Long Ago” since I began learning to play … most likely even on flute, which preceded my oboe studies. I never knew the words. It’s fun to hear it this way, in a pretty arrangement by Dan Forrest. I wonder if I’ll hear it differently when my students play it now. It just might happen!

Thomas Haynes Bayly: Long, Long Ago, arr. Forrest
National Taiwan University Chorus; Jennifer YangChin Chi, Conductor

Tell me the tales that to me were so dear,
Long, long ago, long, long ago,
Sing me the songs I delighted to hear,
Long, long ago, long ago,
Now you are come all my grief is removed,
Let me forget that so long you have roved.
Let me believe that you love as you loved,
Long, long ago, long ago.

Do you remember the paths where we met?
Long, long ago, long, long ago.
Ah, yes, you told me you’d never forget,
Long, long ago, long ago.
Then to all others, my smile you preferred,
Love, when you spoke, gave a charm to each word.
Still my heart treasures the phrases I heard,
Long, long ago, long ago.

Tho’ by your kindness my fond hopes were raised,
Long, long ago, long, long ago.
You by more eloquent lips have been praised,
Long, long ago, long, long ago,
But, by long absence your truth has been tried,
Still to your accents I listen with pride,
Blessed as I was when I sat by your side.
Long, long ago, long ago.

Dan Forrest: Entreat me not to leave you
University of North Texas A Cappella; Jerry McCoy Conductor

That crazy verb! I think it makes some who aren’t in the music business think we “just play”. As in “have fun”. As in “it doesn’t take any energy” and even, perhaps, “anyone can do it, so why do you get paid to play?!”

BUT … I’m not really writing about that tonight. So never mind all that. Silly me ….

Nope, I’m writing about real play. For kids.

Remember that? I sure do. I remember summers of lazy days. I remember beach days. I remember friends coming over and just hanging out. I remember the smell of the grass as we did somersaults. I remember hide ‘n seek I remember when, at the elementary school level, summer school meant signing up for things like art and music and other fun things.

Sadly, the majority of my students rarely experience much, if any, play time. I wonder, sometimes, if perhaps the fact that they are “playing oboe” makes parents think that they are getting relaxing play time via the oboe.

That verb needs to change when it comes to music, I think.

I tell my students to say they “work the oboe”. Yes, sometimes it’s fun. Sometimes it’s playful. But it’s also a lot of hard work.

But true PLAY. That rollicking, fun, carefree thing kids used to do … that kind of play needs to return.

When my students come in the studio door I usually ask, “How are you?” before asking my next, “How’s the oboe?” Sometimes I’ve stopped asking the first question because far too frequently the answer to, “How are you?” is a very sad and weary, “Tired.” This makes me sad and, yes, tired too. Tired of hearing that answer, anyway.

My students are up all hours of the night doing homework during the school year, but it doesn’t seem to slow down much in the summer.

I realize I’m not as smart as some of these kids are when it comes to academics (although they are so used to learning a certain way they often don’t think for themselves in the simplest of ways for some reason), but I wonder how soon they’ll burn out. I wonder if they find any joy in the things they do. I wonder if they know how to just “be” without the doing. Without the work. And mostly, without the stress.

I think I need to give students a new kind of practice chart (I actually don’t USE practice charts, but still….). Maybe I need to have one where they keep track of how much they play.

Without their oboes.