08. January 2006 · Comments Off on My Old Blog · Categories: imported

This page is a compilation of all the posts from my old blog. I doubt many will be interested in this, but I wanted it here to more easily find old posts. Contrary to the way a real blog works, the first post here is my very first post (normally the latest post is featured at the top of the page, but to find my very last post of the old blog you just scroll to the bottom of this very long page). You won’t find many links on this page. The articles I linked to are, I’m sure, long gone anyway. I may eventually try to find any that still exist, but that will take some time. Any links to other pages on my old site have been updated to take the reader to the new site, since the old site is quite out of date.


January 17, 2003

Putting it Together

Welcome to my oboe blog. At this site you will eventually find links to greensheets (for university students), links to interesting oboe sites, information about any upcoming concerts I am performing as well as other concerts I think are worth a mention, and any other news and information I feel like relaying to the world.

Please be patient … getting all of this together may take a while.

January 18, 2003

Meanwhile …
Tonight is opening night for AMTSJ’s Sound of Music.

I loved the movie as a child. I remember my family getting reserved seats at the nearly new Century Theater, and I remember the huge screen (they hadn’t yet split the theater in half or thirds) with Julie Andrews on the top of a beautiful green mountain as the camera swirled around her … or was she doing the swirling? Or perhaps both were swirling? I remember being thrilled. I remember wishing that I was “Sixteen going on Seventeen” (oh to be so old!). I remember my heart pounding as the family was attempting to leave their home in the dark and they were caught. I remember, too, feeling as if the Von Trapp family was cheated because they had to quickly escape rather than pick up their first place trophy.

The musical differs from the movie which was news to me; the last time I played it the director must have rearranged everything so that it matched the movie rather than the original staged version.

Some of the differences: In this version Maria sings “My Favorite Things” while in the Abbey, and Mother Superior even joins in. Rather different than singing it with the children to calm their fears during the thunder storm! And to calm the kids she sings “The Lonely Goatherd” so there’s no puppetry as there was in the movie. Or maybe there is! How would I know? I can’t see the stage.

Is this a favorite show of mine? Far from it! But I still find that there are certain lines … “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help” … or the simple song “Edelweiss” … that can make the emotions swell.

What is it about music that can cause that to happen? And why doesn’t it happen to everyone?

January 25, 2003

New updates!
You can see, to the left, that I’ve added a Students’ Corner. I’ve included not only links to pages for SCU, UCSC and my Private Students, but a list of my upcoming performances as well. Simply click on Performance Schedule and you should see what I’m up to these days.

I will continue to update my schedule as I get more information about what I’ll be doing.

Exciting news:
I will be performing Michael Touchi’s Tango Barroco on March 28th! I love playing this work and it’s great fun to listen to. The work is for soprano sax, English horn and strings. William Trimble will be playing the sax part. We’ll be playing with the San Jose Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Barbara Day Turner.

January 26, 2003

My resumé has been added to the site. Nothing big, but now people can see what I do in the exciting world of music!

January 27, 2003

And people think the soap operas are wild …

I’m playing Il Trovatore with Opera San Jose; opening night is this coming Saturday. I’ve played operas for years, but this is the first time I’ll do this particular Verdi work. I decided I really should read the synopsis to understand what is going on so I did a search online. You can read all about the plot at the the Met’s Il Trovatore synopsis page.

Anyone who ever jokes about the wild and crazy soap opera plots ought to read some opera synopses!

In the writing vein …

I have a new corner at the site. I put up some of my poetry. This is risky; readers may despise it, or I might shatter some notions you have about musicians.

But I’m not asking for critiques. (That’s a not-so-subtle hint!)

Now I wonder … will I need another corner to have a nice triangle, or perhaps two more to be the square sort?

Or maybe I’ll even need five corners. Quintets can be nice.

January 29, 2003

Thinking of auditioning?

Tonight at 9:00, KQED will be showing American Masters: Juilliard. I’ve not seen it, but I would suspect it would be a good thing for any serious music student to watch; if you are considering auditioning for a conservatory this might help you … or scare you away!

One of my oboe teachers gave me an article after I had decided I was going to go into the music profession (why after I’ll never know!). The main point of the article was that a person should attempt this profession only if it’s the only possible profession he or she could possibly imagine. That article was written back in the sixties I think; now it is even more difficult to succeed in this business. Just read the articles at the Arts Journal site and you’ll see how many orchestras are struggling.

Still, I don’t want to discourage students entirely … I just want people to go at this with eyes wide open.

January 30, 2003

Thinking of a performing career?

So you’ve decided the performing life is for you? You’ve weighed the pros and cons and you still know it’s all you’ve ever wanted and you know you simply can’t breathe without it?

Here are a few questions:
1) When did you last attend a live performance?
2) When is the last time you paid to attend a live performance?

Now consider these thoughts:
1) If you don’t attend live performances why do you expect anyone else to yours?
2) If no one pays to attend your performances why and how should you get paid?

So ponder. You can even argue with me! (I know that there are some somewhat “sane” arguments … I’ve come up with a few myself.)

I have more things you could ponder too, but I’ll save some of my thoughts so that I don’t run out entirely in only one post.

Sound of Music and Il Trovatore

What a contrast!
Having the two jobs overlap is wild, indeed. Everything about these two works is so different.

This is a part of my career that I truly love: I get to be in so many different worlds. I get to play such different styles. (I get to see such contrasting audiences!) I get happiness and heartbreak (yesterday, today and Saturday I get them both in one day).

The woman playing Maria in Sound of Music is somewhere around 6 months pregnant. I love hearing her tell the Mother Superior that she is “ready to take the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.” I feel like yelling out “Too late!”

So far I’ve resisted that temptation.

***Those annoying rings and beeps…

Prior to the AMTSJ show, an announcement comes on telling people to kindly shut off all cell phones and pagers during the performance. I’m always wondering just when during the performance people will turn them off. Some people must have decided to do so after they receive that all important phone call.

February 6, 2003

Yet another San Jose arts organization in trouble?

Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley has been in the news; seems that there is trouble brewing. It would have been nice to hear about it from the management rather than first read about it in the Mercury News. As is typical these days, they are low on funds and donations aren’t pouring in. (I think I’d make a donation if they’d promise to change the name to something less annoying!)

But I’m grateful for what I do have … Opera San Jose, while still struggling, seems to be hanging in there, and Irene Dalis seems to know how to manage the group well.

***For the University Students:
I am putting together a page of Expectations that I hope will assist you in your oboe journey. Knowing what I expect of you is a good idea, don’t you think?

***For All Students:
If you are playing forked F instead of left F … stop! And when you have to play forked F remember not to put the Eb key down. Yes?

February 8, 2003

Live music is best …

But what constitutes live music? Would three synthesizers, replacing a full orchestra, be considered live? What if you went to the symphony or opera and saw a machine rather than an entire woodwind section? What would you miss?

It’s the pits …

I am certainly not opposed to the use of electronic instruments, but should they be used to replace the actual original instruments? The new “Virtual Orchestra” is a threat that has already hit the pits.

In order to avoid paying several musicians, machines that cover multiple instruments are being used in the pit. As long as there isn’t any power outage, you still have sound. Perhaps not the expressive sound of an actual wind, string or brass player, but you have sound. Perhaps not the accompaniment that can sway to the intonation problems of a particular singer, or swerve to add or drop a beat when a singer skips something. But you’ll have sound. Is that all that music is?

Read about what is happening on Broadway, and if you agree, sign the petition. http://www.savelivebroadway.com/

Looking for a new instrument?

Click Purchasing an oboe and you’ll go to a page put up by Martin Schuring at Arizona State University.

February 9, 2003

More on Broadway’s Woes …

An article, “Time to Band Together”, is worth a good reading. As is “Battle Over Live Music”. (LInks no longer available.)

On Metronomes …

Just a funny little story I read while at the online Grove Music site. (Hint; you can have 24 hours of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians for free. Sign up when you have a good amount of time because there’s some fun reading there, and it’s great for research.):

For the film composer, to whom split-second timing is important, the metronome is indispensable; but for much of the musical profession it is a mixed blessing. Berlioz told the following story (Memoirs, trans. D. Cairns, 1969):

One day, when I spoke of the metronome and its usefulness, Mendelssohn said sharply, “What on earth is the point of a metronome? It’s a futile device. Any musician who cannot guess the tempo of a piece just by looking at it is a duffer.” I could have replied that in that case there were a good many duffers, but I held my peace … One day he asked to see the score of the King Lear overture, which I had just composed in Nice. He read it through slowly and carefully, and was about to begin playing it on the piano (which he did, with incomparable skill) when he stopped and said, “Give me the right tempo.”

Februrary 16, 2003

A Week Has Gone by …

Sometimes I just don’t know what I’ve done with my time, but this week was busy, and I think I can see by my calendar that I was just twiddling my thumbs.

For one thing, our daughter’s high school mock trial team was in competition. Sadly, after two years of going all the way to National competition they lost in the quarter rounds.

Still, there’s not much to post these days. Opera continues. Teaching goes on as well. I hope those few of you who read this are practicing that oboe! (Assuming, of course, that you play the instrument.)

And war lurks, sad but true.

I oppose this war. I won’t go into the why of it all at this moment, but I agree with much of what is written at my husband Dan’s site. Check it out.

A statistic to get you thinking: over 50% of the population of Iraq is under the age of 15.

A Fabulous Oboe

Try Brian’s Double Reed Page (new note: this website is no longer running) for great oboe information. You’ll find news, a reference library, and much more there!

February 19, 2003

Those Pesky Poets!

Poets Against the War
I say “Good for you!”

Concert tonight at UCSC

The UCSC Wind Ensemble is performing tonight.

8:00. Recital Hall.

February 20, 2003

What If? …

You wound and worked on a reed every other day?
(Sure, take 3 out of 7 days and enjoy an extra day off.)

You do the math.

How many reeds per year would you work on?

Okay, say you take two weeks of vacation too, so deduct that as well.

How many reeds now?

And let’s say your success rate isn’t quite as high as 100%.

Wouldn’t you still have a good number of reeds? And wouldn’t your reed making skills improve immensely?

I think so!

And just think … if you doubled your reed making … TWO reeds per day … you’ve moved up to 300 reeds per year. (I’m saving you the trouble of getting out your calculator. I’m nice that way.)

If you have time to watch TV you have time to work on reeds. (Shoot … if you have time to visit this webpage you have time to work on reeds!)

February 21, 2003

Master Classes at Hidden Valley

John Mack and Thomas Stacy will have master classes at Hidden Valley this year. Mack’s is from June 16-21, and Stacy’s is August 10-17.

Consider attending these; they accept both qualified participants and auditors.

February 24, 2003

Something new …

In case you didn’t notice, there is a new link to the left here: Other Performances of Note includes concerts in which students of mine will be participating. I also plan on putting up any other concerts that would be well worth attending. (New note: this page has been moved but can be found here.

Did anyone watch the Grammy show last night? So what brand of oboe was that anyway … the beautiful light-colored wood one that I saw? I’m sure I should know, and I will certainly research it. I must say I thought the tacked on ending to “Mambo” was poorly written. Oh well. Who am I to criticize the great New York Philharmonic?

To a different subject …


In reading Wendell Berry’s essay that is posted (partially, anyway) at Orion Online, I read these final words and feel compelled to put them here:

… In the years between that victory and September 11, 2001, we did not alter our thinking about peace and war — that is, we thought much about war and little about peace; we continued to punish the defeated people of Iraq and their children; we made no effort to reduce our dependence on the oil we import from other, potentially belligerent countries; we made no improvement in our charity toward the rest of the world; we made no motion toward greater economic self-reliance; and we continued our extensive and often irreversible damages to our own land. We appear to have assumed merely that our victory confirmed our manifest destiny to be the richest, most powerful, most wasteful nation in the world. After the catastrophe of September 11, it again became clear to us how good it would be to be at peace, to have no enemies, to have no more needless deaths to mourn. And then, our need for war following with the customary swift and deadly logic our need for peace, we took up the customary obsession with the evil of other people.

It is useless to try to adjudicate a long-standing animosity by asking who started it or who is the most wrong. The only sufficient answer is to give up the animosity and try forgiveness, to try to love our enemies and to talk to them and (if we pray) to pray for them. If we can’t do any of that, then we must begin again by trying to imagine our enemies’ children who, like our children, are in mortal danger because of enmity that they did not cause.

We can no longer afford to confuse peaceability with passivity. Authentic peace is no more passive than war. Like war, it calls for discipline and intelligence and strength of character, though it calls also for higher principles and aims. If we are serious about peace, then we must work for it as ardently, seriously, continuously, carefully, and bravely as we now prepare for war.

February 24, 2003


Painting by Kelsey Hollis Mitchell

February 27, 2003

The New (old?) Symphony

So I went to my first Symphony San Jose Silicon Valley (please, oh please can’t we rename it?) rehearsals today. It’s been over a year since I’ve been on the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts stage. (Gee, I’m sensing a trend of names that are far too long here.)

You know how sometimes you don’t know you’re missing something when it’s gone?

Well, I was missing symphony without knowing it.

Today made that clear to me.

Sibelius. Beethoven. Full strings and lots of winds. Stage lights and a huge hall we hope will be full this Saturday night.

I’m not certain what will become of this new group, but it sure was good to be playing symphonic music. The musicians are many of the same folks I worked with in the now dead San Jose Symphony; if that group had continued on this would have been my 27th season as the English horn player. In the new group I’m on second oboe so in some ways it feels like a demotion (there isn’t an English horn position at all), but in other ways it feels like a relief because I’m not feeling the stress of huge solos; so far. (I don’t know what will happen when a work calls for solo English horn.)

So here’s a thought:

Who is there that, in logical words, can express the effect music has on us? A kind of inarticulate unfathomable speech, which leads us to the edge of the Infinite, and lets us for moments gaze into that!

Thomas Carlyle, on Heroes, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History (1841)


There is a poll being taken right now on Playbill Online regarding the minimum issue on Broadway pit musicians.

Go to Playbill current poll (link no longer active) and let your voice be heard, or it might end up that a lot of our voices will not be heard, nor will you see us in the pit, the next time you go to a live Broadway show, be it in New York or a local tour.

Live music — WITH live musicians and REAL instruments — is best!

March 4, 2003

Reaching the Carrot

Okay. Here’s the story:

There’s a carrot. It’s hanging right there, in front of your nose.

In my story you are the donkey. Sorry … but at least I’m not calling you an ass!

That carrot is so close you can almost taste it, and you can certainly smell it and see it’s bright, tempting, orange color.

You are so close.

But not close enough.

That’s it! That’s what it’s like to play music so much of the time; you improve, only to find that you can improve some more. So you work all the harder, only to find that all that hard work causes you to improve but also causes you to realize you can improve some more again!

“Be not discouraged!” says this teacher.

Realizing you have “miles to go before you sleep” is a great thing. If you didn’t think you could improve; if you thought you couldn’t be better … well … that is when I would worry and wonder about whether you “had it in you” so to speak.

That carrot? Enjoy it? Smell it. Imagine how good it tastes! Think about what a wonderful thing it will be when you finally grab it in your mouth and crunch down! Write about it. Draw pictures about it. Dream about it. (Practice!)

Occasionally you will even manage to grab a bite. Really. Occasionally you will taste that crunchy sweetness and think “This is it! I made it!”

Guess what?

The carrot will pop out of your mouth and you’ll be fighting to reach it again.

Sometimes, in fact, you’ll even drop the morsel you thought was not going to leave your mouth no matter what … and it will fall on to the ground.

In other words; sometimes you move a bit backwards in your playing and have to fight to move forwards again.

Welcome to the wonderful, exciting, sometimes frustrating, but always living world of music!

March 6, 2003

Missing Boheme


It’s been a while since I’ve played the opera up in San Francisco; I miss it! I miss my orchestra pals. I miss everything about it (except the hour commute).

Working with the conductor, Constantine Kitsopoulos, was an absolute dream. He’s a fantastic conductor and he’s a great guy too. Baz Luhrmann didn’t work directly with me, but whenever I saw him working with the singers he was energetic, kind, fun, and incredibly insightful. He was also gracious. “It’s all about the music” he said. “Let the music say it.” Yay!

And now there might not be live music in that pit. This is impossible to fathom. Remember to vote for live music. Minimums are essential; producers love to cut corners and if we allow them to nix the minimums you can bet that they’ll cut the orchestras down. So vote at the “Playbill current poll” please!

More later . . .

March 8, 2003

A Concert Weekend

I attended the UCSC orchestra performance last night and I enjoyed it greatly! (This performance will be repeated tonight at the UCSC Recital Hall, 8:00 pm.) Tonight at 8:00 I’ll be at the Mission at Santa Clara University to hear that orchestra. How nice that I actually have these two nights free. Unfortunately I don’t have tomorrow afternoon free or I would also go hear the California Youth Symphony perform. Their concert even includes an oboe soloist and I’ve heard excellent things about high school oboist Robert Scott. (However there will be a repeat performance on the 16th of this month up in San Mateo. I may still make it yet!)

Wound any reeds lately?


Kelsey Mitchell, pastels

Going to these performances, as well as the one by SAN JOSE YOUTH SYMPHONY that I attended last week reminds me that I need to post something about orchestra etiquette sometime soon. (Quick note: even if you make a mistake don’t shake your head, look ashamed, or anything else to give it away. Odds are no one noticed, but even if they did they don’t need to have your error pointed out to them again!)

March 11, 2003

Broadway Lights Back On

So they “settled”. Good news. When I think of Constantine, Lynne and Toni (conductor, oboist and child singer in Baz Luhrmann’s La Bohème) I am truly happy!

The Virtual Orchestra isn’t going to take over pits quite yet. I heard that the contract is for 10 years, so that’s also great news. The sad news is that pit minimums went down, and musicals with large orchestras could conceivably cut out some players if they chose to. (Thank goodness Baz Luhrmann is who he is; I can’t imagine he would allow that with Boheme!)

Concert Etiquette

I mentioned a few days ago that I needed to put up a page that covers concert etiquette for both performers and audience. At the performances I attended these past few weeks there were some faux pas on which I’d like to comment. Some may disagree with me and that’s fine, but since this is my site I’m the only one who has a voice (so far … see below to see how you can have one too)! Please note that I didn’t observe all of these things although I observed some, but all these things did come to mind. Know, as well, that I’m not referring to any of my oboe students here! (Some of these were things I noticed that were done by others but do apply to you.) I’m starting with the onstage “stuff” … I’ll save the audience for later since I doubt many audience members visit this site.

  • When the conductor walks on for the first time the orchestra should stand. This is out of respect to the conductor. I’m not sure why some orchestras I observed don’t know about this, but I suggest you pass this on to the concertmaster since that is often the person the rest of the orchestra gets the signal from. (Sometimes it’s the principal cellist instead, since that player usually can see the conductor enter.)
  • As I wrote earlier, never let the audience know you made a mistake! Don’t shake your head. Don’t look annoyed. Don’t look down in shame or up at the ceiling as if asking God “WHY?!” Just look like you are doing your job and you are doing it well. Odds are that much of the time no one has a clue that you’ve blown it. When they do know they get over it much quicker than you might know; you might not be able to move on, but, believe me, they do.
  • When the conductor acknowledges you, stand up. Don’t look at him as if to say “Who … me?” unless you really can’t tell. It just looks silly. Just stand and smile. Nod your head if you want. (You don’t need to bow.)
  • If you are playing second don’t move around more than the first oboist. Doing so makes it seem as if you are trying to lead the principal player, you think (or know) you are better, or you are trying to steal the show. None of those is okay.
  • Don’t play louder than the first chair, even if you think he or she isn’t playing loudly enough. You are to match: you are to match or play under the first in most instances (there are exceptions to this), you are to match the principal’s pitch, and you are to match the principal’s articulations the majority of the time.
  • When the principal gives an A … LISTEN!. Then tune. Don’t play a lot of ditties. Don’t show off. Just tune.
  • This is important: Never play the principal oboe solos if you are sitting second! Don’t warm up with them, and certainly don’t jump in and play one if you think the principal is going to miss it. Don’t do this during rehearsals. Don’t do this before or during concerts. (I know this sounds ridiculous, but someone did this to me once, so I know it can happen!
  • Now this one might anger some of you, and you certainly may disagree! (My husband thought I should leave it out but I’m not always one to acquiesce.) This is about appearances. This is about stage presence. This is about … well … if I can tell that you are wearing a thong under those pants or skirt, or if I can see other bits of underwear, I believe it is inappropriate. You aren’t Madonna. You aren’t the star of the show. Playing in an orchestra is a community effort and you shouldn’t draw attention to yourself in this way. We wear black. We blend together. Now obviously this is my personal opinion (what other kind of opinion could I have?) but there it is.

I’ll stop now. I have more. But isn’t that enough?

Yes … I thought so too.

Now for any of you who actually read this site, why don’t you write to me and tell me how wrong I am! I might even post your responses if they are reasonable. C’mon … take the challenge!

March 12, 2003

Music Sale

I don’t know if any of you can make it to San Francisco, but this is quite a deal! Sadly, I have to work on Saturday and I can’t make it up there. If any of you go let me know and I might give you a shopping list!

Here’s the information:

Byron Hoyt – Purveyors of Fine Music


How sweet it is! Take 75% off ALL in-store merchandise
for one day only THIS Saturday, 15 March

Please keep in mind:
(1) Sale prices are for in-store transactions only;
(2) Purchases may be made on account; and
(3) All sales will be final.

Byron Hoyt
360 Florida Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

March 17, 2003

Etiquette (again?)

Well, I’m not the one writing this time regarding etiquette. This is someone else. And this time it’s about audience members.

I always have mixed feelings about audience members behaving as if they’ve never attended an orchestra concert before; perhaps they haven’t! So what if they applaud in the wrong place? Who cares if they look like they could be doing yard work? (Shoot, some of the performers look the same way, if not even less dressed!)

At the same time, certain behavior does distract others from the performance.

I was at the Santa Clara University performance a short time ago. Two women in front of me, two that I recognized as instructors from the college in fact, were busy passing notes to each other. Now that was distracting!

Oh … but I said that I wasn’t writing this time. Sorry! Just got carried away! I check Arts Journal almost daily, and from that site I was taken to some fun reading.

Here is the article I read: “Can You Hear Me Now?”


March 19, 2003

Just when I was pondering the death of performing groups …

I decided to put together a list of Local Performing Groups. Well, well, well! I’m certain what I’ve compiled doesn’t include absolutely everything in our area, and of course some of these groups barely provide any income (for those of us who are actually trying to make a living off of music), but I was encouraged. This is quite the list! Check it out, and if you have suggestions, additions or corrections please let me know. I’ve included not only professional organizations, but community and youth organizations as well. (I even put in one vocal group, “Chanticleer” because I just couldn’t not mention them!)

War talk

I try to keep my opposition to the war on Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley production. At the same time I begin Magic Flute rehearsals with Opera San Jose. A busy week, to be sure.

See you all real soon!

March 25, 2003

Ornaments, anyone?

I ran across an article online about Baroque Ornamentation via the IDRS website
. I’d mentioned to a few of you that I was going to look for information for you … here you go! I’m sure there are more articles available, and as soon as our computer is working better I’ll do more searching. (Something is up and our server (or router, or whatever it’s called) isn’t cooperating.)

And as I told one of you, do remember that these are ornaments! We still want to see the “tree” for the decorations.

March 27, 2003

A quick note

Okay … this site has been up and down. So has email. You can read more about that at the “pattyo” because I don’t want to go into the story yet again. But if you really need to reach me it would be best to try oboe at speakeasy dot net for the time being; I will check that email every day until we figure out what the problem is with our server/router … whatever the darn thing is called!

March 28, 2003

I’m Here!

Yes, indeed, things seem to be working today. There are still occasional gitches, but things seem to be working and my regular email address, oboe at planetmitchell dot com is working for now.

Tonight, Tonight …

… is Tango Barroco night. Am I nervous? (Do you students wonder if we old professional types get nervous?) Come to the concert and see what you think!

Say Goodbye to Spring Break

Please remember to keep in mind that I do have Expectations for university students. Just a friendly reminder. And I’ll see you all soon!

March 31, 2003

Welcome Back!

I’ll be at SCU this morning (Hi Madeline!) and UCSC tomorrow morning (Sara! Kate!). I’m looking forward to meeting with you all, and getting back to work. I want to spend some time talking about practice techniques; I’m starting to wonder what each of you do for your practice time, and perhaps the best way to find out is to have a lesson at which you each simply “practice” while I observe. I think I’ll have some helpful hints … but maybe you’ll all surprise me and I’ll just get to enjoy your playing. Time will tell!

The Concert

Tango Barroco went well. I had such a great time playing. I wish some of you could have come, but I realize making the trek to Villa Montalvo is difficult and requires money as well. If I ever get comps I can hand out I’ll put that notice here … a good reason to check the website on occasion!

Speaking of which, I begin rehearsals for ballet (The Tempest put on by Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley) and opera (The Magic Flute with Opera San Jose) this week. See the “performance schedule” for performance dates and times. There’s a chance I’ll have comps and there’s also a possibility that OSJ will have an open dress rehearsal I could invite you to attend. Again, check this website for those possibilities.

Oboe Movies

I want to start a page listing movies in which oboes take a part. Immediately coming to mind are The Mission and Enchanted April. Know of any others? Let me know! I might add good movies that involve any musicians as well.

I’ve always struggled with “music movies” because they often don’t portray the musician’s life in a realistic manner; they love to romanticize the career. But there are a few movies that do show us in a rather believeable way (which means we aren’t always perfect and we can be joe-average too!).

April 2, 2003


Just some quotes today, from W. H. Auden … read, think, enjoy!

No good opera plot can be sensible, for people do not sing when they are feeling sensible.

Music is the best means we have of digesting time.

What the mass media offers is not popular art, but entertainment which is intended to be consumed like food, forgotten, and replaced by a new dish.

April 8, 2003


It is always encouraging to hear students who have practiced. This week has, so far, been an incredibly encouraging week! Thanks to all of you who have taken your assignments seriously. I’m hearing cleaner, accurate scales. I’m hearing difficult etudes taking shape. Solos are coming along. I’m hearing music! Keep up the good work … remember my “reaching the carrot” entry.

Don’t give up!

Another Concert

Recently I received an invitation to play the Albinoni Double Oboe Concerto, Opus 7, No. 5. Pamela Hakl, the oboe instructor at San Jose State University will be playing first and I’ll be on second. I’ll post more details as I get them, but I do know the performance will be on May 9th, somewhere in Sunnyvale.

April 9, 2003

Albinoni Double Oboe Concerto

Here’s the updated and correct information:

8:00 at First United Methodist Church
Campbell (not Sunnyvale, as I originally thought)
1675 Winchester Blvd

(I’ll list the rest of the program when I get that information. I believe this is with a group from West Valley College, but I can’t find a thing at their website about the music department!)

April 14, 2003

Instrument Safety

I very rarely talk about keeping instruments safe. Silly of me, really. I’m on the mail lists of both the IDRS and a “Double Reed List” (can’t locate link). I can’t tell you how often I receive notices regarding stolen instruments! A recent message said that an oboe had been stolen from a locker at the CSU Northridge music building. Not a good story; some college student is now minus an oboe and that isn’t a happy thing.

So … notes on safety:

  • First bit of advice, and this is simply about making sure your instrument doesn’t crash to the floor: Never leave your instrument on a stand unless you are right next to it! I have seen far too many instruments left on the stand while the musician is elsewhere. First of all, anyone can knock the thing over, but remember, too, that California is earthquake country. If the instrument crashes to the floor I can nearly guarantee it will need major repairs. And don’t leave the instrument anywhere near the edge of a table either. If you were here during the 1989 earthquake (and are old enough to remember it!) you’d know why I write that.
  • In connection to the former, please don’t ever leave your instrument just standing on its own. This seems a ridiculous thing to even have to write, but I have seen several students balance their oboes on the floor, thinking that the oboe will just plant itself in place and not tip over. Dumb. (I say “dumb” in the kindest way … but really, it is dumb!)
  • Don’t leave your instrument unattended. Ever. Not in a practice room. Not unpacked in a dorm room. If you leave the location to do something for even a minute pack the thing up. It doesn’t take that much time and you are better off for it. (I’m talking dorm rooms and various places where other people roam; of course leaving an instrument in a safe spot in the privacy of a room not shared with anyone else is usually okay … unless you have a pesky animal that might want to try its hand at the oboe!)
  • Don’t leave your instrument in a car, even if you lock the car. (I don’t know about your instrument insurance, but mine won’t cover theft if the instrument was stolen from a car, unless it was in the trunk. And I never recommend leaving an instrument in the trunk; it’s a bad idea!)
  • If you must leave your instrument in a dorm room, put it someplace out of sight. Talk to your roommate about the importance of locking the room. Never tell people that you have something of value in your room. (I did that with my English horn back when I was in college and, sure enough, it was stolen. I’m sure that it was someone from my dorm floor … I was in a huge, multi-story dorm and it is quite unlikely that anyone from the outside could even get in.)
  • While on tours never leave your instrument in a hotel room. If your instrument is stolen from that room there are a number of suspects but I can tell you that hotels aren’t as sympathetic as you might expect. They have warnings about leaving valuables in a room. Leave it in the hotel safe (if they have one and there’s room) or take it with you.

    And by the way …

    Do you have instrument insurance? If you are still under your parents’ “rule” your homeowners might cover the instrument. If you are no longer a minor or a college student you need to make sure that you have insurance on your instrument!

    April 16, 2003

    My Silly Ditty

    I had mentioned a poem to one of my students. It’s something I wrote in jest. (Now please don’t go thinking this was written about one of you; I wrote this quite some time ago and it was actually a metaphor! In reality it’s about a poet who was running a poetry workshop, and what he must have felt like as he worked with me on a poem!) So here it is, for your amusement, enjoyment, and maybe even dismay since I am certainly not a True Poetic Genius!


    The virtuoso played with a beginner.
    He knew that she could learn to make notes sing.
    In hearing her he thought he heard a glimmer
    of that which causes melody to ring.

    Even through the screeching he stood by her,
    so certain that his pain was soon to end.
    But finally frustration turned to anger;
    she couldn’t learn his way, he couldn’t bend.

    One final day she came to see the teacher.
    She tried to understand all that he said.
    He took his strings and wrapping tight around her
    violin, pulled, strangling it till dead.

    … and by the way, I promise never to try and strangle any of your oboes!

    April 20, 2003

    A Wonderful Easter to You All

    No bunnies for us here. No egg hunts either. It’s a different Easter for me, thank you very much!

    A Poem For Your Perusal

    … or is it, for this lowly writer, a bit of humiliation to put these little things out here in the real world? I’m not sure! I love to write poetry, though, and this was a result of my poetry group’s study of Sapphics:

    Song without Words,

    Grasp the wooden violin, touch it, breathe it,
    let its rich and velvety smoothness thrill you,
    tempt you, tease you. Fashion your dream of playing;
    hopes will not harm you.

    Why can’t music transfer to words of beauty?
    Can the cello’s tone be a color? Orange? Purple?
    Taste a trumpet’s tone; is it rich with flavor?
    How can we know this?

    Listen to the cry of the oboe, calling
    listeners, leading, drawing them to a slow march.
    Only when the music has stopped do hearers
    realize they’re dying.

    (This version completed 4/16/03. Please do not copy or use without my permission.)

    April 22, 2003

    Hands Hurt?

    I have come to realize that I am blessed with very strong hands. It is rare for me to have hand pain, even when I play the slightly more awkward and heavier English horn. Alas, only my hands are fit while the rest of my body is, well, lacking fitness, but at least I have “buff” hands!

    For those of you who are struggling, though, I would suggest trying something to support the oboe so your right hand is released from the oboe-holding responsibility. There is a device called “Fhred” that you could use. Yes, I wrote that name correctly (sorry to say!). It’s available at “Quodlibet Inc.”. Using a neck strap is definitely not something I would recommend. Nor would your neck.


    Tomorrow I’m back on stage with Symphony San Jose Silicon Valley. The program we are doing (concert is Saturday) includes five works. Seems like it might be one long concert. I’ll be playing 2nd oboe and English horn.

    Sometimes doubling isn’t a big deal, but in this case I have the big solo in the Overture from William Tell. There are composers that had no sympathy for a player; Rossini wrote absolutely no notes for the English horn prior to the solo. Instead he expected the first oboist (yes, the solo is written in the first oboe part but it’s often played by a different musician) to switch to English horn after blasting away on oboe for a while. Silly man. For those of you who wonder how I handle it … I cheat! I play some 2nd oboe notes prior to the solo on English horn just to get some warm air through the instrument (and to make sure that the reed is working).

    Oh … for those of you who don’t know the term; doubling means I’m playing two instruments. A doubler, on the other hand, is one who plays instruments that aren’t from the same family. For instance one person might be required to play flute, clarinet, oboe, English horn and sax. Really! A lot of musicals call for doublers, which leaves me out (sniffle sniffle), while some musicals call for an oboe double which means I will play and will, most likely, be playing English horn. (Other instruments in the oboe family include the oboe d’amore, bass oboe and Heckelphone but those are rarely used.)

    April 22, 2003

    Interesting Article

    I just happened upon a fun little read, and I would recommend it to any readers here as well. Go to Once Upon a Time in America and get a little American music history. Of course I haven’t taken the time to verify that all it states is fact, so don’t sue me if there are errors in the article. But it sure is interesting!

    According to the article there was a time, early on, when some folks grew tired of the crummy hymns; gee sounds just like today! And yet another time, in the late 1800s, when a conductor states that “Henceforth, music at the fair will be presented as entertainment.”

    Nothing new under the sun?

    Got Reeds?

    pastel by Kelsey Mitchell

    After you read … go reed. Wind a few. It (*probably) won’t hurt you and it might do you some good!

    *I say probably because I do know that some of you have gone a bit wild with your knives! Do be careful; there’s nothing like trying to play with a sliced finger or two!

    Concert Approaching

    I’m in the middle of rehearsals for Symphony San Jose Silicon Valley and it is quite a delight to have the excellent conductor Paul Polivnick leading the way. He’s musical. He has a great ear. He’s easy to follow. He keeps fabulous time. And he leads the rehearsals in a most respectful way. I do hope he returns.

    I’ve never played Mendelssohn’s 3rd before, being, primarily, the English hornist of the dead San Jose Symphony. It’s a tough piece! I would recommend that all students get a copy of both the first and second parts and learn them; they are good to have in the excerpt folder!

    San Jose Center for the Performing Arts
    Saturday, April 26, 8:00 pm

    Live music is best!

    April 26, 2003

    Couldn’t Resist

    The other day I was shopping with two of our kids, and we went into a store I wouldn’t ever shop in for myself. But there … right there … yelling buy me was a shirt I couldn’t not buy. Really.

    Now I don’t like putting pictures of myself on this particular page; there’s one elsewhere, and one picture of me is more than enough! But since some friends have asked to see the picture I’m going to put it up here and let you gawk at me.

    (Here is where I take a deep breath and put the picture up.)

    Ready? … Set … Go!


    Concert Tonight

    The Symphony San Jose Silicon Valley-isn’t-this-the-dumbest-name-ever had a performance tonight. First on the program was the Overture to William Tell and I got to play the fun English horn solo in the work (think the movie Bambi Meets Godzilla). It went well. I am happy.

    Sometimes life can be that simple.

    April 28, 2003

    Another Music Festival

    Something new … and something some of you might consider, is a music festival called music@menlo. It takes place in Atherton and Palo Alto. There are concerts, there are workshops … and it looks wonderful! I have been browsing the site and I can’t believe all the fabulous things I’m reading, including young performers’ concerts and shorter free concerts for families. Visual arts are included as well. Who could ask for anything more (as long as chocolate is found somewhere … anywhere … on the premises!).

    The oboist in residence will be Allan Vogel, principal oboist of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

    So check out the site. Consider attending. Do it!

    May 3, 2003


    Learn your scales. Period. No excuses. Don’t ignore them. Don’t put them off until later in your practice routine. Begin with them (once you’ve gotten your reed to vibrate). Play then every time you practice!

    This seems fairly obvious to me, but I am realizing that what is obvious to one might not be obvious to another.

    Sing it with me: “We start at the very beginning. A very good place to start. When we read we begin with A-B-C; When we sing we begin with Do-Re-Mi.”

    Get the picture!?

    Scales are essential. After my beginning students learn just a few things they begin scales. I am a bit surprised at how many students who have come from other teachers haven’t memorized scales.

    Scales are building blocks. Or your alphabet. Or simple math. They must be memorized. I always begin with major scales and I move to the chromatic the minute a student has enough fingerings learned. Then we move on to minor and whole tone scales. Understand the “scale formulas”. Sing scales when you are away from the oboe. Get them under your skin!

    In other words: Learn your scales!

    (I guess those were the same words I began with, actually. What more can, or should, I say?!)

    ***May 5, 2003

    ***A Fun Read

    I just ran across and enjoyable read that some of you might take a look at. It’s called How To Enjoy A Live Concert. The title says it all. Much of the information will already be known to you, since I know that you all have attended live concerts by now! Yes? If you haven’t … what in the world are you doing taking oboe lessons?!

    (I’m not joking; if you don’t attend concerts, I’m really not sure why you are studying an instrument. If you can explain it to me maybe I’ll be more understanding, though.)

    Anyway, check out the site. Read it. Learn something. Or not.

    ***May 8, 2003

    ***Albinoni Double Oboe Concerto

    Tomorrow night, May 9th, Pamela Hakl and I will peform the Albinoni at the First United Methodist Church on Winchester Boulevard in Campbell. (It’s very near the intersection of Hamilton Avenue and Winchester.) We had our one and only rehearsal today. Great fun!

    The first half of the concert begins with choral music. I believe all of it is more contemporary, but I can’t say for sure, as I didn’t hear it all. I do know the title for the program is “From Vivaldi to Verve” (although, to be honest, we are actually moving from Verve to Vivaldi!). The singers are from West Valley College. Our concerto is at the end of the first half.

    The second half uses a larger choir, and is all Vivaldi, ending with the Magnificat (Pam and I play one movement of that as well).

    Sometimes playing music is a joy. Today was one of those days!

    ***May 9, 2003


    Had a great time. Wish you could have been there.

    The second half wasn’t all Vivaldi, by the way; they also did Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus (I hope I’m spelling that correctly). What a wonderful work that is.

    For me, there is nothing like the sound of human voices blending together. Sometimes the harmonies just send me … I don’t know where … but it’s a beautiful place. I could stay there for a very long time and I would be quite content. I wish I could sing well, but my voice doesn’t really cooperate. But of course that isn’t news to any of you who have listened to me attempt to sing during lessons!

    Now it’s a bit of rest for me. Everything is winding down. Performances. Teaching. School. It’s all rapidly coming to a close. Except for those of you who stick around for the summer … and let me tell you I’m so glad that you do! When school comes to a close the world doesn’t stop turning, time doesn’t stand still … and music and practice should continue as well.

    Need I remind university students to practice and know your math … um … I mean scales! The same goes to private students, but you don’t have to worry about a grade. Just the possibility of a mean and/or grumpy teacher! But seriously, don’t slack off. Just because things are winding down doesn’t mean you should relax your standards and neglect your practice routine. Keep on keepin’ on … as “they” (whoever they are) say. Besides, while I say it is winding down, there are still four more weeks of lessons at both UCSC and SCU, right?

    ***May 10, 2003

    ***What to Do?

    I have very few concerts in the near future. So I can do several things. I could:

  • Weed the backyard which looks more like a jungle than a yard
  • Wash the windows
  • Make reeds
  • Practice, practice, practice!
  • Listen to the Giants game.
  • I suffer from allergies and I’m lazy, so I’ll skip the first idea, and that really should be done before the windows so forget those! I’m taking a bit of a rest from “reeding” and practicing today; I had the concert last night, and I taught a couple of students today, so I think I can allow myself a day of respite.

    SO … GO GIANTS!!!

    What will you do? You could always go to a concert. To find out what’s going on, try visiting this Concert List Site.

    ***May 13, 2003

    ***More Fun Quotes

    “You can’t possibly hear the last movement of Beethoven’s Seventh and go slow.”

    – Oscar Levant, explaining his way out of a speeding ticket.

    “Never look at the trombones, it only encourages them.”
    – Richard Strauss

    “Already too loud!”
    – Bruno Walter, at his first rehearsal with an American orchestra, upon seeing the players reaching for their instruments.

    “You know that I become quite powerless whenever I am obliged to write for an instrument which I cannot bear.”
    – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, in a letter to his father, after being commissioned to compose flute music.

    ***Oboe Recital

    San Francisco Conservatory has a student recital (graduate) listed for oboist Meave Cox. Anyone who is considering a career on oboe might try to make it to the recital and see what is going on at the conservatory level. It’s at an awkward time: Sunday, May 18, 11:00 am, but maybe some of you can work that out.

    You can read all about all upcoming performances at the conservatory at: http://www.sfcm.edu/calendar/index.html

    ***May 14, 2003


    Yes … summer is just around the corner! I’m sure many of you are counting down the days. School will end soon. There will be no more homework. (Except for those of you who subject yourself to summer school.) You will have time to do other things. Isn’t that grand?

    So what will you do? I hope you’ll continue to play. For some reason some people get the idea that the oboe can stay packed up and all that was learned over the past 9 months will be remembered when September rolls around. Sing along with me: “It ain’t necessarily so …”. I can guarantee, in fact, that if you don’t play over the summer you will lose a great deal of what you’ve learned. I can promise you that your “oboe chops” will suffer. The next time you try to play your mouth will rebel. And unplayed instruments and reeds don’t just patiently wait to be put back to work. Oh no! They do odd things. They get cranky. They fight back when you finally pull them out. Some reeds just up an die, or so it feels to me.

    So think now about what your plans are. It’s a great time to make reeds. It’s a great time to practice.

    I would also recommend going to some live concerts. Recently I heard that yet another orchestra bit the dust. See ’em while there are still some to be seen (and heard). Summer concerts can be great fun, too … lots of them are more relaxed. Some are outdoors. (Although, as a performer who has done a number of outdoor concerts, those aren’t our faves; inhaling a fly, or having a bug crawling up your nose as you try to play … ah yes … memories!) And don’t forget about music@menlo! Think about other music festivals. (In the near future I’ll put a list of local festivals up at the site.) I’m hoping, too, to see if I can pull a little musical gathering together at my home … we’ll see! It actually depends a lot on students; if everyone leaves town I can’t very well get you all here, right?

    And one last recommendation that is sometimes about music, sometimes not: Stanford Theatre, in Palo Alto, shows a lot of classic movies. They are fabulous, and not terribly expensive. I highly recommend them. On Wednesday (here’s the music part) they often do a silent film and they have an organist play. It is absolutely a blast to go see and hear!

    ***May 15, 2003

    ***Selling Out?

    Sometimes I wonder if I’m selling out when I’m playing in something that is simply abominable in some way. Sometimes I wonder if I’m selling out if I’ve been hired by an organization I don’t agree with. It’s a difficult situation we musicians sometimes have to contend with, and those in other arts areas also have to deal with as well. It is something that any of you who go on to a professional life will eventually be faced with too.

    I remember when a colleague was asked to play for an advertisement for a political party she opposed. She was torn; we need income, but we also have to deal with ethics and pride and beliefs. She wound up getting off easy; they canceled the job.

    I remember walking away from a worst performance ever and overhearing a patron saying to another “Now that was real music! They should do this all of the time!” So we made some people happy with garbage. Do I take satisfaction in knowing someone went away satisfied, or do I walk away grieving because the person didn’t know any better, or is it a little of both? These are things I ponder.

    I’m involved with the Beyond Arts Forum for quite some time. Karen, the wonder-woman who is Beyond (I mean that in the best of ways, Karen!) posed this question of “selling out” today, and that’s why I’m thinking about this right now. Check out this “Adbusters article”, and think on it for a while. It really is a puzzlement. People deserve to make money at what they do. People need to eat. How much should we do … how far should we go … in order to “make it”? Where does one draw the line?

    You may as well be prepared for what will, I’m sure, eventually come your way. Check out the “Beyond Blog” while you’re at it! It’s good reading … makes you think … thinking is good. Really.

    Then go to a performance!

    ***May 16, 2003


    Aaron Copland is fairly well known for his works that are somewhat like little snippets of Americana. Everyone, or nearly everyone, can whistle or sing or at least hum or, if none of those, recognize “Simple Gifts” which is a piece he took from the Shakers and made famous in Appalachian Spring. (And yes, that’s how it is spelled … it is not, as some think, Springs. Or maybe I’m the only one who ever made that error. I wonder.) His music is often very moving and often plain and simple. I like that about him. He used a lot of fourths. I like that too. And fun rhythms. Yes. Fun. He also wrote much more complex work, but those pieces aren’t as widely recognized.

    Anyway, it seems appropriate (I’m not sure why, but that’s the way it seems to me!), for the time being, to put up an Aaron Copland quote. Enjoy it. It’s … very … deep … ??

    The whole problem can be stated quite simply by asking, ‘Is there a meaning to music?’ My answer would be, ‘Yes.’ And ‘Can you state in so many words what the meaning is?’ My answer to that would be, ‘No.’
    – Aaron Copland (1900 – 1990)

    (Did I make you laugh? Or at least smile?)

    ***May 18, 2003

    ***Reed Making

    Yes, reed making is difficult. Yes, it is frustrating. Yes, it takes a lot of time. But if you don’t do it, you’ll be in even worse shape! So hang in there. Keep trying. Remember that each reed you work on is one reed closer to that great reed you’re eventually going to make! Really.

    Anyway, as you struggle, keep track of what you are doing … try new things with each reed. Thinner tip? More off the back? And don’t forget to leave a spine and those rails! Let the heart remain a heart … don’t cut it out! The uncarved portions of the reed are equally important. While winding remember: center that reed on the tube. Keep that cane straight. Don’t wind above the tube.

    And one of the most important things? Keep that knife sharp!

    Since I’ve been hearing from a number of students about the frustrations of reed making I’ve done a search for any sites that talk about the craft. So far I’ve only found three that include the scrape we use (American, not French). But it’s a start. So check out the “Reed Making Sites” link and visit those sites. Maybe something you read at one of these will hit you and the reed making lightbulb will shine brightly for you!

    Lastly, I will say what I’ve said to so many of you before: Learn to play well on bad reeds! It’s often what we have to do.

    ***May 20, 2003

    ***Music & Baseball

    I’m a baseball fan. It’s really pretty odd; I was always the non-sports person when I was growing up. I was the last chosen for a team, if I was chosen at all. I mostly did the “duck and cover” routine if a ball was headed my way in softball or volleyball or any other game that had the word ball attached to it. I was the one who chased the tennis balls because I was too horrible to bother trying to actually play. I watched college football only for the halftime show. (This was back in the day when I thought marching band had something to do with music!) I didn’t really understand most sports; I couldn’t even remember which games needed high scores to win and which needed low scores.

    Now I’m a baseball fan. A “San Francisco Giants” fan, to be specific. Funny, don’t you think? I’m typing this as the game is being broadcast on my little transistor radio. (Our “earthquake special” radio.)

    It’s 6-0, Giants are ahead. Top of the 8th. Barry hit a home run in the 1st inning!

    Being a musician isn’t like being a baseball player in oh-so-many ways. First, of course, is the pay. We obviously don’t earn quite the salary a major league baseball player makes. “We” includes even the top folks in the major symphony orchestras. And our batting average … well … if I “batted” .288 I don’t think I’d be asked to play any more, Barry. We also don’t get three strikes before we’re called out. We have a chance to play our solos, and when the solo is over, it’s over. We play well (home run … but the “crowd” doesn’t cheer right after we do it) or we bomb (strike out) or we do so-so (what would that be … maybe bases on balls?). Such is life.

    It’s 6-5, Giants are leading. Bottom of the 8th. What is going on?!

    I’ve often wanted to do a concert like a ball game, though. I wish we could do a fun show where we could give each other high fives if we nail a solo. I’d like to toss out a player who is having a bad night, and bring in a replacement. I’d love to take the conductor out of the game if he or she isn’t doing well, or maybe just pull the conductor after we’ve seen enough of that person. It would be fun to get to yell at someone if I was frustrated … even if it meant I’d be thrown out of the “game” for the night. Of course I’d know that I could probably come back the next night if we were doing more than one performance or perhaps have a few days of rest as punishment, with a “small” fine compared to my now much higher imaginary baseball salary … do you think they’d give us a baseball salary for the shows? The string players could chew their gum and blow bubbles as they play.

    It’s still 6-5, Giants are leading, bottom of the ninth, 2 outs.

    And, well … we could spit if we felt like it.

    The Giants just won the game!

    ***May 21, 2003

    ***Pit & Stage Stories

    I have a ton of fun stories. I’ve occasionally told them to people. They often suggest that I write them down somewhere. Someday I just might get them all in print. We’ll see.

    Meanwhile, I ran across a fun little story by someone else, and it reminded me of the time I was in the pit for Camelot. It was a touring show, starring Richard Harris as King Arthur. In an early scene he’s hiding out in a tree, fearful of meeting his bride to be. She happens upon him, and they begin to talk. During one show there was suddenly a little sound coming from somewhere. A baby’s cry. Soon the cry became louder and more intrusive. Arthur and Guenevere continued to “chat” but at one point Arthur (Harris of course) paused and then said “Excuse me, but did you bring a baby with you?” or some such thing, to which she responded “No, did you?” He replied, “No, but I seem to be hearing one.”

    There was a bit of laughter and a bit of applause. I didn’t hear the baby after that!

    Sounds from the audience can be incredibly annoying, not just to the people sitting nearby, but to the performers. Recently, of course, cell phones have been the biggest nuisance. Below is the story someone sent my way. I’ll include the first portion as well, since it’s an interesting little tidbit about a see-through bassoon. (Excuse the person’s over abundance of exclamation points. Sometimes I go hog wild with those as well! !! !!!):

    Last night at the Philharmonie in Berlin I saw in a display case a
    plexiglass bassoon made by Kohlert in 1940. It was a scream, and I pointed
    it out to the principal bassoon of the Dallas Symphony, Wilfred Roberts. He
    got a kick out of it too!!!! A see through bassoon was definitely
    different!!! Perhaps, it would cause one to use the swab a little more!!!

    Also I cell phone went off in the middle of a Don Giovanni opera performance
    at the Comic Opera in Berlin. It was during a dialogue section, and the
    singer immediately stopped and said, THIS MELODY IS NOT IN DON GIOVANNI….A
    good laugh was had by all….

    ***May 22, 2003


    Yesterday Sara Hatfield had a scholarship audition at UCSC. She played the third Schumann Romance and the first movement of the Hindemith. I received an email from her a short time ago … and she has made it into the finals!


    ***May 23, 2003

    *** Why I am not a physicist

    “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.”
    -Albert Einstein

    More later …

    ***It’s later

    Okay … I’m really not a physicist because I’m not smart enough! I confess.

    But ahhhh music!

    There is music that bows me to the ground. It seeps into me … gets deep to what I can only call my soul for lack of a better word. (Besides, maybe it is my soul!) It causes me to become entirely silent and motionless, after I have fallen to my knees or just find myself lying prone on the floor.

    The slow movement of Mahler 5 will do it to me. And just now I experienced a moment in Copland’s Appalachian Spring that does it as well.

  • Gabriel Fauré’s Suite from Pelléas et Mélisande
  • Gustav Mahler’s Rückert Lieder
  • Samuel Barber’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (slow movement) and of course his Adagio for Strings
  • Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Variations on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
  • Sergei Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet (Try the balcony scene!)
  • Maurice Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major (2nd movement)
  • Giacomo Puccini’s Crisantemi (Chrysanthemums)
  • So there you have it, oh dear friends who are asking me to make a list! (Yes, there are friends who would like my “top ten” list.) This is my brief list of “music to cry for” or some such thing. And of course I could add a lot more but this is a good start, don’t you think?

    ***May 24, 2003

    ***Another for the Top 10

    This will actually make it 11, but too bad because I can’t forget to mention Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite as it has one of the most wonderful moments; the final movement is absolutely incredible. If you can only listen to one, pick the last, but I do recommend you listen to the Suite in its entirety. (I also recommend you make sure to pick the suite and not the complete ballet. Maybe the ballet works best with dancers … for me the suite is better.)

    ***May 26, 2003

    ***A Newly Discovered Oboe Site

    I’ve been wasting the day perusing oboe sites. Some, which I’ve seen before, I’m managing to actually read. (Why do I always mispell read as reed first?!)

    Due to my reading, I want to warn all of you not to use a pliers on your tubes if the reed is too open or closed. I’m hoping I’ve mentioned this too all you reed makers already, but I fear I have not. One site I’ve linked to has some wonderful suggestions for reed making, but the pliers is not one of them! You should be using tubes that fit your mandrel; those that don’t fit should be dumped or turned into jewelry or art work. If a reed it too open or too closed it has more to do with the cane or the carving.

    While reading through sites, and searching on combinations of “oboe words”, I came across “Oboes For Idgets”. Now I’m certainly not saying that anyone who is reading this blog is an idiot … in no way is that true! … but there are some handy dandy little tidbits at this site. It includes a good list of oboe brands, a page of suggested repertoire and method books, and even some tips, comments on bad habits, and repair suggestions. One note: the page that shows a cute little player with her “perfect embouchure” … well, in my opinion it isn’t perfect. She needs to bring (all my students will recognize what I’m about to write) “corners forward” (think “ewwww” not “eeeee”) and head up. I like the flat chin, though.

    Quote for the day:

    “There are certain things in which mediocrity is intolerable: poetry, music, painting, public eloquence. What torture it is to hear a frigid speech being pompously declaimed, or second-rate verse spoken with all a bad poet’s bombast!”
    -Jean De La Bruyére (1645-1696) French writer, moralist
    “Of Books,” aph. 7, Characters (1688)

    ***May 28, 2003

    ***MQOD (music quote of the day)

    “There is something suspicious about music, gentlemen. I insist that she is, by her nature, equivocal. I shall not be going too far in saying at once that she is politically suspect.”

    -Thomas Mann (1875-1955) German author, critic Herr Settembrini, in The Magic Mountain, ch. 4, “Politically Suspect,” (1924), trans. by H.T. Lowe-Porter (1928)

    ***San Francisco Ballet

    They’ve finally hired a new conductor … so maybe they’ll finally hold a principal oboe audition too. Who knows?

    ***Summer Music?

    Still not sure what you’re doing this summer? It’s a wee bit late (or more than a wee bit!) to attempt to get into any summer music programs, but give this site a try and see if you can find anything that has openings. Shoot, at least it will give you ideas for next summer! (I’m sure the list isn’t comprehensive. You can even try your own searches online.)

    ***May 29, 2003


    People whose sensibility is destroyed by music in trains, airports, lifts, cannot concentrate on a Beethoven Quartet.

    -Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)

    ***May 30, 2003


    Why do we teach music? Not because we expect you to major in music. Not because we expect you to play and sing all your life. Not so you can relax. But so you will be human. So you will recognize beauty. So you will be sensitive. So you will have something to cling to. So you will have more love, more compassion, more gentleness, more good, in short, more life. Of what value will it be to make a prosperous living unless you know how to live? That is why we teach music.


    (If anyone can tell me who wrote this I would love to know!)

    In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve added a few new things recently. If you check out “Audition Lists” you’ll see both “Music School Audition Lists” and “Orchestra Audition Lists”.

    ***May 31, 2003


    Opera in English is, in the main, just about as sensible as baseball in Italian.

    -H. L. Mencken.

    ***Thinking about taking a stab at conducting?

    Hah! Read this:

    David Tilling, of Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, thrust the baton through his hand while rehearsing Land of Hope and Glory, by Elgar. He finished conducting the piece but then collapsed.

    For more pain just read the rest of the article

    ***June 1, 2003


    “I think I should have no other mortal wants, if I could always have plenty of music. It seems to infuse strength into my limbs and ideas into my brain.
    Life seems to go on without effort, when I am filled with music.

    -George Eliot (1819 -1880)

    Dana Gioia is the new NEA chairman. I’m hoping he can do something about the funding we so desperately need, as well as doing something regarding the visibility and availability of the Arts to the masses. That’s a lot to ask and expect though, isn’t it? Needless to say, the Arts have been considered “dangerous” to so many in Washington. Ah yes, we are a scary bunch, aren’t we?! Read a bit about Mr. Gioia in the New York Times article George W. Bush and the Poet.

    And in other interesting news … here’s a teaser:

    “Mom,” he drawled in that Dr. Evil voice adolescents master so well, “I’m feeling alien-a-ted.” And he went back to reading Calvin and Hobbes.

    By intermission, things were looking up. My 12-year-old, it turns out, loved the experience — the goose bumps he felt hearing 50 musicians play together as one, right there in front of him.

    ***June 2, 2003


    Oh dear, oh dear … I was going to feature a very small bit of dialogue from a very funny script (but then read the rules at the Prairie Home Companion site.) So I had to delete the brief snippet (I don’t want to be arrested for breaking copyright rules!). But the segment is funny, and you can always read or hear it for yourself. Sorry I can’t feature it as the MQOD, though.

    So, in keeping with humor for today, here’s another:

    Military justice is to justice what military music is to music.

    -Groucho Marx (1890-1977)

    ***June 3, 2003


    “Use what talent you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.”

    -Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933) American scholar, educator, lyricist

    ***Recital on Thursday

    I’ll be playing in a recital at De Anza College on Thursday. The music is by Paul Setziol, an instructor at the college. The first work is for clarinet and English horn, and the second is for clarinet, English horn and piano. Both works look manageable until trying to play it with the other musicians. Something about counting! Lots of interesting time signatures … in the first piece we move from 5/8 to 4/4 to 9/8 to 4/4 to 10/8 to 4/4 to 5/8 to 4/4 to 5/8 to 4/4. Yes, really! And within those various time signatures we have very interesting rhythms against each other. (I can’t even really describe it here for you!) At that point we are allowed a good number of 4/4 measures. That’s where I relax. Not for long, but I relax. The next piece begins in 27/16. Say what?!

    Anyway, the works sound great (I think … and hope) but they are quite a challenge to put together without a conductor.

    Tomorrow night I’m back with the new symphony, but all I play is a bit of Wagner (Overture from The Flying Dutchman) and a Shostakovich work called Tea for Two. I’m wondering if the latter is an arrangement of the song from No No, Nanette. Hard to imagine, but I suppose it’s possible. (The “title” of our concert is Tea for Two … thus the addition of this work.)

    ***June 5, 2003


    “A good composer is slowly discovered; a bad composer is slowly found out.”

    -Ernest Newman

    ***Repeat after me …

    “At least I’m not a brain surgeon!”

    The line above is a line I’ve used before. I say it when things aren’t perfect in my performance. Sometimes they are just a little imperfect. Sometimes they are a lot imperfect. Today was, for me, a lot imperfect. I’m told that the listeners didn’t hear what I heard (or maybe they heard what I didn’t hear? I don’t know!). I’m grateful that either the person who told me that was kind enough to lie or that maybe it was even true. But anyway … repeat after me … once more with feeling …

    “At least I’m not a brain surgeon!”

    ***June 6, 2003


    “Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid.”

    -Frank Zappa

    I’m currently working on yet another audition repertoire page. I hope to have it up soon. It will include audition repertoire requirements for colleges and universities. The other school audition repertoire page will then be for music conservatories only. These pages are in no way a suggestion to attend one of these schools! (After all, I teach at UC Santa Cruz and Santa Clara University, and I’d love to see you at one of those schools!) But these audition repertoire pages are great to use as a “check up” for what you know. Look at the lists and see what you still have to study. I’m noticing a consistent inclusion of the Ferling 48 etudes, as well as the Barrett, for one thing. So keep checking the site … I hope to have the page up and running later today.

    ***June 7, 2003


    “Give me a laundry list and I’ll set it to music.

    -Gioacchino Antonio Rossini

    ***Final Concert

    It’s a most bizarre program, but the final performance of the new symphony is tonight at 8:00.

    Take a look:
    Shostakovich: Tahiti Trot (really “Tea for Two”)
    Smetana: The Moldau
    Barber: Violin Concerto with Robin Mayforth, soloist
    Copland: Clarinet Concert with Michael Corner, soloist
    Wagner: Overture to The Flying Dutchman

    It’s quite the hodge podge, to say the least!

    ***Teaching Notes

    To my university students: I wish you all the best on your finals, and I hope you have a fabulous summer. Remember the oboe! Wind lots of reeds! Be safe. Don’t be foolish. (What can I say? I’m a mom as well as a teacher!)

    … and I do hope to see you for the next school year!

    To my private students: If you haven’t notified me already, I would love to hear from you about your summer plans. I will be teaching Thursday through Saturday. Let’s connect and make plans!

    ***June 8, 2003


    I can’t listen to that much Wagner. I start getting the urge to conquer Poland.

    -Woody Allen (1935 – )

    I love Wagner, actually. And I’ve never had an urge to conquer any country at all. I used to try and conquer our back yard, but I gave that up.

    But Wagner and I have an uncomfortable relationship; there’s something about his music that makes it, for me anyway, uncomfortable to play. Last night’s concert, of course, included Wagner. I did fine. I’m just happier to listen!

    I’m curious what the reviewers will think of last night’s concert. If what they say is printable and worthwhile I might make note of it tomorrow. Time will tell.

    ***Just for Fun

    Sort of.

    Having written, above, that I might mention a review of last night’s concert I was thinking about reviewers and the reviews in which I’ve found my name. I thought it would be great fun to share this one:

    Barbara Day Turner and the orchestra gave a courageous reading of Bohmler’s virgin score, featuring a beautiful solo by English horn player Patricia Mitchell in the second overture.

    That review is from some time ago, when Opera San Jose premiered the Craig Bohmler opera, “The Tale of the Nutcracker” in November of 1999.

    Now aren’t you impressed with me? Don’t I seem just grand in your eyes? Do you wonder how I can remain so humble? Do you fear that I won’t want to be your friend, sibling, wife, mom or teacher any longer?

    … insert brief uncomfortable pause here while you laugh and mock me and wonder how I could be so incredibly arrogant …

    Psst! Wanna hear something funny?

    That solo was played by Tony Clements, and it wasn’t an English horn, but a baritone horn!

    (No, the English horn is neither English nor a horn. Yes, the baritone horn is a brass instrument, entirely unrelated to the English horn.)

    So … now you know what to think of reviews and reviewers! Don’t assume they know everything. Don’t take the reviews as gospel truth. Don’t skip a concert because you read one unfavorable review.

    Do assume I sound great even when someone else is playing and I’m just in the pit, sitting still in my chair, biding my time.

    ***June 9, 2003


    “Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons, and you will find that it is to the soul what the water-bath is to the body.

    -Oliver Wendell Holmes

    ***Ah Reviews

    Yes, there were two reviews online today. One was by a reviewer I never particularly care for, so I’ve decided to skip that one. What he wrote wasn’t bad, actually. Well, not bad in that I thought much of it true. (The review itself wasn’t entirely favorable; I didn’t think the performance deserved an entirely favorable review.) It’s just that he isn’t a great writer, doesn’t say anything of value so much of the time, and, well, the site is ugly as all get out!

    The other review, though, is a different story. It was in the Mercury News. It makes me wonder if the reviewer stayed for the full concert. He notes, correctly, that we began with Tea for Two (or “Tahiti Trot” as Shostakovich titled it). What he doesn’t note is that we also ended with it! That second playing, the encore of sorts, wasn’t printed in the program. Hmmm. Seems mighty suspicious to me. (If you didn’t know it before, know it now; reviewers sometimes leave before the end of concerts, either to make deadlines or simply because they choose to!) I’m not going to accuse the reviewer of leaving … I’m not that foolish … but I still say it’s suspicious!

    There were other things. Works weren’t necessarily reviewed, but commented upon. He tells us what the audience was thinking toward the end of the Barber (how the heck does he know?!).

    And he includes this sentence:

    “Then, after each piece on the program, there was another ovation.”

    Well, yes. An “ovation” is applause. So yes, the audience applauded after each piece. Big whoop. I’ve been to some pretty horrendous performances and the
    audience applauded at the end of works then too, so I’m not sure why that sentece was there. Curious.

    He liked our solists. I’m glad; they are both members of the “regular” (or irregular, depending upon who you ask) Symphony San Jose Silicon Valley orchestra. So that’s very good. He doesn’t mention how we played on the Wagner at all. That work was, according to his review, the final piece we played. (Hmmm. Perhaps he heard Michael Corner play and then headed on out?)

    ***June 10, 2003


    “A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.

    -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    ***Yo Yo Ma …

    is only one year older than I.

    I thought you might want to know that.


    ***June 11, 2003


    Poetry and Hums aren’t things which you get, they’re things which get you. And all you can do is to go where they can find you.

    -Winnie the Pooh (A. A. Milne )

    ***Orchestras and Death

    Another orchestra is filing for bankruptcy, although at least the Louisville Orchestra is filing Chapter 11 which means they could come back. I read here that the San Antonio Symphony may file Chapter 11 as well.

    Earlier, the Florida Philharmonic bit the dust. The Florida Orchestra (not the same as the Philharmonic) is in trouble. So is the St. Louis Symphony. An article on the Savannah Symphony’s demise says they had to file Chapter 7. Just like the over 100 year old San Jose Symphony that I was in. That means they won’t come back. Ever. Colorado Springs Symphony? Chapter 7.

    Tulsa Philharmonic? Silent. The Columbus (Ohio) Symphony Orchestra is in trouble. Pittsburgh says they are as well. St. Paul Chamber Orchestra’s musicians have accepted a cut in pay, but have, in exchange, been given a bigger voice in decision making.

    I keep hearing this question in my head … it won’t go away … Does anyone care that the symphonies are dying?

    I don’t know.

    When the San Jose Symphony shut down for good I heard a lot of people tell me how sorry they were. I wanted to ask them how often they went, but I didn’t. Besides, many of them included “I feel so guilty that I never went” in their words to me. I got the feeling they wanted me to tell them that it was okay that they didn’t go. I didn’t. I really wanted to ask them why they were sorry if they never went anyway! But I didn’t do that either; that would only let them know how angry I was, and anger wouldn’t have changed anything anyway.

    But the symphonies are dying. If no one goes to hear the ones that still exist, they will die too.


    So I’ve had my rant for the month. That’s it. There will be no more, I promise.

    God is good. Life goes on. Music will never go away … we can always sing! No one can stop someone from having a really good hum. (Thank you A. A. Milne!)

    ***June 12, 2003

    ***Orchestra News

    It’s official: The San Antonio Symphony has filed Chapter 11.

    In another part of the world: The Bagdad Symphony is struggling. No surprise there. You can read about it.

    “We never played specially for Saddam and of course were not playing now for the Americans. We play for anyone who wants to come and hear us,” he said. “This is music.” -Hisham Sharaf

    Baz Luhrmann’s La Bohéme is closing on Broadway. Announced in the New York Times, it’s clear it didn’t do nearly as well as hoped:

    Jeffrey Seller, one of the producers, said that although the production had found an audience, it was not necessarily the audience that a show needed to survive on Broadway.

    “I think we definitely had snob hit appeal, but I don’t think we got that suburban audience,” Mr. Seller said. “We got young hipsters, Manhattan art lovers, kids and cognoscenti. What we didn’t get was the `Showboat’ audience from New Jersey.”

    I don’t care for the notion that it was the “snobs” who went to see the show. Perhaps opera lovers would be a better term? I don’t know. But the judgment given when the word snob appears is troubling. Oh well.

    ***June 13, 2003


    Music, the greatest good that mortals know,
    And all of heaven we have below.

    -Joseph Addison

    ***Congratulations Caitlyn!

    Caitlyn Christie, principal oboist in SAN JOSE YOUTH SYMPHONY, received the “most improved musician” award! Go Caitlyn! You are a hard worker, and you play so musically. Thanks for all that you do … and for being the fabulous person that you are.

    ***June 14, 2003


    (This one isn’t just about music!)

    “Thou may not attain perfection but neither are Thee excused from making the attempt.”

    -Quaker proverb

    ***June 16, 2003


    The exercise of singing is delightful to nature, and good to preserve the health of man, It doth strengthen all parts of the breast, and doth open the pipes.

    -William Byrd

    Yesterday our family went to Yosemite. It was stunning … as always. There’s something about standing at Glacier Point and seeing all the wonder that makes me want to burst out into song.

    But I never do. (For which you can be thankful, I’m sure!)


    A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease.

    -John Muir

    ***June 17, 2003


    An intellectual is someone who can listen to the “William Tell Overture” without thinking of the Lone Ranger.

    -John Chesson

    All right, I confess … I am not an intellectual! I can’t not think about the Lone Ranger when I play the overture. And I’ve never even seen the old show!

    ***June 18, 2003


    All music is folk music. I ain’t never heard no horse sing a song.”

    -Louis Armstrong

    I’m going to have to watch old episodes of Mr. Ed. I know that horse talked … and I think he sang as well. (And don’t go trying to tell me he didn’t really talk, because I watched that show as a kid and I’m just sure that he did!)

    Still, I love this quote, and I can just hear Armstrong’s voice too!

    ***San Jose Youth Symphony

    The SAN JOSE YOUTH SYMPHONY will be leaving soon for their Japan tour. This coming Sunday, at 3:30, they are having a Bon Voyage Gala to which I have been invited by the Christie family. I’m so excited! If anyone else is interested in the event just go to this page. Bernstein, Gerwshwin and sushi! Who could ask for anything more?

    ***June 20, 2003


    A musician may suddenly reach a point at which pleasure in the technique of art entirely falls away, and in some moment of inspiration, he becomes the instrument through which music is played.

    -Edwin Diller Starbuck


    … to Cindy, Nicole and Kai, for making it through middle school. Welcome to the wonderful world of high school! I wish the three of you all the best. Keep learning … and enjoy it, too!

    It has always seemed strange to me that in our endless discussions about education so little stress is laid on the pleasure of becoming an educated person, the enormous interest it adds to life. To be able to be caught up into the world of thought — that is to be educated.

    -Edith Hamilton

    ***June 21, 2003

    ***Parents Say The Darndest Things!

    Music is an elegant art and fine amusement but as an occupation it hath little dignity, having for its object nothing better than mere entertainment and pleasure.

    -Handel’s Father

    Now don’t you all go believing this and put down those oboes! I just find it interesting that this view of music isn’t something new!

    (Or if it is true … this oboe player and teacher will continue to work in the field of music. I’m not really concerned about dignity anyway, and if I bring some entertainment and pleasure to some lives I will be quite content.)

    ***June 24, 2003


    “Eternal vigilance is the price of good intonation.”

    -Leonard Sharrow

    ***Ah, Intonation!

    (Or should I say A-440, Intonation!??)

    As my students know, I require practice of long tones on an A-440. (Some of my colleagues think it’s ridiculous and they are welcome to that opinion, but I will stick to my conviction that they are beneficial.) There are many reasons for long tones, not the least of which is that is a note we play frequently as a “solo” note, and it is always our first solo note; we tune the orchestra with it. Or at least I do. I see that San Francisco Symphony now tunes to an A-441. Another US orchestra uses A-442. Some European orchestras go even higher. Why? I haven’t a clue. But it is interesting to note the evolution of the A … there’s a reason our tuners have an A-415 (you call that an A?!) on them. I’ve been told that’s what Baroque orchestras tune to. I’m assuming we know this because the Baroque instruments can’t stretch up to an A-440.

    So when and who deemed the 440 a proper A? And who is now suggesting it isn’t a proper A after all? Such a puzzlement!

    But what I want to mention today is the dependancy on tuners. I believe that some musicians are losing their ability to listen because they are so busy seeing that tuning needle. I recommend this procedure to learn to trust your ears:

    • Sound the A with either your tuner or, if it doesn’t play an A, with your tuning fork. (All oboists should own a tuning fork, although I’ve never required it. In fact, I think I’ll change that right now and say that all students must have a tuning fork!)
    • Set the tuner to tuning mode, A-440, if you have it on sounding mode.
    • Close your eyes. No cheating!
    • Play an A, and decide if you are flat or sharp. Put the A where the reed wants it to be, not where you think it should be. (You might as well know what your reed is doing right away, rather than manipulating every note once you begin playing your studies or playing in the orchestra. Then you can adjust your reed accordingly.)
    • Look at the tuner.

    How close are you to what the tuner is telling you? If you are way off be sure to check your tuner with the tuning fork to make shere nothing is wrong, but most of the time tuners are perfect and we are not listening well.

    I’m certain that the more you do this the more you will train your ears to truly hear pitch. Remember to do different volumes as well; pp, ff, mf, crescendo, decrescendo, crescendo-decrescendo and decrescendo-crescendo. Faster air (louder) means you will have to adjust your embouchure accordingly, and of course you adjust for slower air (softer) as well. We usually think “looser” for louder, or corners even more forward … but figure it out! Play with the pitch. If you can’t bend pitch at all you need to learn to do that.

    I’ll write more about pitch as I have the time, but I have one final word on it:

    If you are playing an A-440 and you deem yourself in tune and, thus, perfect and immovable, and the majority of the orchestra is playing slightly sharper or (heaven forbid!) slightly flatter, guess what?? You are the one who is out of tune! When we play in an orchestra we are supposed to be a group of cooperating musicians. We are to match with each other. That means you can’t be so stubborn as to be the only one playing in tune. It doesn’t work that way.

    ***June 25, 2003


    “I’m not interested in having an orchestra sound like itself. I want it to sound like the composer.”

    -Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) American conductor and composer

    ***June 26, 2003

    ***Planetmitchell email has taken leave of absence

    It appears that my planetmitchell email addresses have gone away for the time being. My husband is working on the problem when he has time, but right now he is too busy to do a thing. If anyone needs to reach me please contact me via oboe@speakeasy.net.



    The planet is back! Yay! Use oboe@planetmitchell.com and I should be there. For now.

    ***June 27, 2003

    ***Cancelling Lessons

    During the summer I am very understanding when students cancel lessons. I know that there’s a lot of fun to be had out in the sun, and that vacation trips are taken. I am not, however, happy when I get a last minute cancellation. Please remember that I will have to charge for a lesson if I am not given 24 hours notice. I don’t charge by the month so that rescheduling and cancelling lessons won’t be a difficult thing to work out, but I’m distressed when I get a last minute call. I have been patient. I have always given each student a warning the first time he or she cancels. But I will not give any more leeway. Thanks for thinking ahead and being considerate!

    ***More Auditions Coming Up!

    Looking through the International Musician I see auditions scheduled for oboe and English horn. Here’s the list:

  • Florida West Coast Symphony, Second Oboe, Audition Date: September 4, 2003, Salary: $16,672.50.
  • Richmond Symphony, Principal Oboe, Audition Dates: December 8 and 9, 2003, Salary: $38,793.
  • South Bend Symphony Orchestra, Second Oboe/English horn, Audition Dates: September 30, October 1, 2003, Salary: $66.50 per service.
  • (The United States Army Field Band is looking for Oboe/English horn as well, but I’m just not much of a military or band person!)

    ***June 29, 2003


    “Conducting” is when you draw “designs” in the nowhere – with your stick, or with your hands — which are interpreted as “instructional messages” by guys wearing bow ties who wish they were fishing.

    -Frank Zappa

    Well, okay, the “designs” part is sort of true (but not really!) … but fishing? I don’t think so! Most of the guys I see are looking at golf magazines. Really! I don’t understand the fascination with golf, but that seems to be the sport of choice for a good number of male musicians. Some also enjoy watching baseball or football. You will also find a number of car magazines on the music stands. (Yes, musicians read magazines sometimes during rehearsals, but hey, we winds and percussion spend a lot of time sitting while the strings are rehearsing.)

    Of all of those though — baseball, football, cars, golf — I would say golf wins out.

    What I can’t figure out is how these guys can afford to golf! I’ve heard about the expense, and while we have the free time during the day to do things, it surprises me that some also have the money.

    Me? Well, I fail even at miniature golf, so attempting “real” golf doesn’t interest me in the least.

    Still, Frank Zappa is a kick, and I love finding these wacky things he said. I suppose anyone who named kids the way he did would be humorous though, yes? “Moon Unit” indeed!


    This is your friendly, quiet, gentle reminder:


    Honestly … don’t forget that you have to practice to keep the embouchure in shape. Our son’s trumpet instructor even tells our son to take his mouthpiece with him on vacations so that he can continue to buzz it. I won’t go that far, but I do suggest that you practice when you are home, and when it is reasonable take your instrument on vacations. Of course I don’t suggest taking it camping or to places where the temperature change is going to be incredibly drastic, or where it won’t be safe, but if you are going to visit family somewhere you might think about taking it. Shoot, some people might even want you to play for them!

    Speaking of family I had a nice 2 hour session with my niece, Gwen. Since she lives in Spokane we hadn’t spent “oboe time” together before. It was great fun to share some oboe information with her. It’s too bad she’s not closer; it would be such fun to be her teacher!

    And Gwen, if you read this … DO look into lessons! I know you’d enjoy them. Hope you keep “oboing”!

    ***June 30, 2003


    Some people crave baseball — I find this unfathomable — but I can easily understand why a person could get excited about playing a bassoon.

    -Frank Zappa

    Just some more Zappa for your amusement and, possible, befuddlement. I mean, c’mon … bassoon over baseball?

    (Well, okay, I have some friends who would agree!)

    ***July 4, 2003


    Too many pieces of music finish too long after the end.


    ***Home Again

    My family and I went for a week of fun at Disneyland, and only arrived home this evening. We had a wonderful time. I didn’t, however, see any oboists at the parks. I did hear plenty, though; so many movie soundtracks use oboe! You know the story: is the movie sad? The oboe (or English horn) is playing. Is there heartbreak? The oboe (or English horn) is playing. Is someone about to die? The oboe (or English horn) is playing. Did someone die? The oboe (or English horn) is playing.

    So while standing in a line for “Soarin’ Over California” in the new park, we heard a lot of soundtrack music (the kids could pretty much name the movies as they heard the music). Lots of oboe and English horn. Made me feel all warm and squishy inside.

    So now it’s back to real life and music and all that jazz. I hope to see some students here soon! I’m missing you all.

    ***July 6, 2003

    ***Read & Listen?

    There’s an article in the Mercury News that talks about a device, a “Concert Companion”, that allows audience members to read messages about a symphonic work as it is being played live. It enables the untrained to find out where the main theme is, and which instruments take it over. I’m sure it goes into even more detail than that; I’d love to see it at work sometime!

    They compare the device to the super titles of opera, but I really don’t see that it’s the same thing; super titles tell the audience what words are being sung. The gadget is explaining technical aspects of composition. There’s a big difference.

    I’m not sure if a listener would benefit as much as be distracted by the machine. And I hate thinking the “magic” of that first listen is lost.

    I remember the first time I was going to play Ravel’s “Mother Goose Suite” (I’ve mentioned this before, I know!). I was getting ready to prepare my part (English horn) and the maestro found out that I hadn’t ever even heard it. He immediately insisted that I not listen to it prior to the first rehearsal. He said not to buy a recording just yet. What a wise bit of advice that was. Playing and listening to the final movement was a wonder. There aren’t any words to describe the feeling I had. It was one of those moments you can’t explain. But it was incredible!

    No clever gadget could ever do the work and that moment justice.

    ***July 7, 2003


    What’s best in music is not to be found in the notes.

    -Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)

    ***Another Article

    I read an interesting article today, about the fact that knowledge regarding “classical” (speaking generally, not era-wise) music isn’t considered necessary to be considered culturally literate. I’m still pondering the notion, but I think there’s a lot of truth in what the author, Douglas McLennan, writes.

    I’d love to hear from any readers (are you out there?) who read the article. Thoughts?


    I do know there are some folks who visit this site. (Thanks!) I have a counter you can see below which may be a bit misleading, but I like to check it out for fun. It counts only first time visitors, which explains the low number. It’s just fun to think that a new reader might show up each day! (Call it ego if you’d like, but this site isn’t supposed to be about me, so I’m hoping I get visitors because they want to read about oboe, or music in general, or even music & art (since Kelsey’s pictures are here).


    Speaking of Kelsey’s artwork, I need to put up the rest of her concentration from her AP portfolio. She scored a 5 on the entire portfolio (12 works for the general portfolio and 12 for the concentration) … 5 is the highest score!

    Here’s one to begin with:


    ***July 8, 2003

    ***Yet Another Good Article

    A snippet for you:

    Advocates of the arts know what happens when music, drama and art compete with math and English for time and resources in schools: They lose.

    That’s why an art institute based in Winston-Salem created a program infusing the arts into every aspect of the school day, making them an essential part of each class from social studies to math to P.E.

    Read it all! It’s good. It’s what I wish we had here. It’s obvious that those at the A+ School Program think so too.

    ***July 9, 2003


    The things which can make life enjoyable remain the same. They are, now as before, reading, music, fine arts, travel, the enjoyment of nature, sports, fashion, social vanity (knightly orders, honorary offices, gatherings) and the intoxication of the senses.

    -Johan Huizinga (1872-1945) Dutch historian
    “The Autumn of the Middle Ages,” ch. 2 (1921, trans. 1995)

    I’m still looking for the honorary office. So far the only office I have is in the corner of our family room.


    All of the sudden my bravenet counter was showing an advertisement. That was new and I wasn’t even told this would happen. I apologize. The counter is gone. I enjoyed seeing the new visitors, but I don’t need the ads. Nor do you.

    ***July 13, 2003


    I’ve put up all the Opera San Jose dates for the upcoming season. Please note that I might take some performances off, since it’s quite likely there will be conflicts with other performing groups to which I belong. (But if you do attend something I’m playing in please come down to the pit (or to the stage door entrance the performance is on stage) and say hi! I love seeing student and friends at concerts!)

    I also decided to separate the audition list into two: as you can see to the left, there are now two links, one to schools and one to performing groups. This seems more sensible to me.

    ***Peter, Paul & Mary

    … but no Peter, Paul, Mary & Patty. Ah well! I’ll be performing in the first half of the “Children’s Health Council” concert, but the PP&M half doesn’t use an orchestra. Too bad. I wouldn’t mind playing Puff, the Magic Dragon, and a few songs about peace would be mighty nice too. I wonder if they’ll talk about current events or if they’ll put on a happy face and be quiet. (I wonder if they still believe what they used to sing about so strongly!)

    ***July 16, 2003

    ***”That” Shirt

    I received a mysterious email message today. The sender asked about my shirt and where to get it. It was an unsigned message and I don’t respond to things like that, due to the amount of spam I receive. But this one sounded like it might have been legit. (Hey, if you’re out there, I’m sorry not to send this via email. Next time sign your name!) Anyway, if that reader is checking this site out again, I can tell you that I bought my “QUIT WORK, MAKE MUSIC” shirt at a store I hate to frequent. It’s called Hot Topic and it’s definitely not a store for people like me. But they had the shirt in the window. I wanted it. I bought it.


    It’s been a slow summer. Slower than I’ve had in eons. Work is not plentiful. I’m missing making music with my pals. I’m missing hearing music as well. (Sure, I could listen at home, but much of the time my kids are watching something or playing some game and my music doesn’t fit well with “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey” or other such movies.) Ah well. I’ll start working more next week. This is a good thing.

    ***Leave It To An Opera Singer


    The fear of the virtual orchestra has been lurking for a while now. In some places the virtual orchestra has been the kiss of death for live musicians. And now I read an article about an opera singer who is touting his virtual orchestra. They say that with a click of a mouse the person running the machine can follow the conductor and they can save tons of money. All I can say is that I’m going to see if I can hire someone to invent a virtual singer. Just think! All the singers could be age and weight appropriate. And with a click of a mouse they would follow the conductor!!! (That would be a miracle!)

    ***July 17, 2003

    ***New Symphony

    One of my favorite sites, Arts Journal is a great source for news on the arts. Included in one blurb for today, with a link to the news article, is this information:

    It’s unlikely that the San Jose Symphony – which closed almost two years ago – will reopen for business. So a new orchestra has been formed from an orchestra created for the area’s ballet company orchestra.

    I’m glad to see news of the new Symphony Silicon Valley, of which I should be a part. But the blurb isn’t quite accurate. It’s not “unlikely that the San Jose Symphony … will reopen for business” … it’s impossible! The type of bankruptcy we filed was a death sentence and in this case there is no resurrection allowed.

    Still, I’m thrilled to see Andrew Bales attempting to bring a new symphony to life! Now we’ll see what the general public thinks. If you live in San Jose — if you want a symphony here — if you think it’s a shame not to have one — you’d better attend some concerts!!

    ***July 18, 2003

    ***Too Good To Ignore

    I just read that Metallica is suing a Candadian band, Unfaith. I guess the group was stealing from the Metal Guys. Poor Metallica.

    “What,” you might ask, “were they stealing?”


    No … you only think you’re ready!

    They are suing because Unfaith uses the chords E & F.

    I know, I know, every time you hear a chord progression from E to F you immediately think Metallica, right? So I guess it makes sense to punish silly Unfaith for giving this bit of thievery a go. Silly Canadian band!

    Or maybe, just maybe, this whole think is a Big Joke and we will all laugh at it tomorrow. (Is it April 1st? Is my calendar a wee bit off?)

    Want to check out this story? Sure you do! Go here. Or visit this to see it in Metallica’s own words. (Assuming those are their own words — I trust they haven’t taken them from someone else!)

    ***But Too Good To Be True (sigh)


    Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. (Although it didn’t last long enough!)

    And my mother told me the word “gullible” isn’t in the dictionary so now I’ve got to go to the bookstore and see if she’s right.

    Tee hee.

    (Seriously … when she told me that some years ago I immediately went to my dictionary to show her she was wrong. You should have seen the smile on her face.)

    ***July 19, 2003


    They are quite hopeless – drooling, driveling, doleful, depressing, dropsical drips.

    -Sir Thomas Beecham on music critics Feb. 13, 1954

    ***The Truth

    … of course, is that Metallica has sued Napster and Victoria’s Secret. (No, they didn’t sue the latter because they were copying their clothing styles or anything; VS had named a lipstick Metallica. Oooh. Bad VS!) Oh … and they sued Guerlain as well. Yep, over their name. My fourteen year old son’s response to all of this was “Well, they are such a bad band…”.

    ***Another Good Blog

    One of the sites I frequent, ArtsJournal.com has decided to introduce some bloggers. One of these is Greg Sandow, a writer for the Wall Street Journal as well as New Music Box. I’m looking forward to reading what he has to write … whether or not I agree, I’m sure it will be interesting reading! You might want to check him out as well. He’s supposed to be writing about the future of classical music, so I obviously have a great interest. Maybe you will too.

    ***July 21, 2003

    ***There Are Jobs

    … and then there are jobs.

    I know, I know, silly thing to say. But this is my blog so oh well!

    I recently played an outdoor concert. These aren’t always the most pleasurable of jobs; the weather can be horrible on instruments, and hot weather and my oboe reeds don’t like each other. Of course I also have to deal with allergies at certain times of the year (like now), and then there are those darn flies!

    Hmmm. Flies. Immediately reminds me of a few concerts. Both were when I was playing in the Midsummer Mozart Festival Orchestra, and both took place at Montalvo. At the first I didn’t have much to play at one point but I was fairly oblivious to the principal oboist’s dilemma. Until I heard one of the trumpet players say something exclamatory in nature. I looked over at her and while she was playing a solo a fly was slowly crawling up her face, beginning at the chin and looking as if it wanted to enter a nostril. I don’t think I was fast enough to flick it away … I think she either flinched or something else happened to cause it to leave. The audience was none the wiser on that one.

    The second was a little more obvious. A well known clarinetist was playing the Mozart Clarinet Concerto. I was backstage because Mozart graciously left the oboes off of that piece (thank you, Mr. Mozart! A break! We get a break!). Suddenly there was silence. And then coughing. Turns out that the soloist inhaled a fly.

    The joys of outdoor playing!

    So … back to the recent concert … at this particular concert the folks who donated a lot of money sit up front at round tables. They are wined and dined. But mostly they are noise. Very noisy. They were so noisy, in fact, that my oboe colleague and I couldn’t hear the first violins!

    Sometimes I wonder why people attend these concerts.

    But should I turn down these job? Not right now. What with my dismal performance schedule I am grateful for the work. And if I made any errors at that performance no one would have known since I’m sure they could barely hear me! (Not that I make mistakes, mind you.)

    And sometimes the outdoor concerts are wonderful; I’m never sure when I’ll hit a great venue with a great audience. There’s nothing like playing for an appreciative audience!

    ***July 23, 2003

    ***Job, Anyone?

    It’s pretty tough to get work these days. It’s tough to hang on to work we get, too, since orchestras seem to want to drop like flies. (Wait! I don’t usually see flies dropping … they seem to just buzz around annoyingly and drive me nuts.) But there’s an article about Quisisana at Lake Kezar. They hire students from music schools to work there. They also perform.

    I suppose this is a Good Thing for these students; it’s possible that this is a picture of their future. First they’ll have their “day job” and then they’ll have the job they really prefer and were gifted and, dare I say it, created to do. But part of me says this is all so wrong and feeds the general public the same old story — that we performers don’t deserve to earn our living doing what we do best, but that that’s just frosting on the proverbial cake. As if waiting tables and changing bed linens is cake. (Gee, I do that daily here at home.)

    Something to ponder.

    ***July 24, 2003

    ***Those Tour Gigs

    I just finished with opening night of Aida. The musical, that is.

    We had one rehearsal. It was 3 1/2 hours long. After a little break we had a 50 minute sound check. Aside from the sound check we didn’t even rehearse with the traveling musicians or the actors. So tonight we get on stage at 8:00, and there we go! The four hired musicians (flute/alto flute, oboe/English horn, French horn, cello) who, for the most part, don’t have a clue what this musical is really going to do, jump in and hope (and, on my part, pray) for the best. And it went fairly well. There were a few false entrances (that means wrong entrances, really), but I didn’t have one. Whew! Tomorrow afternoon it will be a bit easier; the second and third shows occur tomorrow. The second is always easier. The third is sometimes easier, but sometimes we let our guard down and things go awry. So we’ll see!

    At least this gave me the opportunity to use the word “awry” … a word I love to use!

    After the show there was a little reception. That was nice. I had a little glass of wine, and a good little chat with my flutist friend. Then the conductor joined us. Nice guy! Not the uptight NYC type. Thank you God!

    So … one show down, 23 to go!

    ***July 28, 2003


    Music is spiritual. The music business is not.
    -Van Morrison

    ***The Music Blogger at Arts Journal

    Just a reminder to all who read here … check out Sandow’s blog. There’s interesting stuff there.

    He mentions that maybe having musicians speak to the audience would cause more people to want to come to concerts. I think that’s a fine idea … for those who speak well! Not all musicians are good speakers. I guess we might seem unapproachable to some folks, because we all look so darn formal and we don’t converse with an audience like a other performing artists. Then again, sometimes words only diminish the power of music, don’t you think?

    ***July 29, 2003

    ***”Hi Tech” Opera?

    Looks as if we are being replaced not only in musical theater but in opera as well. The Opera Company of Brooklyn is touting the opera as “Hi Tech” in their announcement. I only see it as sad. Very sad.

    ***July 30, 2003


    “The trouble with nude dancing is that not everything stops when the music stops.”

    -Robert Helpmann (1909-1986) Australian dancer and artistic director of the Australian Ballet from 1965 to 1976

    ***August 1, 2003


    “…you must play for the little fellow in the last row of the balcony who only has fifty cents to pay for a ticket.”

    -Marcel Tabuteau
    Interview with Laila Storch, To the World’s Oboists, Volume II, March 1974

    Tickets?? For fifty cents? Not now. Not even in the last row of the balcony. And probably not in ’74 either. But what do I know? I was just graduating from high school in ’74.

    ***August 2, 2003

    ***Don’t Forget!

    It’s August. How did July skip by so quickly? August means not only that school begins soon for most of you (sorry about that bit of news in case you were avoiding the calendar) but it also means Music@Menlo is going on. Check it out! There’s some great music to be heard. So go. The oboe player is fabulous! So go. Believe me, I’d be there if I didn’t have work. The other musicians are also outstanding So go. The setting is lovely. So go. I’d love to hear all about it. So go. If you are considering oboe seriously at all. GO!

    Need any more encouragement?

    ***The State of the Arts …

    … doesn’t exist here in California. As everyone knows, the San Jose Symphony died. Years ago, in the State’s capital, the Sacramento Symphony took a nosedive. Other arts organizations are in dire need of funding. Here we are with our huge homes (some bathrooms at homes I’ve toured are larger than my children’s bedrooms!), our Silicon Valley splendor, our Hollywood extravagance … and we are now “dead last in per capita arts spending among the 50 states.”

    Some of you might nod your heads and say “Yup, that governor has got to go.” Don’t get me wrong; I do not approve of the recall. This isn’t about Davis. This is about the “all of it” (and began long before this Governor came into office and had to deal with years of problems. Sacramento Symphony, for your information, was allowed to crash under a different party’s rule). It starts with each individual. We seem to have lost our desire for the arts, and I think it has much to do with the fact that we’ve lost a sense of community and are, instead, very focused on ourselves. Sometimes it seems as if we have lost a desire to learn and explore. I know there’s more to it than that. I know I over react. But it sure does make me sad.

    Ah well. Rant over. Go to a symphony concert. Go to an art museum. You never know what might become extinct next.

    ***August 5, 2003

    ***A Welcome Paycheck!

    I knew that I would get paid at some point for doing the La Boheme recording, and the check arrived today! What a welcome and necessary surprise. This payment goes to any musician who is on a recording. This is one reason I ask folks to purchase CDs rather than getting an illegal copy somehow: I benefit!

    Selfish of me, isn’t it?

    ***Poetry Time

    The oboe’s a horn made of wood.
    I’d play you a tune if I could,
    But the reeds are a pain,
    And the fingering’s insane.
    It’s the ill wind that no one blows good.

    -Ogden Nash

    ***August 6, 2003


    Do not neglect your music. It will be a companion which will sweeten many hours of life to you.

    -Thomas Jefferson to daughter Martha, 4 April 1790


    The International Musician arrived today. New audition announcements (new to me at least) are included in the publication. I’ll try to update the Audition Repertoire List as soon as possible.

    ***August 10, 2003


    Great music is that which penetrates the ear with facility and leaves the memory with difficulty. Magical music never leaves the memory.

    -Sir Thomas Beecham

    ***Aida, over and out

    The Aida run is over. The tour now races over to Green Bay. It was an enjoyable show to play; not a lot of playing, but most of the time what I did play was heard and, usually, a solo. It wasn’t the most memorable of shows, but I was impressed with the fabulous lighting, and it was fun!

    ***This Week

    I sat in the pit today to audit Phantom of the Opera. I audit one more time (Tuesday) and then I go in and sub for the two shows on Wednesday. Fun!

    ***School Begins Soon

    Yes, indeed, it’s nearly time for school. Doesn’t that make you smile?

    Or not.

    But school means that students need to let me know their lesson time preferences, if I’ve not been told already.

    The date also tells me that UCSC and SCU will be beginning in about a month. I’m looking forward to seeing many of you who have taken the summer off … I do hope you are continuing to practice!

    My plan as of now is to be on the UCSC campus on Tuesday mornings, and the SCU campus Thursday mornings.

    ***August 11, 2003

    ***Free Stuff

    An article in the UK Guardian begins:

    You can’t give tickets away for young people to watch opera, not even Wagner’s rarely performed Ring, arguably the greatest event in the operatic canon. That appears to be the devastating conclusion of an embarrassing experiment at the Edinburgh International Festival.

    To me, this isn’t really news. I used to get freebies to shows and concerts. It was often difficult to give the tickets away, and even more difficult to get anyone who did take the tickets to show up! There’s something about free stuff — people tend to assume that something free is less valuable, I think. They also assume that they aren’t obligated to show up since it cost them nothing in the first place. I think it’s better to charge a minimal fee – say, five dollars or so – to insure that more people will fill the seats. It’s so discouraging to play to a hall that is nearly empty.

    Of course I must also acknowledge that giving free tickets to a Wagner opera isn’t exactly like giving free tickets to a free rock concert. And the article says that the Jerry Springer “opera” (I’ve heard that it isn’t actually much of an opera) is selling out … but considering the “reality” shows on the tube these days, I think people just like anything trashy. Maybe it makes us feel better about ourselves. I wonder.

    ***August 16, 2003


    For the first time in years, I have decided I need one day on which I don’t work. Obviously weekends can’t be free, what with concerts and all. I plan on teaching at UCSC on Tuesdays and SCU on Thursdays (and I hope that any students from these schools let me know ASAP if these plans aren’t going to work!). Wednesdays are often rehearsal days. Soooo … that leaves me with Monday. And I like that notion!

    Monday is when most folks head on back to work. But not I! Nope. I’m going to wake up with the knowledge that I can get to the club and exercise if I want. Or I can go on all those errands I’ve let slide. Or maybe I should just clean the house. Yes. A clean house. That’s always a good idea.


    And then there are reeds. I hope those of you who have already learned the craft are busy making reeds. To those of you who aren’t; if you are advanced enough now might be a good time to think about learning! If I get enough interest, I could set up a reed making class for students. Let me know if you read this and want me to set up a class.

    ***August 19, 2003

    ***Planet Frustration

    Well, in case you haven’t noticed we’ve been having a lot of trouble with the mitchell planet lately. All of our sites have been down, and I’ve “merely” kissed planet email goodbye. For the time being. (Dan, my patient husband and computer whiz guy is attempting to fix it all.) If pictures don’t load don’t be surprised … I have no idea why they disappear after problems, but they sometimes do. Rats.

    Meanwhile, use oboe@speakeasy.net to contact me. I’m still here. Really.


    The planet is back up and running just fine! So you can use my usual email address. But speakeasy is always available as well.

    ***August 20, 2003

    ***Ready? AIM …

    Talk to me! My AIM name is Patioboe. Sometimes I’m just waiting for a fellow oboist to say hi. Shoot, I’ll even talk to you if you don’t play oboe.


    ***Back to Bach?

    I had no idea of the historical evolution of the civilized world’s music and had not realized that all modern music owes everything to Bach.

    -Nikolai Andreevich Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908)

    So … what do you think? Feel free to add comments!

    ***Gotta Be Careful When You Joke Around

    So I read that a conductor was sort of mocking an audience during a Tchaikovsky 6 performance. The audience, I’m assuming one that is unfamiliar with not only that work but with symphony concerts in general, applauded between movements. The conductor decided to applaud the orchestra with them, and then even had the orchestra rise before the final, incredibly moving, last movement. So what happens when a conductor does something like this, you wonder? …

    The audience left!

    Or at least some did.

    Yes, they finished the program. And you can read the review if you’d like.

    But c’mon … while I know just how frustrating an untrained audience can be, is mocking them (and having it backfire!) worth it? I don’t think so.

    ***August 21, 2003


    We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act,
    but a habit.



    ***August 22, 2003


    Man is but a reed, the weakest in nature, but he is a thinking reed.

    -Blaise Pascal

    Okay … so it’s really not about our kind of reed. Ah well … it’s still worth posting here.

    ***August 26, 2003


    (… again.) Our server went down, and anything I typed in the day before yesterday has been lost. At least the information I posted yesterday didn’t get lost; if you look at the current Orchestra Audition Repertoire page you’ll see I now have repertoire for Southwest Michigan’s audition.

    My MQOD was lost as well. No problem:


    If I had the power, I would insist on all oratorios being sung in the costume of the period – with a possible exception in the case of the Creation.

    -Ernest Newman (1868-1959) English music critic, New York Post, 1924

    (And if you don’t get the joke, read from the Bible: Genesis, Chapters 2 & 3.)

    ***August 28, 2003


    Inspiration is wonderful when it happens, but the writer must develop an approach for the rest of the time … the wait is simply too long.

    -Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)

    This is applicable not only to composing (I’m making the assumption that was the sort of “writing” to which Bernstein was referring), but to music in general; don’t wait around for inspiration to practice! It doesn’t always arrive. You just have to do it. Take it from one who knows.

    Of course my problem is cleaning! I have this thing about a clean “space” and when I sit down at my oboe desk I notice the mess and I’m tempted to clean before I play. Trust me, it’s better that I practice first; the mess will be there when I’m finished (and probably more so if I have my reed knife out!) and I can deal with it later … or ignore it. Somehow, once I’m done practicing, all the distractions I found so irritating prior to practicing seem much less important. Go figure!

    ***August 31, 2003


    The flute is not an instrument with a good moral effect. It is too exciting.


    Sure … those exciting flutes! Gotta watch out for ’em. I suggest sticking to oboe listening. We make you cry. We fill you with longing. We cause all sorts of emotions. But mostly there is good moral effect when you listen to an oboe.

    Don’t you think?

    (For those of you who don’t know me, I do like to joke around a bit!)

    ***Go Giants!

    Just had to mention that.

    ***September 1, 2003

    ***Musical Clues?

    So … there’s an article that suggests that a little Bach in a movie might be an ominous sign, if not a downright horrible moment. Interesting. I consider Bach to be so exquisite so much of the time. It’s difficult for me to imagine his music being a threatening sort. Guess I’ll have to listen to more Bach.

    The article isn’t only dealing with Bach. It’s an interesting little read.


    It’s easy to play any musical instrument: all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time and the instrument will play itself.

    Johann Sebastian Bach

    ***September 4, 2003


    The manner in which Americans “consume” music has a lot to do with leaving it on their coffee tables, or using it as wallpaper for their lifestyles, like the score of a movie–it’s consumed that way without any regard for how and why it’s made.

    -Frank Zappa (1940?1994) U.S. rock musician; Interview in, “The Real Frank Zappa Book,” ch. 11 (1989)

    ***University Students … Attention!

    I’m going to be filling in as the oboe instructor at San Jose State University for a time. I wish the circumstances were better; a dear friend of mine must take time off to fight an illness, and I only want her to get better and be back where she would love to be. Get Better Pam! I love and miss you!

    Meanwhile, attempting to coordinate schedules is an extreme challenge, especially if students don’t provide me with their complete schedules! Please, please, please, if you read this, send me your complete schedule for this quarter or semester. I realize you all have the perfect preferred time and day for lessons, but I have to work around all of you and attempt do what’s best for everyone. You might have to wake up earlier than you’d prefer (shoot, I have to do that every day!), or you might have to come on a day you thought was free. Remember that I can only go to each campus once a week, and that I have three universities to deal with; I’ll try to keep all of you happy, but your first choice might not be what you get.

    ***September 6, 2003

    ***MQOD (Back to Bach)

    When eminent biologist and author Lewis Thomas was asked what message he would choose to send from Earth into outer space in the Voyager spacecraft, he answered, “I would send the complete works of Johann Sebastian Bach.” After a pause, he added, “But that would be boasting.”

    ***The Lord of the Rings

    I’m listening, and partially watching, though my back is often facing the TV as I type here, the first movie. The power of music is very apparent in that film. I especially love the scenes in the shire. I don’t know how many people hear the music as I do, but when we hear the shire’s music, it opens exactly as the hymn “This is My Father’s World.” I’ve wondered ever since I first heard it if this is intentional.

    ***Opening Night

    Yes. Don Pasquale opens tonight. It’s so good to be back at work, and opening night is always exciting. We pit folk dress a wee bit nicer, and the crowd is often donned in sequins (women usually, for the most part), dresses that look as if they must be nearly peeled on and off (women, again), tuxes (men, as you might guess) and other fancy dress. They aren’t always the most appreciative or knowledgeable, but they are definitely the most fun if you’re into people-watching.

    ***September 8, 2003


    If Beethoven had been killed in a plane crash at the age of 22, it would have changed the history of music … and of aviation.

    -Tom Stoppard


    I’ve had some fun chats recently with some oboists who chanced upon this site. Thanks for AIMing me! I also missed one person, I’m sad to say. I must warn you; sometimes I leave AIM on when I’m actually not here. In that particular instance I was in the pit playing Don Pasquale and I wasn’t intentionally ignoring your “how-do” on AIM! So sorry!

    So … any and all, drop on in and chat if you see me around. I’m happy to yak. We can talk oboe. We can talk books (I love to read!). We can talk poetry (I’m a wannabe poet, and certainly not one you’d write home about). We can talk chocolate. We can even talk weather. (For instance, Adam, who wrote tonight, is at Oberlin. Brrrrrr! For this sunny California lover that sort of change sounds frightening.)

    ***September 9, 2003


    I’m sure you’ve read by now about the lawsuits that are being filed against those who “share” music. So be careful. You might be one who gets caught.

    I have mixed feelings about “sharing” and I understand how some folks say that the big record companies are ripping folks off. But stealing is stealing. I wouldn’t recommend doing it unless you are willing to put up with the consequences. Or I suppose in some instances it’s your parents who will deal with the consequences. Personally I’m not willing to lose my house because my kids or I decide that it’s worth that chance!

    A few months back I received a nice check. Not huge, but it was nice … somewhere around $300. What was it for? Doing recordings in the past. You see, all of us peons out here that have recorded CDs get a very small amount based upon the sales of CDs over a period of time. So sure, the record companies make the big bucks and I make only a little … but the more folks don’t buy, the smaller my small check will be. So it does hit the little person even if it only hurts the little person a little.

    I’m hoping that someday things will be fair. But I think that will be a long wait. Who ever said things would be fair anyway?

    ***September 12, 2003

    ***Bigger Brains?

    Could it be true? Could my brain be bigger that that smart doctor who tells me to eat right and exercise and all that jazz? I wonder. Check out this article and feel good about yourselves!

    Oh wait … the study was done on “musicians at the keyboard”. Oh well. Who knew they had brains?!

    Just kidding, dear my pianist pals. Really.


    So … practiced your scales lately? Remember, please, that the basics are important. Consider them your alphabet for music.

    September 13, 2003

    ***Free Advice

    I know, I know, you usually get what you pay for. And this advice is simple. Everyone should know it already. But I’ll explain why I’m placing it here after I give it.

    • Don’t steal. What belongs to someone else does not belong to you. It’s wrong.
    • Don’t lie. If you don’t lie, you won’t have to attempt to recall your silly story each time you retell it. You won’t get caught in a lie. And it’s wrong. Just don’t do it.
    • Don’t cheat. If you don’t cheat, you won’t get caught! If you don’t cheat, what you do is yours to be pleased and/or proud of.

    See, here’s the thing. I’m on a couple of double reed lists, and one “reeder”, owner of Amoris International, sent in a poem for fun. I wrote and asked if I could put it up here. She said yes (!). And then she told me about having found her CD at two sites. People can download her CD. All without her permission. This is, as you all know (don’t play ignorant … it just makes a person look stupid!), illegal. She’s an oboist. You don’t want to do this sort of thing when I might hurt a fellow oboist now, do you???

    I heard another story about someone lying about why it was necessary to miss a concert. The person was caught. People get fired for this sort of thing in the music business. Don’t do this. Even if it’s not you “job” yet, it’s your responsibility. Whether you play in a youth symphony, a college group, or a community orchestra … play the gig! If you said you’d be there, be there, unless, of course, you have a legitimate and TRUE reason to bag it. Getting a reputation as an unreliable musician can last a lifetime. No one needs that sort of reputation.

    But now to some fun … rant over and out! … and thank you, Jennifer Paull!

    ***The Oboist’s Lament

    The fruit of the womb

    And the fruit of the gauge

    Are oft-wrapped

    In self-mutilation.

    There is nothing as raw as

    A sliced-through, cut paw

    Or a reed with abject


    Allow time for a pause,
    For self-pity, a tear
    Shed in solitary, deep


    We are all so alike

    In our woes and our strife,

    And the fruit of the vine

    Gives an excellent wine with which

    To find a brief
    Exaggerate not with a glass or a tot
    As Bacchus is not oft forgiving.

    But tell me, Dear Friend,

    In which terrible haze,

    Or besotted a gaze,
    Even innocent phase,
    Did I choose to do this

    For a living?

    (c) Jennifer Paull, Vouvry


    Musical Jottings

    ***September 14, 2003

    ***Could it be True?

    Police Nab Flute-Playing Driver

    BERLIN (Reuters) – German police caught a man playing the flute with
    both hands as he sped through traffic at 80 miles per hour on a busy
    highway, police said Wednesday.

    “He was leaning back in the seat and steering the car with his knees
    and feet,” said Johann Bohnert, a spokesman for police in the town of
    Traunstein near the Austrian border. “He looked like he’d had
    practice.” He now faces a fine of 50 euros ($56).

    The 52-year-old from Salzburg in Austria, birthplace of Mozart, the
    composer whose works include the opera “The Magic Flute,” told police
    he was not actually blowing the instrument. “He said he was just
    practicing fingerings,” said Bohnert.

    (I’m assuming this really did happen. Of course I’ve been known to fall for false stories, so I’m not promising anything. But I did find it via Reuters.)


    We are a spectacular, splendid manifestation of life. We have language. We have affection. We have genes for usefulness, and usefulness is about as close to a ‘common goal’ of nature as I can guess at. And finally, and perhaps best of all, we have music..

    -Dr. Lewis Thomas (1913-1993) American author, Dean of the medical schools of Yale and New York Universities

    ***September 16, 2003

    ***Could it be True?

    Police Nab Flute-Playing Driver

    BERLIN (Reuters) – German police caught a man playing the flute with
    both hands as he sped through traffic at 80 miles per hour on a busy
    highway, police said Wednesday.

    “He was leaning back in the seat and steering the car with his knees
    and feet,” said Johann Bohnert, a spokesman for police in the town of
    Traunstein near the Austrian border. “He looked like he’d had
    practice.” He now faces a fine of 50 euros ($56).

    The 52-year-old from Salzburg in Austria, birthplace of Mozart, the
    composer whose works include the opera “The Magic Flute,” told police
    he was not actually blowing the instrument. “He said he was just
    practicing fingerings,” said Bohnert.

    (I’m assuming this really did happen. Of course I’ve been known to fall for false stories, so I’m not promising anything. But I did find it via Reuters.)


    We are a spectacular, splendid manifestation of life. We have language. We have affection. We have genes for usefulness, and usefulness is about as close to a ‘common goal’ of nature as I can guess at. And finally, and perhaps best of all, we have music..

    -Dr. Lewis Thomas (1913-1993) American author, Dean of the medical schools of Yale and New York Universities

    ***September 17, 2003


    Every day we should hear at least one little song, read one good poem, see one exquisite picture, and, if possible, speak a few sensible words.

    -Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (1749 – 1832) German poet, dramatist
    Wilhelm Meister Apprenticeship, bk. 5, ch. 1 (1795-1796)

    Have you spoken any sensible words today?

    ***Your Future … Do You Think About It?

    Okay … here’s the thing: If you are a “wannabe musician” … if you desire to be in a “major symphony orchestra” (or even a “minor” one!) … and if you aren’t listening to music, aren’t attending concerts, aren’t eating, breathing, and even dreaming music (and working on reeds and practicing more than you ever though possible!) … well … to be honest … give it up!

    Music is a difficult field. These days you have to be better than the best (or nearly). You have to be willing so sacrifice more than you might imagine. And you have to truly believe that you can’t do anything else and will do everything you are able to do to achieve your goal.

    And you know what?!

    Even that won’t necessarily get you that dream job you want. So be prepared. Be ready to work at menial jobs, both in and out of music. And be prepared (and determined) to do a good job while you do them. Whatever you do, do your best. Because whatever you do sets you up for your future.


    ***September 19, 2003


    …I think there’s only one [thing] that anybody teaches, and this is character. And I think that whether you are teaching history, math, or biology, or music, what you are really doing is, you are helping to shape the character of that person who is your student… Music is such a wonderful teaching tool, because while you are developing musical skills, that student can learn a lot about discipline [and] cooperation.

    -Rich Mullins, The Summer ’92 WCBW interview.

    I’m still mulling this one over. I think we actually do teach other things. I hope so! I also think character is something we should include in our teaching … mostly by example. This means that I can’t justify “bagging” (musicians often do this by calling in sick) a performance by one group to go play a higher paying gig at the last minute. (NO LYING! That’s a hard and fast rule.) It means I have to play well even when I’m playing music I really don’t like. It means I follow a conductor even when what she or he is asking is simply ridiculous. It means I must cooperate with the most uncooperative of musicians.

    And no, I’m not saying I’ve always managed to do these things. (Actually, though, I’ve never in my life bagged something and I never will. That one is so obvious and easy to follow!)

    ***September 20, 2003


    Of course the music is a great difficulty. You see, if one plays good music, people don’t listen, and if one plays bad music people don’t talk.

    -Oscar Wilde

    ***Being Sick …

    is simply no fun! I was in the middle of teaching my final Friday student when it hit me; the “pit cold” is now mine. Several other pit players had it. I thought I was going to avoid it this time. But no, it is here, and it is mine to hand off to someone new. (I canceled today’s student, though. I really don’t like getting others sick.) I’m glad I had already canceled two Friday students so I could go out with the rest of my family to a going away dinner for our daughter. (She’s off to her first year of college! I’m going to miss her tons.)

    But being sick doesn’t mean I can cancel my work at the opera tonight. Unless I have a very high temperature I don’t even call in sick. We have no sick pay, really, and I’m the only oboe in these reduced orchestrations that Opera San Jose uses. String players have it a little easier; only the bass is a single player, so if a violinist, violist or cellist calls in they’ll bring in a sub and have that person sit at the end of the section. It’s a “short end” since there are so few musicians in our intimate, illness sharing pit, but still, the are able to take off for sickness.

    But I’m brave. I’m strong. I can survive.

    Saw this funny little thing on the IDRS list:

    E = Fb
    musician’s theory of relativity

    ***Find a Concert

    I was just skimming Greg Sandow’s blog (through American Symphony Orchestra League. On the page you see these people who look sort of conservative and perhaps in their late thirties or forties. They are applauding. They don’t look like the sort we are actually attempting to get into our theaters to me … I thought we were going for those in their twenties, to build a new audience … but what do I know? Anyway, I selected California on the “find the concert near you” spot, and received this message: <br
    Not Found
    The requested URL /undefined was not found on this server.

    Hmmmm. Now I know for a fact that we have a lot of concerts going on! I also know that this is an error on ASOL’s part. It’s just that it made me laugh. I was using Safari, by the way, so I decided to give Internet Explorer a go. It worked just fine there, but all San Jose had listed was the San Jose Chamber Orchestra. I guess the Symphony Silicon Valley is still not a known entity.

    ***September 24, 2003


    Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.

    -Thomas Edison

    Okay, it’s not really a specific music quote. Edison wasn’t any kind of famous musician. (Did he play an instrument? I wonder!) I’ve been reading a bit about the master inventor. I hadn’t realized that he had received more patents than any other individual (1,093). I also had never read the information below. It seems Edison had opinions about the use (or misuse?!) of his inventions, and he’d written a letter to his manufacturer …

    “It had been prompted by the news that teenagers were turning up the speed of his cylinder phonograph to make the music faster. Instead of capitalizing on this trend, Edison complained, “This change of speed is far worse than any loss due to having dance records too slow. . . . They are absolutely right time but young folks of the family want this fast time & like stunts & I dont want it & wont have it.” To make sure his will was obeyed, he ordered his machinists to make a governor for the motor.”

    Those rowdy teens back then … fast music??!!

    Anyway, I would recommend to any oboists who are reading this … put on those overalls and get to work!

    ***September 26, 2003


    Learning music by reading about it is like making love by mail.

    There are more bad musicians than there is bad music.

    -Issac Stern

    A couple of Stern quotes for you. Don’t learn by (only) reading. (I think reading is beneficial, so don’t stop reading either!) Don’t be a bad musician. Listen to other oboists. Listen to other musicians as well. Know your instrument. Work on reeds. Listen to more music. Attend live performances. Practice!


    I’m gradually adding more audition dates, and I’m updating both my own performance schedule and the other performances I think might interest you (or performances in which some of you are involved). If anyone has any performances they want added just email me and I’m happy to put them up.

    ***September 29, 2003

    ***Nice to Chat with You!

    I just had a nice conversation with a student from the other end of our nation! (Thanks for saying “hi’ and for talking for a while! That was great fun!) It’s such fun to converse with oboists from around the country … and around the world! I do hope more of you pop in to say “hi” to me. Simply IM me at patioboe and if I’m around I’ll be happy to chat.

    ***So Long, Don Pasquale

    The opera is over. Done. Finished.

    And it was a good run, although I’m sorry to say that the hall wasn’t packed. In the past it was sold out house after sold out house. This year is different. Even the opera, which has always been the best sold performing arts group I’ve been in, isn’t managing to pack ’em in. Such is the state of the economy I suppose. If you want the arts to continue, don’t forget to support them! There’s nothing to compare with a live performance … well, other than another live performance I suppose.

    ***What’s Coming Up?

    … aside from the all important San Francisco Giants games, that is? … I have a small part to play in this week’s San Jose Chamber Orchestra concert on October 4. On October 11 I’ll be playing principal oboe for Symphony Silicon Valley. I take a bit of a break before I perform in the UCSC faculty recital on November 1, at 7:30PM.

    But for the moment??

    Go Giants!!

    ***September 30, 2003

    ***PQFM (poetry quote for the moment!)

    Some say, compar’d to Bononcini,
    That Mynheer Handel’s but a ninny;
    Others aver that he to Handel
    Is scarcely fit to hold a candle.
    Strange all this difference should be
    ‘Twixt Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

    -John Byrom (1691-1763) English author, poet, On the feuds between Handel and Bononcini

    (Don’t know about you, but I’ve not heard of Bononcini, and I’m well aware of Handel!)


    Playing the oboe just might be good for your health!

    I had read about this before; I believe the man featured in this story is one who wrote to the IDRS list and told us all about his improvement in health.

    I exercise. I try to do so daily now. I joined a club a few months back and I’m feeling mighty fine. (Truly! The last time I did this I felt rotten every time I went; what I’m doing now is hard work but extremely rewarding and exhilarating!) But now I wonder if perhaps I can also say that my practice time counts for more than just oboe time. Maybe it’s good for my health as well!

    ***October 2, 2003


    It is cruel, you know, that music should be so beautiful. It has the beauty of loneliness and of pain: of strength and freedom. The beauty of disappointment and never-satisfied love. The cruel beauty of nature, and everlasting beauty of monotony.

    -Benjamin Britten

    ***Listening to the Radio

    I don’t listen to the radio all that often. KQED (our local PBS radio station) wakes me in the morning. It often takes nearly 10 minutes for me to actually wake up, though; somehow the calm voices don’t yell “Get up, you silly girl!” to me. But the radio goes off fairly quickly.

    When I’m driving, though, the radio is often on. I sometimes listen to our local AM news station, but mostly just to hear the traffic and weather reports. (Traffic here can be a nuisance at times, and when I have a job in San Francisco I have to know what’s up because being late to a job simply cannot happen!) Otherwise I either listen to a jazz station or a classical station. Lately the announcers’ voices have been getting to me. The jazz announcers all sound so laid back — almost like they are drinking a glass of wine (or have already had that glass). They are cool. They are hip. Nothing causes great excitement. They are far too cool for excitement. And then there are the velvet, upperclass, sounds of the classical station. They sound as if their noses are in the air. Or some such thing. And the ads? They are for the wealthy as well. I suppose because that’s who we want on “our team”. (Heck, we need the funding!)

    And it got me thinking. That’s what we always think of with “classical” music, don’t we? We are the upperclass. We play and listen to “highbrow” music. We are somehow above those who don’t. Which is, of course, nonsense. In my little opinion, anyway! We’re just folks. C’mon, you know it’s true! We just like the music. Big whoop. Why, oh why, do these stations (as well as so many people) want to portray this music as inaccessible to the “average Joe”? Shoot. I’m an average Joe myself. I just like the music. That’s all.

    Besides, we need the audience as well as the funding. And getting the average Joe or, as I prefer to think, the “real folks” … well, I think that’s a grand idea!

    Now if you do know people who just refuse to go to symphony concerts (you know you do!), take them instead to a few movies. Ask them if they liked the music to the Tolkien movies, or to Star Wars. Or watch The Red Violin. Or an oldie … some of those even have music by some mighty famous “classical” composers! Then give ’em some copies of those soundtracks. They’ll learn. Really. They just don’t know they like “that kind of music” yet. Later hand ’em a few classical CDs. Later, you might even get one or two to attend a live concert!

    Oh dear. I think I’ve rambled. I’m not sure what I’ve said, or if what I’ve said will make great sense. (Please understand, the Yankees are playing the Twins. I’m a baseball fan. My brain is in two places at once! … although we musicians should be good at multi-tasking, yes?)

    ***October 3, 2003

    ***Yes, It’s True

    If you read the Mercury News you may have read the article about the ballet musicians filng a grievance over the use of recorded music that Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley is planning on using for Aaron Copland’s beautiful work, Appalachian Spring. Lest you think we are being cruel to the financially troubled group, please note that the original ballet uses on thirteen musicians! Surely they could come up with funding for that? I can’t imagine going to watch live ballet (I suppose no one in their right mind would try presenting taped ballet on stage, eh?) and hearing canned music. Especially in the San Jose Center for Performing Arts. The sound system there is horrible. The technicians rarely get it right. And, well, much of the beauty is missing when you don’t have a conductor and orchestra that can bend and stretch when the dancers do their thing.

    This is the wave of the future, though. This and the “virtual orchestra”.

    If you don’t like it, write to the organizations that are dumping musicians for this sort of thing. They need to hear from the public.

    ***October 4, 2003


    Music is the best means we have of digesting time.

    -W.H. Auden

    ***University Students

    I’d like to remind all my university students to check this site on occasion (but I guess if you never check the site you won’t see this reminder, will you?), and to respond to email if I send you a message … please! If I don’t hear back I assume you didn’t receive the message!

    Also, I’m subbing at San Jose State University for a dear friend of mine, while she works on recovering from a bout with cancer. I will plan on putting up a page for that school, possibly as soon as tomorrow.

    ***October 5, 2003

    ***String Quartet, Anyone?

    There’s a new string quartet at San Jose State University. The Cypress String Quartet. You might want to check them out, and they have a concert today. An affordable concert! There’s an article here. Sounds like a good group, and I’m hoping to hear them soon (although probably not today).

    ***Occupational Hazards

    We don’t work around dangerous chemicals (most of the time … I do have some stories!). We don’t have to wear hard hats to do our job. We don’t have to worry about injuring a patient (although we can injure our colleagues with bad playing or overly loud playing). But we do have occupational injuries and one must always remember this! Wear those earplugs when you are playing the louder works, sitting in front of brass or perscussion, or sitting to the right of the piccolo (rare to sit to their right, but it might happen sometimes). We oboists have to worry most about our hands. Take care! If you begin to feel a lot of pain stop playing! Practice is certainly important, but you need to stop if your hands are cramping up.

    ***October 6, 2003


    The musical emotion springs precisely from the fact that at each moment the composer withholds or adds more or less than the listener anticipates on the basis of a pattern that he thinks he can guess, but that he is incapable of wholly divining…. If the composer withholds more than we anticipate, we experience a delicious falling sensation; we feel we have been torn from a stable point on the musical ladder and thrust into the void…. When the composer withholds less, the opposite occurs: he forces us to perform gymnastic exercises more skillful than our own.

    -Claude Lévi-Strauss (b. 1908) French anthropologist, “Overture”, The Raw and the Cooked (1964)


    ***October 7, 2003

    ***La Boheme

    Some folks thought Baz Luhrmann had a lot of nerve to try to put on an opera. I found it one of the highlights of my oboe career. He picked singers who looked the parts, and could actually act. They could sing and move at the same time. They could cry. They looked young and alive … well, expect for poor Mimi who looked young and ill. Many scoffed at the attempt. Purists said it wasn’t opera because of the reduced orchestra. (Being in Opera San Jose I’m used to reduced orchestras and I’m not bothered by them if the pit is so small you can’t accomodate a full orchestra.) They aslo said it was horrible, and not “real opera”, because they used some amplification. I’ve been told by some who were there that they couldn’t detect the “sound enhancement”, by the way, and, well, shoot, New York City Opera uses amplification. Someone (a New York musician) even swears that the Met does as well, but they will never admit it. Some thought that it was too “hip”, being moved forward in time. Too bad for those who didn’t like it. I loved it.

    But now there’s this. Boheme on roller skates? Or so they say. Luhrmann did have a few kids on skates, but this? I wonder. Sounds like it could be wild!

    But if I was open to Luhrmann’s I guess I’d better be open to this production also. Yes?

    Always an open mind. Or the attempt at an open mind.

    ***October 8, 2003

    ***Hungry? Wanna Save Some Money?

    Well … read the article. (You see the link above, don’t you? Those blue letters? C’mon, you know you want to read it!) Then find a restaurant that avoids classical music!

    Or just don’t give in to those feelings of sophistication. I’ve managed to play the stuff for ages and I don’t exactly appear sophisticated, affluent or wealthy. … do I?

    Hmm. Careful how you answer that! 😎

    ***October 9, 2003


    The key to the mystery of a great artist is that for reasons unknown, he will give away his energies and his life just to make sure that one note follows another . . . and leaves us with the feeling that something is right in the world.

    -Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)

    ***October 10, 2003

    ***An Edible Orchestra?

    Yeah. Well, you have to read it to believe it! Really.

    ***October 12, 2003

    ***An English Hornist not to be Missed!

    … and yet I’m not sure I can make this as I have opera that day. (sigh)

    Anyway, here’s the information;

    WHO: CHAMBER MUSIC SUNDAES, presenting San Francisco Symphony musicians and friends.

    Featured is San Francisco Symphony English Horn player Julie Giacobassi and Soprano-Composer Deborah Kavasch.

    WHAT: An Aria from Bach’s Cantata #1 and Robert Sibbing’s Songs of the Prairie for Soprano, English Horn and Piano; Duos for Soprano and English Horn by Berg and Kavasch; and Schubert’s String Quartet Death and the Maiden

    WHEN: Sunday November 2 at 3:15 pm

    WHERE: St John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave., Berkeley

    TICKETS:  at the door, $18 General Admission;$14 Students & Seniors ; $7 Youth under 18

    For more information: 415 584 5946

    ***Last Night’s Concert

    It was so great to see Olivia and Susan Ady, along with their two friends, at the concert last night. Thanks for attending! It means a great deal to me to have students and parents come to hear the symphony, and it’s wonderful to get to talk to you a wee bit after the concert (before I am simply too preoccupied!).

    The concert itself went well. I absolutely love working with Paul Polivnick (the conductor). He’s clear. He’s musical. He allows us to be musical. He causes me to want to play my absolute best. He asks for dynamic contrast. He has great knowledge of the scores. And he has good time!! (Something we have, on occasion, been missing in this group.) I do hope he returns. He’s one I would love to see get a permanent position here. I’m not sure, though, if we are going to be having a “regular” conductor. (I’d prefer that, though.)

    I was happy with my playing. I enjoyed the evening immensely. Still, filling in for Pam isn’t easy; I love playing principal, but I don’t like coming in due to her illness. Toward the end of the concert I felt quite emotional, knowing I was there because she was fighting a disease. (Get better quickly, Pam! Love you!)

    And now on to the next event; this coming Saturday I coach (all day long … whew!) a group (or groups) from the Chamber Musicians of Northern California.

    After that it’s on to opera, overlapped with my UCSC faculty recital. (See Patty’s Performance Schedule for details.)

    ***October 13, 2003

    ***50 Years!

    There’s a good article on a musician, Gilda Mazzanti, who has been in the symphony (in its various forms: San Jose Symphony, Symphony San Jose Silicon Valley and Symphony Silicon Valley) for 50 years. I think that’s pretty darn amazing. If I manage to do that, I’ll be 68 for my 50th celebration. I’m not sure, though, that oboists can last as long at this as violinists. Time will tell!

    Gilda taught Dan when he was quite young! She always asks about him, and she tells us something about threatening to turn his trombone into a bow tie or some such thing. She’s quite the character.

    (Side note: the new symphony really isn’t the San Jose Symphony because the San Jose Symphony can’t ever come back; the type of bankruptcy filed doesn’t allow for resurrections. Still, while the names have been changed many of the musicians remain the same.)

    ***October 14, 2003

    ***New Oboist in the Cleveland Orchestra

    John Mack was there for a good number of years, but there’s a new oboist now, and that oboist is a 34 year old woman. You can read about her by clicking on the link above.


    Just another reminder to check email on occasion, and respond to messages I send, even if only to say “got it!” so that I know you’re reading my messages. I’m thrilled to be teaching so many university students this quarter, and I always love to teach all the private students as well!

    So … Don’t forget to begin your practice with scales! Follow up with long tones. Then etudes. Save the “fun stuff” (those solos you all want to play, and the duets I assign) for last. If you don’t know your scales perfectly you simply have to spend the hours on them until you are able to play them well.

    And don’t forget those pesky reeds! A reed a day keeps the agony away.

    Or something like that.

    ***October 15, 2003


    Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.

    -Martha Graham (1894-1991) American dancer, choreographer, teacher
    quoted in ib, 5 Aug 86

    Yes … over and over … not once. Not twice. More than that. If you really want to learn something it requires time. And the goal is perfection, yes? I like the notion of “inviting perfection”!

    Martha Graham spoke to our San Jose Symphony audience. It was in our 1975-76 bicenntenial season. We had a number of famous composers come and conduct their works. (We lost a lot of subscribers after that season too because they couldn’t stand all that modern music! John Cage. Harry Partch ensemble. Hovhannes. Carlos Chavez. More.) Martha Graham came along with Aaron Copland. We were doing Appalachian Spring. Prior to the beginning of that half of the concert a chair was set in front of the curtain and Ms. Graham came out to speak. She sat and talked. She looked like a queen. I’m sorry to say I can’t even remember what she talked about. But I remember how it felt; it was like being in the presence of someone far beyond what I would ever be. I can’t say why. Maybe it was her voice. Maybe it was what she represented for dance. But it was something else, and I don’t know if they audience quite understood what was happening in those moments!

    The ballet was fabulous, too!

    ***October 16, 2003


    [T]here’s no bad day that can’t be overcome by listening to a barbershop quartet; this is just truth, plain and simple.

    Chuck, The World According to Chuck weblog, September 30, 2003

    (This quote is in honor of my father. Today is his birthday. He used to sing in a barbershop choir.)

    Soooo … probably some of you don’t really like barbershop quartet music. It takes some, um, adjustment for some ears! But it is Americana, to be sure. If you haven’t ever listened to it I suggest going to a live performance. You sort of have to “see” it to believe it, I think!

    Oh, and if you go to the blog I’m quoting from read “A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood”. Excellent.

    ***October 19, 2003


    I believe that heaven and earth will tremble when it is performed.

    -Ries (Beethoven’s student, on Beethoven’s Third Symphony)

    I think that it will interest the musical public.

    -Beethoven, on his Third Symphony

    ***Stay Awake, Don’t Close Your Eyes

    This, on a Seattle Opera page:

    This opera is very long and much of the slow, beautiful music will relax you, even lull you into a trance-like state. So avoid drinking alcohol when you go to Parsifal, because it will (a) make you sleepy, and (b) act as a diuretic. Caffeine may help keep you alert, but it, too, will make you want to go to the bathroom at the worst possible time. Since the opera, with intermissions, is about five hours long, a better idea is to get plenty of sleep the night before, eat a light meal before coming to the theater, and plan on getting a snack at one of the intermissions. Take care of your body and then you won?t be distracted by it as you’re getting lost in the transcendent experience this opera can offer!

    ***October 23, 2003


    Every man’s work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself.

    Samuel Butler (1612-80), English poet, author

    Sooo … all you oboists out there; think of your playing as your personal portraits. If you let things slide. If you are lazy with your scales, if you allow those “glitches” (those notes between the written notes) to remain, if you don’t study your part, if you don’t study the “all of it” (the entire work; listen to those CDs!), if you don’t work on your reeds, if you don’t work on your pitch and timbre … you’re not “looking good”!

    What to do, what to do?


    ***October 25, 2003


    Music is the art which is most nigh to tears and memory.

    -Oscar Wilde

    ***Back to Work I Go

    … not that I haven’t been working, actually. Teaching continues, and I do love to teach! But I had a week of no concerts. Wait! Make that two weeks. Wow … I didn’t realize it had been that long of a break. This coming week Opera San Jose rehearsals begin, and my UCSC faculty recital is Saturday at 7:30. I hope to see some of you there! (Sorry, but you’ll have to pay for parking … that’s what happens when funding gets cut from educational institutions.) If you want directions or other information just email me and ask!

    ***October 29, 2003

    ***You Are Cordially Invited …

    … to my UCSC faculty recital!

    Where: University of California, Santa Cruz: Recital Hall
    When: November 1, 2003 at 7:30
    What: Lots of music, including two works with oboe (Mozart Piano Quintet and Milhaud’s La Cheminee du Roi Rene)
    Why: Because I’d love to see you there!


    Where words fail, music speaks.

    -Hans Christian Andersen

    ***October 30, 2003


    A painter paints his pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence. We provide the music, and you provide the silence.

    -Leopold Stokowski (1882?1977) English-born, American conductor, reprimanding talkative audience, May 11, 1967

    ***Those Darn Scales!

    Practice them. Really. Know them. Get them in your “finger brains”. And then make them beautiful. Don’t play them as if you are reading the phone book. Make them musical. Act as though they are solos in symphonic works. Trust me on this. I have my reasons.

    In fact, I was teaching Madeline today (Hi Madeline!) and she said that in the Sibelius symphony she is playing (#1, I believe) there is a SOLO and it just so happens to be a chromatic scale. So you see? It makes great sense to practice them as if they are solos in a symphony concert!

    Sometimes what I say makes sense. You know?

    ***November 1, 2003

    ***Tonight’s the Night!

    Recital, here I come! If you want to hear some very fine flute, clarinet, bassoon and horn playing, you should be there! Oh yeah, and I’ll play too. (But I’ll let you decide if my playing is fine or not!) And yes, there will be more “fine playing” as well … I’m just pointing out the wind playing because I’m a wind player. Silly me!

    ***Another Addition to my Performance Schedule

    I’ll be playing with the Santa Clara Chorale this coming Friday evening, 8:00 at Mission Santa Clara. We are doing Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass and Mozart’s Mass in F Major.

    ***November 2, 2003


    Yes, the recital is over. No, I didn’t play perfectly. Welcome to the musician’s world; there are no guarantees! We do our best. Sometimes things don’t go the way we choose. We move on. One has to get used to that or else go crazy.

    I suppose in my case I’ve done both? 🙂

    I struggled in the hall. I’m not sure what it is about that hall, but it seems unforgiving toward reeds.

    When we were running the works prior to “showtime” the stage folk lowered the lights and accoustic “things” (sorry, I’m not sure what they are called!) and for a time I thought they weren’t going to be able to lift it all back up … there must have been a glitch in the wiring or something. I was hopeful; it felt so cozy with what felt like the ceiling right over my head. Kind of like a “blankie” I guess. Alas, it did move back up … and that’t when I realized my reed wasn’t the best for the hall, but I wasn’t comfortable moving to a different one after going through the works. Ah well.

    ***Opera Time

    I have the first staged rehearsal of opera tonight. This is the first time we’ve done the “Cav/Pag” double bill. (See my performance schedule for the full titles if you don’t know what Cav/Pag means!) We needed at least two extra rehearsals … but funding didn’t allow it. So we go in tonight, not fully knowing the “roadmap” or the conductor’s tempi. It could be a wild ride.

    I do, however, listen to CDs of the works I perform. I try to get the music in my brain as much as possible. In the music part of my life I don’t like surprises, so I want to know what is solo, soli and tutti. In opera there are a lot of traditional things (especially extra time taken on notes for the singers) done that I can learn about in recordings (not to say that all those traditions will be carried out with our particular conductor; it’s up to him and we have to follow!). I study all works, not just opera, by listening to recordings and following my part … I recommend to that to all players. It’s best, if you have the opportunity, to listen to several recordings so you don’t think the work has to be played exactly like one conductor’s rendition, but even one recording is better than none.

    ***November 3, 2003

    ***Second Oboe Position Soon!

    The opera has finally decided to have an official oboe audition. I’m thrilled; we have used second oboe off and on in the past, but it’s not been a permanent position. We are moving into a bigger theater next season so it’s time to enlarge the entire orchestra, and second oboe is on the agenda. Yay!

    When we determine what the audition date will be (all I know now is that it’s on a Saturday sometime between February and May) I’ll post that information here, along with the required repertoire.

    Repertoire suggestions? Email me at oboe@planetmitchell.com! I plan on a solo work (maybe not even the Mozart … we’ll see!) and everything else will be, obviously, from operas. There will be first and second oboe excerpts, as well as some English horn.

    I’m a happy camper!

    ***November 4, 2003

    ***Free Dress Rehearsal For My Students (Private & University)

    Sorry this is SO late, but it thought I’d let you all know that I’m allowed to bring 2 guests to each of our two open dress rehearsals for the opera tomorrow and Thursday. They begin at 11:30, so school would have to be missed, and you can’t be late or you won’t get in. BUT … if anyone is interested I’ll do a “first come, first served” thing with you. Email me and I’ll let you know if you “won”! I’m sorry this is such late notice. They always notify us a bit late, and I missed the rehearsal where we were informed. The performance is around 3 hours long (perhaps a wee bit shorter). People usually bring sack lunches and eat outside during intermission, but you aren’t allowed to bring the food into the theater so they usually have you leave it somewhere in the lobby. We perform at Montgomery Theater in San Jose.

    ***November 6, 2003


    (Those crazy opera composers!)

    I’ve bested you. Faust has made 20,000 francs this week and your Le Cid only 16,000 . . . suicide’s the only thing left for you now.

    -Charles Gounod (1818-1893) French composer to French composer Jules Massenet (Harding, Gounod, 1973)

    ***No Takers

    Sorry none of you were able to take advantage of the free dress rehearsals, but I know it really is an inconvenient time. (I also know that not many of my students read this site and I’m going to start having notices here for tickets just to get you to!)

    ***Opening Night

    On Saturday we have opening night for Cavelleria Rusticana and Pagliacci. The singers are doing a great job. I think the operas will be very good. If you can make it to a performance, do give it a try!

    OR …

    I walk past the San Jose Civic Auditorium on my way to the Montgomery Theater where we perform. I see that Saturday night you could also go to the Roller Derby and see the Bay Bombers go against the Red Devils.

    You choose.

    ***November 7, 2003


    I’ve outdone anyone you can name — Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Strauss. Irving Berlin, he wrote 1,001 tunes. I wrote 5,500.

    -James Brown (1928) America’s Godfather of Soul, charter member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

    ***November 9, 2003


    If they think they are doing something new they ought to do what I do every day. I spend at least two hours every day listening to Johann Sebastian
    Bach, and man, it’s all there. If they want to improvise around a theme,
    which is the essence of jazz, they should learn from the master. He never
    wastes a note, and he knows where every note is going and when to bring it
    back. Some of these cats go way out and forget where they began or what
    they started to do. Bach will clear it up for them.

    -Coleman Hawkins (1904-1969) American jazz saxophonist

    Seems like maybe James Brown could have taken some humility lessons from Coleman Hawkins!

    ***November 12, 2003

    ***I See the Moon

    So … you put on an opera. The audience doesn’t like what they’ve seen. What should you do?
    1) revamp the staging
    2) blame it on the singers/actors
    3) quit and try a new career
    4) moon the audience

    Yep. You guessed it. It’s that moon thing. Silly, silly man. Now he’s being charged with public indecency.

    The thing is, this took place in Rio de Janiero … you know? … the place you go for Carnival? The place where baring all isn’t all that much of a shock. Hmmm. Guess it’s a shock if it’s on an opera stage, eh?

    (In reading about the staging I do find it distasteful. I’m glad I wasn’t there. Both for the staging and seeing the moon, thank you very much!)

    ***November 13, 2003

    ***I See the Moon

    So … you put on an opera. The audience doesn’t like what they’ve seen. What should you do?
    1) revamp the staging
    2) blame it on the singers/actors
    3) quit and try a new career
    4) moon the audience

    Yep. You guessed it. It’s that moon thing. Silly, silly man. Now he’s being charged with public indecency.

    The thing is, this took place in Rio de Janiero … you know? … the place you go for Carnival? The place where baring all isn’t all that much of a shock. Hmmm. Guess it’s a shock if it’s on an opera stage, eh?

    (In reading about the staging I do find it distasteful. I’m glad I wasn’t there. Both for the staging and seeing the moon, thank you very much!)

    ***November 14, 2003


    Dear Puccini, if this time you have not succeeded in hitting the nail squarely on the head, I will change my profession and sell salami!

    -Giulio Ricordi (Puccini’s publisher) after seeing the score for La Bohème

    ***Sort of Like a Birthday

    … well, some of you may think I’m sick, but really, that’s how it feels. Because I just received my order from Van Cott Information Services! What did I order, you want to know? (And even if you don’t, I’m going to tell you.) Jay Light’s Essays for Oboists and, more importantly, Carl Sawicki’s The Oboe Revealed. Of course having the Sawicki doesn’t mean I can fix everything about my oboe … I’ll have to read the book first! But I’m truly looking forward to become more adept at solving problems that used to require that I surrender my instrument to a repairman.

    ***November 16, 2003


    I don’t like country music, but I don’t mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means ‘put down’.

    -Bob Newhart

    ***Taking A Break … Sort Of!

    For the next week I’ll be skipping Opera San Jose (a total of four performances) while I move to Symphony Silicon Valley. We’ll be at the San Jose Center for Performing Arts on Saturday night and Sunday we move up to Redwood City to play in the Fox Theatre. I’ve never been to the Fox before, and I’ll get my first view of it on Wednesday when we hold our first rehearsal there.

    The two operas I’ve been playing are fabulous to play. There’s a good amount of solo oboe work and some great music. They are also hard work. I’m sorry to leave my pals in the opera pit … those musicians are the best to work with! I’ll miss them.

    ***A Concert of Interest

    I am working next Sunday, as I mentioned above, but someone from the IDRS email list sent a message about a concert I wish I could attend. Here’s the information, in case any of you can make it there:

    November 23, 2:00 PM
    Foothills Congregational Church, 461 Orange Avenue, Los Altos, CA
    The program includes:
    Marcello concerto, Dring’s Trio for flute, oboe and piano, traditional Irish
    folk music, and works by Barber, JS Bach, Widor and Corigliano.
    No admission charge, and free cookies, too.
    Nancy Powell, oboe
    Dave Ross, flute
    Fred Cummins, piano and voice

    ***November 17, 2003


    If a composer could say what he had to say in words he would not bother trying to say it in music.

    -Gustav Mahler

    ***Oboe Art

    Some of my students, as well as some of my students’ parents, have commented on the artwork in my house or on this site. All the work here is by our daughter, Kelsey. Some of you have even asked to purchase her work. She has now decided that she just might be able to do some work for some of you over Christmas vacation. So if you are truly interested, contact me so we can chat about your interest! You might also think about what you are willing to pay … remember that these take a good amount of time to paint and/or draw!

    If you are interested in more of her work (not all about the oboe, by the way), visit her galleries. She’s recently updated everything!

    ***Dancers Aren’t the Only Ones!

    Nutcracker. Over and over. And over. And over. Every December.

    But why? It’s not a Christmas tradition in other countries. And, it turns out, it’s not exactly an old tradition here either. Unless the 1950’s makes it an “old tradition” (to some of you I guess that would be the case, but then you also think I’m old and I’m not … really!).

    I read a short article about the Nut being canceled in Boston. Interesting. It includes this snippet from a UCI professor:

    ” … the ballet — which has only been performed in Boston for 35 years — is an “invented tradition,” and one that didn’t take root anywhere in this country until the mid-1950s. Furthermore, she suggests, many dance insiders would rejoice if the old warhorse were put to pasture. (“Every Christmas,” as one dance critic put it, “we are all one more ‘Nutcracker’ closer to death.”)

    Alas, I will be “one more ‘Nutcracker’ closer to death” at the end of December. I will be performing it twenty times if I do all performances. In past years I’ve done even more. The highest number was done the year I did three different productions. (Playing three different positions too: first English horn alone, then the rewritten second oboe/English horn double, and finally principal oboe.)

    ***November 18, 2003

    ***Just Listen!

    Oh … I do like this! But the trouble is, so many people don’t know how to just listen … or look … any more. It seems to be a lost art for many. (sigh)

    ***I’m Older Tomorrow

    Isn’t that something? I was older today than I was yesterday, too, but somehow nobody made a big deal of that. Tomorrow people will. If they were entirely accurate they’d make a big deal at 12:48 am … but if anyone did choose to do that I would not be happy about it! I may have made a grand entrance then, many years ago, but I will be making no entrance at that time this year. I will be sleeping soundly. Or so I hope.

    ***November 20, 2003


    Music is the shorthand of emotion.

    Leo Tolstoy

    ***Need A New Outfit?

    I’m guessing, as old as some of these costumes are, and the sweaty bodies that have worn them, that they probably won’t do for prom dresses and tuxes, but who knows?! It must be fun to go in and view all the history that’s behind costumes from operas and ballets. Alas, I don’t live anywhere near the Paris Opéra.

    ***November 23, 2003


    … it’s what every musician must do eventually. Usually sooner, rather than later, since most musicians begin auditioning when they join youth orchestras. Then there are college and conservatory auditions. Then auditions for orchestras in those colleges and conservatories. But when the “real” auditions begin it can be brutal. (I was fortunate. I got into the San Jose Symphony in earlier days. I’ve played in Opera San Jose pretty much from its birth. Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley took most of us from the San Jose Symphony when they split off to have their own orchestra, and of Symphony Silicon Valley has taken musicians from a combination of San Jose Symphony and the Ballet orchestras.) But these behind the screen (at least for the preliminary rounds) symphony orchestra auditions can be brutal and very impersonal. And I believe it is much harder to win a job now. I don’t envy those of you who are doing the audition game. It’s costly, too … all those flights and hotels.

    My bow was shaking like you wouldn’t believe,” recalls Koons of having performed behind a screen for a nine-member committee of CSO musicians. She had already tried out some 30 times for openings in most of the top U.S. orchestras, without success, before vying for a chair in the CSO. Being a veteran of the auditions process only made it worse. “I’ve done enough auditions to know what’s at stake, which is why it was so overwhelming and stressful,” she says.

    You can read this article about three violinist and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. (The quote above is from the article.) It gives a very small picture of what it’s like. (Maybe someday I’ll write a bit about being on the “other side” too … it’s stressful deciding someone’s fate too, although I certainly admit it isn’t the same intensity of stress!) From that article move on to this one to see what’s up now.

    (To read the articles you might have to register. It’s easy and doesn’t cost anything, but if you are leery of that sort of thing just enter “ajreader” for the user name and “access” for the password (without the apostrophes of course!) Then you might want to visit Arts Journal so you aren’t lying about being an “ajreader”!

    Getting a symphony job – even in one of the “B” orchestras – is getting more and more difficult. There is so much talent and so few spaces. Most musicians have to do something else to make money as they audition again and again all over the country. If it’s what you desire, you have to want it very badly. You have to be ready for a lot of disappointment. And you have to practice more than you might know. But the joy of music is wonderful!

    As hard as it sometimes is, I love this career!

    ***November 24, 2003

    ***A New Page

    I’m planning on putting up a new page soon … one on which I’ll list any summer music festivals & workshops that oboists (and others) might consider. In the latest Internation Musician I already see the a listing for the Orchestra Academy in Germany (at the Salzau Castle) as well as the Colorado Music Festival in … you guessed it … Colorado! There’s also the National Repertory Orchestra which takes place in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

    Aren’t you hoping I get that page up soon?!

    ***November 25, 2003

    ***It’s Official!

    The second oboe/English horn position has been announced. I received a Local 153 email a short time ago. So … since it’s gone out to the 153 masses I’ll announce it here as well. The audition will be on February 28th.

    The email listed other positions as well, so I’m going to include the entire announcement here:

    Opera San José
    Irene Dalis, General Director
    David Rohrbaugh, Music Director

    Announces the following vacancies:

    Violin I, II
    (up to 5 positions available)
    Saturday, January 24

    Oboe II/English Horn
    Saturday, February 28

    Section Cello
    Saturday, March 6

    Bassoon II
    Saturday, April 3

    Employment will commence in the 2004-2005 Season

    -60 services guaranteed
    -$142.00 per service
    -AFM Pension Plan

    Audition Info:
    Please send Resumé to:

    Opera San José: Artistic Office
    2149 Paragon Drive
    San Jose, CA 95131-1312
    (408) 437-4456

    *Repertoire will be given upon receipt of resumé

    This last part … about repertoire … well, I haven’t put together the audition repertoire list yet for the oboe/EH job, so if you send in your resumé be patient! You’ll get the list when we mail it out to everyone. Really! (Sure would love to view some other opera audition lists, but the only one I’ve found is the Met. Ah well.) If you’ve played opera, you can probably even figure out a lot of what will be on our list.

    ***November 28, 2003


    After playing the violin for the cellist Gregor Piatgorsky, Albert Einstein asked, “Did I play well?”

    You played relatively well,” replied Piatigorsky.

    ***December 1, 2003

    ***What’s New

    There are a couple of new auditions on my current audition page. You might want to check them out, if only to see what sort of repertoire they are asking for.

    I apologize for not getting to the music festivals page that I promised. It will get put up soon. Honest!

    I read an interesting article just now about a member of the Florida Orchestra. It includes all the typical “stuff” we go through, and it’s worth a look. It ends with this:

    Last week, when the orchestra closed down temporarily for Thanksgiving, many of the musicians filed for unemployment benefits. The checks are roughly $275.

    A lot of musicians do have to file for unemployment, but I’m not one of them. I’m thankful for that!

    ***Happy December

    Can you believe it? I can’t! Nutcracker is just a week and a few days away. Wow.

    December 3, 2003

    ***His Kidney for a Sax

    Sad, but I guess true. I’m sorry, but while I love music, and I need my instruments, I’m not sure I’d sell a kidney to obtain an oboe. But then I live in a prosperous country and I don’t know need. Not really.

    ***Chamber Music Concert Tonight

    I’ll be at UCSC to hear the flute and guitar duo playing the Ibert I coached them on this quarter. There will be a lot of other music as well. The concert is at 7:30 in the Recital Hall, in case anyone reading this is interested. Late notice, but there you go.

    ***December 4, 2003


    And of course the minute I wrote the message below the email came back up. Just to be on the safe side, though, stick to speakeasy for email. It’s just easier to speak that way. (Sorry. I couldn’t resist!)

    ***Yes, The Server Was Down

    If you tried to access this site last night, you didn’t get here. Sorry. There have been some server problems. I’m hopeful we’ll be up and running now without interruption, but I can’t make any promises!

    Meanwhile, I still have no email via the planetaddress. Please switch your address books over to my speakeasy address (see About) from here on out. Thanks!

    ***December 6, 2003

    ***A Fabulous Buy!

    Go here and buy a CD-ROM that will include complete oboe and English horn orchestral parts to works by Auber, Beethoven, Bellini, Berlioz, Cherubini, Donizetti, Rossini, Schubert and Weber. It’s well worth the $20.95 price tag. Well, maybe not. I think it’s worth more than that. Honest and true. I received my CD today, and I’ve checked it out. It’s wonderful.

    Buy it.

    It does come with an agreement that I won’t be making tons of copies and handing them to others. And believe me, I won’t! If my students aren’t willing to put out a mere $20.95 … well … too bad!

    ***Want Harvard?

    Any Harvard wannabes out there? It’s a tough school to get into. Besides, it’s cold there. So go to Harvard but stay warm! Go online to Harvard! I checked out the site, and ran across a lecture about Beethoven as well as one on Bach manuscripts. There are also lectures on politics, poetry, science … and you can even watch commencements if you’d like. (Guess you could don a cap & gown and pretend to be one of the grads. Hmmm. Ya think?)

    ***December 12, 2003


    Yes, it’s that time of year; Nutcracker has begun. It all comes back fairly quickly, but I’ve played the English horn part for so many years that I sometimes think it’s about “my turn” and it’s actually not! (I’m playing principal this year, filling in for Pam as she is recovering. GO PAM!! I’d love to see you back in the pit next Nut!)

    ***Hand Pain

    I’ve had a hand problem for over three weeks now. I finally saw a doctor last week, and he said “tendonitis” and gave me some advice on what to do. I thought it was getting better. This morning I woke up in agony. This struggle is a first for me — in the past I have had tired hands at times, but never anything like this. I called about physical therapy, but I think what I really need is a specialist. Ah well. Take care of your hands, people! (There’s this lurking fear that I tend to shove away that this is the beginning of the end of happy hands. I can’t let that happen!!)


    I’ve been lax about quotes. Sorry!

    Writing about music is like dancing about architecture – it’s really a stupid thing to want to do.

    -Elvis Costello

    (This is why I don’t often write about what music “is” for me … it’s nearly impossible. I’d rather have you come over and listen to something with me. When I grab your arm and either yell or whisper, “Would you listen to THAT?!” maybe you’ll understand. Or if you see me fall to the floor in a weeping heap … well … no … I’ll leave that for the times I’m listening alone! At the same time, I remember William Hurt describing a Beethoven symphony in the movie “Children of a Lesser God” and what he did with his hands … well … it made my cry because it was beautiful. So maybe we can sometimes dance about architecture?)

    A verbal art like poetry is reflective; it stops to think. Music is immediate, it goes on to become.

    -W. H. Auden

    (Hmmm. I may have posted this before; I need to update the past MQODs! But ah well … it’s worth repeating I think.)

    ***December 15, 2003


    I do hope that all readers here have a warm and wonderful holiday. Celebrate safely! Remember The Birth.

    ***Private Students

    Are you all ready for no school??! I’m guessing so, and I certainly understand. You’ve all been working hard, as I know from the conversations we’ve had. Time for a break, don’t you think?

    I will not be teaching the week of Christmas, and on New Year’s week I’ll teach only on Monday the 29th. So if you want a lesson, email me soon and give me your time preference for a time.

    Beginning in January I will have a new policy. I will teach 30 minute lessons only to beginners and those who are young enough (under 12 years of age) that a lengthier lesson might be impractical. I will no longer teach 30 minute lessons to anyone in high school or older once we have had two month’s worth of lessons, even if the student is a beginning student. There’s simply too much to talk about, and a great amount to learn. I’m finding that the short lessons cause me to skip over some important basics that I think must be worked on at each lesson!

    In addition, I’ve found that those of you who are taking every other week are actually coming much less that that due to my sometimes insane schedule and your school schedule. For this reason, I have decided that any new students I take will not be allowed the “every other week” plan. I won’t force anyone I already have to change, but do take a look at how many lessons you have really had … I’m guessing it’s a lot fewer than every other week!

    ***December 16, 2003

    ***A Soggy Nutcracker

    I’ve played in the San Jose Center for Performing Arts since 1975. For the first fifteen years or so we had a dry hall. This is no longer the case. I’m not sure when it actually began, but the hall has serious water problems now. During the rainy season there is water in the basement. Not just a little water, either. The walls are “bubbling” … or at least the paint is. We walk on rubber mats. Pumps are constantly working to try to keep the water out. It’s really a mess. I hate to think about what we’re breathing.

    I can’t help but wonder if this water problem has something to do with the three buildings around us that were added sometime in the 80s or 90s. The largest is the huge Adobe Systems complex. It’s a beautiful building that took the place of a very old Catholic school some years ago. They are directly to the North of the CPA. But add to that the rest of the huge buildings, and I’m sure that water had to change its mind about where it was going to go, and I’m just guessing that these buildings are the cause of our struggles. Hmmm. I wonder if anyone has ever investigated this problem with any seriousness.

    Maybe Adobe would like to help us out? Someone told me that they don’t support any of the arts organizations in San Jose. I do hope that’s not true. I’d like to hear them tell me that’s not so! (But why would they read this little blog?)

    Or maybe the Mercury News would like to investigate our soggy troubles for us. Seems doubtful, though. (I’ve not had any good dealings with them in the past.)

    ***Oboes in Christmas Carols?

    You betcha! One, anyway!

    He Is Born, the Divine Christ Child

    He is born, the divine Christ Child,

    play theoboe and bagpipes merrily!

    He is born, the divine Christ Child,

    sing we all of the Savior mild.

    Thru long ages of the past,

    prophets have foretold his coming;

    thru long ages of the past,

    now the time has come at last!

    He is born, the divine Christ Child,

    play theoboe and bagpipes merrily!

    He is born, the divine Christ Child,

    sing we all of the Savior mild.

    O how lovely, O how pure

    is this perfect child of heaven;
    O how lovely, O how pure,

    gracious gift to humankind!

    He is born, the divine Christ Child,

    play theoboe and bagpipes merrily!
    He is born, the divine Christ Child,

    sing we all of the Savior mild.

    Jesus, Lord of all the world,

    coming as a child among us,
    Jesus, Lord of all the world,

    grant to us thy heavenly peace.

    He is born, the divine Christ Child,

    play theoboe and bagpipes merrily!

    He is born, the divine Christ Child,
    sing we all of the Savior mild.

    ***December 21, 2003


    My faith is the grand drama of my life. I’m a believer, so I sing words of God to those who have no faith. I give bird songs to those who dwell in cities and have never heard them, make rhythms for those who know only military marches or jazz, and paint colours for those who see none.

    -Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) French composer, organist

    ***The Opera Audition

    February 28th isn’t that far away.

    Tomorrow I go to the office to put together all the second oboe/EH audition repertoire. Once it’s available there I’ll post the information here as well for those who want to get started on it prior to receiving the packet with the music. Of course if you’re auditioning you might already have guessed much of what will be on the list. I can tell you that I’m not putting excerpts of the “huge” operas (the Ring Cycle for instance) since we don’t do those particular works. I’m including things that we either have performed in the past or might play in the future. I can tell you that we will ask fora concerto, the repertoire, with a possibility of sight-reading.

    I’m looking forward to having a second oboe in the pit!

    ***December 22, 2003


    Please note: This list has not yet been approved by the music director. When it is I will remove this cautionary message!

    1) Mozart: Oboe Concerto; movements 1 & 2

    2) Oboe Repertoire (first oboe unless noted)

    Brahms: Variations on a Theme by Haydn: 2nd oboe, opening.
    Mascagni: Cavalleria Rusticana: No. 2, 7 after C to 3 after 13.
    Mascagni: Cavalleria Rusticana: No. 4, 16 after 30 to 31.
    Mascagni: Cavalleria Rusticana: Lola’s Song.
    Menotti: Amahl and the Night Visitors: Shepherd’s Dance.
    Mozart: Cosi fan Tutte, No 12, m 58 to end of aria.
    Puccini: Madama Butterfly, Act 1, 8 before 2 through 4 after 4.
    Puccini: La Boheme, Act 2, Allegro moderato (16 in Kalmus to before 20).
    Rossini: La Scala di Seta, Overture, Andantino.
    Rossini: La Scala di Seta, Overture, Allegro.
    Verdi: Aida, Act 3, Andante mosso through 3rd bar of 6/8.
    Verdi: Falstaff, Act 1, Piu moderato to 2/4.
    Wagner: Die Meistersinger, Overture, 2nd oboe, G through 7th bar of H.

    3) English Horn

    Rossini: William Tell Overture, Andante to Allegro vivace.
    Verdi: Falstaff, Act 1, Andante sostenuto.
    Verdi: Falstaff, Act 3, Andante assai sostenuto.
    Verdi: Rigoletto, Act 2, Meno mosso.
    Verdi: Un Ballo in Maschera, Act 2, Scene 1.

    4) Possible sight-reading.

    Employment will commence in the 2004-2005 Season

    -60 services guaranteed
    -$142.00 per service
    -AFM Pension Plan

    Please send Resumé to:

    Opera San José: Artistic Office
    2149 Paragon Drive
    San Jose, CA 95131-1312
    (408) 437-4456

    ***December 24, 2003

    ***Wishing You All A Warm and Wonderful Christmas!

    Yes, indeed, I hope the day brings you great joy. I always enjoy this time of year. Family is here. It’s wonderful!

    ***No Nuts …

    … well, for two days. Friday we begin again, but we only have four Nutcrackers performances and we end Sunday afternoon. Then I have a good break, which I’m looking forward to. Performing is great, but one occasionally needs a bit of a “breather”.

    ***A Christmas Quote For You

    It was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, “God Bless Us, Every One!”

    -Charles Dickens

    (I’ve also put some of my own Christmas poetry up at my other site. Check it out if you’d like!)

    Merry Christmas!!

    ***December 28, 2003

    ***No More Nuts

    Yes, it’s true. The Nutcracker is over for the year. I played 2 rehearsals and 20 performances. I didn’t get sick. I didn’t have a reed catastrophe. I survived. The oboe section and bass section were the only two to remain the same throughout the run. Don’t you think we should receive some sort of certificate of merit? Or maybe a certificate of insanity. One of the two, surely.

    Next up is opera, but I have a few weeks off first. Enough time, in fact, for my husband and I to celebrate our 28th anniversary and for me to drive a couple of kids back to school.

    And certainly enough time to make reeds! I do hope to get to work on some new reeds, as I’ve had no time since the beginning of the Nut run.

    It was great, by the way, to see some familiar faces looking in to the pit. Thank you to students and family who came!

    Up next … The Pearl Fishers by Bizet.

    ***December 29, 2003

    ***What to Do?

    Thinking you’d like to get out? Think you have to go to San Francisco for culture? Think again! I just located a site called Artsopolis and it is centered in Silicon Valley. Pretty cool!

    So support the arts. Go to the art museum. Go to a concert or a play. Go to a dance performance.

    OR (I’m always one to give a good number of suggestions to keep you all from getting bored. I’m nice that way!) … make me some oboe reeds!

    ***December 30, 2003


    I’ve updated the current audition page and it might be worth a look-see. I wish I’d known about the Civic Orchestra of Chicago when I was younger. It looks like a good orchestra to connect with.

    ***Opera San Jose Oboe Audition

    So far I’ve heard of no changes for the Opera San Jose oboe audition. I should have definite news for any interested oboists by next week, but I do believe the audition list I’ve posted will remain as is. It’s hard to believe that I’ll actually have someone sitting next to me next year. I can’t tell you how happy I am about this!

    ***January 1, 2004


    I hope the year brings you all wonderful days and lots of fabulous reeds!

    ***February 28

    The audition for Opera San Jose’s second oboe position is getting closer as I type. And YES, the audition material I listed has now been approved, so all are safe in printing out the list and pulling out excerpt books. All the music will be sent to you if you send in your application for the audition.

    ***January 5, 2004


    You listen dutifully to the oboe, look at your slides, pull the main slide a bit and then put it back where it has been for the last seven years!

    Phil Farkas (horn player)


    Tomorrow will be the first day of lessons for UCSC students. I’ll see you all there!

    Doesn’t it feel as if you’ve played oboe since you were born sometimes?

    ***January 10, 2004


    Those who hear not the music think the dancers mad.

    -A Chinese proverb.
    (Thanks, Ed Mitchell, for providing me with what looks to be the source!)

    ***Stanford Woodwind Quintet with Paul Hersh, piano

    I had mentioned a concert scheduled for January 25 that the Stanford Woodwind Quintet will be playing. Turns out that that one is in San Francisco, and this one is closer! I am hoping to attend, and if anyone wants to carpool with me I might be able to work that out. Email me to put yourself on the list!

    Flutist Alex Hawley, clarinetist Mark Brandenburg, oboist James Matheson, bassoonist Rufus Oliver, and hornist Larry Ragent are joined by Paul Hersh of the SF Conservatory for an evening of works by Jongen, Francais, Beethoven, and Blumer
    January 23, 2004.  8:00 PM
    Dinkelspiel Auditorium
    Admission: $10 general/$5 students, Tickets available at the door

    ***January 11, 2004


    Music takes us out of the actual and whispers to us dim secrets that startle our wonder as to who we are, and for what, whence, and whereto.

    -Ralph Waldo Emerson

    ***New Stuff

    I’m finally doing more work at the site! You can see that I’ve added Summer Music Camps under the Student’s Corner, and I’ve actually begun to list some “Music Festivals & Workshops” too. If anyone who visits this site feels like offering some suggestions for either of those pages please feel free to email me.

    ***January 13, 2004


    Modern music is as dangerous as narcotics.

    -Pietro Mascagni (Born:  Leghorn, December 7, 1863, Died:  Rome, August 2, 1945)

    ***January 18, 2004


    I thought I was a fairly patient person. Really I did. Some of my students have said I am patient … and how could I doubt them!

    But, truth be told, I’ve been taught these past few days that I am not nearly as patient as I thought!

    “How so?” you ask. (Or maybe you don’t ask, but I’m gonna tell you anyway!)

    Thursday morning something happened with our internet connection. Turns out there’s a glitch somewhere and our service provider hasn’t succeeded in fixing the problem yet. From Thursday morning until about an hour ago I’ve had NO email and NO internet connection. Scary.

    And yet I still breathe. Now THAT was a shock!

    But my dear husband has put something together to allow me some time to check email and post here on occasion. I won’t do it often, as it now ties up our phone line, but I will be here on and off and I will check email and perhaps even contact those who write.

    Meanwhile, I will work on patience and I will, I’m guessing, get a lot of my books read!

    (Then again, perhaps the repair will come soon and I promise you I’ll be back with a vengeance! I have some festivals, camps and workshops I want to post on their appropriate pages!)

    ***January 19, 2004


    Speakeasy still hasn’t fixed our connection. Rats.

    If I don’t answer an email from you please know that probably means it hasn’t been received here. Some is getting through, but some is not. Right this minute I can’t send anything for some reason! We aren’t using speakeasy at all (we can’t) for now, so when I’m online no one can call in. This is like the “olden days” to be sure.


    Read this article. It’s interesting. There are some helpful hints. (I don’t go for the superstitious stuff, though. Not I!)

    ***Hate all the contemporary music you hear?

    Well … pull out your wallet and commission something!

    ***January 20, 2004


    I was able to compose it, but I’m not able to conduct it yet.

    -Richard Strauss, after trying to conduct a rehearsal of Elektra


    So I’m not much of a pop music listener. But I do see albums, and I do occasionally read magazines that talk about pop music (heh … I typed “poop music” first. Funny!). And I’m just wondering … do these guys who sing in these groups (I guess it’s mostly the alternative and metal groups and those edgier bands) get trained to look morose or confused or angry? Are they not allowed to smile? Maybe it costs more? Or maybe they don’t receive any royalties if they smile?

    I dunno. Just seems funny to me.

    I mean … I’m a musician. I love what I do. Sometimes it makes me smile. Obviously I don’t smile when I’m playing (only Kenny G and the folks on Lawrence Welk manage to do that I suppose!), but I smile. I do like to smile. And I joke around. And I even laugh.

    Music can do that to a person sometimes!

    ***January 21, 2004

    ***Foolish, foolish me!

    A fabulous musician and colleague of mine pointed out that there was an error in the Opera San Jose audition list. Rats! I KNEW I wouldn’t get everything right.

    So … it’s NOT “Leoncavallo: Cavelleria Rusticana” BUT it IS “Mascagni: Cavelleria Rusticana”.


    Now I’m feeling quite foolish. (sigh)

    … and I’m still second guessing the list and wondering if I should have done Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci instead. Oh well. Too late now.


    Isn’t this awfully long?

    -Richard Strauss, comment made to the first violinist while conducting a performance of his own Der Rosenkavalier

    ***Don’t Forget!

    There’s a Stanford Woodwind Quintet (plus Paul Hersch on piano) concert this Friday evening at 8:00 PM. Anyone want to drive up with me? That just might work! The concert is at Dinkelspiel Auditorium. Admission $10 (general) or $5 (students).

    ***UCSC Chamber Music Concert

    I’m coaching a woodwind quintet this quarter, and they’ll be performing for the concert. I was recently informed that it will take place on March 10 at 7:30 PM in the Recital Hall.

    ***January 22, 2004

    ***Ever Changing

    I’m continuing to update both the Music Festivals & Workshops and Summer Music Camps. I do hope some of you readers out there are investigating these pages. There are even some groups that offer full scholarships if you are accepted!

    ***First Rehearsal
    of Opera San Jose’s production of The Pearl Fishers was today. It was great to get back to work. It was even more fun to see my colleagues once again. The opera is my favorite place to play; all of the musicians get along, and rarely is an ego in need of adjustment. Great fun! The voices sounded excellent today too. I must say that the singers get stronger every year.

    ***Visiting this Site?

    Please say “hi” and let me know you were here. If you’d like me to add anything, or have any comments, do fill me in. I’m just an email away. (See this page for my address.)

    ***January 23, 2004

    ***Concert Update

    I’m home from the Stanford Woodwind Quintet concert. What fun it was! I’m sorry I didn’t see any of my students there. (Please do make an effort to attend concerts on occasion. Really.)

    Anyway, I truly enjoyed the event. Great works. Great performances. (The pianist for the evening was Matthew Edwards — Paul Hersch had to cancel for health reasons. Edwards was quite fine!)

    There were more notes on this concert than you can possibly imagine. Really! Pam Hakl was there and we sat together. After the performance she said “If you and I were paid a dollar for every note played tonight we could retire!”

    ***Something About Music

    It’s a mystery to me, really. And so often I don’t really think about it. But I received an email from a student today. She talked about what a piece of music did to her.

    Music is just something else, isn’t it? I can be in a pleasant mood. Everything can be hunky-dory, so to speak, but if I listen to a certain work I can be sobbing by the end. Some pieces cause me to fall to the floor. Some can make me silly, and some can cause me to be quite uptight.

    Music can cause change.

    Of course it’s easy to “see” this when you watch a movie; the music is often the clue to whether things are going well or not. If something is sounding ominous musically you can pretty much guarantee that something rotten is about to happen (unless you are watching a comedy and they are playing with you a bit). Music can be quite manipulative in movies — if I watch a scary film (the only way this happens is by seeing one on TV by accident because I can’t watch those things!) and I turn off the sound things aren’t nearly as scary. Movie music tells us when to cry and when to sigh. (But sometimes I am so manipulated by movie music that I actually refuse to cooperate. That’s my stubborn side for you!)

    But anyway … it was good to be reminded of the power of music by my student.

    As Rich Mullins sang in his song Elijah:

    I want to hear some music once again
    ‘Cause it’s the finest thing that I have ever found

    … and others say:

    Music, the greatest good that mortals know, and all of heaven we have below.

    -Joseph Addison

    Music is the only sensual pleasure without vice.

    -Samuel Johnson

    Music is a higher revelation than philosophy.

    -Ludwig von Beethoven

    When words leave off, music begins.

    -Heinrich Heine

    Music must rank as the highest of the arts — more than any other, it ministers to human welfare.

    -Herbert Spencer

    Now, mind you, I don’t believe that music is salvation. But it sure can lead in that direction! (Listen to Bach’s B Minor Mass. It might make a believer of you!)

    ***January 24, 2004


    Music is a fair and glorious gift from God. I am strongly persuaded that after theology there is no art than can be placed on a level with music; for
    besides theology, music is the only art capable of affording peace and joy
    of the heart.

    -Martin Luther

    ***Opera San Jose

    It’s early, even for this organized group, but Opera San Jose has already announced next season! We will open with Marriage of Figaro, then a run of Tosca, followed by Carmen and end with something we’ve never done before, The Flying Dutchman. We will be in the newly renovated California Theatre, and I can’t wait to see what it looks like!

    I’m not sure what to expect with Carmen for reasons I won’t go into here, but I know it won’t be anything like this. But doesn’t it sound like an clever, of not tiring, idea?! I do wonder how they get musicians (both singers and instrumentalists) from one place to another. Moving instruments can be quite the chore.

    ***January 25, 2004

    ***Keep On Checking Back!

    I just added the John Mack Oboe Workshop to my list of Music Festivals & Workshops. I can thank an oboe student who, having reached this site, reminded me of that particular workshop. (Thanks, Eric!)

    This is the 20th anniversary of the camp. I attended one quite some time ago … perhaps 17 years back or so. I’m hoping to return, but I’m not sure this will be the year since the final day of the workshop is also our older son’s graduation ceremony at UCLA. (Still, perhaps I could attend a portion of the workshop. Time will tell!)

    Anyway, I do encourage you to look into this one. I will continue, I’m sure, adding to both the Festival & Workshop site and the Summer Music Camp site.

    (sort of … well, okay … not really … but the word reed appeared in it and I couldn’t resist!)

    Man is but a reed, the weakest in nature, but he is a thinking reed.

    -Blaise Pascal

    ***January 26, 2004

    ***Music History For Sale

    With his permission, I’m including an IDRS member’s email here. This “is the state of the arts [in the United States], my friends. [This] is the state of the arts.” (If you are unfamiliar with Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George the quote is from that show).

    Dear List:
    I write not from my customary perch in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but Coral Springs, Florida. After meticulously searching my baggage for explosives and finding only a non-explodable oboe and four of my own CDs, authorities have allowed me into the US for my annual visit back “home.”
    Am surprised on my first day of my visit to the “old country” to discover–in a nation which is exploring the moon and Mars– that an orchestra in Southern Florida
    has “gone out of business” and auctioned itself off, including the sale of a contra bassoon for a ridiculous price of about 6,000 dollars to the highest bidder!
    Meanwhile back in my home base of “poor” Brazil, Wagner’s “Ring” in being performed in the Amazon jungle, a conductor in Sao Paulo earns 500,000 US dollars a
    season and orchestras are expanding activities. Strange world!
    In any case, your correspondent from the tropics will be here until 3 Feb and would be happy to meet up with with anyone visiting the Pompano Beach area.
    A lovely weekend.
    Harold Emert

    You can read about the sale here. Symphony Silicon Valley’s own Andrew Bales was there, attempting to pick up a celesta and some risers.

    ***January 28, 2004

    ***MQOD X 2

    My things really are written with an appalling lack of practicality!

    It is not hard to compose, but it is wonderfully hard to let the superfluous notes fall under the table.

    -Johannes Brahms

    I haven’t played Brahms in far too long. I miss him.

    The death of the San Jose Symphony has meant that there are certain composers I’ve missed for a few years now. Brahms is one of those at the top of the “missing” list. I didn’t often play his music, since he didn’t include English horn in his works, but I loved listening to the orchestra play his music. Give the German Requien, Alto Rhapsody, Nanie, or Schicksalslied any day … incredible works!

    Time to pull out some dusty CDs ….

    ***January 29, 2004


    The oboe is fixed! And guess what?! …

    c’mon … guess!

    I repaired it myself!

    ***Long Day

    Along with my visit with Bob Hubbard, I had opera, two students, and a recording session today. Quite the full day. The sort one loves to complain about, and yet I had a great time with all of it. I love my students, (And GO CAITLYN on your upcoming university auditions!), playing opera is a joy (as is making music with my wonderful colleagues in the pit), and the recording session went smoothly.


    A camera crew from KQED filmed some of Monday’s opera rehearsal of The Pearl Fishers. It is to be part of a segment of “Spark”. According to the website Spark “brings the Bay Area arts community into classrooms, to the Web and onto KQED Public TV 9. Airs Wednesdays at 7:30pm and repeats Fridays at 11pm.”

    I don’t see Opera San Jose on the schedule yet, but I’ll be sure and let readers know when it will be broadcast.

    ***Oboe Woes

    Yes. Oboe woes. Reed woes as well, but those are fairly common so who am I to complain about reeds?

    I’m attempting to learn how to adjust my own oboe. It’s all based on common sense yes? Unfortunately I think I did something to cause trouble and now I’m on my way to Bob Hubbard to see if he can tell me what I did wrong (and fix it) so that the opera rehearsal and recording session on today’s schedule will go on without major problems. (Yesterday’s opera rehearsal was a different story and I can’t have three miserable hours like that again!)

    Meanwhile, I’m continuing to study Carl Sawicki’s The Oboe Revealed because I’m convinced that I … yes, even I … can learn oboe repair.

    This doesn’t mean, though, that I’m not in the oboe market. I need to take the bold, brave step of purchasing a new oboe. Trouble is, I absolutely love my Marigaux (it’s just getting blown out) and I’m not sure I’m willing to go with the ever-popular Loree. However, if I don’t go with a Loree I know the repairman at Forrests Music will have nothing to do with me.

    … which is, of course, one more reason I should really learn to adjust and repair the darn oboe myself!

    ***January 31, 2004

    ***Try To Get To This!!

    I received an email from Bill Bennett … principal oboist extraordinaire of San Francisco Symphony. He’ll be doing a recital on Monday, 2/16, at 8 pm at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s Hellman Hall. He’s playing music by Bach, Harbison and Louis Armstrong, among others.

    In addition, he’ll be doing the Conservatory Oboe Class on Thursday, 2/5 and 3/4 from 4ish to 6 pm. He writes, “All are welcome, and, once the Conservatory students have had their chance, we welcome the chance to hear outsiders!”

    I plan on attending the recital. Hope some of you will as well! (I’d attend the classes as well, but I have work at 7:30 and I doubt I can manage the drive to SF and back and still have my wits about me … as if I had any wits in the first place!)


    So where did it go? Why do I feel as if I did very little? And to think February is a short month. Time … can’t seem to hold on to it!

    ***Virginia Tech Music Dictionary
    is a very handy thing, yes indeed! Want to know what a musical term means? Give this site a try.

    ***Opera Tonight

    It’s opening night for The Pearl Fishers. I suppose I ought to read the story … I still don’t entirely understand what is going on. Ever since the winds were moved from our very fabulous positions that enabled us to read the supertitles and see the entire stage I’ve had to read up on the plots so I don’t feel so disconnected. Next year will probably feel even more that way because I believe we will be under the stage — at least 50% percent of the orchestra will be, and being the eternal realist (some say pessimist but what do those ridiculous optimists know anyway?) I’m sure I’ll be unable to see the stage at all. (Sniffle, sniffle.)


    Oboe auditions for Opera San José are rapidly approaching. I’m still having a difficult time believing I won’t be the sole oboe player next year. What a change!

    ***February 1, 2004

    ***Happy February

    Can you believe it? I can’t.


    Man is so made that he can only find relaxation from one kind of labor by taking up another.

    -Anatole France

    So here’s my suggestion: when you need to relax from practicing, make reeds. When you need some relaxation from the stress of reed making, practice!

    Easy, eh?

    ***February 2, 2004


    Say, even a mummy couldn’t play deader than that!

    -Marcel Tabuteau (1887-1966), master oboist

    ***You have to read this …

    to believe it! Really.

    But things like this (people getting ill during concerts) do happen. I played a show that had to be delayed because a man collapsed prior to downbeat. (We found out later he died, and it was quite shocking and sad.)

    Strange things happen. Scary things happen. And then the show goes on. Most of the time.

    It even went on for one group I’m in (which shall remain nameless) on 9/11. I was certain that the program would be canceled. Everything else in the Bay Area was. But nope. We had to go and play. I cried when we started up. The whole thing was like a bad dream.

    Hmmm. Didn’t mean to “go morbid” on you. I guess the article (see above link) just got me going in this direction. Maybe someday I’ll start writing up all the incredibly odd things that have happened before and during performances. I have some weird and funny stories!

    ***Don’t Forget
    to check concerts that I have listed here. I want to urge all oboists to try and get up to Bill Bennett’s recital. Be there!

    I’m also open to any concert suggestions from readers … if you have something you’d like me to post, please just contact me and I’ll get it up on the page.

    ***February, 3, 2004


    The more perfect music we have, the more attractive the peculiarities and anomalies of human performance become. Perfection is a second rate idea.

    -T Bone Burnett

    Now I DO have to add a comment here. With our live performance we are most certainly aiming toward perfection. That is the goal … but it’s a sort of wondrous perfection that is quite human, full of passion and energy and not a cautious, careful perfection. I believe what T Bone is referring to is the studio perfection. Now that studios can alter any tiny imperfection the wonder of music seems to be lost.

    A live performance is simply the best, if you ask me!

    So go to a concert, why don’tcha?

    ***You Bug Me? I’m Gonna Bug You!

    You know how it is … right? C’mon, you know you do! Someone does something that drives you nuts, and you really want to do something that will drive that person nuts too.

    Okay. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe the rest of you are of a better ilk than I.

    But I confess that when someone is kicking the back of my chair at the movie theater I really want to kick back … unfortunately I can’t get behind him or her to do so, but I sure THINK about it!

    And when someone is playing their horrible music (yes, I’ve decided that I am the judge of all things musical! … kidding!) I want to turn some Mozart on very loudly.

    I’m horrible that way.

    So I had to smile at this story … until the end when the guy said he liked it … so what sort of punishment is that?!

    Ah well. Maybe he’ll become an opera lover!

    ***February 4, 2004


    Ah, music! What a beautiful art! But what a wretched profession!

    Georges Bizet (1867)

    (This seemed appropriate since I’m playing Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers right now. But I have to say I actually love my profession!)

    ***Sing On …?

    There is a study that says that singing is good for your health. Now that wouldn’t surprise me, really, but I do wonder about the study. They had people sing. They checked some things in their blood to see if they had an overabundance of the “good stuff”. They did. The following week they just had the folks listen to the music they sang the week before. The “good stuff” wasn’t over the average level. (I’d give you the technical terms but you can just go to the link and then I don’t have to!)

    But … seems to me there are all sorts of “buts” here.

    You’re dealing with singers. They want to sing. Maybe they just got depressed when they didn’t get to.

    You’re dealing with one group of singers. Who knows what that might mean. Would another group react the same way?

    They were singing and then listening to Mozart’s Requiem. What recording did they use? Maybe it was horrible.

    What if you had instrumentalists play one week and listen the next? What would their results be? Maybe it’s just music in general that’s good for us?

    What if the singers sang Bach? Schubert? Bacharach?

    Is it Mozart? Is it singing? Is it standing up rather than sitting and listening?

    Besides …
    You’re dealing with singers. They are nuts anyway. (Kidding … sort of!)

    ***February 6, 2004


    I’ve never known a musician who regretted being one. Whatever deceptions life may have in store for you, music itself is not going to let you down.

    -Virgil Thomson, composer and music critic

    The wonder of music! It’s fabulous, don’t you think? Of course if the music is bad, perhaps it actually does let a person down but, for the most part, we musicians let ourselves down.


    Neglecting our work, of course.

    Learn your scales. Play those excerpts. Don’t neglect your etudes. Memorize your solos. Work on those reeds. (A reed a day keeps frustration away!) And practice, practice, practice!

    As it says it “The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T” … practice makes perfect! If you haven’t seen that movie, you can check it out here and then you can buy it! It’s really a fun movie.

    ***February 7, 2004

    ***Keep In Touch!

    So if you visit this site, please do let me know anything you’d like me to research, talk about … whatever! I’d love to hear from my readers. Or just say “hi” … that would be great! You can email me any time. I’m usually quick to respond and if I don’t get back to you within 24 hours you might resend the message because I probably didn’t receive it for some unknown reason.


    I’ve been a woman for a little over 50 years and have gotten over my initial astonishment. As for conducting an orchestra, that’s a job where I don’t think sex plays much part.

    Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979. She was a conductor, composer, and was considered a very fine teacher of composition. She taught Elliott Carter, Walter Piston, Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, Roy Harris, and Marc Blitzstein, among others.)

    ***February 8, 2004

    ***Audition Reminder!

    Don’t forget … Opera San Jose will be adding a second oboe to the orchestra beginning next season. I must warn those of you from out of this area; the number of services doesn’t warrant a move unless you have something else in mind for income, but for locals, I recommend giving it a go! Email me for information, go to my current orchestra audition page, or contact the opera.

    ***Must Never Be Performed

    So Grieg wrote those words (above) on his symphony. Click on them to read about it. And yes, it has been performed. Go figure!

    I wonder if the Symphony Silicon Valley should advertise a concert and include in that advertisement “Do not attend!”

    I mean … people love to be contrary, right? So maybe if we tell them they can’t attend they’ll immediately want to. I wonder.

    But I suppose it’s not worth taking the chance!

    ***February 12, 2004


    The trouble with music appreciation in general is that people are taught to have too much respect for music; they should be taught to love it instead.

    -Igor Stravinsky

    ***Don’t Forget!

    I will remind everyone once more … Bill Bennet’s recital at San Francisco Conservatory’s Hellman Hall is this coming Monday at 8:00. It’s a recommended event!

    ***What? A Major Break-up

    Okay … this has absolutely nothing to do with music. It has nothing to do with anything artistic, in fact. It doesn’t even matter. But, well, Barbie and Ken have broken up.

    I knew you all would be heartbroken to hear the news.

    ***February 13, 2004


    Realize that if you have time to whine and complain about something then you have the time to do something about it.

    Anthony J. D’Angelo

    Sure, the quote doesn’t say anything about music specifically … but the next time you begin to whine about bad reeds, do something about it! Work on reeds. Every day. Then, if after four weeks you get no working reeds, you may complain to me. I’ll listen then.

    ***Keep on Checking!

    I’m continually adding to the music camp and festivals/masterclass/workshops/ pages. Don’t forget to check on occasion to see what’s there. Keep in mind, though, that many of them have deadlines that may be right around the corner, or even passed. (Even if the deadline has passed it doesn’t hurt to ask them if they need another oboist, though!)

    Today I’m adding Kinhaven Music School and possibly more … if I find the time!

    ***February 14, 2004


    A typical day in the life of a heavy metal musician consists of a round of golf and an AA meeting.

    -Billy Joel (1949) American singer, songwriter

    ***News! So Much News!

    Visit San Francisco Classical Voice and look at the left of the page, scroll down. Way down. You’ll finally come to Music News (I’d put a direct link there, but the URL doesn’t ever change at that site when you go to a new page for some reason).

    Anyway …

    We in the U.S. are denying Cuban musicians entrance into our free country. You know how it is — we musicians are such a dangerous bunch. In fact, other musicians from other areas of the world have also been denied visas, and orchestras have been forced to replace soloists, sometimes at the last minute. It’s a crazy world. I understand security, but c’mon. They’re musicians! Their weapon is music. Certainly some poor performances make me a little sick to my stomach, but I’ve never felt my life was threatened.

    The story of the Cuban pianist Javier Gonzalez Quintana is great, too. I’m glad he made it here.

    … and Alicia de Larrocha has a mute piano (one that makes no sound) in her apartment! That’s what she practices on at home. Amazing! (I’m guessing she practices a lot somewhere else.)

    Anyway, visit the Classical Voice site sometime.

    ***One Final Reminder

    Don’t forget about Bill Bennett’s recital Monday! (See Other Performances of Note for the information.

    ***It Would All Be Wonderful If Only No One Showed Up To Listen

    Okay … not really. We need and love (mostly) our audiences! Really we do! It’s especially that way, for me, with Opera San Jose. The audience is nearer to us there, because of the size of that hall (this will all change next year when we move into the California Theatre, but I hope our audience-performer relationships will remain close). Members of the audience talk to us. We talk to them. (NOT during the opera, of course!) It’s great fun, and makes both “sides” appear a bit more human (although, when they come to the pit “rail” and stare down at us we feel a bit like caged animals and wonder if we should perform and if they will throw food … or money …?!).

    BUT … read this:
    Then there are digital watches and, joy of joys, mobile phones. It is surprising how few of the great composers intended their piano sonatas (for instance) to be played as duos for piano and the ringing tones of mobile phones. In fact, I hear that a petition is being sent to the European Parliament requesting that they soften their rigorous opposition to the death penalty when the crime committed is that of allowing a mobile phone to go off during a concert. Furthermore, this may be one of the few matters on which all European countries find themselves in agreement.

    And then imagine the writer, well known cellist Steven Isserlis, throwing flowers in the lap of an obviously sleep-deprived audience member in frustrating and disgust. (No phone in that portion of the story … but you have to read the article. I wouldn’t want to give too much away.)

    But then, performers can sometimes be odd as well; one story tells of a wind player answering his phone on stage while in a performance. So yes, sometimes our phones go off as well (which is why I have a “PHONE OFF!” sign on my music and in my reed case). And sleeping? One musician, who had a lot of time to wait before playing, fell asleep in his chair during a long symphony. The stage manager saw him dozing, and paged him (he had his pager set to vibrate). I hear the stage manager had a good long laugh when the player suddenly sat up very straight in his chair. And I’m sure the musician’s pulse rate shot up a good amount.

    ***February 15, 2004


    What do you get when you play country music backwards?
    You get your girl back, your dog back, your pick-up back, and you stop drinking.

    -Louis Saaberda

    ***Temper, Temper, Temper!

    Seems to me that Gatti needs a “time out”.

    Or a spanking.

    ***Still Stealing Music?

    From Andante:

    Let the music industry sue Internet providers and 12-year-old girls; let it
    try to invent technology to block copying, and let it hurl epithets at people who swap or download music on the Internet. The problem (if it is a problem) and the opportunity (which it certainly is) will not go away. Music downloading is rooted in permanent realities: digital technology, human acquisitiveness, and most people’s unquenchable love of music.

    …. but, Patty puts her thinking cap on … couldn’t it also be our belief
    that we deserve something for nothing? Could it also be that if we can get
    away with something, even knowing it’s stealing, we’ll do it? And can it be we
    don’t care about others as much as we care about ourselves? Or can it be we are
    just darn greedy?

    I’m just pondering.

    But read the article at http://www.redludwig.com/gracenotes/

    According to the article … turns out someone offers a solution.

    Please remember: I get a paycheck once a year because of my involvement on the Boheme recording. We little folk do get a bit of income from the sales of CDs. We get nothing from their theft.

    ***February 18, 2004


    The life of the arts, far from being an interruption, a distraction, in the life of a nation, is close to the center of a nation’s purpose – and is a test of the quality of a nation’s civilization.

    -John F. Kennedy


    Really. There are important issues. Your vote counts.

    ***Up & Down

    I can update the site for now, but things have been in a state recently. Not only are my sites down at times, but I receive multiple copies of any email sent to my planetmitchell addresses! And when I say multiple I’m talking they never stop coming!!I So if you send anything via “the planet” … well … the message is sort of like the energizer bunny, if you know what I mean!


    I really enjoyed Bill Bennett’s recital on Monday. Sorry I didn’t see any of my students there, though. (Do any of you EVER go to concerts, not counting your own? Please say you do!) The first piece, by Robert Ward, was quite witty and he moved from that to Bach, to Harbison and later to some jazz standards. Yep. Jazz. On oboe. Bill had transcribed recordings … must have taken eons to do. Anyway the concert was great fun and it was wonderful to hear him play!

    ***February 19, 2004


    Bach gave us God’s Word. Mozart gave us God’s laughter. Beethoven gave us God’s fire. God gave us Music that we might pray without words.

    -quote from outside an old opera house

    ***English horn, anyone?

    Julie Giacobassi sent word to the IDRS of the following recitals:

    March 4, 2004 (Thursday), 12:15 PM: UCSF Cole Hall
    513 Parnassus Ave, San Francisco, CA
    Empact Presents: 415-476-2675)

    Julie Ann Giacobasssi, English horn; Deborah Kavasch, soprano
    Christopher Berg Why Else Do You Have an English Horn (actress & English horn)
    Deborah Kavasch Bee! I’m Expecting You (soprano solo)
    Deborah Kavasch The Fox and the Grapes (soprano & English horn)

    March 9, 2004 (Tuesday), 8:00 PM: Snider Recital Hall (Turlock)
    Cal State Stanislaus School of Fine & Performing Arts, 801 W Monte Vista Ave, Turlock, CA (209-667-3959)
    Julie Ann Giacobassi, oboe d’amore & English horn; Deborah Kavasch, soprano;Stephen Thomas, piano; Geraldine Walther, viola; Delia Voitoff-Bauman, contralto
    J. S. Bach Pomona’s Aria from Cantata 205 (contralto, oboe d’amore & harpsichord
    R. Vaughan Williams Ten Blake Songs (contralto & oboe d?amore)
    John Marvin Tapestry (World Premiere) (oboe d?amore, viola & piano)
    J. S. Bach Duet from Cantata 3 (soprano, contralto, oboe d’amore & harpsichord)
    J. S. Bach Duet from Cantata 167 (soprano, contralto, English horn & harpsichord)
    Robert Sibbing Songs of the Prairie ( soprano, English horn & piano)

    Christopher Berg Why Else Do You Have an English Horn (actress & English horn)
    Deborah Kavasch Bee! I’m Expecting You (soprano solo)
    Deborah Kavasch The Fox and the Grapes (soprano & English horn)

    March 14, 2004 (Sunday), 5 PM: Holy Innocents? Episcopal Church (SF)
    455 Fair Oaks St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (415-824-5142)
    Julie Ann Giacobassi, oboe d’amore & English horn; Deborah Kavasch, soprano; Douglas Rioth, harp; Stephen Thomas, piano; Geraldine Walther, viola; Delia Voitoff-Bauman, contralto
    J. S. Bach Pomona’s Aria from Cantata 205 (contralto, oboe d’amore & harpsichord

    R. Vaughan Williams Ten Blake Songs (contralto & oboe d?amore)
    John Marvin Tapestry (oboe d?amore, viola & piano)
    J. S. Bach Duet from Cantata 3 (soprano, contralto, oboe d’amore & harpsichord)
    J. S. Bach Duet from Cantata 167 (soprano, contralto, English horn & harpsichord)
    Glinka Ratmir’s Aria from Ruslan and Lyudmila (World Premiere) (contralto, English horn & harp)
    Robert Sibbing Songs of the Prairie ( soprano, English horn & piano)

    Deborah Kavasch Bee! I’m Expecting You (soprano solo)
    Deborah Kavasch The Fox and the Grapes (soprano & English horn)

    Julie has her own site in case you’re interested!

    Hmmm. I just might be able to make it to the performance on March 14. Anyone care to join me if it works out?

    ***February 20, 2004


    Anything that is too stupid to be spoken is sung.

    -Francois Marie Arouet Voltaire (1694-1778)

    Anyone coming to opera tonight?! 😉

    ***February 21, 2004


    He that is down needs fear no fall
    He that is low, no pride.

    – John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress (pt. II)

    (Just couldn’t resist … read below and you’ll see why!)


    So … in attempting to be like my mother (another story), I took a nice little tumble last night on my way back to my car. Nice.

    I was in the parking lot, and had just said goodbye to one of my friends. I must have slipped on oil. Or my shoes, which are horribly old and in awful condition, were slippery. Or there was an invisible individual who pushed me down.

    Or maybe I’m just clumsy!

    But I fell, and I fell hard. My “oboe bag” (a soft briefcase) went sailing. I went down on one knee and one hand. It hurt.

    Of course the first thing I do is look around, praying no one saw.

    And no one did.

    Then I picked myself up (brushed myself off) and went to the car. Still a bit shaken up, I knew I would have to check my instruments to make sure they were okay. Not something one wants to deal with at any time, but especially when there are two more opera performances left.

    But my oboe and English horn are fine!

    Thank goodness for the BAM double case I have. It’s a backpack case, so it took a less brutal shaking than my briefcase. It’s well padded, and of course it stays in place on my back. So while I took a hard fall, the instruments in their well padded case probably felt very little. THANK YOU BAM!

    I’m thinking that I might want to get the BAM oboe case as well. Maybe a double oboe case, actually, since I do need to purchase another oboe and when I do I’ll always have the two unless I’m doubling. (Many oboists bring both oboes to work in case one should malfunction; the show must go on, and all that jazz.)

    Anyway, I’m sore, but nothing is broken.

    So while I tried to repeat my mother’s actions, I didn’t quite succeed. (My mom has a broken finger and broken foot. email me if you need to know more.

    ***February 22, 2004



    -Arturo Toscanini, to his orchestra

    ***Final Opera

    3:00. Today. This is it for The Pearl Fishers. I’m looking forward to a bit of respite before the March 6 Symphony Silicon Valley concert.

    ***One Week From Today . . .

    I’ll know who the Opera San Jose second oboist is. What a thought! I wish everyone auditioning the best. I know auditioning is so stressfull. We’ll try to keep it as painless as possible. I’m on your side — pleae remember that!

    ***February 23, 2004


    Music exalts each joy, allays each grief, expels diseases, softens every pain, subdues the rage of poison, and the plague.

    -John Armstrong, Scottish poet and physician, Art of Preserving Health (bk. IV, l. 512)

    So there you have it. Music heals. So why is it that I have three students suffering from colds right now? Go figure. Anyway … I do hope you all recover soon!

    Speaking of illness. Some have asked me if I have ever had to play while ill.

    Of course the answer is yes. How could it not be, since I’ve been doing this since 1974?!

    I won’t go into the gory details of one rehearsal I played, but I can tell you my colleagues finally told me I had to go home because they didn’t want me around any more. Another time I played a performance with a temperature around 101 or 102. I hadn’t a clue how I was playing, but I made it through and no one looked like they wanted to shoot me (although I might have been happy to have them do so, I felt so awful).

    And of course I’ve played while pregnant … nearly up to my due date. What can I say? We have to do what we have to do! I can tell you at least one of my babies seemed to stay calm during Mozart and got quite lively during Stravinsky. I never knew if he liked the Stravinsky or was angry with me.

    ***Opera Over and Out

    … for now, anyway. Sunday was our final performance, and we don’t resume for about a month. Then we move to Die Fledermaus … a huge change from The Pearl Fishers, to be sure. But fun and light-hearted. Hope some of you get the opportunity to come hear (and see) it. I’ll let you know if we have open dress rehearsals for that opera.

    ***February 28, 2004

    ***Oboe Audition

    We held the opera audition today, and I’m happy to report that there was some very fine playing!

    Finals went well, and when all was said and done Pamela Hakl was offered the position.

    Congratulations, Pam!

    It is always difficult to have to say no to very good players, but as everyone knows we can only have one second oboist. I want to thank and congratulate all of you who put in hard work and prepared for the job. I know it’s not anywhere near easy.

    ***February 29, 2004


    When people hear good music, it makes them homesick for something they never had and never will have.

    -Edgar Watson Howe

    …and just a few thoughts not necessarily musical (though perhaps they are?) …

    Life is not so short that there is always time enough for courtesy.

    -Ralph Waldo Emerson, Social Aims

    In other words … Be ye kind, one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another …

    And then there’s this . . .

    If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well.

    -Martin Luther King, Jr.

    ***March 1, 2004


    Music may achieve the highest of all missions: She may be a bond between nations, races and states, who are strangers to one another in many ways; She may unite what is disunited, and bring peace to what is hostile.

    -Dr. Max Bendiner

    ***Getting Those Admission Notices?

    It’s that time of year! You check the mailbox, or you look online, and you see news. I hope it’s good news! For the next month many of you will probably be living in a rather stressful time (to say the least). I wish, for each of you, a happy time — lots of acceptances, and a decision for a school you’ll enjoy.

    I also wish for some of you to come to one of the schools at which I teach. If you are planning on attending, please do email me and let me know! We can even begin talking about what books I might ask you to get.

    ***March 2, 2004


    That’s all I’m gonna say. 😉

    ***March 4, 2004

    ***Women’s Philharmonic Folds

    Sad, but true.

    I never played with the group, (maybe I’m not woman enough?) but I heard good things about them. I’m sorry to hear they “pulled a San Jose Symphony”.


    So … if I have a couple of free tickets for this Saturday night’s concert would anyone want them? Email me and it’ll be “first come, first served” … but I need to hear no later than Friday, so that I can get back to you, okay?

    ***March 5, 2004


    Still achieving, still pursuing,
    Learn to labour and to wait.

    -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, A Psalm of Life (st. 9)

    Sometimes you reach a wall. I was discussing this with a student today. Sometimes you just can’t see your way over the wall. Or through it. Or around it. It can be a rough time. Often it can be that you’ve merely reached a time of waiting. I’m not saying to skip your practice time, but I suggest that you become patient with yourself. Play some things that you are comfortable with. Remember to love music again … after a lot of hard work, and especially after a frustrating season of oboe … yep, we have seasons; I think the are Fall, Sit, Stand and Soar! 😉 … sometimes we forget that we do this because we love music!

    ***No Takers?

    So far no one has contacted me for the symphony tickets. I have to return the tickets by tonight, so at this point you’ll have to call me if you want them, and you’ll have to get that call in by 6:30 (use my cell number, 806-3313). If you leave a message there I’ll get it, and then I’ll have the tickets at my house or, if you aren’t able to pick them up, I’ll try to get them to the Will Call window.

    ***March 7, 2004

    ***Discussions, Anyone?

    Okay. I used to have a way for readers to start discussions at this site. Or at least join them. My “Mr. MacComputer Whiz” husband will, I’m sure, help me get that back up here. I’m getting lots of hits these days, and I’m thinking maybe some readers might want to discuss things here. I’d be interested in giving it a go!

    ***I’m Not The Only One

    I just read this article that talks about a couple other musicians who have blogs. One I had mentioned earlier, by Sam Bergman, of the Minnesota Orchestra tour, was a limited time sort of blog (although I wonder if he now has the blogbug and won’t quit). The other, by Laurie Niles, is a continuing blog, and includes her LA Phil audition saga but also much, much more. You can find her blog here. Sounds like it might be a fun thing to continue following. Mr. Bergman’s blog is here.

    But why didn’t the new article contact yours truly? Go figure!

    ***Small Break

    I have a few weeks of no performances. This doesn’t mean I don’t have work, though. To be sure, I actually have a work that looks to be very challenging and the performance is at the end of this month! I’ll be playing English horn on a double bass concerto by Richard Rodney Bennett.

    No, I don’t know the composer either. But I sure will after the work I’m about to do! This piece is rhythmically challenging, and it’s going to take patience as well as my “dissection method” of practice.

    Richard Worn will be the bass soloist, by the way.

    … must be bass month, as we just did a bass concerto with Symphony Silicon Valley as well. Hmmm.

    March 8, 2004

    ***Discussions Everyone?

    So hold on here … I said the discussion section somehow disappeared on this site … but I was wrong. If you look toward the bottom of this page you’ll see it on the left. I believe you have to be a registered member to participate, but it is there, so if anyone wants to join in a conversation, well, there ya go.

    ***The Mercury News Calls This a Review?

    C’mon now. How can that be a review? Maybe a minimalist sort of thing, but, really, what ever happened to good writing? How is one supposed to much of anything by reading this review? And, most importantly, why the heck didn’t he comment on the huge solo that Deborah Kramer (bassoon) played so beautifully in the Haydn?

    Was this guy even at the concert?!

    Ah well. I suppose I shouldn’t comment on a reviewer’s review … it could backfire on me. We’ll wait and see if I get butchered in the next review.

    Of course if he continues to write this way it will at least be a small butchering.

    (And while I’m joking about this reviewer’s attendance at the concert, there have been at least two instances in the Bay Area when a reviewer was caught reviewing something he didn’t attend. Really! Silly people.)


    Criticism is easy, and art is difficult.
    [Fr.,La critique est aisee, et l’art est difficile.]

    -Phillipe V. Destouches, Glorieux (II, 5)

    ***March 10, 2004

    ***UCSC Woodwind Quintet … Bravi!

    The Woodwind Quintet I coach at UCSC played the first movement of the Beethoven Quintet (an arranged version of the sextet, Opus 70) tonight. They did an excellent job. Intonation was great. Dynamics were there. Tabitha (clarinet) really did a great job on all those fast runs! I was so pleased, and I hope the five musicians are as well. Congratulations to Laurel, Sara, Tabitha, Mist and Ebba!

    Sara (oboe) also conducted a string bass quartet, and did a mighty fine job!

    One thing I noticed at this concert … the audience is so trained to not applaud between movements of pieces that they don’t realize that the should applaud between different works, even if the same group is playing both! I would have clapped, but I was afraid they wouldn’t join in but would, instead, think I had made some horrendous blunder. But it makes me wonder if someone should explain this to the audience before the concert.

    Another thing that this audience doesn’t know, and sometimes I am included in this, is when a work is completed. The performers have to give some sort of cue, especially with contemporary works. This is something one must learn how to do. I will talk to students about this and other tricks to train audiences.

    ***TO ALL STUDENTS & PARENTS: If I Call or Email You …
    please get back to me as soon as possible! Sometimes my schedule changes at the last minute, and I need to hear back from you to make sure you received my cancellation message or change of time. For private students: if I don’t hear back from you within just a few hours I’ll probably call you … but please, oh please, return the phone call if you get one!

    ***March 11, 2004

    ***Looking for Arts Groups?

    I just visited a site called Find a Concert.com, and while it doesn’t exactly list concerts at the site, it links to performing groups. It also has information for people who are unfamiliar with live concerts and don’t know what to expect. Check it out!

    ***Congratulations Are in Order!

    But I don’t want to post anything until I get permission from my students. Still, let me at least say that a couple fo them have some great news about college applications, and I’m so happy for them!

    ***March 12, 2004

    ***Congratulations …

    to Sara Hatfield! She has been admitted into the graduate program at UCSC and has been offered a very generous full scholarship. What wonderful news!

    Go Sara! You worked quite hard and I’m very happy for you!

    (Selfishly, this also means I get to work with her again next year.)

    ***More News?

    If any of you have news that you’d like me to share here at the site, don’t hesitate to email me and I’ll get it up here. Thanks!

    ***March 13, 2004

    ***Good Performance!

    My student, Cindy Moh, along with her fellow oboist and friend Loretta Zhang, played a Bach Canon for the CMEA Solo & Ensemble festival on March 6. I had the opportunity to coach them once, when Loretta was able to come to Cindy’s lesson. The rest of the work was done by them alone.

    They received a Superior rating! Congratulations Cindy and Loretta!

    ***March 15, 2004

    ***Yet More Student News!

    Caitlyn Christie has been accepted into the music department at a good number of schools. UCLA. UC Irvine. Fresno State. Sacramento State. UOP. (Am I missing some, Caitlyn? I think I might be! Did you apply to UC Davis too?) She’s also been offered some mighty fine scholarships! I’m SO thrilled for Caitlyn, who is still waiting on a couple of schools, and will probably hear more about scholarships as well.

    This Saturday I’ll be hearing the UCI orchestra myself, so I can report back to her on how they sound. UCLA is certainly the most difficult of UCs to get into these days, but UCI has a special charm to this mom and oboist. I’m sure making a decision with all of these acceptances will be a challenge!

    Go Caitlyn!!

    … um … but don’t go far, and come back and visit whenever possible!

    ***March 17, 2004


    I never learned to verbalize an abstract musical concept. No thank you. The whole point of being a serious musician is to avoid verbalization whenever you can.

    -Virgil Thomson, composer and music critic

    ***Email Woes

    Something is horribly awry with my email! I have “rules” set up in my program so that mail gets filed in appropriate folders (UCSC students into the UCSC file, private students into their own file, family email into the family file … you get the picture!). But somehow the email program has decided to file things were it sees fit … and much of the time it sees fit to file messages into the trash folder!

    Please know that if I don’t respond to your message within 24 hours I probably didn’t read it! Try resending. And for now use this address as you have in the past. Oh … except please know, as well, that if I’m on vacation I might respond a wee bit later (see below).


    ***Leaving … but not on a jet plane
    … and I do know when I’ll be back again! (If you don’t know the song … well … never mind!). Tomorrow, bright and early, I leave to visit Brandon at UCLA and Kelsey at UCI. I get to hear the UCI orchestra on Saturday (I’ll be thinking of you, Caitlyn!), and I plan on meeting the UCI conductor, Stephen Tucker. This is also my vacation, and I’m truly looking forward to it! I plan on taking my iBook, so I may just post on this blog while I’m gone.

    ***March 20, 2004


    I heard the UCI Orchestra today. Special thanks to the conductor, Stephen Tucker, who provided tickets for Kelsey and me! I was quite impressed with the orchestra. They have a good number of strings, and the group played very well. The works were great fun, too. I’ll write more later … it’s now quite late and I’m one tired camper!

    ***Yes, I’m Still Alive!

    I’m sitting in a Starbuck’s located in the Irvine hotel where I’m staying. Yay for wifi!

    I’ve had a most relaxing time (aside from the horrendous traffic we hit driving from UCI to UCLA on 405). I’m looking forward to reporting on the UCI orchestra after tonight’s concert. You can read about what I’ll be hearing by clicking here.

    ***News from Anyone?

    I am still checking email, and will even respond if it looks as if I need to. Please DO write and tell me if you have any news you’d like me to post here! I like featuring students … you deserve some recognition with your accomplishments. I’ll even take non-music accomplishments. C’mon — don’t be shy!

    ***March 22, 2004


    Practice is the best of all instructors.

    -Syrus (Publilius Syrus)

    ***So …?

    I do hope you all are practicing! Practicing properly, too. Not just playing notes … not racing through things but truly practicing. Remember that “dissection method” I bother you with. Remember “opening the window.” Don’t just play from beginning to end and accept all the mistakes. Fix them! Listen for “glitches” and get rid of them.

    Oh … and practice your scales. Daily.

    ***Spring Break

    So … some of my students are on break. Be safe! (I’m a mom … put up with me, okay?!)

    ***Communication is Good

    I want to remind you all to reply to messages when I email you. I’m finding that I spend a lot of time wondering if a message got through. Even if you don’t have an answer for my question(s) yet, a simple “Got it” would let me know you’ve received the email. Of course if I”m asking you about scheduling a lesson, I’d like your answer as well. So please respond! Sometimes I hold a time open for a lesson when I could be using that time for something else.

    ***About That Concert …
    since I said I’d write more.

    The UCI concert included Poulenc’s Concerto in D minor for two pianos. I’ve always enjoyed Poulenc and, at the same time, wondered how much of what he wrote was tongue in cheek and how much was serious. He’ll come up with a lush melody, and then suddenly do something that almost says “Oh! Just kidding!” The music might sound like a cartoon score for a while, and then, at times, like a little Mozart. This work was no exception. I also wonder if Ravel was stealing a portion of this work for the incredibly gorgeous English horn solo in his Piano Concerto in G. Seems like it. (Yeah, the piano plays it too, but the English horn is so much more important in a piano concerto, don’t you think?!)

    The Paratore brothers also played a work by Brubeck for two pianos and orchestra. I wasn’t as enthralled with this as I am with other Brubeck works, but it was a nice work. I just felt as if Brubeck didn’t use the orchestra in any sort of special way. I certainly heard the Brubeck trademarks … a little “Kathy’s Waltz”, a bit of “Take 5”, and quite a lot of “Rondo alla Turk”.

    The first work, by UCLA composer Chris Wong, was called Local Motion. It did, indeed, have lots of motion, and I thought the orchestra sounded quite strong in what appeared to be a challenging work. I’m not sure what I think of the piece yet, and since it was a world premier who knows if it’ll ever be heard again. That’s the thing about world premiers: they might be “only premier” as well.

    I was impressed by the nearly full house, and this was the second of two scheduled performances! It’s nice to see so many in an audience for a college program.

    ***March 23, 2004


    I certainly wish I could attend this: Elaine Douvas will be performing the Strauss Oboe Concerto with the Pro Arte Symphony Orchestra at the Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church. You can see the information here. Unfortunately I have Symphony Silicon Valley that night. There is a possilibity, though, that there could be some added master classes. If I hear about them really happening, I’ll post the information here.

    Say what? You don’t know who Elaine Douvas is? She’s the principal oboist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra (since 1977). Definitely worth a listen!

    ***March 24, 2004

    ***Don’t Get Me Wrong!

    I only realized this very minute that my UCI review might be misconstrued. A reader (reeder?!) might think I’m recommending UCI over the UC where I teach, UCSC. Please don’t believe that to be so! I was visiting for two reasons: my daughter goes there, and a student of mine has been accepted there and has to make that difficult college decision. There are some fine musicians at UCSC, and we have a good orchestra as well. There are many great opportunities at UCSC for performers … and it’s a gorgeous campus to boot!

    I thought I’d better clarify my earlier post.

    Besides … I want more oboists at UCSC! Wouldn’t it be grand to get enough oboists that we could have a double reed choir? I sure think so!


    … music heard so deeply that it is not heard at all, but you are the music while the music lasts.

    -T.S. Eliot, from THE DRY SALVAGES, (No. 3 of ‘Four Quartets’)

    ***March 25, 2004


    Music-making as a means of getting money is hell.

    -Gustav Holst

    ***Do They Really Want to Go There?

    The violinists in Bonn’s Beethoven orchestra are suing. They think they deserve more money because they play more notes than their colleagues. What a can of worms they could be opening! I may not play more notes, but I’m all alone on my part. So I say that I should be paid more. Then again, perhaps those that play hardly a note need more money … the stress of sitting and waiting to play, perhaps, 2 minutes of a very exposed solo is scary and very risky (I deal with this when I play English horn and, believe me, it’s frightening!). Or maybe we should be paid for the quality of our notes … but then the string players would be at a loss, since we hear them as a section while we hear the winds, brass and percussion as individuals so much of the time.

    I’ll take any raise given me, of course (I do have two kids in college, after all) but I doubt I’ll get one soon. With the state of the Arts right now, I’m just thankful to have my jobs.

    Anyone who is in this for the money, though … well … I suggest a change of career!

    ***March 29, 2004

    This is a view from outside the music building at UCSC.


    I will be on campus tomorrow (Tuesday) at 9:00, if not a bit earlier. The plan at this point is to have quintet at 9:00, with oboe students following. There is a possibility that this may change; the members of the quintet have wild schedules and we are trying to work everything out so no one suffers too much.

    I look forward to seeing you all tomorrow. I’m ready for some fine music making!


    Wednesday. 9:30. I’ll be there!

    ***March 30, 2004

    ***Last Minute News

    This is from Bill Bennett:

    Elaine Douvas, Principal Oboe with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Faculty Member at the Juilliard School, is in town to perform the Strauss Oboe Concerto with the Pro Art Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, April 3, at 8 pm (Lafayette/Orinda Presbyterian Church, 49 Knox Drive in Lafayette, Tickets: $35-40, Students, $15).

    She will also be the special guest at the San Francisco Conservatory Oboe Class on Thursday, April 1st, from 4 to 6 pm, so, Conservatory Students, be prepared to play something…if you can bring an accompanist, all the better. Auditors are always welcome, and, if time allows, we would love to hear them play as well.

    If any of you are interested and need directions to the Conservatory, email me and I’ll get back to you.

    ***April 1, 2004

    ***More Congratulations!

    Caitlyn has won first place in the fine arts portion of the Bank of America Achievement Awards! Seems like Caitlin receives good news after good news, doesn’t it? She has a hefty scholarship to UOP. She has this BofA award. She has been told by both UCI and UCLA that she will be receiving music scholarships. She has already been named a Chancellor’s Scholar at UCI.

    And these are just a few of the schools that accepted her.

    Way to go, Cailtyn!

    ***April 2, 2004


    Music has charms to soothe a savage breast,
    To soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.
    I’ve read that things inanimate have moved,
    And, as with living souls, have been inform’d,
    By magic numbers and persuasive sound.

    -William Congreve, The Mourning Bride (act I, sc. 1)

    ***The Good News Never Ends!

    Nicole He was awarded superior ratings for both her solo and her duet (oboe & clarinet) at last Saturday’s Solo & Ensemble Festival. In addition, she has been moved up to the highest band at Lynbrook High, Wind Ensemble.

    Wonderful news, Nicole!

    ***Job Cancelled

    I had been hired a few weeks ago to play in a rather odd concert. It was called Dennis DeYoung performing the music of STYX, and was to take place in May. Alas, I received a note yesterday cancelling the job. Apparantly there is a “war” of sorts going on between DeYoung and STYX; he split from the band some time ago, and I guess STYX now follows him around and causes his audience to be smaller so they often end up having to cancel his shows. At least that’s the story; I can’t speak for the truth of it all. But anyway, guess I’m not going to be doing a bit of rock-and-roll after all.

    The earplugs can go back into my desk. (Yes, one wears earplugs for these jobs!)

    ***April 3, 2004


    It is a paradoxical but profoundly true and important principle of life that the most likely way to reach a goal is to be aiming not at that goal itself but at some more ambitious goal beyond it.

    Arnold Toynbee (1889 – 1975)

    ***The Concert Tonight

    Well, aside from water in my octave key (which only gave me a problem on one note, but it was certainly a note that could be heard) I really enjoyed the performance tonight. The solo in the Barber is just great fun to play — my kind of solo! The Mozart is, as Mozart always is, a wonderful work. And Brahms’ fourth? Well, it was a night of great music. Hope some of you managed to catch it!

    ***April 5, 2004

    ***Viva Vivaldi ..?

    Read this:

    It seems those joggers wearing earphones to avoid hearing the horns of large vehicles bearing down from behind may, in fact, be on to something. (Assuming those runners are actually listening to music, not just fending off social interaction.) Everyone knows exercise improves health, although that doesn’t prompt everybody to do anything. Chances are, for instance, you’re not running right now. But according to the journal Heart & Lung, a team of Ohio State University researchers has found that exercising to music — at least to Antonio Vivaldi — not only improves physical conditioning, it also improves mental conditioning. People get smarter if they work out while listening to certain music.

    The research team was headed by Charles Emery, a very smart workout enthusiast who disdains elevators, preferring sit-ups, stationary bikes, Rachmaninoff and Elvis Costello. He tested 33 men and women in cardiac rehabilitation. Twice, a week apart, the subjects took verbal fluency and mood-testing quizzes before and after running 30 minutes on a treadmill. One workout was stimulus-free. The other involved listening to Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.” Both times all subjects felt refreshed and enhanced. But their verbal fluency scores doubled after listening to those four violin concerti written 279 years ago, well before exercise was an industry.

    (From http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-vivaldi4apr04,1,6736749.story?coll=la-news-comment-editorials — you must register to read the full article.)

    Now I’m off to AVAC (Almaden Valley Athletic Club) where I do my exercise!

    And no, I don’t listen to Vivaldi there. But I do listen to other music.

    ***April 6, 2004

    ***Robotic Conductor?

    There’s something to be said for a robot. I’m assuming it isn’t programmed to mess things up if it gets angry with the musicians. And if you make no eye contact with it I suppose it won’t care! But of course, in reality, the whole thing seems mighty ridiculous.

    But then so does the “Virtual Orchestra” and folks are buying into that.


    ***April 7, 2004

    ***The End of an Era

    Only one rehearsal left for Opera San Jose’s Die Fledermaus production. Then we have fourteen shows (but I’ll be skipping Easter Sunday’s performance).

    Then we move out of the Montgomery Theater.

    I’m excited about the new hall; from everything I hear and see it must be spectacular! But this really is the end of an era. Our orchestra will be larger. The tight-knit family we have will change. I’m sure we’ll all have to adjust, and there will probably be things that we aren’t used to. After working together with nearly the same folks for twenty years, it’s inevitable that us oldsters will be apprehensive about the changes.

    Still … California (Theatre), here we come!


    In checking the Opera San Jose site I just realized I missed the episode on Spark tonight that included a segment on OSJ. Well shucks! I’ll try and catch it on April 9th at 11:00 PM. I’d better set an alarm!

    ***April 8, 2004


    Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.

    -Miles Davis

    ***Wonderful Article

    Read this and you’ll enjoy yourself, I’m sure! It’s about Opera San Jose and the Montgomery Theater and … well … it made me smile and also made me (again) realize that our tiny hall will be missed but, at the same time, the new hall is a very exciting adventure that begins next September!

    ***April 9, 2004


    It may be that when the angels go about their task praising God, they play only Bach. I am sure, however, that when they are together en famille they
    play Mozart.

    -Karl Barth (1886-1968) Protestant Theologian

    ***April 11, 2004


    There’s a good review in the Merc. Hoorah for Opera San Jose, and thank you to the reviewer as well! (A different reviewer than the less than good Symphony review, by the way.)


    Reviewers! What do they know?”

    A line from the Opera San Jose production of Die Fledermaus.

    … and the show went quite well, but who can tell what a reviewer might say? The San Jose Mercury News review of the last symphony concert was the worst review ever — it was called a “rapid review” and while it was rapid I wouldn’t exactly say it qualified as a review at all. (The writer wouldn’t actually have had to be a the performance to write as he did!) So I do wonder if the same writer will attempt to say nothing in as few sentences for the opera review. I suppose I’ll find out tomorrow, so stay tuned.

    Of course it’s always best to stay tuned. Being untuned is not a good thing.

    (Sorry. Couldn’t resist!)

    ***April 13, 2004

    ***Orchestral Preparation

    Okay … little lecture time! (Very small, I promise.)

    Please learn how to prepare! If you need help, ask me — I’m happy to help.

    On occasion I’ve come to the first symphony or opera rehearsal and heard someone say “I’ve never played or heard this before” as if he or she is kind of proud of that fact. To me this just shows a lack of preparation and is less than professional behavior. I’ve had to sub in shows (and even one performance — with NO rehearsal — of a San Francisco Opera production) and, believe me, if I had that attitude and hadn’t prepared I’d never be asked back!

    So … here are some helpful hints:

    “Amateurs practice until they get it right. Professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.”

    Pick up a recording of the work you are working on. Pick up several if you are able to. I’m not saying you have to purchase them; there are libraries, you know? I suggest several recordings because it’s a great idea to hear the different interpretations.

    Listen to the recording(s) as you read your part. You’ll get at least some idea of tempi, and you’ll also learn about any unmarked solos! (Not all solos are marked, and not all marked solos are actually solos. Go figure.)

    While listening, write in any cues that will help you if you have numerous measures to count. Coming in incorrectly is not only embarrassing, but it also ticks conductors off.

    Practice with the recording a couple of times if you can match pitch. (Some recordings I’ve purchased are so sharp I can’t handle playing with them.)

    Use a metronome. Please. Take the fast parts slower than you think you need to. If you can’t play it perfectly that way, don’t get faster! I can’t tell you how many students are playing things faster than they are capable of playing them. Move that metronome up bit-by-bit only when you’ve gotten it perfect at the slower tempo.

    Don’t hesitate to mark your part! (Of course use a pencil … that’s a no brainer!) If you make a note mistake once, fine. Twice? Mark the part!

    Don’t get stuck on one reed. You know how that goes … you get stuck on one, that will be the one that breaks. Or it will sound so different on stage you’ll have to pick another out of the case. So get used to a variety of reeds. And you don’t have to use the same reed for the whole concert. There’s no “one reed” commandment anywhere. Really.

    When practicing (and in lessons too!) be true to the reed. What I mean by this is that I want you to play the reed as it should be played, and if it’s flat or sharp then deal with it! Fix it. BUT … when you get in orchestra you must be true to the pitch. This means you might have to bite (such a no-no that I hope you never have to do this!) or relax your mouth so much you can barely hold the reed in your mouth. But, sorry about this, you must play so that you are in tune with the orchestra! (Well, unless the orchestra isn’t good enough to have a general pitch you can locate!) But can you see where I’m going here? This is why you need to be true to the REED while practicing; after a bit of practicing turn your tuner on, and occasionally (not always!) look over and see just what’s happening. You’ll then know what intonation problems you might have. (If you don’t understand what I’m (poorly) trying to say here, ask me about it!)


    “Amateurs practice until they get it right. Professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.”

    (I wish I could tell you who said this, but I’ve not come up with that. I’ve only read the quote in many places.)

    If I think of more later you’ll hear from me again! Time will tell.

    ***April 15, 2004

    ***Are your taxes done?

    Mine are. Whew.

    ***Practice Makes Perfect?

    Well, according to an article I’m reading in American Educator there’s a bit more to it than that. The writer says:

    It is difficult to overstate the value of practice. For a new skill to become automatic or for new knowledge to become long-lasting, sustained practice, beyond the point of mastery, is necessary.

    Ah yes … I like that! We (I include myself in this) often practice until we’ve gotten something right a few times (in my rulebook it’s been “5 times in a row” remember?) … but we haven’t gone far enough.

    The writer goes on:

    Practice until you are perfect and you will be perfect only briefly. What’s necessary is sustained practice. By sustained practice I mean regular, ongoing review or use of the target material (e.g., regularly using new calculating skills to solve increasingly more complex math problems, reflecting on recently-learned historical material as one studies a subsequent history unit, taking regular quizzes or tests that draw on material learned earlier in the year). This kind of practice past the point of mastery is necessary to meet any of these three important goals of instruction: acquiring fact and knowledge, learning skills, or becoming an expert.

    The article goes on (and even includes music and how students that practiced more learned more – big duh!). It’s quite good. It states what I’m sure you already know; certain material merits more practice than other material. The author says that core skills and knowedge that are to be used again and again must be practiced to the point where these are automatic. (Scales, anyone?) You can’t not know your scales! Seriously. They have to be in your blood. You are to know them like you know your alphabet. They are essential. Other types of knowledge may not be as important in the long-term, but must be learned in order to learn key concepts. This would include all those little pieces you learn that you may not ever play again as you improve, but include important intervals or difficult notes, or other important things that you need to master (like those Rubank or Gekeler ditties!). And finally there are the things that you learn that are important forever, but aren’t the “basics”. I include in this any orchestral excerpts that will pop back up from time to time, as well as solo works that you keep in your repertoire (think Mozart Oboe Concerto!).

    Anyway … practice those scales! When you practice your etudes notice how many scale passages are included. If alternate fingerings are necessary for the scale, remember that they will almost always be necessary for those same notes in etudes of the same key! You can apply this same knowledge to any works (solos, chamber music, orchestral works, etc.), can’t you? If you’re in the key of E-flat, you just know that you’ll end up playing some left Fs. If you are in the key of A-flat you’ve moved to left E-flat and forked F. If you are in the key of A you know you’re going to have some left D-sharps. You know the drill.

    Ramble over and out!

    ***April 17, 2004

    ***Julie Ann Giacobassi Recital

    ***May 2 at 5:00 PM
    Old First Concerts in San Francisco. 

    Joining Julie are Raymond Froehlich (percussion), Deborah Kavasch (soprano), Douglas Rioth (harp), Adam Smyla (viola), Stephen Thomas (piano), Delia Voitoff-Bauman (contralto), and Geraldine Walther (viola). 

    For more details, contact Old First Concerts


    Duet from Ihr Menschen, rühmet Gottes Leben, BWV 167, J. S. Bach
    Soprano, Contralto, English horn and Piano

    Ratmir’s Aria from Act III of the opera Ruslan and Lyudmila, Mikhail Glinka
    Contralto, English horn and Harp arranged by John Marvin

    Tapestry, John Marvin
    Oboe d’amore, Viola and Piano

    Songs of the Prairie, Robert Sibbing
    Soprano, English horn and Piano

    Encounters XI: “The Demise of Suriyodha”, William Kraft
    English horn and Percussion

    Contraltos (World Premiere), Richard Felciano
    English horn and Viola   

    Bee! I’m Expecting You!, Deborah Kavasch

    The Fox and the Grapes, Deborah Kavasch
    Soprano and English horn

    ***Unsafe Music

    So some say that listening to Wagner and driving don’t mix. Okay. Sure. (Click on the link above to read the article.)

    ***Reed Making Classes

    I’m planning on teaching reed making classes this summer. So far I’ve not received many positive responses from students, but I’m assuming you are mulling it over. The classes would probably take place weekly for 2 hours or so, for a month, but I’d like to find out what works best for students first. It might be better to do longer sessions and do them closer together.

    Mostly I DO know that it’s time; some of you need to learn the craft. Think about it, okay?! (And if any readers aren’t students of mine, feel free to email me and I can include you in the classes as well.)


    Did you know that George Frideric Handel and Jimmy Hendrix had something in common?

    Answer: They shared the same address.

    (No … not a the same time, silly!)

    ***April 18, 2004

    ***Music Minus One, Anyone?

    I recently purchased a couple music minus one CDs. The packages actually include the printed music, a CD, and some notes on the works. The CD has the works with oboe as well as the accompaniment only tracks. While I’m not entirely thrilled with all the tracks that include the oboist playing the solos (I’m not going to mention the name — if you want that you need to ask me privately!), but it’s great to have the accompaniment only tracks.

    You, too, can purchase these, and right now Sheet Music Plus is offering a 20% discount on the MMO titles.

    Go to this link to see the available titles for Music Minus One for Oboe.

    ***April 20, 2004


    Insurance. An ingenious modern game of chance in which the player is
    permitted to enjoy the comfortable conviction that he is beating the man who keeps
    the table.

    -Ambrose Bierce (1842?1914) American author, “The Devil?s Dictionary,” (1881-1906)


    Students and parents: Are your instruments insured? If you haven’t talked to your insurance company you might be surprised. As long as one isn’t a professional musician instruments are often covered by a rider attached to an homeowners’ policy, but I do suggest you check! If you are going away to college you need to check again to be sure the instrument(s) are covered while away at school. Theft at colleges is high, and instruments are a target at some schools. Due to this some insurance companies don’t want to insure them there.

    Thoughts for college students:

    • Never (never, never!) leave an instrument unattended in a practice room
    • Never leave an instrument in an unlocked dorm room (although why a dorm room would be left unlocked is beyond me!)
    • I don’t recommend using lockers on campus. Everyone knows that the instrument lockers contain valuable instruments, and they do get broken into on occasion
    • Don’t discuss the value of your instruments with others
    • Don’t leave an instrument in a car (unless you leave it in a locked trunk, and even that is risky
    • Have the serial numbers of your instruments recorded somewhere. When instruments are stolen that’s the first thing you’ll want to know so you can report them immediately to the police and to me (so that I may post the information at the Double Reed Society’s stolen instrument URL)

    I’ll say more later … but right now I’m off to opera!

    ***April 21, 2004

    ***More Exciting News!

    Caitlyn has been awarded a $7,000 scholarship from the UCI music department! It’s the highest scholarship they award, and they only award one. Congratulations, Caitlyn!

    See what hard work and good oboe playing can get you? Caitlyn wasn’t handed this award because she plays oboe, but because she plays oboe very well! She has learned her scales. Yes, indeed. Chromatic. Major. Minor. Whole tone. (And she plays two octaves up to high G so those of you who complain about playing high F can rethink that complaint!) She has worked diligently on anything I assigned her. … and she’s a great person too! Yay Caitlyn!

    ***April 22, 2004


    The Opera is nothing but a public gathering place where we assemble on certain days without precisely knowing why.

    -Voltaire (1732)


    But come to the opera. It’s fun. You might not know why you are there, but you’ll laugh … a lot! Die Fledermaus is such fun. Honest!


    I was looking at the upcoming Music@Menlo programs, and I want to encourage students to attend the French Concert. The Poulenc Trio for oboe, bassoon and piano is scheduled for the August 6 and 7 concerts. It’s a wonderful work, and I’m sure you would all be delighted to hear Allan Vogel play. I’m going to put this one on my calendar today!

    ***April 24, 2004


    The Arts are an even better barometer of what is happening in our world than the Stock Market or the debates in Congress.

    -Hendrik Willem Van Loon (1882-1944) Dutch-born American historian, writer


    Ray Still will be at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music from 5:30-7:30 on Monday. He will be holding a Masterclass, and while the conservatory students get to play first, others may play as well if there is time. And yes … I’m going, and Caitlyn will join me!

    Here’s a bio of Ray Still, from this page:

    As a teenager Still played in the Los Angeles WPA Orchestra that Otto Klemperer and Albert Coates conducted, and at 19 became assistant principal in the fledgling Kansas City (MO) Philharmonic. After service in WW2, he came east, studied with Gillet and Bloom, joined the Buffalo Philharmonic in 1947 as principal oboe for two seasons, and then the Baltimore Symphony for four years (where he also taught at the Peabody Institute). In 1953 he found himself on the horns of a dilemma: either become associate principal of the New York Philharmonic (whose first oboist, Harold Gomberg, was leading a campaign from within to bring down Dimitri Mitropoulos, with outside help from Howard Taubman in The New York Times), or become assistant principal in Chicago, where Fritz Reiner had just been appointed music director. He chose Chicago, and when Mueller retired at the end of the 1953-54 season, Still became principal in 1954 for the next 40 years?beyond Georg Solti, into the current Barenboim era.

    ***April 25, 2004


    The oboe player has a long, pale cheek

    His lips are thin, his visage lank and weak.
    His hair is curly; on his sad face
    ‘merit unrecognized’ you clearly trace

    Crafty and sly, he loves a quiet beer

    His instrument above all things is dear . . .

    – Music Magazine: March, 1882

    ***Patty’s Rules for the Day

    • Learn to make good reeds
    • Learn to play well on bad reeds

    If the first rule isn’t working, at least you can fall back on the second … right? 😉

    ***April 27, 2004

    ***Light Bulbs, Anyone?

    Q: How many oboe players does it take to change a light bulb?

    A: One — but he/she may go through a dozen or so to find a bulb
    that’s just right.

    ***April 28, 2004

    ***BQOD (book quote of the day)

    (I’ve been reading Robertson Davies’ “Salterton Trilogy” … just finished up the second book “Leaven of Malice” today which is well worth your time! Here’s a taste of the book, which is witty, thought provoking, and very entertaining.):

    “Have a chair, my dear fellow. Just throw that stuff on the floor. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this visit.” He fetched a large and unpleasant-looking rag from under his pillow and blew his nose loud and long. “E flat,” said he, when he had finished. “Funny, I never seem to blow twice on the same note. You’d think that the nose, under equal pressure, and all that, would behave predictably, but it doesn’t.”

    and later …

    “Hogwash!” said Cobbler, groping under his pillow for his piece of bedsheet. “Don’t come the noble sufferer over me, Bridgetower. You are in a richly varied mess, true enough. But much as I like you, I am clear-eyed enough to see that it is the outward and visible reflection of the inward and invisible mess which is your soul. You think life has trapped you, do you? Well, my friend, everybody is trapped, more or less. The best thing you can hope for is to understand your trap and make terms with it, tooth by tooth. If this seems hard, reflect that I speak from what may well be my death-bed.” He blew his nose resoundingly. “B natural,” said he. “My cold drops more than a full tone every hour. Obviously I am dying.”

    I gave myself permission to put this on the oboe page because of the nose-blowing notes.

    Silly, aren’t I?

    ***Ray Still

    Caitlyn and I heard some San Francisco Conservatory students play for Ray Still on Monday, and then got to hear all of his comments (and stories). It was great! The man loves to talk. I wrote down quite a bit, and I will give you some quotes once I pull my papers out of my bag.

    ***April 29, 2004

    ***Good Images
    of reedmaking can be seen here.


    [Too many musicians are] too involved with doing and not listening.

    Demand more of yourself.

    In order to play musically you have to learn the art of exaggerating.

    Those pushups … get away from them! … you need those muscles mushy!

    Notes, usually to be musical, have to move in or out. They don’t sound like clarinets!

    -Ray Still

    (All of these are from the Ray Still masterclass.)

    ***May 1, 2004


    Happy May to all of you. Of course seeing May arrive tells me that time is racing by … only two more lessons for SJSU students, and we are at the halfway mark for UCSC, with only 4 more classes at SCU.

    For SJSU students this means juries are rapidly approaching. As I’ve said before, I can guarantee that I will ask for the f melodic minor scale. Because of this promise it would be ridiculous for that scale to not be perfect. Really.

    For the others, it means you need to continue practicing … don’t slow down (even though it’s beautiful oustide and I’m sure you’d like to enjoy the sun!).

    ***Reed Making Class

    A reminder to private students (and any college students who would wish to join us): I will be teaching reed making classes sometime this summer. I urge you all to consider the classes; reed making takes years to master, but the sooner you begin the craft the sooner you will become adept at reed making. My plan (at this point) is to purchase all the reed making materials myself, with the hope that buying multiple kits will give us a good discount. Classes will probably be 2 to 2 1/2 hours long, and I believe I’ll do four sessions. I need to see everyone’s schedules to decide if we’ll do 2 sessions per week or if we’ll do 1 session and go for a month. It really depends upon student schedules … I know how busy you all are so putting this together may be a challenge!

    ***Feel like Shouting?

    Well, join this group. Amazing. These guys shout. On purpose. Only thing is, it’s a men’s chorus, so I guess us women can’t join up.

    Kind of makes me wanna shout. You know?

    ***May 2, 2004

    ***Alex Klein’s Story

    I’ve talked to some of my students about Alex Klein’s retirement (Chicago Symphony Orchestra) and his medical problem, but this article tells you more. What a sad story. I have a recording of Klein’s and his technique on that recording was simply stunning.

    My prayers go out to Mr. Klein. I simply can’t imagine what he is going through.

    ***An Article

    I’m gonna give you the “ending” which, I know, is sort of breaking the rules. But there ya go!

    Perhaps classical music’s audience problem could be solved if there were more living, breathing, palpable moments of exchange like the one that took place in this beer-drenched corner of a Mississippi pizza parlor. “It’s so simple,” Mr. Haimovitz said when happily back on the road, “to just take out your cello and start playing.”

    To read the complete article click here (registration required).

    ***An Offer

    I received this from a member of the IDRS list:

    This July,  WCU School of Music is offering scholarships to selected double reed players, to attend our Summer Music Camp.  Please see the qualifications and application information below.  Scholarships range from $100.00 to $300.00.  The full cost of summer camp, including room and board, is $540.00 for applications received by June 1 and $575.00 for applications received after that date.  Summer Camp dates are July 5-10, 2005.

    These scholarships are being offered to give rising seniors who might be considering WCU an opportunity to spend a week on our campus and also work with Prof. Jon Gaarder and me.  Please email me with any questions, and happy double reeding!!!


    Scholarship applicants . . . .

    . . . must have finished the junior year of high school.
    . . . should be planning to major in music education or performance.
    . . . should be considering applying to West Chester University.

    To apply:

    All applications should be postmarked by June 1.  Late applications will be considered if funding is still available.  Scholarships will be awarded on a rolling basis, so early application is encouraged.

    . . . send a cassette tape or CD of your playing (2 contrasting movements of pieces).
    . . . send a letter stating your future goals in music and interest in considering WCU for your college education.
    . . . mail to Dr. Henry Grabb, School of Music, West Chester University, West Chester, PA  19383
    . . . Questions or to receive a band camp brochure?  Email Dr. Grabb at hgrabb @wcupa.edu or call 610-436-2224.

    My note: Now I realize that there might not be anyone who has even thought of West Chester University, so visit their site here and their music site here. I have to admit I know absolutely nothing about the school!

    ***May 3, 2004


    Bach is Bach, as God is God.

    -Hector Berlioz (1803-1869)


    For some very unusual pictures of musicians, go here. (It takes a while to load, and the first few are just normal pix, so be patient!)

    ***May 5, 2004


    Music is one of the ways we can achieve a kind of shorthand to understand each other.

    -Yo Yo Ma

    ***Farewell to the Montgomery Theater


    This picture was taken on the final day of our final performance of Die Fledermaus. I’m gonna miss this hall!

    ***May 6, 2004

    ***This Just In

    (My note: I just received this via email. I encourage all students to try to get to this recital! You need to hear conservatory students.)


    Sunday, May 9th, 2004, 8:00 pm

    Agnes Albert Hall
    San Francisco Conservatory of Music
    1201 Ortega Street, San Francisco, CA

    The Program will consist of:

    Robert Schumann: 3 Romances

    Ian James Dicke: Miniature Dance Suite (WORLD PREMIERE)

    Antonino Pasculli: Le Api
    with Tim Bach, Piano


    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Quartet for Oboe and Strings
    with Susan Drew Coson, Violin; Wendy Clymer, Viola; Katie Chambers,

    Paul McCartney: Hey Jude
    with Susan Drew Coson, Violin; Wendy Clymer, Viola; Katie Chambers,
    Cello; Chris Breeden, Drums

    I’d love to see all of you there,


    After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music

    -Aldous Huxley

    ***New Page

    I’ve set up a new page that lists the oboists and English hornists of American orchestras. It will never be complete, I’m sure, and I’m guessing that it will often have errors (in fact Alex Klein has resigned from Chicago so there’s already one name that will change). But still, if you are curious who is playing where, you can look there. The list will grow as I find the time to check out more orchestra sites. I tried to start with some “biggies” and I’ll move on to as many orchestras as I’m able to find.

    Why am I doing this, you might ask?

    Just because.

    ***May 7, 2004

    ***Make it a Double

    San Francisco Conservatory student Grace Wu will be doing her recital in Hellman Hall from 5-7 on the same date as Jack’s. Just think … more music! (See yesterday’s entry for Jack’s recital information.)

    ***May 9, 2004

    ***Happy Mother’s Day!

    Thank you to all the mothers who drive your children to and from lessons, who encourage them to practice, and love them even when they tell you it’s time to buy new reeds!

    ***Famous Musicians Are People Too

    MIDDLETON, Wis. (AP) – Violinist Sarah Chang began studying music at age 4 and has performed with major symphony orchestras, but she’s also a fan of pop culture.

    Chang, 23, said she was frustrated when a rehearsal for Saturday’s performance with the Madison Symphony Orchestra forced her to miss the final episode of “Friends.'”

    “I’m staying in a hotel, so I couldn’t videotape it and I couldn’t reach any of my friends to find out how it turned out,” Chang told a group of Middleton High School orchestra students.

    Chang said she is also a fan of almost every reality television show ever aired.

    Chang’s taste in music might surprise a few classical music devotees. She prefers listening to rapper 50 Cent and Carlos Santana in the car.

    “I have a hard time switching my mind off. If I hear a violin piece, I have to pull over and listen,” she said. “So, when I’m driving, I pop in a popular music or a rock CD.”

    Chang said she winces when she enters a restaurant and the manager, as a gesture of respect, plays one of her CDs. “The last thing I want to do when I’m eating is listen to me,'” she said.

    ***Concerts This Week at SJSU

    Tuesday, May 11, SJSU Orchestra, performing Overture to “Colas Breugnon” by Kabalevsky and Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade”.

    Friday, May 14, SJSU Wind Ensemble, performing Selections from “The Danserye” by Susato, Grainger’s “Molly on the Shore”, and “Slava!” by Bernstein.

    Both events are in the Concert Hall at 7:30 PM

    ***May 11, 2004


    I have my own particular sorrows, loves, delights; and you have yours. But sorrow, gladness, yearning, hope, love, belong to all of us, in all times and in all places. Music is the only means whereby we feel these emotions in their universality.

    -H. A. Overstreet

    ***Will It Ever Really Happen?

    Somehow, I doubt it. But if a plastic reed ever managed to work I’d be first in line! I mean … think about it! The reed would last longer. It would require no carving. It would … well … just BE.

    But I honestly can’t imagine that they can ever do this.

    ***May 13, 2004


    Music is the shorthand of emotion. Emotions, which let themselves be described in words with such difficulty, are directly conveyed to man in music, and in that is its power and significance.

    -Leo Tolstoy

    ***May 17, 2004

    ***More Double Reeds

    I decided that I’d add the Australian orchestras to my list of double reeders since the next International Double Reed Society’s convention will be held there. I would guess I haven’t found all the orchestras there, but I’ve done what I could.

    In case people haven’t noticed I added Canadian orchestras last week. I think I forgot to mention that earlier.

    ***May 18, 2004

    ***Music for Troy

    I don’t know what the soundtrack for Troy sounds like, having not seen the movie. But I now know what it doesn’t sound like. The score was originally to be by Gabriel Yared. I guess the powers that be changed their minds, they rejected his work, and the music you hear in the movie is by James Horner. Meanwhile, Yared has made some of his composition available here.

    Now I think I’ll want to see (or at least hear!) the movie sometime. Prior to this I wasn’t interested at all.

    For comments from Yared go here. Of course you will be reading his side of the story, and I don’t know if there’s a site that gives the other side or not.

    ***May 19, 2004

    ***Update on the Story Below

    The woman who found the cello is supposed to get a $50,000 reward. I just heard on TV that she said she would donate it to a children’s music school or some such thing.

    Now wouldn’t that make her a hero twice over? I sure think so!

    ***A Unique Compact Disk Case

    Sure … turn that Strad into a case. It would be the most expensive case every made. Thank goodness the woman saw the news. Read all about it.

    I’m still puzzling over someone leaving a cello on the steps of his house but, then again, I’ve heard horror stories before. Yo Yo Ma left his cello in a taxi. Someone else left his violin in a subway train. Years ago I left my oboe at Coco’s Restaurant. And I know a violinist who ran over her violin, and a saxaphonist whose friends ran over his sax.

    We are a forgetful and sometimes reckless bunch I guess.

    ***May 20, 2004


    My idea is that there is music in the air, music all around us; the world is full of it, and you simply take as much as you require.

    -Edward Elgar

    ***May 22, 2004

    ***Concert Today

    I really enjoyed hearing Ebba Peterson’s recital today. What was especially fun was the PDQ Bach work at the end. Brava, Ebba!

    ***Updating Double Reed Supplier Update

    I’ve been updating my site recently, and I’ve redone the Double Reed Suppliers page. I’ll continue to add to it as I do more research.

    ***May 24, 2004

    ***What a Day

    Yesterday I drove to Watsonville to hear a UCSC Woodwind Quintet play their final concert. After driving past the Mello Center once (no one told me it was actually at the high school!) I finally parked and found the hall. Not that many people were there, which was a shame.

    But .. the kicker was this: As the second group played someone behind me began to talk. And talk. Full voice. Shortly after, I looked to my left and a man began to nod off. Soon I could hear his light snoring. And to top it all off, someone’s cell phone began to play the infamous Noikia “song”. At that point I just had to laugh.

    I also noted tha the audience members were so afraid they are going to applaud in the wrong place that they didn’t applaud at all! Sometimes they were unsure if the piece had ended (performers need to be taught how to make that clear to their audience). Other times a group played several pieces by different composers and the audience, knowing they aren’t to applaud between movements, didn’t applaud between the unrelated works. During intermission I had a chat with some of my students and one said she’d go ahead and get the audience going on the applause, and they did manage to catch on … a little.

    When I read Robertson Davies’ Cornish Trilogy I remember there was a name for the people planted in the audience that would cue the audience to applaud. I’ll have to look up that name and see if it really exists or if Davies invented it. It sure was necessary yesterday!

    The drive home should have taken me about 1 hour and 10 minutes; it took me three hours. There was a fatality on highway 17. I wish people would understand how dangerous that road can be.

    ***May 25, 2004

    ***WOTD (word of the day)


    Claque, n. [F.] A collection of persons employed to applaud at a theatrical exhibition.

    So there ya go! The word does exist. In the book I read it also suggested that these planted people are able to gently keep people from applauding in the wrong places as well.

    (I think I’d like to hire a claque to accompany me wherever I go. I can always use a bit of applause!)

    ***By The Time I Get To Phoenix

    … well, I’m guessing the concert would be over. And I’m guessing, too, that it’s sold out. They symphony there will be playing Howard Shore’s music to the movie Lord of the Rings. Now that’s a concert I wouldn’t mind playing (or hearing) at all! I really enjoyed that soundtrack.

    You can read about it here.

    ***May 28, 2004


    I know canned music makes chickens produce more eggs, and factory
    workers produce more; but how much more can they get out of you on an

    -Victor Borge (1909-2000)

    (I worked with Borge once … no comment about the man. But funny quote anyway!)

    ***June 2, 2004

    ***Very VERY Funny!

    Just read it. Trust me.

    ***June 3, 2004


    People make a mistake who think that my art has come easily to me. Nobody has devoted so much time and thought to composition as I. There is not a
    famous master whose music I have not studied over and over.

    -Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

    ***Oboe Reed Making Classes

    As my students know, I’ll be teaching a series of reed making classes this summer. I’ve been doing quite a bit of research on the equipment lately. I’ve found the best deal (ordering only from one place, as I simply can’t imagine trying to order piece by piece) and I’ll be placing my order tomorrow. So PLEASE, all students and parents, get back to me by this evening! (But how many of you even read this blog. Hmmm. I wonder!)

    I’ve also been studying reed making books; while I do make my own reeds so I have my own routine, it’s interesting to see how other players make theirs. I even have a book that teaches the French method of reed making. We won’t be learning that, but it’s interesting to see these reeds and try to imagine how they play on them. (And they do, of course; buy a French recording and you’ll hear!)

    Anyway, I thought I’d post my reed making class info at this site as well. Just in case anyone else is interested! So here ya go:

    “2004 Oboe Reed Making Classes”

    ***June 5, 2004


    It is easier to understand a nation by listening to its music than by learning its language.


    (Aside from musical language I speak nothing but English, so this is sure a relief to me! I have to admit, though, that I never know whether to trust Anonymous.)

    ***But …

    someone who does speak another language is my student at SCU, Madeline Biddle. She’s off to France for the fall quarter, and I’ll miss her.


    Bon voyage! À tout à l’heure.

    (Don’tcha love those online translation helpers?!)


    I have to say that I’ve been so thrilled by what I’m hearing from the majority of my students these days; it’s great to hear the improvements you have been making! Thanks to all of you who are practicing and working so hard. Isn’t it so much more rewarding when you come to lessons prepared? It’s more fun too!

    And those scales … majors, minors, whole tones … learning those will never cause you any harm, and will certainly be useful in the repertoire you play. I hope you are already seeing how helpful it is to have those learned.

    Keep up the good work!

    ***June 7, 2004

    ***Answer Me This

    Who was applauded for a record one hour and 20 minutes in 1991, and made 101 curtain calls? (answer tomorrow!)

    … but can you even imagine this? I sure can’t!


    Why waste money on psychotherapy when you can listen to the B Minor Mass?

    -Michael Torke

    ***Live Music for Dance

    “your heart sinks when you’re doing the dance for the 150th time, and it doesn’t vary.”

    Thank you, Mark Morris, for requiring live music for your work! Read this article to hear what he has to say about the necessity for live music. Ballet dancers often rehearse to recordings or to just a piano reduction of a work that should use full orchestra. Taped music is now being used in some local ballet companies’ performances as well. When Morris was asked why he wanted live music rather than the less costly taped music he said “your heart sinks when you’re doing the dance for the 150th time, and it doesn’t vary.” With Oakland going to tape (even for Nutcracker) and Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley cutting live music from a number of their shows (and reducing the orchestra for the rest) this was a refreshing article to read.

    ***Street Scene

    I went to see and hear the Kurt Weill opera Street Scene yesterday. UCSC’s Opera Workshop put it on. What an enjoyable afternoon! I’ll look forward to whatever they do next year (I was told what they were doing, but now I’ve forgotten.)

    I am still trying to figure out, though, why it’s an opera and not a musical.

    Or maybe it’s both?

    ***June 10, 2004


    I never wanted to be famous. I only wanted to be great.

    I did it to myself. It wasn’t society… it wasn’t a pusher, it wasn’t being blind or being black or being poor. It was all my doing.

    (My note: In 1965, Charles was arrested for possession of heroin. I’m assuming that’s what this quote is about.)

    Affluence separates people. Poverty knits ’em together. You got some sugar and I don’t; I borrow some of yours. Next month you might not have any flour; well, I’ll give you some of mine.

    I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me-like food or water.

    Love is a special word, and I use it only when I mean it. You say the word too much and it becomes cheap.

    My music had roots which I’d dug up from my own childhood, musical roots buried in the darkest soil.

    Ray Charles 1930-2004

    ***I Lied!

    I said I’d answer that question yesterday and I didn’t. My apologies. I’m sure there were a million or so folks who couldn’t sleep all night due to my neglect.

    Or not.

    The answer?

    Placido Domingo.

    ***June 13, 2004

    ***Good Article

    I enjoyed reading an article by a 26 year old classical music lover. He doesn’t seem to think we should have to try to romance the younger listener by cheapening what we do. How about that?

    He also writes

    The fact is that today the young, educated, and sophisticated listeners who 40 years ago would have paid attention to classical music, have turned to fashionable genres like indie rock. They even practice the connoisseurial behavior — seeking out obscure artists, reveling in the cachet of cult knowledge — that “highbrow” listeners apply to classical music.

    I hadn’t thought about that, but I do hear a lot of talk from some people I know who have a strong disdain for all things popular but embrace the indie scene with a passion. Many of these music lovers don’t have anything to do with classical music, though. Some also have great disdain for any classical musicians who don’t appreciate their indie music. (Is it fair for me, then, to have great disdain for their refusal to even give “my” music a chance?)

    Anyway, this article is at least worth a read.

    ***No More School

    I’ve now completed the year at all the universities. It’s been a challenging, rewarding, frustrating and enjoyable year. (Not all at the same time, mind you!) I’ve learned quite a bit, and I hope my students have learned some things as well.

    I will be returning to UCSC and SCU in the fall, but Pamela Hakl will return to SJSU. It’s great to know she’s doing so well after such a difficult year health-wise. Yay Pam!

    To all my students: Have a wonderful and safe summer vacation!

    ***For the Summer

    I am, of course, happy to teach over the summer months. I will continue to teach private students who are around, and I’m more than happy to see any university students who want to drop by and chat or play.

    If I may suggest one thing, it’s practice properly! Know that it takes more than a day to really learn something. (Assume it takes at least four!) Be patient. Don’t look at the clock … just practice! Pick a small portion of a piece instead of thinking you have to tackle it in its entirety (especially those that seem so difficult you can’t wrap your brain around them). Be honest about your practice. Keep a calendar if you need to … and write down metronome markings if you are working on a technically challenging work that you have to get faster … move a notch at a time. Remember you’ll probably have to start at a slightly slower tempo than where you stopped the day before.

    Suggestion Number Two: A Reed a Day. (Need I say more?)

    … and there ya go!

    ***June 19, 2004

    from our friends on The Simpsons

    Marge: Aren’t you glad we got out of the house and came downtown for a little culture?
    Homer: Peh. There butchering the classics. Could that bassoon have come in any more late?
    Marge: Aw, come on, Homer, there’s lasers. you like lasers …
    Homer: Laser effects, mirrored balls…John WIlliams must be rolling around in his grave.
    [the music segues from “Star Wars” to “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star”]
    Hibbert: [chuckles] Devilishiously satirical! I wonder if anyone else got that.

    ***June 22, 2004

    (or poetry of the day this time…)

    An oboist trained in Chicago
    Could play nothing faster than largo.
    He tried a new reed
    Which gained him no speed.
    So now he plays tuba in Fargo.


    ***June 25, 2004


    Aside from the two concerts to celebrate the fourth of July, and one “freebie” I’ll be doing with a colleague from UCSC, I have nothing on my performance calendar this summer. Summer is always less busy, but this is the least busy I’ve ever been. Am I disapointed? Yes. Will I still enjoy my summer? You bet! I’ll attempt to get things done around the house … and in my reed world … while I have this free time.

    Meanwhile, I am missing my Opera buddies. Ahhhh … memories!


    The above picture was taken at our celebratory dinner on April 18, 2004.

    But what would the dinner be without our one man of the woodwind section!? …


    Funny thing is, we will continue to have Mark and the women next year, as the two newbies are women as well. Poor Mark! (Or Happy Mark? I wonder! Probably a bit ‘o both.)

    ***July 4, 2004

    ***Conductors & Money (lots and lots of money)

    Well, well, well … it’s now out in the open. I was talking to another musician who said that facts and figures on conductors have always been quite hush hush. (She has contact with agents and knows more than I about all this junk.) Although I knew conductors often raked in the dough I didn’t know exact figures. But now it’s in print and the truth looks even more painful that way. An oboist, Blair Tindall, did the research and reporting. Read the article. It’s quite amazing (depressing?).

    I’m not saying conductors should earn what the orchestra musician earns, but c’mon now … musicians all over the country are currently being asked to take pay cuts. Clearly it would be appropriate to cut the conductors’ salaries as well.

    Ya think?

    Or at least they could provide oboists with reeds all the time.

    Yes. I think that’s the ticket!

    ***July 5, 2004

    ***Beauty Queen or Oboist?

    It’s such a difficult choice, you know? I mean … we’ve all had to deal with this at some point, right?

    Or maybe not.

    ***July 7, 2004

    ***Happy Birthday, Ringo Starr

    He’s 64. How ’bout that?


    I love Beethoven, especially the poems.

    – Ringo Starr (1940) English musician, drummer

    ***July 10, 2004


    Why waste money on psychotherapy when you can listen to the B Minor Mass?

    -Michael Torke

    ***Underwater Conductors?

    Sure … I think a lot of them belong there. Read this … fairly goofy, if you ask me.

    I’m glad they don’t ask oboists to do this sort of thing.

    Oh yeah … that wouldn’t exactly work, would it? 😉

    I was always bothered by the scene in The Mission when the missionary’s oboe falls in the water and he pulls it out, puts it back together (magically repairing it as well) and he then plays. Something of a problem, as I’m sure you know … an oboe that has been doused in water won’t be sounding terribly lovely, if it sounds at all!

    ***July 15, 2004


    I know two kinds of audiences only – one coughing, and one not coughing.

    -Artur Schnabel (1882-1951) Austrian-American pianist, composer

    ***Pet Shop Boys Go to the Movies

    … or at least they write for a movie. I’m aware of the Shostakovich score, and I just read that there is already one other score for Battleship Potemkin. But read about the Pet Shop Boys’ plan here.

    ***July 16, 2004


    ***Light Bulbs

    How does an Opera Company change its lightbulbs?

    SOPRANO: I do NOT change lightbulbs, nowhere in my contract does it SAY I change lightbulbs. …I didn’t break it during the fioratura aria, did I…?

    MEZZO-SOPRANO: Eh, sure. Why not. I’m already wearing pants and halfway up a ladder anyway.

    CONTRALTO: Oh, for heaven’s sake, what’s all the fuss. Give it to me, I’ll do it.

    COUNTERTENOR: What kind of question is that? Of course I know how to change a lightbulb. What, you think that just because I can sing two octaves higher than most men that I don’t know how to do what most men can? Is that it?

    TENOR: Placido Domingo can light up the Met’s gold ceiling with his singing and compensate for any lack of lighting. Are you suggesting I can’t do the same here?

    BARITONE: Of course I can. Easily. With one hand tied behind my back. While juggling three other light bulbs in my tied hand.

    BASS: Oh, why not, I’ve got an hour and a half until my first entrance, anyway.

    SUPER: Eh… I can’t. I’m sorry. I’m already carrying four props, two set pieces, a chair, a cloak, and a censer. I MIGHT be able to get it with my teeth…

    CONDUCTOR: Okay, but can you leave it off during the performance? The timpani player is complaining of the glare.

    STAGE DIRECTOR: I block them in the light. If they can’t find their light, they shouldn’t be in the business.

    COSTUME DESIGNER: Of course I’ll help! Can we put in some pink gels? It warms up the gold in the principals’ Act III costumes. Ooh, and what about a liquid filter for Act II, Scene 4?

    MAKEUP ARTIST: NO! You can’t change the light! I’ve already selected all their hues!

    LIGHT TECHNICIAN: Don’t touch my lights! I’ll do it!

    SET DESIGNER: No way, man. The Light Tech would KILL me.

    CHORAL DIRECTOR: Just tell us where this light is going to shine and we’ll be sure to stay OUT of it.

    ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER: I need to know how this change will effect each and every cast member in all scenes and transitions, and write it down in my score, in pencil. Do you have any more post-it tabs?

    PROP MANAGER: I don’t care. Don’t touch my table.

    GENERAL MANAGER: Fine, I’ll do it. Let’s keep this quiet, though. You didn’t tell the Tenor about this, did you?

    I found these at RedLudwig.com but I’ve seen them elsewhere as well.

    ***July 18, 2004

    ***Reed Winding is Up!

    I’ve finally managed to get one of my reed making pages up and running. I must warn you, though, that I’ve not gone over it as carefully as I should; I was simply too anxious to at least get something up here for readers!

    So … visit this page to learn about reed winding, or go to my Reed Making Tutorial to see the other links. (Update: the second step is now up as well!)

    Feel free to send me comments if you have something to add, or if you disagree with my process. I might even change the page. You never know!

    ***July 20, 2004

    ***Wound Any Reeds Lately?


    Really. Now is a great time for those of you who are on vacation to vow to wind a few reeds every other day.

    Think about it: if you wrap 6 reeds per week, and work on them every so often … how many reeds will you have when September rolls around?

    Seems like a good plan, don’t you think?

    ***July 21, 2004


    Anyone for musical theater? My younger son, Jameson, is in a production of Pippin next week. If any of you would like to get tickets just go here and click on Buy Tickets Now!.

    ***Reed Making Classes
    begin next week. I hope those who are participating are ready for this challenging adventure! I’m looking forward to this. Just a reminder: classes are July 28,, August 4 and 6 at 2:00, and we’ll do some music making after we finish class on the 6th. All other students are welcome to attend the music making and food portion of the day.

    ***July 22, 2004


    Play the music, not the instrument.

    -Author Unknown

    ***July 23, 2004


    I finally updated the Past MQODs page. All quotes are posted there, so check it out if you’ve missed some of the music quotes of the day! Some are very profound and some are bizarre. They are fun to read, in any case.

    ***University Students

    I know, I know … it’s simply too SOON to start thinking about school! But I do want any interested students to know that they can email me any time. If you are new to either UCSC or SCU it would be great to hear from you so I know you are coming to the campus and we can start chatting about lesson days and times. If you are returning I’d just love to hear from you! Certainly music has continued over the summer, even if lessons haven’t. (I DO hope you are practicing and making reeds over these summer months.)

    ***July 24, 2004


    I dream of a collaboration that will become so complete that, often, the poet will think as musician and the musician as poet, so that the work resulting from this union will not be the random conclusion of a series of approximations and concessions, but the harmonious synthesis of two aspects of the same thought.

    -Arthur Honneger (1892-1955)

    I will play the Honneger Concerto da Camera for flute, English horn and piano with flutist Greer Ellison and pianist Jeanie Nakamoto. We are performing at the opening recital of Hidden Valley’s Northern California Flute Camp. I’m looking forward to it! The work is actually for strings rather than piano, but we are playing a reduction; somehow hiring a string orchestra seemed expensive and highly unlikely! (I wonder, though, if it could be done with a string quintet — might be something to think about for a faculty recital at UCSC.)

    ***July 27, 2004

    ***Reed Making

    So, I managed to get my pages up, so check ’em out if you’d like! If you go to my Reed Making Tutorial you can see what I’ve done. Special thanks must go to my husband, Dan, and daughter, Kelsey, for taking the pictures that you see on the pages.

    ***July 28, 2004


    I worry that the person who thought up Muzak may be thinking up something else.

    -Lily Tomlin

    ***The Adventure Begins!

    Today. 2:00. My place.

    6 students and I will get together and they will have their first reed making class. Should be fun!

    Now if any of them become master reed makers I’ll refund the class fee and have them make me reeds for the rest of my life instead.

    Sounds like a deal! (For me, anyway.)

    We won’t know about their skills for a time, though: today will be spent learning how to wind a reed and thin the tip a bit … only the first step, and only the first class of three we’ll be doing. And they say you have to fill a laundry basket full of reeds before you master the skill. (I’ve not gotten there yet!)

    ***July 29, 2004

    ***I Might be Unavailable

    Sometime during the next week or two my site might not be available for up to 24 hours. We are getting a faster connection here — we’ll be upgrading at some point and this means we sort of “disappear” for a time.

    So yay for the faster connection … but sorry I might not be here for you for a day or so.

    ***July 30, 2004


    I love traditional instruments, though of course they are anachronisms. Satellites run around our planet, but we still play bassoons. It’s ridiculous!

    -Wiltold Lutoslawski

    ***August 2, 2004

    ***Some Book Reading for Today

    Excerpt from, Leon Tolstoy, The Kreutzer Sonata, tr. Louise and Aylmer Maude

    “Pozdnyshev paused and produced his strange sound several times in succession. He tried to speak, but sniffed, and stopped.

    “They played Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata,” he continued. “Do you know the first presto? You do?” he cried. “Ugh! Ugh! It is a terrible thing, that sonata. And especially that part. And in general music is a dreadful thing! What is it? I don’t understand it. What is music? What does it do? And why does it do what it does? They say music exalts the soul. Nonsense, it is not true! It has an effect, and awful effect — I am speaking of myself — but not of an exalting kind. It has neither an exalting nor a debasing effect but it produces agitation. How can I put it? Music makes me forget myself, my real position; it transports me to some other position not my own. Under the influence of music it seems to me that I feel what I do not really feel, that I understand what I do not understand, that I can do what I cannot do. I explain it by the fact that music acts like yawning, like laughter: I am not sleepy, but I yawn when I see someone yawning; there is nothing for me to laugh at, but I laugh when I hear people laughing.

    “Music carries me immediately and directly into the mental condition in which the man was who composed it. My soul merges with his and together with him I pass from one condition into another, but why this happens I don’t know. You see, he who wrote, let us say, the Kreutzer Sonata — Bethoven — know of course why he was in that condition; that condition caused him to do certain actions and therefore that condition had a meaning for him, but for me — none at all. That is why music only agitates and doesn’t lead to a conclusion. Well, when a military march is played the soldiers march to the music and the music has achieved its object. A dance is played, I dance and the music has achieved its object. Mass has been sung, I receive Communion, and that music too has reached a conclusion. Otherwise it is only agitating, and what ought to be done in that agitation is lacking. That is why music sometimes acts so dreadfully, so terribly. In China, music is a State affair. And that is as it should be. How can one allow anyone who pleases to hypnotize another, or many others, and do what he likes with them? And especially that this hypnotist should be the first immoral man who turns up?

    “It is a terrible instrument in the hands of any chance user! Take that Kreutzer Sonata, for instance, how can that first presto be played in a drawing-room among ladies in low-necked dresses? To hear that played, to clap a little, and then to eat ices and talk of the latest scandal? Such things should only be played on certain important significant occasions, and then only when certain actions answering to such music are wanted; play it then and do what the music has moved you to. Otherwise an awakening of energy and feeling unsuited both to the time and the place, to which no outlet is given, cannot but act harmfully. At any rate that piece had a terrible effect on me; it was as if quite new feelings, new possibilities, of which I had till then been unaware, had been revealed to me. That’s how it is: not at all as I used to think and live, but that way,” something seemed to say within me. What this new thing was that had been revealed to me I could not explain to myself, but the consciousness of this new condition was very joyous. All those same people, including my wife and him, appeared in a new light.

    ***August 3, 2004


    Men profess to be lovers of music, but for the most part they give no evidence in their opinions and lives that they have heard it.

    -Henry David Thoreau

    ***News from RedLudwig.com’s News Page


    Click on the link to read all about it.

    ***August 4, 2004


    So … I wonder if anyone checks out the auditions pages I have set up.

    The current audition list has upcoming professional orchestra auditions (in the United States) for oboe and/or English horn. I list repertoire when I can find it (some orchestras won’t send me that info) and I think it’s a pretty good list. But I’ve never heard from anyone so I do wonder if I should continue to work on this. (It takes a good amount of time to do the searches and then set up the page.) I also have a page that lists all past audition repertoire lists that I have found.

    So if there are any out there who use my pages, please do let me know!

    ***August 5, 2004

    is the day when, at some point, all planetmitchell sites will be down. We are upgrading things here and while that’s great news it means that Dan has to do some “stuff” that will cause our sites to be unavailable for a time — probably 24 hours or so.

    Just know … I’ll be baaaaaacccccckkkk! 🙂


    I went to the Music@Menlo site to order a ticket for tomorrow night’s concert. It’s sold out. Sigh. It’s my own fault; I should have ordered a ticket earlier.

    ***August 6, 2004

    ***Great Time!

    Today the reed making class had their final reed making lesson. Good job folks! Of course this is only the beginning of your reed making fun, but you all did so well; keep up the work and you’ll be sure to get some reeds out of this. But be patient … reed making requires a great deal of that.

    I loved hearing you all play together. What a sound to hear six (and sometimes seven when i joined in) oboes playing.

    Thanks for doing such a good job. Bravissimo!


    I’d never heard that musicians eat bananas as an alternative to Inderal (a bet blocker) but that’s what this says:

    Many musicians believe that eating the yellow fruit helps calm stage fright, Berry says. There’s even some scientific research behind it.

    Read more here.

    The thing is, bananas contain tryptophan which our body converts into serotonin (a relaxant). So while we might be calmer … mightn’t we also fall asleep?! 😉

    ***August 7, 2004


    Sometimes we play strange gigs.

    Tonight I played with a small group from the symphony up at Moscone Center. We played for 3,300 American Express employees and their spouses, significant others or friends, as they sat at dinner tables. They were dressed to the nines. This was something called the Diamond Ring event or some such thing. Some folks were given awards (perhaps diamond rings?) for their work.

    Prior to our playing a brass group played as employee’s names were announced. Each winner got to walk on to the stage with his or her significant other, and there were huge screens located throughout the ballroom so one could see them up close and personal. They walked down a center aisle and, I’m assuming back to their seats. I guess that was a big deal. After about 20 minutes of this we were announced and we went up to play some music. While we played the 3,300 people in the ballroom ate, drank and talked. As we played they projected series of pictures of each of the winners with their families, and out doing the stuff they must like to do in their free time. (They take very nice vacations, I can tell you that!) When a group saw someone they knew they’d clap and yell. While we played.

    We played for a bit over an hour, and then there was more of the brass group while more awards were given. After that we went back on and played a wee bit more (while more projections of the winners were displayed).

    So anyway, we played, but I’m absolutely certain no one could hear us.

    That’s the music biz.

    I heard, too, that last night they paid to have Ghirardelli Square closed so that only the American Express employees could visit.

    AND … it was clear from all the signs that they had flown these people in from all over the United States. They arrived Tuesday. Robert Redford spoke. The Blues Brothers were playing tonight after the Gospel Choir sang as they exited the room where we were playing for them.

    We played some great music. I did enjoy that.

    ***August 8, 2004

    ***Would the Governator Terminate the Arts?

    Yes. I guess he would.

    An article in the Sacramento Bee tells us that our dear Governor has vetoed an increase in grants for the arts. We are now the last in funding in the US. Or maybe he sees it as we are first in giving the lowest funding? I dunno. Go Arnold!

    Go far, far away.

    … please?

    ***August 20, 2004

    ***Trouble with the English horn
    is that some folks think it’s a brass instrument.

    Still, you’d think that a newspaper, announcing the new English hornist of the Cleveland Symphony, would get the headline right. But what does the headline read?

    Brass musicians to join orchestra

    I’m betting that the music critic who wrote the article is fuming about this headline. (Assuming that he knows that an English horn isn’t a brass instrument!)

    ***Konrad the Oboe
    is dead.

    Truly … this is someone’s nickname. He was a Polish gangster and he was killed today.

    I can’t help but wonder where he got that nickname. The article couldn’t say.

    ***School begins
    soon, and so does the regular lesson schedule for all my private students. I’m looking forward to getting back to a normal routine. Hope all of you are practicing!


    I’ll be meeting with any interested students on September 22 from 1:30-4:00. I will be on the campus Tuesday mornings.

    ***August 21, 2004


    Music is a friend of labor for it lightens the task by refreshing the nerves and spirit of the worker.

    -William Green

    So … whistle while you work! (Unless your work at the moment is practicing oboe.)

    ***August 22, 2004

    ***Leaving the USA

    According to Andante.com Donald Runnicles is considering leaving the US if George Bush wins the election. You can read about it here.

    ***August 24, 2004


    He who hears music, feels his solitude peopled at once.

    -Robert Browning

    ***Oboe Reeds

    As my students know, I occasionally purchase reeds to see what they are like, but I play on my own. (If I found affordable reeds I could play on I wouldn’t be ashamed to purchase them, though!) TodayI read several comments on the IDRS about a reed maker that is supposed to make great reeds. If you want to purchase a few just to give them a try go here. I can’t say anything about them myself, since I’ve not given them a go. I’ll order some as soon as I start making an income again. (It’s been a bleak summer, playing-wise.)

    ***Quit Work


    I get a lot of visits here because people are looking for the Quit Work Make Music t-shirt that I own. It’s no longer carried at the store at which I purchased it. Sorry, folks. I think you’ll have to print them up yourselves.

    ***August 25, 2004


    Every theater is a lunatic asylum, but opera is the ward for incurables.

    -Quote attributed to a friend of Franz Liszt

    … which reminds me: I need to pick up my opera music!

    ***Did You Always Regret Not Going to the Prom?

    Okay … not really the dance-sort of prom. But the Proms in London. So if you DO wish you could listen to a performance or two, just go here.

    ***August 26, 2004

    ***My Music Library

    So I’m putting together a list of my music library so feel free to see what I have here. I’ve done solo works and a few other things, but I do have a way to go before I’m finished. It’s nice to see my library in some sort of order!

    ***Things Don’t Always Go As Planned

    I was assuming I’d be hired for a job that I have now been told has been given to someone else.

    THIS is the music biz, folks. Aside from tenured jobs (thank God for Opera San Jose and Symphony Silicon Valley!) there are never any guarantees. I was told it had nothing to do with my playing, but it still is a rotten thing to find out about. Rats.

    ***August 28, 2004

    ***Just Playing

    Only Playing

    A musician’s life is curious.
    To play for money, what a life–
    They must be quite delirious.
    A musician’s life is curious,
    But makes some people furious
    to think they never suffer strife.
    A musician’s life is curious
    to play for money — what a life!

    PEM August, 2003

    ***My Music Library!

    So I think I’ve entered nearly all my music now. There are a few odds and ends, and a few pieces are loaned out so I’m missing those as well, but this did give me a good idea of what I own. I also realized I have two copies of several pieces. At least I shouldn’t be duplicating what I own any more. That’s a good thing.

    Next on the agenda will be to enter all my CDs. I have to decide, though, exactly how to do this; do I enter only my CDs, or shall I do everything Dan and I own? Hmmm. I’ll have to figure that one out. This will be a much bigger project, and will certainly have to wait until Kelsey moves back to school since all her stuff blocks our CD racks.

    ***A Movie I’d Like to See

    “I know of no other artist, with the possible exception of Maria Callas, who has suffered so much in order to inspire us, entertain us and make us laugh.” The film director Tony Palmer is talking about Malcolm Arnold ? the thorny, unpredictable, heart-breaking subject of his new documentary, Toward the Unknown Region. The two-hour film will be screened at the Royal Festival Hall, in London, next month and subsequently broadcast on ITV’s South Bank Show, which commissioned it, in two parts.

    Read more here.

    I always enjoy playing Arnold’s woodwind quintet Three Sea Shanties. They are witty and seem very light-hearted. It’s interesting to read about his life … certainly not what I had expected.

    ***August 31, 2004

    ***Take Those Music Lessons!

    So you want to improve your IQ? (Hmmm. Do they still give IQ tests? I thought not.)

    New Research Provides The First Solid Evidence That The Study Of Music Promotes Intellectual Development

    The idea that studying music improves the intellect is not a new one, but at last there is incontrovertible evidence from a study conducted out of the University of Toronto.

    Read more here.

    Sure … I’ll take more students! 🙂

    ***September 4, 2004

    ***California Here We Come!

    So … Tuesday our opera rehearsals begin. Today Pam Hakl and I toured the theater. I was overwhelmed; the hall is absolutely stunning. I attempted to take pictures, and while you can see them here please know that they in no way capture the beauty of it all. Everything — every little detail — I saw was incredible. I’m definitely looking forward to calling this place home!

    ***September 5, 2004


    So … if you are thinking of seeing the wonderful new hall that both Opera San Jose and Symphony Silicon Valley will be using, you might check and see if there are any tickets left for the Opera’s grand opening. We’ll be doing The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart. It’s a great opera, and one that even non-opera goers can enjoy. Really!

    OR, if you are into driving up to San Francisco and want something free to attend, San Francisco’s Opera in the Park is scheduled for September 12th, at Sharon Meadow in Golden Gate Park, from 1:30-3:30.

    To be honest, I’d recommend both! (But I believe Opera San Jose is selling out very quickly.)

    ***September 8, 2004

    ***Why We Wear Earplugs

    There’s a good article in the Chicago Tribune and hearing loss and classical musicians. For years I didn’t bother with earplugs; wearing them is horrible because I hear my tongue clicking against the reed, I don’t hear others as well, and I’m not always sure how loud I am. But I do notice my hearing isn’t what it used to be and I do now wear them when the orchestra gets loud. You should too. (Don’t wait to suffer hearing loss first!)

    Part of what I read:

    An often-cited study by Canadian audiologist Marshall Chasin measured hearing loss among rock musicians and found that about 30 percent were afflicted in some way. Among their classical music counterparts, the figure was 43 percent.

    “It’s a real problem for many people,” especially if “you have four trumpets and four trombones right behind your head. It gets very, very loud.”

    Yet while noise-induced hearing impairment is a well-known issue in the rock world, long highlighted in educational campaigns featuring The Who’s Pete Townshend and rapper Missy Elliott, the discomfort from loudness suffered by classical musicians is generally kept hush-hush.

    Serious issue

    “Classical musicians do suffer from hearing loss related to the volume of sound onstage,” says Steven Braunstein, a bassoonist with the San Francisco Symphony. “It’s a real problem for many people,” especially if “you have four trumpets and four trombones right behind your head. It gets very, very loud.”

    So read the whole article (you might have to register to read it) and you’ll understand more.

    ***September 9, 2004

    ***Some Fine Tuning to Do

    Ah, how nice it is to play opera music again!

    The hall is beautiful, and rehearsals are going very well; it’s great o have more instrumentalists in the pit now! We did find, though, that the woodwinds couldn’t hear the singers well at today’s rehearsal … but that’s why we have extra rehearsals: we can work on these glitches.

    If you want to read more about the hall itself, visit this page and you’ll get a whole lot of information, as well as a few nice pictures.

    ***September 12, 2004


    In dealings with scholars and artists we are apt to miscalculate in opposite directions: behind a remarkable scholar we sometimes, and not infrequently,
    find a mediocre man, and behind a mediocre artist, fairly often a very
    remarkable man.

    -Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) German philosopher, classical scholar,
    critic of culture
    Beyond Good and Evil, Fourth Part: Maxims and Interludes, section 137

    ***September 19, 2004

    ***Opening Night!

    Opera went well today … oh wait … yesterday! (The opera went until 11:34, and there was a reception following, so I’m home rather late.)

    If I’m reading the audience correctly they really liked the hall and the performance. I spoke with a few people who said that the orchestra sounded very good. Some orchestra members are still unhappy, but I say if Irene Dalis is happy, and if the audience is happy, I’m happy too. Somehow it’s not all about me, even though it feels like it is when I’m playing solos!

    Go figure.

    Ah well. I guess those people in costumes who prance around the stage and sing little ditties are sort of the main thing.

    It will be interesting to read the reviews, but I always try to remember that reviewers are only people too. They can often be wrong! (Of course when they like what I do they are somehow very astute!)

    ***September 20, 2004


    Well, San Francisco Classical Voice liked the opera, and commented very positively on the orchestra:

    Under David Rohbaugh’s baton, the orchestra played the accompaniment and the passage that follows as one musician, filling the hall with overwhelming beauty.


    … the orchestra, led firmly and effectively by Rohrbaugh, was consistent and impressive.

    The Mercury News had good things to say too!

    ***September 21, 2004

    ***More Opera

    We have a performance tonight, so it’s back to work I go! After all the hype for the opening weekend I’ll be curious to see and hear the audience tonight. So far so much has been so positive. I do hope it continues.

    I honestly believe that this new theater will bring life back to the city. There’s something so exciting about this new hall. For the symphony it’s especially exciting; getting away from the hall where they San Jose Symphony died can only be a good thing. (Besides, the CPA is a horrible place to play.)

    ***Another Review

    … and from the San Francisco Chronicle, too. (They have rarely attended San Jose performances.)

    ***September 22, 2004

    ***One More Review

    … one of those “rapid reviews” the Merc loves so much.

    ***UCSC Today

    I’ll be on campus today, and would love to meet with oboe students and any interested woodwind quintet players. I’ll be in room 281 from 1:30-3:30.

    Orchestra auditions take place today as well. I’ll be in room 114 from 4:00 – 8:00 to help assist with the wind auditions.

    ***September 23, 2004

    ***Those Low Paying Symphony Jobs

    There’s a blog about the “rest of us” … those musicians who aren’t in one of the major symphony orchestras … and our small salaries.

    Nice to know someone noticed.

    There are a whole lot more of us lower paid symphony musicians than there are of the major symphony orchestra folks.


    After meeting with students at UCSC yesterday it’s been decided that lessons will be on Monday mornings, rather than my typical Tuesday. If there are any other UCSC students reading this who want lessons, please email me ASAP!

    ***September 24, 2004

    ***Caitlyn at UCI

    I’ve heard from my dear student, Caitlyn, and I’m happy to say she is enjoying UCI. The actual classes begin today, so I’ll be interested to hear from her after she starts her studies.

    I miss you, Caitlyn! 🙁

    ***Playing While Sick

    Yesterday something hit me … probably from something I ate. I didn’t feel great at 3:00. At about 4:30 (while I was teaching) I knew I was going to be suffering for a while. By 6:00 I knew I wasn’t going to be cooking or eating dinner. And by 6:30 my husband, Dan, offered to drive me to work. Good thing he did; I wouldn’t have been able to walk from the parking lot to the hall.

    Sometimes I react to garlic. Dan thinks what I ate was a bit old, too. But whatever it was, I was bent over double and in a lot of pain.

    But the show must go on. So it did. I played, and the first two acts were nearly unbearable because I hurt so much. What can you do, though? The audience has paid for a performance. The singers are there. The rest of my colleagues are there. So I played. And hurt. And played.

    Then, between the second and third acts, I heard some annoying news. NOT something I’ll write about here because … well … when money tells us what to do it’s not something I can write about here. (That’s the most I can say and even that might be too much!) I’m not sure if I was already recovering, or if the news just got me angry enough, but I felt a great deal better during the third and fourth acts. So maybe I have “money” to thank for my recovery? I wonder!

    So … this is the musician’s life. Especially a one-on-a-part musician. You can’t just say “sorry, I’ll do this tomorrow instead”. If I’d been any worse I might have called in a sub, but I hate doing that unless I’m dying. So you play. You deal with it.

    And then you go home, take a couple of Tylenol PMs, and sleep a loooong time!

    ***September 26, 2004

    ***The New Hall and Glitches

    So, I love the new hall. The California Theatre is so beautiful, and the audience seems to think the acoustics are fine. I think this place will bring new life to our city, and certainly help in Symphony Silicon Valley’s success. From what I have heard, the opera is nearly sold out for our current production and tickets for Tosca are selling quite well.

    BUT (and didn’t you know it was coming? I’m a musician; I have to complain a bit!) … well … I’m sure tired of smelling various odors in the pit! There are what look to be vents on the underside of the stage (we winds sit under the stage, believe it or not) and hot air blows in like you wouldn’t believe, as do smells. Somewhere there must be a place outside that leads into these vents. We get car smells, cigarette smells (the WORST, imo) and food. Somehow we get the smell of what is probably O.J.’s (Original Joe’s) restaurant in the pit. If not them, then some other nearby restaurant. We’ve asked the smokers backstage to not smoke near the building, but until we find out where the air intake (if that’s what you call it) is it’s actually not all that helpful. After all, the intake could be further away from the hall for all we know.

    The cigarette smoke … UGH! … I’ve hated that smell forever (I still don’t understand why some find cigarette smoking enjoyable, but call me ignorant since I’ve never even had one puff of one) and having that smell in the pit is miserable. Fortunately last night it was, instead, the smell of what I think is probably burgers on the grill. Of course then my stomach starts suggesting I’m hungry! (Not that I’ve had a burger for over 20 years!)

    The only other problem, which is related to the vent problem, are the heating and cooling issues. I was quite warm last night. Isabelle, sitting on my right, was freezing. I’ve heard that they didn’t plan the air conditioning well, and I don’t quite understand what I was told, but it’s rather odd that we can be sitting next to each other, yet be in different climates! I suppose it’s going to be the typical “bring layers and be ready to take ’em off” kind of gig when we are in the pit.

    Okay. Whine over and out.


    I’m still hoping for another oboe student or a chamber group at UCSC. I need another hour of work! C’mon … there just has to be one more oboist on campus! If you’re out there, please contact me now, or come by my room (271) Monday. I’ll be there from 10:00 until about 1:00.

    ***September 27, 2004

    ***Those Peeping Oboes!

    Hmmm. I’ve not heard us referred to as “peeping” before. But this article suggests that that’s what we do.

    Any better adjective you’d like to offer up?

    Somehow “peeping” doesn’t go over well with me. But then I’m a bit sensitive about the oboe section

    ***The Magic Flute

    There’s talk about a Kenneth Branagh movie of The Magic Flute. That would be cool! Read about it here.

    ***September 29, 2004


    Music is the best means we have of digesting time.

    -W.H. Auden

    ***I Get Home From Opera

    I check my email. I check the baseball scores. I have a few corn chex (no milk, just a few chex do the trick).

    And already it’s 12:12 AM.

    THAT’S what happens when you play a 3 1/2 hour opera, and performances begin at 8:00 PM. I wonder why we can’t start at 7:00 or 7:30 on a weekday.

    Now it’s 12:13.

    ***September 30, 2004


    If a thing isn’t worth saying, you sing it.

    – Pierre Beaumarchais, The Barber of Seville

    ***Even If You Go To Church
    you wouldn’t hear the music you can hear at this site. It’s very cool to hear these Renaissance Masses!

    ***October 3, 2004

    ***First the Oboes were “Peeping”

    … but now it looks like the clarinets also peep. Hmmm. I’m not sure how good it is to have the same adjective for oboes and clarinets! 🙂

    ***Evening Update

    … and so now The Marriage of Figaro is over. I will sure miss that beautiful music. Playing Mozart is really something … it’s actually impossible to explain, but it’s sort of like … I dunno … heaven?!

    The temperature problems are still causing a wee bit of trouble for me, my hands and my oboe. One problem is that when the temperature gets a bit too cool for the oboe I end up with water in my keys. You oboe players out there know what I’m talking about; we blow hot air through our oboes while they are cold on the outside and, whamo!, we get water in our octave vents. And then there’s the old hands ‘o mine; they really ache when they get too cold. I think I’ll bring in a space heater for the next opera. I think that should solve my problem.

    BUT … now for the rest of the story … I absolutely love the new hall! It’s beautiful. The audience response has been fabulous. The musicians’ room is wonderful. We have more than one bathroom!

    And it just feels like we are “home” there.

    ***Final Opera

    We perform the last performance today. I’ll miss playing such wonderful music, but I move right on to Symphony Silicon Valley so I won’t have any free time.

    The Symphony concert is an interesting one. In keeping with our move into what was once a movie theater we are performing a lot of movie music. I’m hoping it’s a light series for me, since the Mozart was fairly demanding, but I’ll be playing English horn so I’m sure to have some solos.

    In any case, when I come home from the opera today I look forward to putting my feet up and simply relaxing. I’m very tired.

    ***October 5, 2004

    ***Phoning it In?

    Somehow having pit musicians not in the pit seems odd to me. Go figure. But this article (might require registration) reports on just that. A harpist and percussionist can’t fit in the pit for The Producers, so they are floors above.

    I like pit playing. I love opera work, and playing musicals has always been great fun. But one of the reasons I like it so much is the connection with the stage. Take that away and I wonder how enjoyable it would be.

    Of course the winds in Opera San Jose are already dealing a little bit with this in the new California Theatre; we no longer see the singers at all, and sometimes can’t hear them either. When I’m in unison with a singer (usually with the soprano) I try to do whatever the singer is doing with the phrasing and coloring of notes. Alas, that can’t happen easily now. I also think seeing what they are doing helps us connect to the performance. I do think having a video monitor could really help with this and we’ve suggested it but I’m not sure if they’ll be able to do this (they couldn’t for Marriage of Figaro).

    How did we do it at Montgomery Theater, you might ask? The Fire Marshal had insisted that some plexiglass be attached to the top of the wall that separated the audience from the pit (I guess the wall wasn’t quite high enough for safety purposes) and we winds saw the entire performance reflected on the plexiglass! It was quite wonderful, really.

    But anyway, at least we are in the pit and not in some other room “phoning in” our parts. I’m thankful for that!

    ***October 6, 2004


    Please write music like Wagner, only louder.

    -Sam Goldwyn, instructing composer for a movie

    ***On Stage

    Symphony Silicon Valley had our first rehearsals today for the opening set. The stage is slightly deeper than the CPA, but it’s quite a bit narrower. So there isn’t a huge amount of space, but it’s workable, and I’m happy to be back in such a beautiful place … and on stage this time.

    I was surprised by the bright sound that the brass produce (at least to me, and I sit two rows in front of them) and I’ll be curious to hear how it sounds to the audience. Of course things might change once the house is full of people. Time will tell.

    Our program is quite light, but it’s being done to connect with the California Theatre which began its life in 1927 as a movie theatre; we are playing American music written by Copland for the movie The Red Pony, a Korngold score for Robin Hood, and some Gerswhin tunes, including a suite from Porgy & Bess. A fun evening for the crowd, I’m sure!

    In between our two rehearsals the entire orchestra and the stage hands were invited to Eulipia Restaurant for a very nice dinner. What a treat! This restaurant is right across the street from the new hall (on First Street) and I can recommend it highly. They’ll be open after concerts so if you don’t go there for dinner before a performance you might visit it for a nice dessert!

    ***October 7, 2004


    A song without music is a lot like H2 without the O.

    -Ira Gershwin

    True music must repeat the thought and inspirations of the people and the time. My people are Americans and my time is today.

    -George Gershwin

    (Symphony Silicon Valley is playing Gershwin music this weekend.)

    ***Double Reed Days and Festivals

    I’ve started a new page for all those Double Reed Days and Festivals out there. I’ll list all the special days I can find!

    ***October 8, 2004


    I can’t tell students or parents how to vote, but I do encourage you all to go out and do so. You must be registered by October 18, so if you aren’t registered yet hop to it!

    A Voter Registration Form can be obtained online by visiting the Secretary of State’s web site.

    ***Dress Rehearsal is Tonight
    for Symphony Silicon Valley’s opening set. So far I’m simply not comfortable with my solos. I hate when that happens! It sounds okay (I think and hope!), but it feels odd. I’m hoping tonight will be better.

    Meanwhile I’m still searching for that perfect English horn reed!

    ***October 9, 2004

    ***Opening Night Is Over

    And it went quite well. I spoke with a few audience members and they all said the sound was great! The audience responded enthusiastically to the concert, and I suspect the California Theatre will breathe new life into the symphony.

    Now we wait and see what reviewers think.

    Not that reviewers are always right, but the readers of their reviews usually believe them. I’ve had friends come up to me and say “So I hear your concert didn’t go very well.” They actually think that what reviewers write is gospel truth.

    Funny thing is, I just read a review of Marriage of Figaro and the reviewer said we reduced the four act opera into two. WRONG. There were four acts. There were two intermissions (acts 3 and 4 were in one segment, although we had a five minute break to reset the stage). Another reviewer once said that we had twice as many violists in the orchestra as we did. And then there’s the famous review of a show that the reviewer didn’t attend. Unfortunately (for the reviewer, that is) they had changed the program so he reviewed a concert that didn’t happen. (He was fired.) So reviewers are fallible. Surprise, surprise.


    It is incontestable that music induces in us a sense of the infinite and the contemplation of the invisible. 

    -Victor de LaPrade

    ***How To Help

    Symphony Silicon Valley is doing very well with ticket sales for this weekend’s concerts. I was allowed two comps (sorry, they’ve already been claimed) for this set, but it sound as if this will be the last time the orchestra gets comps. This is actually good news as it’s more important to SELL the hall than to give us our freebies. (And after studies we know that those who get comps rarely purchase tickets later on.)

    Even with all the sales, though, they don’t cover all expenses. So if you think of it, and if you care, you might think to donate some money to the organization. We want to keep this boat afloat! Go to this page to see how you can help.

    ***October 10, 2004

    ***Minimum Weekly Salary
    of $2,000 and eventually more.

    Well, I suppose I could live with that. 🙂

    The New York Phil has settled negotiations. You can read about it here.

    It take me a wee bit longer to earn $2,000. Go figure.

    Of course they work a lot more, and I’m sure the stress of the job is much greater. (Not that I don’t get stressed … ask my colleagues!)

    It would sure make it easier for me to get my MUCH NEEDED new oboe, though. Sigh.

    ***October 11, 2004

    ***The Merc Reviewer
    liked the concerts. (Yes, he attended both.) Read about it.

    Kosman, of the San Francisco Chronicle, also gave us a good review!

    Now if we can just fool around a bit with our seating on stage. There are a few problems that do need to be worked out; the winds can barely hear the front stands of strings, I can’t hear the flutes and I hear they can barely hear the oboes, and the brass are pretty darn loud.

    But I’m certain these problems will be taken care of in time. I’m just thrilled to be in the new hall … it’s really a new life for us!

    ***October 13, 2004

    ***Flu & Cold Season
    is upon us.

    Obviously neither you nor I want to get a flu or cold, so I promise to cancel a lesson should I feel a bug coming on and I request that all students do the same! Since flu shots aren’t available this year it’s especially important to avoid coming in contact with anyone who is ill.

    Of course there are also simple things to be done to attempt to avoid catching something (or giving it to someone else). These suggestions are from Kaiser’s site:

    Wash your hands often, especially if you are in close contact with someone who is infected. Using just plain soap and warm water is as effective as using antibacterial products.

    Clean surfaces (such as counter tops, toys, cups, bathroom sinks) that sick children or adults may have contaminated.

    Avoid touching your face and keep your hands away from your nose, eyes, and mouth. Cold and flu viruses are spread by rubbing the eyes and nose after hand-to-hand contact with someone who has cold or flu symptoms.

    Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. (Use your arm or a tissue, instead of your hands if possible.) Cold and flu viruses can be spread by airborne particles.

    Don’t smoke. Now is a good time to quit. Smoke can irritate your throat and aggravate your cough. If you would like to stop smoking, HealthMedia Breathe® will give you a personalized plan to help you quit for good. (This program is for our members only.)

    Stay healthy. Eat a healthy diet and exercise to keep your immune system working its best.

    Get plenty of rest. Sleep helps build your body’s natural defenses for fighting off infection.

    Reduce stress. Chronic stress can compromise your immune system.

    Most of these are simple to do — especially “cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze please” rule! (I can’t tell you how many people don’t do that!) Others, like reducing stress, are a bit more difficult, especially for my far too busy students!

    Do what you are able to do
    avoid a cold, avoid the flu!

    (There’s my poetry ditty for you!)

    ***October 15, 2004


    The best, most beautiful, and most perfect way that we have of expressing a sweet concord of mind to each other is by music.

    -Jonathan Edwards

    ***Over Extended?

    Some of my students are exhausted. School work. Clubs. Sports. Clubs. The list goes on and on. And there are only so many hours in a day.

    Hang in there, all! If you find that life is too stressful, please email me … let me know if you need a week’s break from lessons. I’ll understand. I’m more concerned about your well being than I am about your scales. Honest and true! 🙂

    ***IDRS Email List

    For some reason I was just unsubscribed from the IDRS email list. Hmmm. If any IDRS members read this blog I’d love to hear from you if you can explain what happened! I can’t re-subscribe … I just tried. Odd.

    Did I do something wrong on the list? Was I, unknowingly, a bad girl? I’d sure like to know what happened!

    ***October 17, 2004


    What is best in music is not to be found in the notes.

    -Gustav Mahler

    ***Nerve Remedy?

    Some of my friends and colleagues take Inderal in order to deal with the nerves that occur during our more stressful performances. I do not. This article, written by oboist Blair Tindall, says more.

    I understand why some of my friends take the stuff. Nerves are a pain. Most of the time I’m simply not that nervous and, even if I am, my doctor said that I really can’t take it because of my already slow heart rate.

    I don’t recommend that anyone take this drug without consulting a physician first, and I certainly don’t recommend it for any of my students.

    I do recommend that my students perform in front of an audience as much as possible, to get used to those wonderful nerves! Play at your church. Play for your friends. Play at your school. Audition for youth orchestras. Sign up for solo & ensemble festivals. The more you perform, the more you’ll get used to the nerves, and you’ll learn how to deal with them.

    ***October 18, 2004


    Beethoven and Liszt have contributed to the advent of long hair.

    -Louis Moreau Gottschalk

    ***CD Recommendations

    Because one of my students may be playing some of the Ten Blake Songs by Vaughan Williams I decided to pick up a recording. Yes, it’s true; I’ve never heard the works before. And of course that means I’ve also never played them! So I looked them up at Barnes & Noble site and found a couple of CDs that looked interesting. Well, well, well … I found a couple of treasures!

    The first is called It Takes Two. It’s all about oboe (or oboe d’amore, English horn or bass oboe) being played with one other person (or thing … you’ll see what I mean …). What a fabulous CD! The oboist is Bart Schneemann and I love what he does. I especially enjoyed The Garden of Love for oboe and “gettoblaster” which I’m assuming is a boombox. The CD begins with a poem. I looked up the author and it turns out we are only getting a part of the poem on the recording. You can read the entire poem by Iva Bittova at this site. You’ll need to click on “lyrics” when you get there, and then the title of the poem “someone played the oboe”. I’m hoping she’ll allow me to put it up here, but because I will not put someone’s words on my site without permission I can only supply the link for now. The Vaughan Williams on this CD features only four of the ten songs, but they are with soprano, so I was glad to hear them since my student (Hi Sara–sure hope you’re feeling better!) would be doing them with a soprano. Another work features the oboist playing oboe with his left hand and piano with his left. A very clever piece. There’s music with bandoneón, viola, marimba … oh heck, just buy the CD.

    The other CD is all Vaughan Williams, features the complete Ten Blake songs, and features tenor John Mark Ainsley and the Nash Ensemble, with Gareth Hulse on oboe. There’s some very beautiful music on this CD. Definitely worth my money. It would be worth yours as well!

    … and now I’d love to be able to perform the Then Blake Songs someday. We’ll see.

    ***October 19, 2004


    Nevertheless the passions, whether violent or not, should never be so
    expressed as to reach the point of causing disgust; and music, even in situations of
    the greatest horror, should never be painful to the ear but should flatter
    and charm it, and thereby always remain music.

    -Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    October 20, 2004


    Too many people today are trying to justify the precision with which organized musical sound is produced rather than the energy with which it is manipulated.

    -David Diamond (1939)

    ***Sometimes It’s Best To Stop!

    I need some good reeds. Badly. I have a symphony concert next week and I have a lot of music to get through. The focus this week is reeds, reeds, reeds. And of course practicing. (There’s a large amount of music on this particular concert.)

    But I’ve been working on reeds for a fair amount of time today and nothing good seems to be appearing before me. So I’m stopping. Tomorrow is another day and I’ll give it a go then; I’m simply getting too frantic! (I may even attempt more work in a few hours, but I know I’ll only butcher whatever I touch now.)

    Take this advice: if you are doing more damage than good step back from the reeds! Put the knife down. Make some tea and have a cookie or two.

    I’m about to take my own advice. 🙂

    Meanwhile, you all can pray that I come up with a few good reeds. I don’t ask for much …!?

    ***October 22, 2004

    ***Too Good To Be True?

    I don’t usually buy on eBay; I’m too nervous about getting taken for a ride. But I do have friends & family who have found great deals there. Still, it pays to be cautious. This past week two people have written to the IDRS email list to warn us of scams. The first was a bassoon being auctioned off. The seller had taken a picture from someone else and was selling a bassoon he didn’t even own. Today a Loree oboe is listed and the seller says he’ll take $1,800. Sounds like a great deal, right? Well, don’t fall for it. You’ll just be out the money.

    You have now been warned.

    I’ve written back to the IDRS list to ask how people have discovered these scams, and if I hear back I’ll fill you in on that.


    Okay … I’ve heard back. The bassoon scam was found out because someone recognized the picture and knew the person who was really selling it. The oboe scam became apparent when the owner of the oboe pictured contacted the woman who was considering the purchase (how the owner got her name I don’t know; perhaps on the IDRS list). Another woman on the IDRS list wrote to say she’s out $2,000 because of the same oboe scam.

    So … don’t send money until you have verified everything about the instrument. Some suggested using an escrow service (but warned that some of those are scams as well). Check the IDRS stolen instrument list too. Oh … and there’s a site that lists serial numbers of instruments so you can verify if the serial number is even legit. (One seller couldn’t supply a serial number which is a clue that something is wrong.)

    And if you’re on the IDRS list just write to the gang and ask whether anyone knows anything about a featured instrument.

    ***October 23, 2004

    ***Are You Practicing?

    I don’t mean “are you running through a few pieces at a quick pace before you go do something else.” I mean are you really practicing?! Remember my “5 time rule”.

    • Play a section you are having difficulty with at a nice pace — slow enough that you can play it perfectly five times in a row.
    • If you can play it five times in a row (perfectly, remember!), move the metronome up one notch.
    • Get to the place where you can play it perfectly five times in a row, in the new tempo.
    • Move the metronome up a notch. Work for the five times in a row thing again!
    • Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

    Continue to work this way on the sections that you are struggling on. If you begin to get frustrated move on to something else. The next day go back to the section and set that metronome at a reasonable tempo again. DON’T set it at the final tempo you ended with the day before; very rarely can you play it up to that tempo right away. But you will play “leap frog” with the tempi for the next few days. I promise you that a week of this sort of work will guarantee that you are learning the section, not just running through it with errors.

    Remember … “close enough simply isn’t!” It’s either right … or it’s wrong.

    ***October 25, 2004

    ***A Fun Little Read!

    Go here to read about the “uncool oboe”. I don’t fully agree with the article … to suggest that oboe isn’t as popular as other instruments because of the cost is silly; certainly the more popular violin costs more, and even flutes are more expensive if you buy a good one! Still, I got a kick out of reading it.

    ***October 28, 2004


    Music is the poetry of the air. 


    ***Update … #2

    We had our third rehearsal tonight. I do believe I’m getting my hearing back! OR, it could simply be that I decided to skip taking any medication tonight … sometimes I think I react too strongly to that stuff. But anyway, It was great to be able to actually hear. This is a very fun program … certainly not an easy one, but I think the audience will enjoy it; they get a variety of music and it’s quite exciting.

    ***It’s Difficult To Update
    when all one wants to do is sleep!

    I’ve been battling a cold. NOT fun at any time, but having rehearsals makes it even more painful. I can’t quite hear correctly … it’s as if I’m in a bottle and everyone else is outside the bottle, looking (or sounding, really) somewhat distant and distorted. I can’t really hear myself correctly either, so who knows how everything sounds out in the hall. So far the conductor hasn’t thrown anything at me, though, so I’m hoping it’s not too bad.

    Still … I want my hearing back!!

    I also want to stop coughing.

    But that’s life, eh? I can’t call in sick for a silly cold.

    ***October 30, 2004

    ***Concert Tonight

    I’m playing principal oboe in the Symphony Silicon Valley concert tonight. The program is varied and I think the audience will enjoy it. It’s certainly not an easy program, but the challenge is always good for me. If any of you readers (reeders?!) attend I’d love to meet you after the performance!

    8:00 at the California Theater in downtown San Jose (First Street)

    ***On the IDRS list
    folks have been talking about mistakes. Someone had written to say she has a young student who really gets upset with himself when he makes mistakes. She was asking for advice. Another member wrote to say she tells herself she is allowed three mistakes when she is playing a concert. I can’t agree. While we are certainly fallible, and while it is difficult to go without making mistakes in a performance, the goal should be perfection. This doesn’t mean that I beat myself up after a concert if it goes poorly. Life doesn’t end with a wrong note or botched entrance. The sun rises each day, whether I play well or not. When it’s over, it’s over. (That’s both the good thing and the bad thing about a live performance!)

    Another person suggested that perhaps the parent(s) of the student were causing this anxiety for the child. I wonder. (His mother is also an oboist which can mean trouble!) But even if you aren’t an oboist, parents, do be cautious! Let the teacher be the teacher! You can encourage, and please hound your child to practice if necessary. But let me play the Bad Guy when it comes to corrections. I think students only need one oboe teacher in their lives.

    Then again, maybe the student oboist just has that “oboe personality”. We do tend to get very obsessed with our oboes and we often get angry at ourselves. That’s the life of an oboist I think. Maybe he’s just on his way to becoming the World’s Greatest Oboist. 🙂

    ***October 31, 2004


    Wagner did not like the saxophone; he said it sounds like the word Reckankreuzungsklankwerkzeuge.

    -Nicolas Slonimsky in “A Thing or Two About Music”

    ***Truly Fun!

    I enjoyed this week’s rehearsals and concerts, despite the cold I was dealing with. Thankfully I was getting much better by the time the first performance came around. It was great to get to play principal again, even if the program didn’t say that I was doing so. Ah well. Late changes can’t always get in the program.

    ***We Get The Good Parts …

    “My husband will usually say, `Do you have a good reed today?’ Then he’ll know whether he can speak to me or not.”

    … according to this article, about oboist Hollis Ulaky, Charlotte Symphony’s principal oboist. It’s a fun little read, and has some good lines. Along with talking about how the first oboist gets the good parts, she also talks about fussing with reeds (it sounds as if she likes it … not I, thank you very much!). I love the comment “My husband will usually say, `Do you have a good reed today?’ Then he’ll know whether he can speak to me or not.”

    The Charlotte Symphony is performing a concert version of Beethoven’s Fidelio. I’ve never even heard the opera, much less played it. (And yet I have a Red Dog Book and CD of it. Guess I’ll have to pull that out and listen for the “good parts” the oboist has. (We DO get lots of good stuff much of the time, ’tis true. This week’s Symphony Silicon Valley concert certainly has a bunch of solos.)

    IDRS Update: I’m back “in”. I knew you’d want to know that. 🙂

    ***November 2, 2004


    I just updated the page I maintain about upcoming auditions. Many of the posted auditions had passed so I transferred those to past auditions, and I added the English horn/Oboe audition for the Florida Orchestra. Check out the page if you want to see where the openings are.

    ***someone played the oboe

    someone played the oboe, day after day
    as each dusk fell he played the same sad song,
    nor kindled any fire there beside the dark seashore,
    where all fires die, they say / all float away.

    for hours he played the oboe in the darkness by the shore,
    that long and cliffless seashore where no ship ever calls;
    he played it out of listlessness, or played it out of fear,
    perhaps a quit shepherd boy, or just landless king.

    sadly he played his oboe, and the ether trembled deep,
    beneath that halting song in a gentle minor key.
    that floated sadly back to him from off the massy sea,
    and all fires die there / they all float away.

    Iva Bittova

    You may read this, and more, at her site.

    ***November 5, 2004

    ***No, You Can’t Eat It!

    Pioneer Corporation has announced they have a disk made of corn. It’s covered with resin, so you can’t sink your teeth into it, but it’s supposed to be environmentally friendly. Read about it here.

    ***Tosca Next Week!

    I’m anxious to get to this opera; I’ve never done it and it’s quite beautiful. We begin on Wednesday. Can’t wait!

    ***Do We Care?

    Ashlee Simpson was caught doing it. We’ve known for ages that others have done it. So what’s up with the shock about lip-synching anyway? If anyone thought all those pop singers were so fabulously talented that they could sound great outside of a studio which “repairs” intonation, bad sound, etc. … well, think again.

    Gee. I sound cynical don’t I? So sorry.

    You can read this article that talks more about the lip synch crowd.

    I wonder if I could oboe synch sometimes … just for those notes that … you know … are just so darn scary in live performance. Maybe we could have a foot pedal that we’d press … kind of like a panic button … that would sound the requested note.

    Heh. Or maybe not.

    PS I’ve never heard an Ashlee Simpson song. I just had to write that.

    ***Too Bad

    I just turned down a job to play for Clay Aiken’s Christmas tour. Too bad, don’tcha think? I could have told you whether any lip-synching was going on.

    Well, okay, I probably wouldn’t have told you; there’s such a thing as holding one’s tongue, and not spilling secrets. Performers have to be careful about things like this. (I had to think about what I would write when I was doing Luhrmann’s La Boheme as well — being uncertain as to how much could be shared before opening night.)

    ***November 9, 2004


    People who make music together cannot be enemies, at least while the music lasts.

    -Paul Hindemith, Composers World

    ***Drinking at Colleges

    Yes, I know, I know … I’m an old lady and college students are immune to death anyway. Or so they think. But really, dear college students, be careful about drinking. The deaths are continuing to occur and it’s a very sad thing. Be healthy!

    ***Too Cheap to Support the Arts?

    Okay … or maybe too poor? I have a solution! San Francisco Chamber Orchestra’s season is FREE.

    Yep. You read that right. They give free concerts. Read about it here if you don’t believe me. And it’s not one free concert, or a few … but all of their concerts are free. And if you’re thinking “Yeah, but I’ll bet they aren’t very good” let me assure you that I recognize some names and these are very fine musicians!

    Now you could make the choice to become a member if you’d like, and if your finances allow. You’ll get extra stars for doing so … well, the better seats anyway. And I always urge music lovers to support the arts.

    But still, isn’t it great to have no excuses to go to concerts? I think so.

    ***November 10, 2004

    ***Planet Music

    So they say Saturn’s rings are musical. The rings “ring”. How about that. So when I sing the line “and round me rings the music of the spheres” at church I will now think of that. (Hymn lyrics are below, so you know what in the world — or out of the world — I’m talking about!)

    This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
    All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
    This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
    Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
    His hand the wonders wrought.

    This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
    The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
    This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
    In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
    He speaks to me everywhere.

    This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
    That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
    This is my Father’s world: why should my heart be sad?
    The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
    God reigns; let the earth be glad!

    words by Maltbie D. Babcock, 1901

    ***November 11, 2004


    Opera is like a husband with a foreign title: expensive to support, hard to understand, and therefore a supreme social challenge.

    -Cleveland Amory

    Opera San Jose is in session. We are doing Tosca, which is a new opera for me. When looking at the part I saw very little that was difficult to play.

    Playing it proved otherwise!

    It’s amazing how something that looks fairly simple can be difficult, but there you go … simple isn’t necessarily easy!

    But come to the opera … it’s a great work and everyone should see and hear it.

    ***November 12, 2004

    ***Bravi Tutti!

    I’m just home from the UCSC Orchestra concert. What a fun time! The orchestra played very well, and I enjoyed the program. Sara Hatfield (principal oboe) did a wonderful job on both oboe and English horn. Yay Sara! You sounded lovely; the English horn solos in the Rodrigo were particularly beautiful.

    ***November 14, 2004

    ***Working Sunday Night

    I have opera tonight. I absolutely love opera. I love playing with this orchestra; for the most part the orchestra members all get along and we enjoy each other’s company. I love Tosca. I love the hall.

    But working Sunday night is difficult.

    There’s something about a Sunday evening. I want to be with my family. I want to be curled up under an afghan. I want to relax one last time before the work week begins again. Especially this quarter, when I teach at UCSC on Monday mornings.

    Ah well. I have a job. I love my job. I shouldn’t whine.

    (Although whining is something we musicians do best!)


    Come see and hear it. Really. The music is beautiful. You can’t find a nicer hall. And the opera has everything you’d like — passion, an evil character, love, death … it’s all there. So you be there too! Oh, and an organ. You can hear the hall’s organ at the end of the first act. It’s super!

    For this opera the first row of woodwinds is on a slightly higher level than before and I think we can hear much better, although I still feel quite removed from the singers. I wish like anything that we could have some sort of monitor so we could see and hear the singers. There’s something about that connection that is so wonderful, and I often worked not only from the conductor, but from visual cues I received watching the singer while in the Montgomery. I miss that. Still, from all I can hear I think the singers are excellent. I’m sure the sets will be as well. (I’ll have to ask the string players tonight, since they can see a bit of what’s up there.)

    Temperature-wise the pit still fluctuates. The bassoons and clarinets were roasting the other day, while my hands were nearly numb. I think we might need deflectors on the vents. We’ll see. This is one of the reasons I have to warm up in the pit, and not take my instrument elsewhere; the oboe shouldn’t have vast temperature changes and warming up in the musicians’ room would cause all sorts of problems. (Students, take note! Warm up ON stage or IN the pit … you need to know about the acoustics and you need your instrument to keep a fairly constant temperature.)

    ***Black Out?

    Houston Symphony is trying something new. They are letting their women wear colors rather than the traditional basic black. You can read about it here. To be honest, I don’t like this idea. I love wearing black; I don’t have to think much about what to wear, and I think the uniformity is nice. So much color might look festive, but I think I’d find it distracting. And I’d certain hate to have to go out and buy a “gown” … and I’m guessing that I wouldn’t want to wear the same thing every concert so I’d have to buy several things (at least). We don’t make enough money to go out shopping all that often. I still have black that I purchased prior to our 15 year old’s birth! I also have to wear pants when I’m playing English horn, so that might cause even more trouble.

    And why can’t a man then wear something other than black, huh?

    Oh well. Our orchestra hasn’t talked about doing this. I hope they don’t start!

    ***November 15, 2004


    Some critics are like chimneysweepers; they put out the fire below, and
    frighten the swallows from the nests above; they scrape a long time in the
    chimney, cover themselves with soot, and bring nothing away but a bag of cinders, and
    then sing out from the top of the house, as if they had built it.

    -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807?1882) American poet,
    “Table Talk” (1845)

    Heh … only a poet would put it like that!

    ***Doctors and Music

    From today’s Morning Edition:
    As Joel Rose of member station WHYY reports, doctors’ orchestras exist in a handful of cities around the country. Some doctors say these groups help them unwind from their tense careers. “Medicine is a stressful profession. Music is a wonderful release,” Moshman says.

    “Medicine is a stressful profession. Music is a wonderful release,” Moshman says.

    I can’t tell you how many doctors I’ve spoken to who have told me they play an instrument or sing. I can tell you I knew one doctor who played both bassoon and trumpet, and he played them very well (he was a professional musician). You can go here to read a bit, and you can also click on a link there to hear the segment.

    This segment is part of a series they have called Where Science Meets Art.

    ***November 16, 2004


    The audience is fifty percent of the performance.

    -Shirley Booth

    ***One of the musicians
    who normally plays in the opera orchestra took last night off so her sub could come in. She did show up, though, and after hearing the first two acts she came down to say hi and to say the opera is great! So go. Really. Opera San Jose is less expensive (by about half I think) than San Francisco too. So while some may think it’s costly, it’s not as costly as the SF Opera. Besides … did you read the MQOD? We do think the audience is quite important! 🙂

    The only problem we ran into last night was one that I’ve been concerned about since we began playing in our pit; one of the singers jumped ahead, by what I think was probably a measure. (Considering all they have to learn I’m surprised that this doesn’t happen more often!) Now normally that’s not a huge problem as long as we pit folk are paying attention. Believe me, we’ve had to jump measures in the past. That’s live music! But now that we can’t really hear the singers when a good number of us are playing we can’t even tell that we need to jump From what I could tell, the strings are able to hear enough to jump … and it sounded as if they did … so we winds were in a muddle for a while.

    I sure wish we could have monitors! (Sigh.)

    But that’s the only problem that I think is extremely troublesome. The temperature is still bizarre, but I wear layers to keep warm and I swab the oboe every chance I get to avoid getting water in the keys. Note to students: I actually write “Swab” in my part so I remember where in the part I have time to swab. You might try doing that too!

    ***Another MQOD for you

    Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other.

    -Walter Elliot (American Catholic priest, writer, 1842-1928)

    Keep practicing! Keep working on reeds!

    ***November 17, 2004


    Tenors are noble, pure and heroic and get the soprano, if she has not tragically expired before the final curtain. But baritones are born villains in opera. Always the heavy and never the hero-that’s me.

    -Leonard Warren (American operatic baritone. 1911-1960)

    ***It’s always nice when you realize someone(s) been listening …

    Today there were some men checking out the heating system in the pit. They had heard about our woes and were trying to find a solution. Believe me, in many of my work places this sort of thing wouldn’t happen; we’d mention the problem and then we’d be ignored. In one hall where I work I was once so cold I was shivering. Only when the conductor intervened did we get space heaters. (Prior to that I even saw stage hands laughing at our predicament.) Temperature is such a problem for instruments; too hot and the winds go sharp and the strings go flat. Not fun! Too cold and wooden wind instruments can crack too. (My English horn cracked in the Flint Center pit many years ago. My oboe cracked quite some time ago and every time it gets too cold now the posts pivot a little where the crack had run through. Repairing a crack is a costly thing. Replacing the instruments is even more costly — which explains why I’m playing on my far-too-old oboe.) But anyway, I’m quite hopeful that these guys will find a solution to the temperature problem. I’m was ever so thankful to see them there!

    Of course I still want a sound monitor … and visual would sure be handy too.

    Yes, I always ask for more.

    But if I asked for MORE more I’d ask for a reed maker. Where are the reed elves anyway?!


    Not to go on about this daily, but the opera is going well and I want to encourage all readers to get tickets. It is such a great opera. Really. Do come to see and hear it. (And come to the pit to say hi, too!)

    ***November 21, 2004

    ***Hygiene … if you don’t do it for yourself, do it for others!

    All righty, then. I’m going to write about the stuff I don’t like to write about. Sorry, but I’m gonna do it anyway!

    Here goes:
    Wash your hands after you go to the bathroom!

    Yes, I mean ALL of you. Even the boys and men. I’m sick and tired of not hearing the water run after I hear a toilet flush. (I can’t quite figure out why men think they don’t need to wash their hands, but I’ve heard many say it isn’t necessary. Bizarre!)

    I teach oboe students … you all know that. I teach and I have to play on reeds and try out students oboes. And I want to know that you all practice good hygiene because … well … the thought of putting those reeds in my mouth if you DON’T is simply disgusting!

    I was thinking of this not because of some student, but actually because of an event that occured some time ago and just came back to haunt me (for some unknown reason). I was in the musician’s room when a fellow musician came in and put his grubby hands into a big bag of pretzels. (You know the bags, don’t you? … those humongous Costco bags?). After he did so, another player whispered to me “I just saw him use the bathroom and he didn’t wash his hands.” That bag of pretzels was avoided from that day on.

    So while this little lecture isn’t pretty, neither are your hands if you don’t wash them after using the bathroom. And I’m about ready to stop touching my students’ reeds and oboes … but I believe a teacher has to be testing these things. So I’m sort of in a quandry.

    Maybe I’ll begin making students take a visit to my sink before each lesson. That might be the solution. Hmmm. Thinking … thinking … thinking ….

    Okay. Uncomfortable subject over and out.

    ***November 22, 2004

    ***Things Go Wrong

    … and sometimes the pit is unaware!

    As far as I knew, nothing was awry on opening night. But as I was leaving I was told that the lead tenor who sang the first act was pulled before the second. That tells you how poorly we can hear in the pit, because our two tenors (we have two casts per opera production) have different voices. From what I read in the paper today the tenor had to be pulled because he was suffering from a sore throat. I can believe it; so much is going around these days. Poor Adam … to be pulled on opening night must be very frustrating.

    But … maybe we really need a sound monitor. This seems to suggest this is so.

    ***November 24, 2004

    ***Symphony Silicon Valley

    I just picked up my music (along with a bunch more that I’ll hand out at the next opera). Want something to go to on December 11th or 12th? Try us! You’ll see a beautiful hall and you’ll hear beautiful music. What more could you want? (Okay, maybe a good reed or two, but still ….)

    ***My Poor Students (and I’m not talking financially or socially or anything like that!)

    I’m getting a number of emails canceling lessons. I’m sorry there’s some yucky bugs out there. Do get a lot of rest and get well soon! While I miss teaching you, and I hate to see you miss lessons, I appreciate it when you cancel rather than coming here to “share” with me. 🙂

    ***My First Italy Email

    I just received an email from an oboist in Italy (hello Guido!). What fun to hear from someone in Europe. Anyone else from around the globe reading this blog? I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a line anytime.

    ***We are seen, even in the pit

    Really. I have heard from several audience members. They have noticed when someone looks to be playing with a gameboy (I’m guessing it was really a PDA, but who knows?) They can see us chatting with each other. They can see us when we are reading magazines or books. Here’s the rule: if the audience sees you doing these things, you have to stop doing them. Period.


    My advice: Eat well. Enjoy your families. Be thankful.

    ***November 27, 2004


    At the opera tonight a man in the first row took a flash picture during the last act. Any picture at all is not allowed, but how he thought it wasn’t disruptive to take a flash picture I sure can’t figure out. He obviously didn’t think it was wrong because he took more flash pictures during bows. Trouble is, no usher stopped him. When a musician told him he can’t do that he just smiled. I was astounded. He wasn’t a young guy, so we can’t chalk it up to age, but I suppose we can still chalk it up to maturity (or lack thereof). Anyway, I was mightily ticked off. I would think that people who paid good money for the opera would be as well.

    ***But still
    getting back to Tosca after a bit of a break (due to the holiday) was wonderful. It’s such incredible music and I was really basking in it tonight. It’s so great to have a job that brings such joy! I’d take it over a job that provided a living wage any time (although I’d be even more happy if we were given a living wage).

    ***November 28, 2004


    The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.

    -Émile Zola

    ***Performing with the “Stars”

    One of our sons, Jameson, was able to sing in a backup group for an American Idol runner-up, Clay Aiken. LIncoln High School vocalists were asked to perform. I’ve been reading a message board from the school and it sounds as if the students had a great time, and were able to see how shows like this are put together (very quickly). Some of the kids are talking about how they loved Aiken and how they can’t believe it is over already. All that work and … poof! … it’s done.

    And that’s something else to be learned.

    I’ve done these shows. They are such fun – at least for me (some of my colleagues don’t like them). Sometimes the star is nice. Sometimes not so nice. Sometimes downright rotten to the core. (And no, I won’t tell you who is rotten to the core, although I’m happy to tell you about the good experiences!) But when it’s over, it’s over. And life goes on.

    That’s one of the weird things about this business. Whether or not you are working with a “star” or not, when you are done with the show, concert, or long run, you are done. It’s all over. The majority of the time (preferably all of the time) you give the performance(s) all you’ve got. You’ve probably bared your soul – at least that’s how it feels. And it is an emotional experience. It’s draining. You feel … hmmm … okay, maybe this isn’t “you” but “I” because maybe not everyone feels this way so I’ll be honest here and make it personal … it’s as if I’ve laid out the “all of me” and given so much. When it’s over there’s usually a bit of a letdown, or a bit of grief that I go through.

    When I was playing the last act of Baz Luhrmann’s La Boheme I actually cried. Yes. Really. I do that sometimes. I cry sometimes when I’m finished with a run that I’ve loved. I was sad to see Hans Christian Anderson come to an end too. To see John Glover (one of the few actors who actually made the musicians feel as if we mattered; he was a warm and wonderful man!) go and to know the poorly reviewed show wouldn’t survive the critics made me weepy. Saying goodbye to some of the actors or singers that I’ve worked with is sometimes a bit heartbreaking. We become family. That bond can become strong even with a short run – it’s something to do with creating art I think. Doing something you love with other people who love it too.

    (And to think I’m a small-time player in this. I wonder how the Big Guys feel when they are done.)

    Well … this turned into quite the ramble, didn’t it!? Guess I’m in a mood to reminisce. Call me silly.

    ***December 2, 2004

    ***Stuck Swabs

    People on the IDRS list have been discussing oboe swabs. Again. Some are feather users. These folks say, rightly so, that a feather really doesn’t get stuck. I’m sure that’s nearly always the case, although I’ll bet someone out there has managed to do it just to prove them wrong. Others say a silk swab is a must; a silk swab pulls through the entire instrument. They get stuck. A lot. No one has really talked about a soft cotton swab, which is what I use.

    I don’t use a feather. I used to, but I stopped using them. A fabric swab rarely needs replacing, so maybe it’s just because I’m lazy and cheap. Feathers are the lightest thing to use, of course, and some oboists suggest that using fabric changes the bore size. I don’t know about this, nor does it really concern me. So far my ancient oboe seems happy enough.

    I don’t use a silk swab any longer. Many people like them because you don’t have to take the instruments apart to swab them. I have had them stuck in the top joint of both my oboe and English horn. Too many times. Sometimes during performances. My husband had to drive 50 miles once just to deliver my swab remover tool, which I foolishly left at home, while I was playing Boheme in San Francisco. (He drove up to the hall, rolled down the window, handed me the tool, rolled up the window, and drove home. Fun trip for him, eh? But what a hero!) If you DO use a silk swab be sure to put the instrument upright once you see the end of the swab fall through the top of the horn. Then pull slowly and if you feel ANY resistance stop pulling! Oh … and some say that these new swabs with “tails” are great because if the swab does get stuck you can pull it back the other way. Guess what?! I’ve even gotten that stuck in my horn; the swab was so bunched up the tail wasn’t visible. I also don’t feel that the silk swabs remove much moisture.

    I use a soft cotton swab. It’s made of a stretchy fabric — sort of like t-shirt fabric. It’s very absorbent. Yes, I have to take the instrument apart when I swab. But, for the most part, I only swab the top joint because I swab frequently enough that I don’t get much moisture in the other two joints. Really. It works for me. So there you go.

    ***What Dead Russian Composer are You?

    I took the test. Silly test.

    If I were a Dead Russian Composer, I would be Igor Stravinsky.

    Known as a true son of the new 20th Century, my music started out melodic and folky but slowly got more dissonant and bizzare as I aged. I am a traveler and a neat freak, and very much hated those rotten eggs thrown at me after the premiere of “The Rite of Spring.”

    Who would you be? Dead Russian Composer Personality Test

    ***December 3, 2004


    I read here that James Levine has been criticized for stopping the orchestra during the open rehearsals; the audience seems to think, I suppose, that they are deserving of a concert. Silly. We DO need to rehearse! Don’t they get that?

    Anyway, that’s nothing compared to our Opera San Jose audiences these past few days. First we had a man taking pictures during a performance (the worst of the worst). The past 2 performances someone has taken pictures during this bows. Ridiculous.

    Can people not read? It says in the program that there is no photography. Have they never been to a performance before?

    And where the heck are the ushers who are supposed to put a stop to this behavior.

    Oh well. We pit folk can do nothing about it, so we just grimace and moan.


    I’ll be honest with you here: I’ve been struggling with the opera the past two shows. I’m not sure why, but my brain has been so fried I can barely see straight. And before one of you writes to say “you are too busy and that is why” let me assure you that I’ve had only one student this week and I’ve had a good amount of free time. So I have no excuses! Not even one. I’ve just been in la-la land. Today I decided to skip AVAC (where I exercise) because I think I need a day just to focus in on oboe and then relax. We’ll see if that helps. I don’t expect to be perfect every show, but playing a wrong note (along with one very ugly high D) is simply inexcusable … and that, I confess, is what I did. Two performances in a row. Two wrong notes (and I mustn’t neglect that ugly high D!) UGH.

    (I have a friend – Hi Debbie! – who has a full time job in addition to her being one of the finest bassoonists in the area. She manages. She manages incredibly well, in fact. I love her playing and I can’t figure out how she balances everything that she does. I find that quite humbling.)

    ***Next up, Symphony Silicon Valley

    We are doing a somewhat odd program (in my opinion anyway). Kind of a hodge-podge, what with Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony and Poulenc’s Gloria with some Wagner choruses thrown in, along with Britten’s Men of Good Will (God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen). But do come! The Poulenc alone is worth the price of admission. I’m not playing on a couple of the works, so I’m looking forward to getting out in the hall and hearing what it sounds like … finally! I like playing on the stage, but I haven’t a clue what it sounds like for the audience. I’ll only be hearing lighter works, though, so I won’t get to find out if the brass are as bright and deafening out in the hall as they are on stage. Oh well. I’m still looking forward to hearing what it’s like.

    ***Pictures of the California Theatre!

    Bob Shomler has put some beautiful pictures up at his site; now you can really see where I’m working these days.

    Might even make you a bit jealous, yes? 🙂

    He also has some great pictures of Marriage of Figaro from our recent production.

    ***And One MORE Thing

    … I am rather rambly today, aren’t I?

    Anyway, Carmen must be selling very well; they added a performance on February 13 at 3:00. Cool!

    ***December 5, 2004

    ***The Final Tosca
    is today. I’ll miss the beautiful music. This really has been a great run, although it’s more difficult to read audience response in the California Theatre (we could see nearly every audience member in the Montgomery and it was always pretty obvious how they felt about a production). I do wish I could have seen the opera (and heard it of course). I think it would be great if the orchestra could attend one of the final rehearsals for which we aren’t hired. It would make us feel more a part of everything … or at least it would for me. If I can visualize what is going on while I’m playing I’m more “there”.

    Next opera is Carmen. There’s a slight possibility I might have to miss it. If that turns out to be the case I’m going to buy a ticket and see my first opera in the new theater. That would be cool, although I’d hate to miss playing it.

    I’ve noticed several audience members who have attended more than one performance. I suppose they want to make sure to catch both casts. Or maybe the opera is just so good they had to come back!

    ***For a dash of humility
    … or maybe more than a dash, actually … you can hear a portion of Pasculli’s Le Api (The Bees) here. This work requires circular breathing as well as incredibly fast fingers.

    ***For a Good Story
    go here. This is about a San Francisco Conservatory student whose viola was stolen. She became a bit of a detective. Good for her!

    Still … never never never never never never … um … okay … you get the idea! … leave your instrument unattended.

    Earlier this year a student at one of the universities where I work came in to announce that part of his cello (yes, only part) had been stolen. He had left the cello unattended in a practice room.

    Be wise. You’ll be better off for it.

    December 6, 2004

    ***Unbelievable (again) … or Untrue?

    So okay. Some people hate the first act of Nutcracker. And yes, everyone know how A Christmas Carol ends. Many of us have heard Messiah in it’s entirety, and a whole lot of audience members are only waiting for the Hallelujah Chorus. So do the Twin Cities have an answer?

    This article says they’ve decided to have one performance, in a huge venue, that features just those snippets of a lot of the holiday favorites that people seem to like the best. First you can witness a parade of the various productions on their way to Target Center. The place seats somewhere around 19,000. Then you can see and hear the production watching the actual show, or you can enjoy it on the big screen or the TV if you’ve spent the big bucks for a luxury suite.

    Meanwhile (again according to the article), some other groups have thought to put on entire productions of certain works. Thing is, the city councils of both Minnesota and St. Paul have ruled that no one else can put on productions between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

    BUT … before you go ballistic … I just went to Minnesota Orchestra’s site and then The Guthrie’s site (they put on A Christmas Carol). The orchestra is putting on a good number of holiday concerts, and The Guthrie is advertising Dickens’ work.

    It’s always best to check things out before getting too upset about something, you know?

    Is it April Fools’ day in December? Is the article I read about this “It’s Christmas. Let’s Roll!” a total joke? I have to admit that when I saw what they were calling it I thought it was tasteless (it reminds me, anyway, of 9/11 … you?). The whole idea sounds silly (and insulting).

    Hmmm. So now I’m wondering … publicity stunt? The Onion in disguise?

    Double hmmmm.

    ***December 7, 2004

    ***A Formula?

    This link is pretty interesting. Two songs, played at the same time. It all works. It all fits. (Excuse the language at the site!)

    Hmmm. Thoughts?

    I’m not as disturbed by this as some might be; it’s not like we can’t hear the formula when we hear the music. And is formulaic stuff always bad? I dunno. Sometimes it’s just … safe … predictable … and no biggie.

    But there you go. Nothing you needed to hear, but at least I’ve updated my blog. 🙂

    ***December 8, 2004

    ***Update to 12/5 blog:
    I heard back from the writer of the Twin Cities article. Well, well, well … his article was a bit ‘o satire. Whew! What the writer, Dominic Papatola, actually wrote was that it was satire and that “Nothing that tacky has happened in the Twin Cities. Yet.”

    Thing is, I don’t believe ArtsJournal.com knew that.

    Or maybe they did and the joke’s on me?

    That would be okay. I’m an oboe player, not a genius.

    ***December 10, 2004


    There are some new orchestra auditions listed on the Current Auditions page. Check ’em out.

    ***I Want Some Reeds!

    I want 8 wonderful oboe reeds and 3 wonderful English horn reeds. I want them now. Is that too much to ask? I think not.

    So … reed fairies … wherever you are!! … please deliver my reeds asap.

    Okay. Ain’t gonna happen. Sigh.

    Have I told you all that I really detest making reeds? If I could find a reed maker who made reeds I actually liked she or he would have my business for life. Honest and true, I could give reed making up and never regret it. So far, though, I’ve not located one who is consistent with reed making; some reeds don’t seal, the crows are all different, they are too flat for me (I guess I just don’t take in as much reed as many players). Shoot, they seem to be nearly as inconsistent as I am.

    Well, okay, not that bad. (Confession: I am not a good reed maker!)

    Nutcracker starts up next week and I have to have reeds that will get me through all the shows. (We are only doing 14 services this year, but still….)

    ***My Friend Debbie
    knew the Twin Cities article was a spoof. Why didn’t I know immediately?

    Maybe the same reason I pulled out a dictionary the day my mother told me “Gullible isn’t in the dictionary, you know?”


    ***December 11, 2004

    ***And I thought my oboe was old!

    They say in this article that scientists have found a 35,000 year old flute, made from the tusk of a woolly mammoth.

    said she noticed that I’ve mentioned her TWICE here. Hmmm. I guess I won’t mention her today. 😉

    ***December 12, 2004

    ***Where Do All The Julliard Students Go?

    You can read this article to find out a bit. Maybe I’ll comment on it later; right now I have to get ready for today’s concert.

    ***December 16, 2004

    is opening night for Nutcracker. Little eyes will peer down into the pit. I always get a kick out of seeing the kids and hearing what they have to say about the music. Sometimes I even run into a budding oboist or two!

    I also get a kick out of hearing parents explain the instruments to their children. Sometimes they get it right. Sometimes not. I’m never sure whether to jump in and correct them. (So sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t!)

    The music situation is a little wild; they reduced the orchestra this year, and I’m playing both the second oboe and English horn books. This wouldn’t be as difficult if we were playing the original Nutcracker, but this particular ballet company adds several works and changes the order of the piece. I’m jumping back and forth quite a bit. So there I sit, reading off of two stands, switching back and forth as I’m able. Jump. Jump. Jump.

    Too bad all that jumping doesn’t help with weight loss! 😉

    Still, having this new challenge keeps me occupied. No time for boredom.

    ***December 20, 2004

    ***Speaking At Concerts

    The writer of this article doesn’t care for the talking before and during concerts. Read it to understand why.

    ***6 Down, 6 To Go!

    I really don’t mind playing Nutcrackers … and in past years I’ve played a lot more than 12. But, as I wrote at the pattyo there is an awful smell in the pit (I’ve been told it’s methane gas) that nearly gags me. This sewage smell has been there for the past three years. I’ve been told that as long as someone remembers to close a certain door we are okay. Unfortunately that’s not often remembered.

    We also have to deal with mold and mildew. We are near a creek and I guess the water table is higher than the bottom of the pit or some such thing. It often floods.

    In addition (yes, there’s even more!) tiles have been peeling up. We now have a sign posted that says they are removing the tiles and there is abestos in the mix. They say they’ve covered all those areas in plastic, but I sure do see ripped up plastic so I’m guessing we are all being exposed to this stuff. Sweet, eh?

    Isn’t the musician’s life a glamorous one? 🙂

    And yes, someone should probably call OSHA. But if we don’t work we don’t get paid. That’s a bad thing.

    ***December 23, 2004

    ***10:45 PM – Update

    TWO Nuts to go!

    … and I’m not even sure I can keep the oboe reeds alive for those two shows. Sigh.

    ***6:11 PM – How Nice
    to see a student of mine at Nutcracker this afternoon. Nicole K. was there (Hi Nicole … thanks for coming!), and she came down to the front to say hello. Please, if you come a show, be sure and say hi. I always love seeing my students attending performances. (Not because I’m playing, mind you — although I like that too — but because you all should, on occasion, attend live performances!)

    ***We have 3 Nutcracker performances to go
    and my reeds will be very happy to be finished. I will have to retire each and every one of my oboe reeds, so I’ll have a lot of work to do for the next symphony set. Ah well. That’s life!

    ***December 24, 2004

    ***AW … NUTS!!

    ***One To Go
    and a day off prior to that one. So yay!

    Annual Agony

    December punishment arrives

    costumed and dancing
    as a patch-eyed man, guns and magic.

    Insistent celeste and harp mingle
    with piccolo trills, trumpets
    and one sharp cannon blast.

    Shrinking girl’s dream of candy and prince
    blend to sweet nightmare. Soldiers
    battle mice under towering tree.

    Anorexic bodies lifted, dive. Tiaras twirl.
    Flighty hand gestures linked to polished
    smiles blend with yards of frothy fabric.

    Thick-thighed men work against gravity,
    leap and flit feet, elevate women,
    wear strong grins and extra socks for size.

    Plastic snow falls under hot light.
    Dry-ice inhalation ends an act; break brings
    dancers’ nicotine addiction smoke.

    Shouts, applause and whistles
    briefly diminish complaints
    while children’s joy mixes pleasure with tedium.

    Staged journey accentuates immovable location;

    trapped timpani, imprisoned oboes,
    snared strings, travel nowhere slowly.

    In this pit of annual agony we crack
    the nut, hoping it doesn’t break us
    before compensation for the pain.

    (Please note: I don’t despise the Nut as much as I imply in this poem — it’s just a bit of whimsy!)

    ***December 26, 2004

    ***8:53 PM – MQOD: A Final Word on Nutcracker

    It’s a disease. Because I think the commercialization of Christmas, you know. Because every Hicksville little town is doing a version of The Nutcracker. Is really incredible and is same in Europe too. In England there is so many Nutcrackers because every town, every town has a Nutcracker. It’s really incredible. In Hungary you’d never believe, my childhood, we had it every Sunday, The Nutcracker. Autumn, Winter, Spring, early Summer. We had Nutcracker. When I hear the music which is so beautiful, really beautiful, I start getting eczema.”  
    “When the audience is looking at Swan Lake, there’s not much happening for the prince, but you really have to get inside him, whether it comes across or not, you know, the little nuances, the tiny little tch tch. In The Nutcracker, you can’t. It’s just half a kilo of make up and then you have to be Prince Charming and get on with it.

    -Ivan Nagy (Artistic Direction of the Ballet de Santiago – Chile)

    ***8:49 PM – Over and Out

    The Nuts are over. I say a sweet goodbye to them … until next December.

    ***December 29, 2004

    ***12:22 PM – What Can You Do Today?

    This is not about music. It isn’t about oboes or reeds. It’s about being human. Tragedy is constant in this world, no doubt. We shouldn’t ever forget that. But it takes a tragedy of the sort we are hearing about now to remind us that we are called to care and to give and to help whenever possible. Those of us in the United States live in great comfort compared to the majority of the world. We are wealthy beyond imagination to so many. Now is a good time to show our generosity.

    Okay … it’s always a good time. But since we are reminded of ongoing tragedies when something so huge has occurred, please consider donating money to help those who have suffered such great loss.

    Donate direct. Donate now. Donate generously.

    ***January 2, 2005

    ***8:18 PM – Update

    IF I’m “allowed” to teach at SCU, I will be there on Wednesdays, from 10:30 AM until 12:30 PM.

    ***6:12 PM – HAPPY NEW YEAR!

    I hope you’ve all been enjoying the holiday season.

    And now it’s time to get back to work. (If you had a break at all.) Depending upon my students’ replies, UCSC lessons begin tomorrow OR we begin next Monday. I do hope I hear from my students! (If not, I’ll assume we begin a week from tomorrow, as the official UCSC calendar says classes begin on Monday.)

    ***An SCU student emailed me
    to say she was refused oboe lessons at the music office; according to her report they aren’t allowing any new students. This is disturbing — without her I have no students there at all! It’s difficult for me to believe that the school isn’t allowing their oboe instructor to teach any oboists. I’m hoping that the student misunderstood, or the office had incorrect information. Perhaps I’ll find out tomorrow.

    I’m looking forward to seeing the majority of my students this week. Many of my private students have had to miss a number of weeks; I hope you’ll all be back this week, and that we can set up a more consistent schedule.

    ***January 4, 2005

    ***2:18 PM – Something To See & Hear

    Great Performances will be showing Candide in about a week! I am looking forward to this. It’s a Bernstein work … not sure whether to call it an opera or a musical. The first air date is January 12, but it looks like it will be replayed a good number of times. At least in my area.

    What is the difference between opera and musical theater anyway? I think the closest definition that worked for me is that in opera the music, the songs, continue to progress the story, while in a musical the music often “stops” the story for a time. Which means that some musicals are more operatic than others. And some operas might be more like musical theater. But that was just one explanation I’ve heard to differentiate the two.

    Another person who spoke about this said that musical theater uses microphones and opera doesn’t. This particular talk I heard took place when Baz Luhrmann’s La Boheme was running, and I could tell the speaker (who ran an opera company) didn’t like Luhrmann doing what he did. But I’ve heard tales about well-respected opera companies using some amplification (although they’d never admit it!), and I remember hearing about musicals “way back when” not using amplification. (Ethel Merman probably didn’t need amplification!)

    ***Update on SCU

    Things have been worked out! I will be teaching there. I’ll be on campus each Wednesday morning beginning next week. I’m glad that things have been resolved.

    ***January 5, 2005

    ***12:41 PM – MQOD

    My music is best understood by children and animals.

    Igor Stravinsky

    ***12:38 PM – Better

    It’s amazing how much better the world looks after eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and having a glass of milk. My reeds even look a bit better. How ’bout that?!

    So it’s back to oboe … I have to work on Stravinsky’s Song of the Nightingale a bit more. I want to have that thing so under my fingers that I don’t have to worry. (Yeah … rigghhhtttt!)

    I’ll be playing Stravinsky, along with Mendelssohn and Sibelius, next week. Then it’s a week off and, if all goes as planned, Carmen begins the following week. It’s a fun opera to play so I’m looking forward to that.

    ***12:04 PM – Okay
    maybe hate is too strong of a word. I’m just weary of trying to find something that feels good. Sigh.

    And I do hate making reeds. My hands aren’t happy, for one thing; they don’t like doing things like this any more. They get tired easily.

    And my eyes?! Yikes … my vision is pathetic to begin with, but trying to work on reeds makes my eyes rebel. They don’t want to cooperate at all.

    So … anyone out there like me enough to provide me with a few great reeds?

    Anyone? Anyone?

    ***January 12, 2005

    ***10:56 PM – Fighting Crime

    How to do this? Check this out. I guess opera is the answer.

    ***10:54 PM – Oh Well

    I thought someone would record the opera for me tonight. But I guess I neglected to ask anyone here at home. So, alas, no Candide on DVD yet. But the rebroadcast is at 3:00 AM Saturday morning. If someone smart here (in other words … not I!) can figure out how to program the DVD recorder perhaps we’ll get it then. (I’m watching the end as I type … it does look like something I want recorded!)

    ***12:50 PM – Never Mind

    Things have changed. I will be able to record Candide. So just record it for youself instead. 😉

    ***January 13, 2005

    ***1:00 PM – I Learn Something New Every Day

    Or at least I could if I were alert enough and had the energy to read a lot. But, then again, some of the things I do learn I later learn aren’t true.

    So maybe learning isn’t a good thing?

    Or not.

    But anyway, an oboist from Holland is giving a benefit concert for tsunami relief … in Bangalore, India.

    One interesting thing the article states:

    The oboe, one of the finest wind instruments among others as the flute, clarinet, and bassoon, originated in Iran. Originally in wood, it was transformed into a mix of metal (silver) and wood when imported into Europe, where it is currently popular.

    Call me stupid (c’mon, I know you already do!), but I didn’t realize it came from Iran. I know that it’s predecessor was the shawm, and I believe that instrument came from India. But I wonder about the oboe coming from Iran; I thought it came from France. Hmmm.

    Anyway, you can read the entire article here.

    I don’t dispute the “finest wind instruments”, by the way, although I’d nix “one of the” prior to that. 😉

    ***12:49 PM – This Weekend

    Symphony Silicon Valley will have two performances. Come hear Stravinsky, Mendelssohn, and Sibelius. Paul Polivnick is conducting. You can read more about it on my performance schedule page or at the Symphony Silicon Valley website.

    ***12:43 PM – Upcoming Concert

    San Francisco Performances presents:
    Juilliard String Quartet and Heinz Holliger
    Tuesday, January 25, 8:00 PM
    Herbst Theatre

    ELLIOTT CARTER Oboe Quartet
    MOZART Oboe Quartet
    SCHUBERT Quartettsatz
    DVORAK Quartet in F Major, Op.96, the “American”

    To read more about this, go here.

    ***And More …

    I would encourage readers to check out Julie Giacobassi’s concert page as well. (I think she is the finest English horn player around!)

    ***January 14, 2005

    ***10:42 AM – My Friendly Reminder

    Don’t copy music. Purchase music.

    Don’t copy CDs. Purchase CDs.


    I’ve written before about how the theft of music affects even little old me. I won’t go into it again right now. But if someone emails me to ask for a reminder I just might post that response here.

    ***10:22 AM – Interesting Story

    Lang Lang, a rather well-known pianist (I know, we’re oboists here … how are we to keep up with pianists?!) spent some time with a bunch of kids. Not famous kids. Just kids. In someone’s house, not a hall. Or even a mansion.

    From the article:

    When a 9-year-old in pigtails hopped up on the piano bench and started playing a charming Mozart piece from memory, Lang plopped down beside her and played along with his right hand. The duet ended in giggles as the pianists’ hands tied themselves into a knot at the center of the keyboard.

    “I really love children,” said Lang, adding quickly, “but not like Michael Jackson. I find a great connection to children through music. Kids need to be inspired by musicians just like scientists or athletes. They need to see the possibilities of life. My part is to help them enjoy the music.”

    I don’t know anything about this man, and I guess he has not only his fans but his detracters. But who doesn’t? (Well, I’m referring to the latter … I don’t know that all of us … me, for instance … have fans.)

    Read the rest of the article.

    ***January 15, 2005

    ***10:35 PM – Update

    For those of you you might want to know (If there are any of you out there!) the concert went fine. I always feel I can do better. That’s the way music is, though. At least for me. It’s something I both love and hate; the possibility of always improving, of wanting to do things better, and do them differently. But I actually enjoyed playing and felt fairly good about my performance.

    And now I do it again tomorrow.

    ***9:50 AM – Tonight
    I have a concert. I have solos. And yes, I’m nervous. I figure I may as well let readers know … I’m not one to lie about this, and maybe it’s helpful to some of you to know that I’ve been on stage (professionally) since 1975 and I still deal with this! I get nervous just like most everyone else. I don’t take Inderal (a good number of musicians do) so I have to learn to deal with the nerves. Mostly I direct them to my legs, so I frequently have sore legs by the time I’m done with a tough concert. Too bad that doesn’t mean I have trim thighs, eh?

    I wouldn’t be as apprehensive as I am except that I was having instrument woes last night. I’m fairly certain it was the cold; the stage was freezing. My oboe felt as if it wasn’t sealing properly. I pulled it out this morning (yes, practicing before 10:00. I think that’s some sort of sin, but oh well.) and it’s working just fine and feels right again. I hate dealing with these sorts of issues — I want to deal with the music, not with the “machine”. Sigh.

    ***9:40 AM – A Reminder

    I update the Double Reed Days & Festival page as I get more information. Check it out on occasion! (And if you run one of these please email me with your information so I can post it.)

    ***January 16, 2005

    ***10:02 PM – Reminder!

    I will be at UCSC tomorrow to teach. I realize it’s Martin Luther King, Jr. day. I hope you all will take some time to ponder. But if I don’t teach tomorrow we have to find a time that works for all of us and I know how difficult that is. So be there!

    … and I’m hoping the reed making lab may be happening this quarter. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? I think so!

    ***9:15 PM – Update

    I’ve updated the Double Reed Days page. (With thanks to Susan!)

    ***5:42 PM – Concert Over and Out

    It was a challenge to learn the Stravinsky, but I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity. (Thank you, Pam, for trusting me with this!) I often doubt myself, but this was one time when I just decided I’d go for it despite my insecurities. I think I did okay. I tend to not know for sure unless I hear a recording, and I’ll have to decide if I’m ready to hear it or not.

    Working with Paul Polivnick was, for me, a delight. I like what he tells us; he has a lot of very good advice. I think he gets good results too. So I’m hoping Symphony SIlicon Valley will ask him to return yet again. He’s been here all three years, and all three times I’ve been impressed.

    I now want to purchase the Opera by Stravinsky. I had no idea that Song of the Nightingale was from an opera. Guess I’ll have to search the work out!

    ***11:15 AM – This from the the Lincoln High School Daily Bulletin:

    Show your support for the victims of the Asian Tsunami tragedy. Come and enjoy a night  of vocal and symphonic music at the Tsunami Relief Benefit Concert, organized and performed by Lincoln High School Students on Tuesday, January 18th, at 7:30 PM. The benefit will be performed at the Historic Hoover Theater, located on 1635 Park Avenue in San Jose. Tickets are $7.00 for general admission. Students, children and seniors are $5.00. Proceeds from food sales and silent auction items will also go to the relief effort. Thank you in advance to Walton Art Glass Studios for their donations of hand blown Italian style glass items for the silent auction.

    Show you care with your support and donations, and we’ll see you on Tuesday! 

    (I’ll be playing in a small orchestra for one of the works — a new composition written by student Isaac Calvert. Jameson will also be singing one song I believe.)

    ***January 17, 2005

    ***8:30 AM – A Free Concert in San Francisco

    8:00pm Wednesday, January 26th
    Hellman Hall, San Francisco Conservatory
    1201 Ortega Street

    Program includes
    Strauss: Oboe Concerto
    Soloist: Jack Cozen Harel, oboe
    Chamber Orchestra conducted by Teddy Abrams

    (I heard Jack play at a Ray Still masterclass and he’s a fine player … do go if you are able!)

    ***January 18, 2005

    ***3:00 PM – Funny!


    (That’s me, smiling, with my glasses on … in case you aren’t figuring that out already.)

    ***2:50 PM – MQOD

    Some critics are like chimneysweepers; they put out the fire below, and frighten the swallows from the nests above; they scrape a long time in the chimney, cover themselves with soot, and bring nothing away but a bag of cinders, and then sing out from the top of the house, as if they had built it.

    -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet, “Table Talk” (1845)

    ***1:53 PM – Withdrawal

    I’m going through concert withdrawal today. I didn’t really have time to do this yesterday, because I was teaching at UCSC. So it’s something I have to go through now. Ah well.

    Withdrawal includes a bit of sadness. True, the Stravinsky was a great challenge and I was very nervous. But it was also great fun, it is fabulous music, and it made me feel alive! The Mendelssohn was simply a delight to play; I loved the tempi Paul Polivnick chose (I don’t like it when the second movement is turned into sentimental stuff). It’s certainly a beautiful work. The violin soloist did a wonderful job on the challenging Sibelius concerto. So I’m sad and I already miss the music, the conductor, the soloist, and my colleagues.

    Withdrawal also includes a lot of self doubt. At least for me. I go over what I did, over and over, in my head and I find all sorts of possibilities for improvement. This, too, isn’t necessarily all bad. I like the idea that my playing should always be getting better. Shoot, when it stops improving it’ll be moving the opposite direction … so I’ll keep working on the “getting better” part in order to avoid anything else. BUT … I also wonder if I already am on the downhill slope. I wonder if people are saying nice things only to be kind. I wonder if they walk away thinking “What is she doing here?”

    I think I wonder too much of the time, though.

    And I’ll bet some of you thought I was a confident person, eh? Well, there you go. This is me in a NUT shell. 😉

    So, anyway, I’m in recovery mode, and I’m bummed that aside from the Tsunami Relief concert I play tonight I have no playing job until next Wednesday.

    But, at the same time, I had a wonderful time last week and I’ll try to keep that in mind.

    ***9:29 AM – Another Concert Coming Up Soon!

    Sarah Rathke is a very fine oboist. I suggest you try to get to this concert!


    In case you can’t read the above card:
    Sunday, January 23, 2:00 at Hellman Hall
    San Francisco Conservatory of Music

    ***January 19, 2005

    ***8:30 AM – MQOD

    For 37 years I’ve practiced 14 hours a day, and now they call me a genius

    -Pablo de Sarasate quotes (Spanish violinist and composer. 1844-1908)

    ***January 20, 2005

    ***9:05 PM – In Other News

    I’m happy to announce that I have added a reed making class to the UCSC schedule. I will be teaching the class on Mondays from noon to 1:00. Just think … my students can work on reeds for the hour and keep me supplied with oboe reeds. Sounds fine to me. 😉

    ***9:00 PM – Fun Article

    Read this article about Kathryn Needleman. She’ll be performing the Mozart Oboe Concerto with her orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. It’s a fun read, and includes this paragraph:

    The challenges of the oboe are considerable. Just producing and sustaining a pure tone, for example, requires “a perfect breath control,” wrote legendary conductor Sir Thomas Beecham, to “obviate the eruption of sounds that would arouse attention in a circus.”

    Love that quote!

    Anyway, if you go to read the article you’ll probably have to register, but I did enjoy it, and think you will as well.

    ***January 21, 2005

    ***12:26 PM – Carmen

    I just finished going through my entire oboe part to Carmen while listening to the recording. I have commented before on the Black Dog Opera Library, and I still say they are worth the money, but I have to warn readers here that the Carmen production is definitely not the best one you will find! Far from it. Still, for under $20 you get a book with all sorts of information about the opera, the complete libretto, and pictures of various singers who have played the major roles. I do think it’s worth the cost. Just don’t expect to be blown away … especially by the orchestra.

    It does make me look forward to the opera even more though!

    ***8:49 AM – Unbelievable

    Bryn Terfel mimed his part in Das Rheingold while the singer who sang in his stead did so from the pit. Terfel had a throat infection and couldn’t sing the final performance.

    Perhaps it was unavoidable (the replacement was 70 year old New Zealand opera singer Sir Donald McIntyre) due to the age of McIntyre or the staging, but still ….

    Read about it here.

    ***January 22, 2005

    ***1:00 PM – Dear Friends

    Guess I’ll have to ask my kids about this one: the Symphony Silicon Valley, along with the San Jose State University Chorale, will be performing “Dear Friends, the music from Final Fantasy” on March 7. I haven’t a clue what sort of music this is. Guess I”ll find out … IF I am available for the job.

    Information is here.

    ***January 23, 2005

    ***8:20 PM – Candide!

    I’m basking in the beauty and laughter of Bernstein’s Candide at this very moment. If you’ve never heard it (or seen it) I encourage you to. What a lovely and fun work!

    The staging in the production is fabulous. Even the suitcase that bumps on each step during the song that includes “It must be so” (perhaps the title of the song?) is done in time. There are great little jokes in it … including a little inclusion of West Side Story.

    But I don’t want to give anything away. Just see the performance when you get a chance.

    Oh how I wish Opera San Jose would do this work.

    ***3:28 PM – MQOD

    We started with the Beethoven, and I kept up with Cortot through the Grieg, Schumann, Bach and Tchaikovsky, and then he hit one I didn’t know, so I stopped dead.

    -Sir Thomas Beecham, conductor, on a disasterous lapse of memory by Alfred Cortot during a piano concerto

    Just a note:
    Some believe that playing music by memory became popular because of Franz Liszt: he performed by memory, but I’ve heard it said that he had a photographic memory so I suppose it wasn’t all that difficult for him! Clara Schumann also performed by memory, from what I have read, and may actually be the first in the 19th century to do so.

    You probably didn’t need to know that. But now you know it anyway.

    I have been in orchestras when soloists have had memory lapses. I must say I would prefer that a musician have music in front of him or her, rather than deal with the horribly embarrassing and awkward silence the occurs when a performer suddenly goes blank. It’s a scary moment, to be sure … for all concerned. The soloist, the conductor, the orchestra, and yes, even the audience.

    I do marvel at opera singers. They memorize it all. They sing while cavorting around on stage. They sing in heavy costumes, or sometimes in barely any clothes at all. They sing upright or lying down. They sing while all sorts of chaos surrounds them. Shoot, they sing while they pretend to die.

    Of course I’d probably die if I tried to sing in front of an audience. 😉

    ***January 25, 2005

    ***2:10 PM – Late Notice
    but still, if you are anywhere near San Francisco you might want to take advantage of this news I just received from an IDRS member:

    Heinz Holliger is performing tonight (Tuesday) at Herbst Hall. All tickets
    are half price and the program has been changed. The new program (due to a
    medical emergency for one of the violinists) is Mozart Oboe Quartet and a solo
    piece performed by Holliger. Starting time is 8 PM and the whole concert is under
    one hour.

    ***January 26, 2005

    ***11:20 AM – Tragedy Tomorrow … Carmen Tonight!

    Oh wait … not the right lyrics. Sorry. 😉

    (And if you haven’t a clue what I’m referring to above, you haven’t seen A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum or heard the song Comedy Tonight. That’s all.)

    Anyway, we begin Carmen tonight and I’m looking forward to it. I believe tickets are selling very quickly. Nearly sold out, in fact. So if you are planning on going, get those tickets now!

    ***January 28, 2005

    ***12:10 PM – Well Now, Isn’t This The Truth?

    Chris Rock is going to be hosting the Oscars. Most of you probably already know this, if you are into the Academy Awards. I always watch … and usually complain about how lame they are … except when some poor planner throws a concert that interferes. This year I will be there, with my snacks handy and my sarcastic comments at the ready.

    Anyway, I do wonder how Rock will do. He isn’t my fave, but then no one asked me. Still, he said something that proves that he is a wise man, even if he is a wise man with a foul mouth:

    How will Rock know if he’s killing the Kodak Theatre audience on Oscar night?

    “I’ll probably pay more attention to the musicians in the pit than the stars because they’re the closest you’re going to get to normal people in the audience,” he said.

    Hah! So there! We are closer to normal.

    I like that. And I plan on remembering that line.

    (I really like that fact that we aren’t quite normal … just “closer to”. 🙂

    Here’s the full article in case you’re interested.

    ***January 29, 2005

    ***1:20 PM – The Power of Music

    I’ve mused over this before, but since it was just brought to my attention a few minutes ago I’ll do some musing. Again.

    I turned on the TV and got the tail-end of a movie. Not a movie I really know much about (although Brandon insists I rented it once; I surely don’t remember.) Anyway, it was at a touching moment. I could tell because of the music. And just like that it “got me”. I was nearly in tears. I knew that it wasn’t about the story, since I jumped in at the end, wasn’t drawn in, and really couldn’t understand (because this OLD BRAIN doesn’t remember seeing it before) what exactly had happened … but still I was extremely moved.

    Music can do that.

    And I love that about music.

    Music can make me cry. Music can make me laugh. Music can make me scared. Music can make me nostalgic. Music can do nearly anything!

    Music sure has its way with me.

    ***January 31, 2005

    ***11:00 PM – Carmen!

    What fabulous music! I’m enjoying the opera tremendously. I still miss not being able to see anything, but playing beautiful music … well … what a great life!

    ***10:55 PM – My Persnickety Oboe

    I’ve learned something new about my oboe: it is fussy about temperature. Everyone knows oboists have to be careful about temperature. Too cold and our oboes can crack. (I already have cracks … they are pinned, but even still they give me trouble.) But my dear oboe has decided that it won’t cooperate if it’s below 68 degrees! Silly little thing. At 67 (or even 67.5) it’s unresponsive and it drives me nuts.

    And I’m already nuts to begin with, so this is bad news, folks.

    I do need a new instrument. My oboe, a Marigaux, is old and it doesn’t seem to like to play a high D much of the time. I would still keep this Marigaux because a principal oboist is wise to have a backup. I’ve had friends who, when finding out I’m relying on one oboe, are in shock. But I’ve simply not been able to afford it. Once kids are through college … maybe then? Meanwhile I’ll have to put up with this fussy instrument.

    Don’t get me wrong — there are things I love about this horn, and it will be difficult to replace. Most folks around here swear by Loree, but I’ve yet to find one that I am comfortable with. I’d love to get another Marigaux, but I’m not even sure if I can find a dealer in the States any more. I’ve been thinking about trying a Rigoutat. My English horn is a Rigoutat and I do love that horn.

    But time will tell. I need to start saving pennies (and nickels, dimes and quarters). And maybe get more jobs!

    ***February 1, 2005

    ***6:40 AM – Concert in NYC

    “Evening Of Song”

    I realize that a number of my local readers aren’t going to be taking a trip to New York City merely to hear what I’m sure will be a great concert, but Timothy Emerson is my brother, so I thought I’d post it and encourage any in his area to go. He’s a wonderful bassoonist!

    ***February 4, 2005

    ***10:40 PM – Opening Night

    Tomorrow night. Carmen. Should be fun.


    ***February 5, 2005

    ***8:15 AM – Sometime soon
    I’ll be switching over to a new URL. You will no longer be reading this on Planet Mitchell. But switching over is a challenge … so it isn’t going to happen today.

    After I get everything up and running at the other site I’ll have a note up here directing you to the new URL.

    News You Can Use. (Once I give the URL to you!)


    ***11:56 AM – I Hate Reeds

    I thought you should know that.

    ***January 7, 2005

    ***11:36 AM – Mistakes!

    I’ve just been working on the Stravinksy (Song of the Nightingale), which is nothing new; each day I have to spend time being a mechanical nightingale! When I realized I might be performing this work I purchased a copy of the music through Jeanne. It’s a Kalmus part and, as is typical of Kalmus, contains some major errors. Shoot, the first measure is missing a set of triplets! The biggest error is during the mechanical nightingale solo; instead of 8 notes on the second and third beats of the second measure, Kalmus has only 6 notes. It’s much easier that way — I wonder if I could convince our conductor to let me do that!? Hah! Perhaps it’s just a different edition of the work; Stravinsky is known to have changed a lot of things as time went by. But I doubt it.

    Those of you who aren’t familiar with Kalmus … you have now been warned! Nearly all older Kalmus works are riddled with errors. If you use them for auditions you’d better go through a score to correct the mistakes. Audition committees don’t accept “It’s a Kalmus part” as an excuse!

    ***January 11, 2005

    ***9:08 PM – Candide … Tomorrow!

    So, at 9:00 tomorrow evening, PBS stations will broadcast Leonard Bernstein’s Candide, with the New York Philharmonic, Kristin Chenoweth, Patti LuPone, Paul Groves and Thomas Allen. I’d love to see it, but I have work. I’d love to record it, but we don’t have anything that does that right now. So if anyone nearby reads this and happens to record it, I’d love to borrow the tape or DVD. (I’d recommend taping it in high quality … you know, music and all that … it sounds better. Besides, the picture is better too.) Here in San Jose it’s on KQED and it runs for 2 hours.

    Of course even if you don’t record it, do watch it. There’s some fine music in that work!

    If you don’t catch it tomorrow you can always watch it at 3 AM Saturday morning. I’m sure you’re usually bored about then anyway. 😉

    ***10:09 AM – Something You Don’t Hear About
    are the prompters in opera houses. Opera San Jose doesn’t use one, but many large opera companies do. This article is a fun little read.

    (Yeah, I know, if you visit the pattyo you’ve already read this. Too bad for you, eh?)

    ***February 6, 2005

    ***12:05 AM – And Here It Is!

    The new site is up. I’m pretty darn happy about this! I have a new URL. I have a slightly new look. (I wouldn’t have minded even something more different … and “cleaner” … but I couldn’t find a template that really caught my eye and I don’t do the whole design myself so there you go.)

    Anyway … drum roll … oboeinsight would love your visits.

    Those of you using news aggregator software may subscribe to the RSS feed URL for my new site.

    Eventually this site will go down, but of course for now I’ll leave it here.

    Please change your bookmarks!

    (The full URL of the new site is http://www.oboeinsight.com )

    It’s been a while since I’ve seen this search, but someone landed here looking for the “Quit Work Make Music” t shirt. Sorry, folks, I don’t know where you can get it now. I bought it years ago at a shop that sells rock and heavy metal sorts of shirts. (They probably wondered what the heck I was doing in their store!)

    I have often gotten comments when I’ve been exercising, since I wear the shirt as my exercise shirt. Last week yet another person asked me where he could find the shirt because his brother, in his 40’s, was thinking of quitting work and making music. (I usually don’t explain the irony of the shirt in regards to what I do.)

    I should market the shirt myself. I wonder if that would be legal though? Anyone know about this?

    Sorry the picture below is blurry … I’ll fix this later. Maybe. I have one other picture, but it includes me and my “old hair” and, well, my vanity is getting in the way of posting it.

    Quit Work:

    08. January 2006 · Comments Off on Music Quote · Categories: imported, Quotes

    Practicing is like cleaning your bathroom, you dread it, but while you are actually doing it you look back and think ‘I’ve accomplished so much’ and that is where the joy of practicing is- accomplishments.

    -Source Unknown