I just ran across an article that was originally printed in a 1949 Saturday Evening Post and can now be found here at the IDRS site. Written by Jean de Vergier, we hear of his life with father (an oboist in the Boston Symphony). I relate so to this little segment of the article:

“What does he play?” they asked with real interest. “Oboe,” I said. “Oh,” they said politely. As always, I drew inquiring and vaguely suspicious looks.

I don’t often see “vaguely suspicious looks” but I do see a lot of blank looks. Other times a person will imply that he or she knows what an oboe is and then go on to describe a bassoon. I often don’t even bother to tell people what I play but instead say I’m a musician and leave it at that, although many will want to know what I play. (Hmmm. No one has ever asked me if I was a singer or played an instrument; I think they assume “musician” means instrumentalist. A singer, after all, would say, “I’m a singer.” Right?)

Then there’s this:

An oboe player’s home is full of little glasses of water in which reeds are soaking. You see, the poor beset man is trying to get one exactly soft enough for what he is sure they are going to play today. He is an expert at this–he has to be– and sure enough, he gets one into exactly the state that produces the round, soft, sweet tone he wants.

So what happens? They change the program on him, opening with music that requires a strong reed with a loud, brilliant tone, and he’s cooked. He’s always cooked. The reed that sounded so fine at home is sickly and weak in the concert hall or splits just when he needs it, or if none of this happens, then a key sticks and ruins a solo.

Ah yes. We lead such relaxed lives.

(Note: I do not soak reeds to get them “exactly soft enough” and I don’t recommend that you do either. I will confess, though, that the worn out reed I was using today for Bohème had to be soaked big time to get the darn thing to wake up. Tomorrow it’s going to get a hot water bath in hopes that it will give me one more day. We’ll see. Reeds. They are a curse. Truly.)

08. February 2006 · Comments Off on Noooooooo · Categories: imported, Links

You scored as Viola. Viola.
That’s always fun.















French Horn






String Bass






If you were in an orchestra, what instrument would match your personality?
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08. February 2006 · Comments Off on Another New Group · Categories: imported, Recommendations

New to me anyway:
Quartetto Gelato

Cynthia Steljes – oboe, English horn
Peter DeSotto – tenor, violin, mandolin
Alexander Sevastian – accordion, piano, bandoneon
Kristina Reiko Cooper – cello

This group is a bit unusual, and it just sounds like a whole lot of fun! Be sure and listen to some of their music if you visit the site.

08. February 2006 · Comments Off on I Wasn’t Going To Say Anything · Categories: imported, Ramble

I knew about this on Monday, but I hadn’t wanted to blog about it, not knowing if it was public knowledge. But since the local paper has the announcement, and it’s other places as well, I guess it’s no secret.

So here it is: the author of Mozart in the Jungle, Blair Tindall, and Bill Nye the Science Guy were married last Friday.

I was pretty darn surprised, but I hadn’t heard from Blair Tindall in a while so I didn’t even know she was engaged. Blair, a fine oboist, was a sub here in San Jose (and all over the Bay Area) when she was attending Stanford.

I wish them both all the best.

But, more importantly, I’m wondering if a “Science Guy” might be able to figure out how to always make the perfect reed!

Well, maybe not. The marriage, that is. I’ve heard things aren’t as they were.

08. February 2006 · Comments Off on Sorry this is so late! · Categories: imported, Ramble

Deadlines are approaching for some summer festivals, workshops and camps. But do check things out by going to my Double Reed Days, Festivals, Camps & More page. From there you can check out all sorts of events for a variety of ages.

I really enjoyed my summer camp (both music and non) experiences when I was younger!

08. February 2006 · Comments Off on MQOD · Categories: imported, Quotes

Bohème is one of the most skillfully orchestrated scores we have. The use of the Glockenspiel or the chimes, not to mention the more conventional instruments, is precisely related to the happenings on stage. Even the big drum—the bane of Italian opera—is here used with restraint. It is rather an oddity that Puccini is not given due credit for being the master of orchestral writing that he is. The simple fact is that toward the end of the 19th century such men as Tchaikovsky and Strauss evolved a formula for orchestration which they used more or less unchanged under all circumstances: doublings in the strings with the horns in the middle, or certain other set relationships. A very good sound, to be sure, but tending to a certain sameness. With Puccini each score presents a different tonal quality and colouration—Bohème is different from Butterfly, as Butterfly is different from Tosca. To be sure, there are family traits, but the texture and detail in each are very much related to the specific kind of subject with which he is dealing.

-Sir Thomas Beecham