26. October 2007 · Comments Off on Final Rehearsal … · Categories: Ramble

… and feeling unready.

The UCSC faculty recital is Sunday at 7:30. I never feel ready for these; I’m such a “team player” (not as in I get along well with folks, but that I like a big team!) and smaller groups just feel uncomfortable. I also would have loved more rehearsal time, but getting four of us together when we live hours apart is a real challenge. I also wish I was happier with my reeds. They feel fine. Until I play in the group. Go figure.

Really, that’s fairly typical for me. I don’t know if other oboists experience this problem or not. I must do something differently the minute I play with others. (I guess “Plays well with others” should be changed to “Plays differently with others” for yours truly.)

Ah well. It will be what it will be.

And I’m very, very tired.

26. October 2007 · Comments Off on Music Saves Lives · Categories: News, Watch

Really. I mean … this little guy was saved by his violin case (you have to put up with an ad first).

(Seen first at The Collaborative Piano Blog.)

So, parents, give your kiddos music lessons. 😉

(My double case—a Wiseman double case that my dear parents got for me—would probably save my life too. AND I think the instruments would also survive!)

26. October 2007 · Comments Off on Um … Really? · Categories: Links

During a rehearsal last week for “A Night at the Rock Opera,” Sal Clemente stood front and center on the Wilbur Theatre stage belting out the emotional first lines of Queen’s “Somebody to Love.” Behind him was his posse, the rock opera cast of 23 singers and musicians who filled out the anthem with 11-part harmony like a church choir. (RTWT)

Ah yes. I attend church. We so frequently sing 11-part harmony.

Not intentionally, of course. 😉

26. October 2007 · Comments Off on SAY WHAT?! · Categories: Links, Ramble

— Change teacher swiftly if it’s not working well; otherwise, tread carefully in any interference with teachers – musicians tend to be highly strung.

Man, this just has me screaming. And throwing things. And I’m gonna hunt this writer down.



Okay, okay, just having fun here. It’s true; some musicians are high strung. Like … well … violins. (Sorry. Couldn’t resist.) The truth is, some parents are also quite annoying. But I won’t go into that here.

The above quote is from Face the Music: Getting children to practise musical instruments is tough but necessary. (I find it interesting that this article is in the women’s section of the paper. Hmmm.

I’d love to hear what other readers think of the article. The responses I read at the site disagree with the writer, suggesting parents shouldn’t force anything on their children. I understand. I won’t teach a child if he or she absolutely hates playing. But there’s another side to the coin; parents do need to be able to read their children. I sometimes told my mother I wanted to quit the oboe. She didn’t let me. Years later I asked her why, and she said she knew I was good, and I think she also knew that, despite my complaining, I really did like it. If a parent allowed a child to quit something the minute he or she hit a wall, I suspect children would be sitting around doing nothing all day.

Oh. Some do that, eh?

It’s all a balancing act, I know. It’s never easy.

26. October 2007 · Comments Off on Classical Music. In Bars. In Ha Noi. · Categories: Links

“Some young people are interested in classical music, but they don’t have enough money to buy tickets to big theatres, so they choose these bars instead.”

In Ha Noi, it’s now very easy to find a cafe or bar playing live music, especially on Nguyen Du or Thai Thinh streets. Some bars play only classical music. Young people tend to enjoy these quiet spots at the end of small roads, far from the cacophonous city swarming with crowds and tourists.

… and later …

Tran Hai, a composer from the Ha Noi Conservatory of Music, confided, “Before, I thought that orchestras performed in large theatres, playing primarily for the rich or those with musical education. (Most people are middle-aged, rarely are there young people). I thought classical music was noble and geared for those of high class. But now my opinion has changed considerably. Music simply appeared to improve life without distinguishing between poverty or wealth. Playing music in the bar, I find many young people come here and listen with intensity. I feel very happy. The young people seem accustomed to listening even to the more difficult pieces of classical music. This is a good sign!” (RTWT)

26. October 2007 · Comments Off on Speaking of Illness · Categories: Links, Ramble

My guess is the poor oboist had an “event” like my oboe student in the blog entry just prior to this one!

This information naturally delighted everyone in the audience, particularly those of us who’d noticed the original oboist flee the stage after the first few measures of Wagner’s Overture to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and had wondered what was on her mind. (RTWT)

Ya think?

I’ve never had this happen, but I have had to run out during rehearsals. Flu happens. (I foolishly ran in and out of the rehearsal until my colleagues begged me to leave; I had neglected to think about them. Nice of me, eh? But if we don’t play, there is no pay. And sometimes that income is so darn necessary!)

(Did I really skip a day of blogging yesterday? Hmmm. I don’t remember not posting, but then again, I don’t remember posting either. Go figure!)

There are certain issues with teaching oboe that other instrumentalists don’t have to deal with. At the top of the list, of course, are reeds. Only bassoonists, and our friends in the single reed world have to contend with the reed dilemma. it’s an issue some have easily resolved. I haven’t.

I play my students reeds at times to diagnose problems. (I know, I know, you are all going “EWWWW” now.) I try to avoid playing on them if I’m able, but I sometimes just have to. Sometimes it’s the only way to see if the problem is the student, the oboe, or the reed. When students purchase reeds from reed makers, my assumption is that those craftspeople play those reeds—or at least “crow” them—to see how they are working. Some say they “disinfect” the reeds before shipping them off, but I’ve been told by one microbiologist that many of our methods are pretty useless.

When I told a doctor recently that I thought a Hep B shot might be worthwhile because I teach oboe, play students reeds, and deal with a lot of college students (who, ahem, aren’t always careful about certain things) he looked at me with horror.

But what’s a oboist to do?

So many of us toot on students’ reeds. And that’s just the way it goes.

Recently, due to a family member dealing with chemo, getting sick has not been something I wanted to contend with. (Heh. Is it ever?) I have started a new practice with my students; they come in the door and immediately go wash their hands. (I’ve even thought about having some sort of hand cleaner in my studio. I still might go there eventually.) They should tell me immediately if they have a cold or feel ill. If I can avoid getting sick, I really want to. (Duh.)

But reeds? I’ve really tried to not play on them, but sometimes I just can’t figure out what else to do. And of course even if I don’t play them I touch them, carve them, stick my plaque in them … so I could be getting little bugs in all sorts of ways.

Yesterday the only student who came to a lesson (so many cancellations these days) walked in and warned me of her headache. She looked pale, but she said she thought she was just tired. So she began to play. Every time that reed went in her mouth and she began to blow I thought, “Please don’t throw up!” She just had “that look.” After a few scales, I said, “Let’s stop.” She just looked too uncomfortable. Mom came a bit later (the poor student had to wait as mom is a carpool driver and was taking other kiddos home) and took her daughter out to the car. Said daughter threw up before reaching her car. This was certainly no one’s fault; sickness happens, and sometimes it happens quickly. I’m just glad I had her stop playing when I did. And while I did touch her reed, I didn’t play on it.

I think I’ll get a flu shot this year.