12. December 2007 · Comments Off on NUTS · Categories: Ramble

It’s that time again!

Nutcracker has begun. We had our first rehearsal last night. First rehearsals are always not-so-pleasant, as we have to rehearse in a pretty crummy room at the hall. Ah well. It has begun. This means that it truly is December, right? No avoiding it now! Guess the fact that I’ve barely shopped is not a good thing. (But I am trying to simplify and I think I’m going to be a better girl about money this year … probably to some people’s dismay!).

Because our principal player was not feeling well I subbed in as principal oboe and someone else got the joy of the “two stands, two books, two instruments” that I usually deal with. (More on that below!) I love playing a different book … and I also love not lugging so much stuff around. No English horn means a lot lighter load! Alas, tonight is back to normal.

I can be quite cynical, I know, about this ballet. But I’m really working on seeing and hearing “the music in the music”, if you know what I mean. After playing it for thirty+ years one can get rather jaded. I want to try to remember what it was like that first time I played it. I want to keep in mind that we are making memories for a whole lot of people. I want to enjoy the children peering over the pit wall, and the parents saying, “Look! There’s an oboe!” (Of course they are often pointing to a bassoon … but whatever!)

I do remember my first production quite well. George Cleve conducted. It was at Flint Center (at De Anza College). I had practiced and practiced. Everyone else there had played it before, but this was my first time, and I was playing a combined second oboe/English horn book. (NOTHING like what I do now … more on that below!) I was very well prepared. George was quite complimentary. Until I got to the snowflake scene I continued to play quite well. When we got to that I just ignored a key change at the end. Go figure. Fortunately it was only a rehearsal and I never made that mistake again! But I was so new to that music, and I hadn’t studied the music while listening to the work, so I wasn’t even aware of how wrong I was. I look back on that and realize how very green this young player (I was probably nineteen at the time, maybe twenty) was. I loved the music. But I recall that I was unhappy with nearly every performance. I had yet to learn that it wasn’t all about me, and that most of what I played wasn’t heard all that well, so even if I had one tiny bobble on a note I was nearly in tears. No. Not true. I WAS in tears! Yes. Really. I cried a lot back then. I remember crying as I was going to my car. I wasn’t perfect, doggone it. And I was supposed to be. Ah, how silly I was back then!

Anyway, back to the present. Tonight I’m back to the double book thing. I do have a doubling book written out (by hand, done by yours truly) that was put together for a straight Nutcracker, but the one we do hear in San Jose is snipped and rearranged and even has extra music put in. (We play the Polonaise from Eugene Onegin as well as a portion of Capriccio Italien in this Nut.) Due to all the snipping and adding I can’t use my handwritten book (which is used in at least one other place these days … nice that my work did get used elsewhere after all those hours of work!). So I have two books, and I have to play off of two stands, with my two instruments, and it’s really crazy making. Or at least it was. I’m used to it by now. My books are clearly marked. Colored arrows take me from one book to the other; a blue arrow (those sticky arrow things you buy at an office supply store) in the oboe book pointing to the EH book will match the blue arrow in the EH book pointing to where to play. It’s all very insane for a newbie, and there are a couple of extremely fast changes, but I think it’s as clear as one can make it without taking the time to put one “cut and paste” book together.

But do I earn anything extra for the grief? Nope. Believe it or not, I actually would make extra if I weren’t already doubling. There are players who are playing two parts (for some reason all their books have been combined so they work off of one stand!) on only one instrument and they receive doubling pay for that. But because I am already doubling, I get nary a penny. Go figure. Even a dollar a show would make me feel as if they value this wacky thing I do.

Or maybe not. I guess a dollar a show might be a bit insulting. Hmmm. Not sure! Thinking … thinking …

And yes I know, it shouldn’t be all about the money. And I should just be glad I get to play music. And yeah, I do love this life I lead, crazy as it sometimes is! But I guess I just want to get some respect. Or admiration. Or I dunno. Maybe just free reeds. Or chocolate.

Still, this does give me something to whine about during the month of December. It’s a “guaranteed whine” month. As a musician I suppose I should see that as a blessing. Right? 😉


(For my somewhat cyncial (hah!) poem, go here. Maybe I’ll post it at this site later. I usually do. But maybe I should first write a less unhappy poem to balance things out. We’ll see.)

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