Yesterday Dan and I celebrated our 33rd anniversary. We went out of town. Does this tell anyone where we went?

We did a good amount of walking, and it was great fun. We were joined by two of our children, Brandon and Jameson, and Jameson’ girlfriend, Megan. I wish Kelsey and Mel could have been with us too, but I guess I can’t have everything, eh?

04. January 2009 · 1 comment · Categories: Ramble

Due to things I’ve run into these past few years, I’ve decided that I should really write to prospective and current college students. It seems some things aren’t common knowledge and should be. I’ll start with this brief post, and perhaps add to it later.

Advisors aren’t gods

I know that high school students often rely on advisors. Please, students, don’t assume your advisor knows everything. Many know very little about what it takes to major in music, and many haven’t a clue about oboe. Some think playing oboe is a guaranteed way to get into any university. It’s not. Some suggest music degrees they know nothing about, simply thinking that it’s a major that is less common, therefore the student will get in. Ain’t necessarily so. Please verify anything your advisor tells you about deadlines and application requirements. Don’t take the advisor’s word for it; they advise an awful lot of students, and they make mistakes.

Visit the music department website

First, check for scholarships! It can’t hurt to try, eh? Not all schools require that that scholarship applicants major in music, so check on that too. Get the deadlines in your brain and don’t send things in late. Don’t make apologies for your CD. If the recording is poorly done I really don’t want to be told … believe me, I’ll know. If you made mistakes don’t point them out and don’t make excuses. Before you make that recording please study the music and if you don’t have an accompanist at least know how the accompaniment goes. (I’m puzzled by students who have never listened to the works they work on. Ever. I understand not wanting to listen constantly, but not at all? Hmmm.) Play the correct tempi. Play the correct style. And do check your pitch. (I’m weary of sharp sharp sharp!)

Contact the private instructor

If you are thinking of majoring in music with an emphasis on a particular instrument (or voice), contact the appropriate instructor(s) at the university, college or conservatory. Some won’t respond (which tells you something right there, eh?) but many will. Don’t start your email with “Hey”. I know that’s how most of you write, but you don’t know who the heck you are “heying” and it might be seen as rude. Do you want your first encounter with someone to come across as rude? I doubt it. If the instructor responds, reply with a thank you. Don’t just disappear. If the teacher offers you a sample lesson and you take the instructor up on that, follow up with a thank you note. I highly recommend a sample lesson, even if you have to pay for it (I do them for free, as do many). Someone might be a great player but a poor teacher. Sometimes you just don’t click with a teacher.

If you aren’t planning on majoring in music you need to ask the instructor if you will be able to take lessons, and how long those lessons will be. (Some schools only allow 30 minute lessons for non-majors. Some allow no lessons at all.)

Visit some classes, hear some ensembles, do some “homework”

Really. It’s a great idea to get a feel for the schools you are interested in. It’s a very good idea to hear some ensembles and talk to current students. Find out if you have to be a music major in order to play in the ensembles.

Oh … and a word of advice to parents: let your child do the communicating. I’m guessing other instructors feel the way I do. Once a student is preparing for college he or she should be doing the correspondence, rather than mom or dad. Really.

Okay. Enough for now. I’ll put this and more up permanently at the site at some point. And I’ll be posting some about mistakes I’ve witnessed once students get into a school as well. One of the most frustrating for me is the lack of correspondence; when an instructor emails you, students should respond. Sometimes I think I’m writing to the walls, as I only get silence in reply. Funny thing is that when a student needs my attention it’s expected that I get back to her or him immediately. Go figure.

04. January 2009 · Comments Off on It Probably Wouldn’t Work · Categories: Links, Oboe

This is from a short story called “Death By Oboe” I read online (warning, a cat killing is about to take place; if you are opposed to this sort of writing, please don’t read this):

Chantal’s hands began to shake and her breathing grew heavy. She lifted her oboe above her head and, letting out a shriek of anger, brought the instrument down on the cat’s skull. It yowled. Chantal relentlessly proceeded and once again smacked the cat directly on the head. The tortured cat emitted sounds that were rivaled by Chantal’s own hysterical hissing calls. She felt at one with her oboe as she exacted the duck’s revenge, a connection that Prokofiev’s theme never managed to elicit prior to this moment. She continued beating the animal long after it was necessary. Then she picked the shoebox off the ground, ripped the velvet lining out, holding it in her hands as hot tears fell into the fabric. She looked down at her newly avenged rabbit next to its killer. Her oboe was dented in places, but the reality of the bashed-in skull of the cat far exceeded the damage manifested in her weapon.

In that moment of all-encompassing felinicidal frenzy, she placed the reed of her oboe in her mouth. Sounding the final lines of Prokofiev’s oboe theme, she marched like Peter through the forest, the wolf successfully captured, back to her house.

The music continued, drifting through various windows inside the Alberghetti house. After a few notes, the squawking oboe sounds were interrupted briefly by sounds of porcelain figurines clattering to the floor. Then the music resumed.

So the girl kills a cat with her oboe. She then sticks a reed in the oboe and plays it?

Yeah. Right.

I realize this is just a story, but still ….


04. January 2009 · Comments Off on Read Online · Categories: Read Online

If The Oboist Goes Nuts Or Doesn’t Show Up For A Performance?
Or the oboist sneezes and splits his only reed and can’t provide the standard A440?

What other instrument would normally be used as a back-up for the orchestra to tune itself to?

Hmmm … several things to say about this one:
1) Oboists are already nuts. We can still give the A. Really.
2) If the oboist doesn’t show up the oboist should be fired except in a dire emergency. Like death.
3) An oboist simply can’t have only one working reed.
4) IF there is no oboist in the work (yeah, it happens) then sometimes the concertmaster gives an A. Sometimes the clarinet. Sometimes a piano. Depends. But nothing beats the oboe A. 😉