24. February 2010 · Comments Off on Advantages/Disadvantages · Categories: Ballet, Ramble
  • I love my job
  • My job sometimes interferes with family life
  • I love Prokofiev!
  • Rehearsal conflicted with a birthday party
  • Romeo & Juliet!
  • A bagel for dinner while the birthday party people were having Thai food
  • I got home sort of late
  • It was a lot earlier than after Figaro … AND leftover Thai food was waiting!

That’s my life. And of course there are more advantages and disadvantages. Just like any job, yes? But the thing is, I adore my job, I get to play incredible music with my friends (who are wonderful musicians). I feel as if I’ve really accomplished something after rehearsals, and I feel as if I have enriched listeners’ lives after concerts (and of course I continue to feel as if I accomplished something!).

Meanwhile … the first rehearsal for Romeo and Juliet is over and out. When I got to the (not very well lit) rehearsal hall at the Center for the Performing Arts I realized I had forgotten my music reading glasses. Sigh. So the stand had to be as low as possible. I was also reminded (the minute we all started to play) that the rehearsal hall is just a crummy place to play, and there’s no way I can have any idea how my reeds will work once we get into the pit, so that will have to wait until Friday’s dress.

Whine whine whine.

BUT … this is Prokofiev, folks! This is great music!

24. February 2010 · Comments Off on R&J … More · Categories: Ballet, Videos

“In 1986, I choreographed ‘Romeo and Juliet’ for company ballerina Karen Gabay in the title role of Juliet,” said Dennis Nahat, the artistic director and choreographer for Ballet San Jose, who also plays the role of Friar Laurence.

Gabay will appear once again in the title role with principal dancer Maykel Solas, who made his company debut as Romeo in the Ballet San Jose 2006 production.

“When it was originally choreographed on me, I was in my 20s.” Gabay said. “Now I’m in my ’40s.’ You take on a different perspective and approach, emotionally.”

Karen Gabay might be in her 40s, but she still looks like she’s in her 20s, and when she dances she can appear even younger. I’m looking forward to seeing her dance this again! If I’m seated where I usually am, I’ll have a great view!


Here you can see Karen Gabay dance, including a snippet from R&J:

I love the “nobody bothered me” line … I’m a rather extreme introvert (contrary to what some folks think; just because I bare it all here online, and can play oboe & English horn and oboe in front of a crowd of people doesn’t mean I’m an extrovert. Trust me!). Playing an instrument works so well for me. I just do my job. And I LOVE my job. I sit with a crowd of people, but we are mostly playing music together. And if I choose to isolate myself during breaks (I frequently do that), no one seems to be annoyed by it.

Anyway, check out the video. And do check out Ballet San Jose’s Romeo and Juliet. (Karen is dancing the first and final performances.)

24. February 2010 · Comments Off on Another Question · Categories: Ramble, Read Online

I have been playing oboe for over six years now. I’ve gotten pretty good, and have been through every reed texture. Until I know how to make my own reeds, I buy them from music stores. I played on hard reeds for a long time but recently switched back to medium. However, my dad bought three hard reeds on the internet a couple weeks ago, so I decided to break them in early so they would be ready when my current reed wore out. So two weeks ago I pulled out a hard reed and began to try to break it in. I have been trying for these past two weeks, yet the reed is still not playable! It used to only take me a few days to break in hard reeds… I’ve tried playing on it, soaking it in my mouth, soaking it under a faucet, and I even soaked it in a bit of water overnight! This reed is extremely stubborn! Someone suggested to me I soak it in vinegar. Will this work? And will I be able to get the vinegar taste off of it if I do? What other ways can I can break this reed in before my current one wears out in about two weeks? And do you have any idea why it’s taking so long?

Never in my life have I heard anything about soaking reeds in vinegar! And I’m not at all sure what the write means about having “been through every reed texture”.

If a reed is incredibly hard, playing on it probably isn’t going to make it easier. Some reeds, in fact, stiffen up a bit after being played on for a bit. It needs to have some cane taken off of it. I’m going to guess the tip is far too thick, and most likely the back as well.

My answer (which I didn’t write there, as I assume others can take care of that: this player needs a teacher. I don’t make my students’ reeds (I have enough trouble getting enough for myself), but I’m happy to adjust students’ reeds. All teachers should be happy to do that.

And all student oboists need an oboe teacher in any case. Honestly!

24. February 2010 · Comments Off on TQOD · Categories: TQOD

took my oboe home for the 1st time this year!!! ..you see jesse, this is how much i practice

(Nope, not a student of mine. Whew!)

24. February 2010 · Comments Off on BQOD · Categories: BQOD

Sad story. I was observing a rehearsal on the campus of unnamed university I never attended. The director was taking his group through a piece. I didn’t really care for his style, but he was getting the job done. Musical things were tossed about. Rehearse. Stop. Rehearse. Stop. Section leaders being jerks towards the members of their sections. Typical behavior for a group that thinks it’s better than it is and standard operating procedure for members who know they are being watched. Things were going along OK until…the English horn solo. The guy on the podium had no idea what to do to fix the issues this horn player was having. ABSOLUTELY NO CLUE. I knew. Roll in. Add the right pinky on the ‘c’ key. Check the reed for balance – the reed needed work anyway. If the director had checked the horn, he would have found an issue with the left hand action. NO CLUE. He drilled this poor kid for 5 minutes. No improvement. His solution. Take it to your studio teacher. NICE JOB, JERK. But, alas, he was the jerk with the special paper that said he spent more time talking about making music from behind a desk than me. I was actually more determined to get that college job more than ever after that experience, but alas, the special titles are for the people with the special paper, jumping from position to position, padding their resumes, making contacts. Here’s the sad part. I was accompanying a gentleman on this visit and he was totally pumped after seeing this rehearsal. “That’s the way I want my rehearsals to go. Boom. Boom. Boom. No BS. Just get to it. Have your s— ready and put up or shut up.” Blah, blah, blah. Inside I replied, “Dude, the guy didn’t do anything a trained chimp couldn’t do. He didn’t have clue on how to fix half of the issues in that rehearsal. The only thing keeping him out of trouble was the talent level of the musicians in the band and the quality of the studio teachers at the school.” Unfortunately, my colleague was lost on this reality. Alas, indeed.

C’mon now … does this blogger really think every conductor should know each and every orchestral instrument and it’s foibles, fingerings and other features? As a university instructor (of oboe, duh) I have certainly never expected that. If I coach students and some are playing instruments other than my own I would suggest the students see their teachers as well. (And I don’t have that marvy little piece of paper that gives me a higher position at the university either … no need to make my lack of interest in obtaining that a sore spot. It was, after all, my decision not to get it!)

Ah, some people. It’s so easy to judge others when you aren’t in their position.

Um. Sort of like I just did. Eek!

I love the picture on the front page here. How lovely is that? Reeds, to me anyway, can be so darn beautiful. Even while they do cause us such grief.

Definition: Reed Rage. An affliction commonly found in double reed players, especially bassoonists. Less serious than Reed Neurosis suffered by oboe players. It involves leaping up and down on reeds that don’t work or stabbing them into music stands.

I found Reed Rage via Jonathan Burton’s blog, and I’m so glad I did. (At Mr. Burton’s page scroll down to find an audio clip!)

But now I want to start an oboe group called Reed Neurosis. I really really really want to. If only I could other oboists as wacky as I, and as willing to just get together to have fun and whine about reeds. (And yes, have neurotic episodes now and again.)

… my love affair with Prokofiev, that is. We have our orchestra only rehearsal (or at least I believe that to be the case) today, and meet with dancers starting tomorrow.

So for now here’s the orchestra only (NO, not us, of course). My guess is our tempi will be just wee bit slower, but time will tell.

I’ll see if I can’t find some decent ballet clips to put up. The ones I’ve seen so far either have bad sound or bad picture. Or both.