Remember when I wrote about my issues with my eyes? Well, I am writing this publicly so the next time I have issues focusing someone who reads this will remind me of what the issue is really about:

It’s “eargraine” time!


Yeah, a few days of out of focus eyes means that eventually I’ll get an ear migraine. It arrived in its special wonderfully strong way this morning. Included in this little issue of mine is a painful outer ear (to the point where I can barely touch it) and incredibly loud night pitch screeching. I have to wait it out and while it hurts I know it’ll eventually go away. I just hope that it goes away before the next opera performance. It’s difficult to teach, but performing is even more difficult.

Meanwhile, I’m coping and I’m learning a new instrument!

Yep. I get to play a new instrument at our first Symphony Silicon Valley concert.

What is it, you ask? (You DID ask, didn’t you?)

Bass oboe!

Holst’s The Planets uses three oboes and English horn, and the third oboe part also includes bass oboe. What a section! Symphony rented it from Forrests, and I picked it up from the office yesterday. The fingerings are the same as oboe, and it sounds an octave lower. Thankful it’s written in treble clef so I don’t have to relearn bass clef. (I can play bass clef if I’m sitting at the piano, but otherwise my brain doesn’t really like to read it. At all.)

I’ll see if I can get someone to record me at some point so you can see and hear it. Meanwhile, here’s a photo for comparison:

Doesn’t the oboe look tiny?


  1. Yes, Patty… I would love to hear you play it. Recently, an oboist asked me to write a piece for English horn and Bass oboe so I would love to hear what you’ve discovered on this instrument. For example, I’d like to know if you find the higher notes (above high D) challenging.

  2. At the IDRS Conference this year I played the LupoPhone, a modern replacement for the bass oboe and Hecklephone. (Made by the Gutrand Wolf Instrument Company, of course…)

    It fingers like an oboe with the same keywork setup, has a BIG sound, is easy to control and, for my money, is the instrument of choice for that ecological niche.

    Google it for several interesting references.

  3. We had to get this pronto, Bob, so the bass oboe was rented and here it is. I’ll just have to deal. I’d love to try the LupoPhone sometime, though!

  4. The duck seems quite bemused by the whole thing. 😉