18. December 2022 · Comments Off on Covid Times · Categories: CovidTimes

Maybe at some point we’ll look back at YouTube videos and identify when they were created by masks or no masks, and distance between musicians. In this case I’m assuming they were at a point when things seemed safer, but not quite safe enough to be near each other. (Where I work anyone who can be masked is still to be masked, and those of us who can’t are frequently tested. Until that changes I have learned that I have to be quite diligent about safety.)

VOCES8: ‘Sanctus’ from Fauré’s Requiem

13. July 2022 · Comments Off on Sweet Video · Categories: CovidTimes, Watch

This lovely video, featuring the tubist Chuck Daellenbach of the fabulous Canadian Brass, is a bit of a fantasy: no, he wouldn’t have checked his tuba (case-less!) and picked it up off the carousel. And no, I’m sure he doesn’t usually put it on an escalator either. But it’s a sweet video.

But it sort of made me teary, too. Because we are back to bad numbers. We are being told, yet again, to mask indoors, yet so many are refusing. Because of this I’m back to staying home from things I wish I could attend … and I had just started back up at my church: but there is no masking required and most people don’t mask. So home I stay. I’m sad.

I have a job in two weeks that is outdoors at a winery, so that should be fine, but we have a 3 hour wait between rehearsal and concert and they are putting us in a little “cottage” at the winery. Me? I’ll most likely end up in my car. They have no vaccination or testing requirements so I’m leery of being in a small room with people I don’t know.

And so it goes … on and on … and on.

I just miss the Before Times so very much.

08. January 2022 · Comments Off on Yes, I’m still on Zoom for Lessons · Categories: CovidTimes, Teaching

Knowing that some are looking for in-person lessons, I thought I’d let you all know that Zoom continues here for the time being. Believe me, I will have a huge announcement posted when I start to accept students into my house again! (I can’t wait … yet I must.)

One student said his school is closed at the moment: too many teachers have Covid.
Another student says his classrooms are about half full: too many students are ill.
I had a student whose entire family was ill with Covid (this was a while back and they are fine now, thankfully).

If you attend concerts anywhere near us you will find many of them have been canceled “out of an abundance of caution” (I will be so happy not to read that phrase again, sometime in my life!). My concerts, so far, are going to happen toward the end of this month (symphony) and next month (opera). I will be taking a bit of a risk (although all of us must be tested and vaccinated) which means that in person lessons could potentially put my students at risk as well. In addition, students attending school in person put themselves and me at risk.

So I will continue to teach on Zoom, much as I prefer to see my students in my studio. Everything I’ve read suggests we don’t go into my small studio room, sharing air for 45 minutes. The one advantage of teaching via Zoom is I can teach students who don’t even live near me, so if you are reading this and want to schedule lessons, please just send me a note and we can work something out!

I want students and their families to stay healthy, and I want to keep my husband and myself healthy as well!

But oh how I miss seeing my students in person.

Well, for me it’s been since my last opera on March 1, 2020. How ’bout you? I haven’t played with any colleagues since then. I’ve played with a few students, but even that has been rare, and we are now back to Zoom only, so no more of that for now. If things go as planned I’ll be back to work next week. Will it really happen? I do wonder, due to the Delta variant.

Meanwhile, I listen to a ton of music. Some of my friends said they haven’t been able to — that it makes them cry. I don’t react that way. Music still feeds my soul!

Maybe because people like this are just so darn good … and what a fabulous work!

Akropolis: Paradise Valley by Jeff Scott

From the YouTube Page:

0:00 I. Ghosts of Black Bottom
8:34 II. Hastings Street Blues
15:53 III. Roho, Pumzika kwa Amani (Spirits, Rest Peacefully)
20:24 IV. Paradise Theater Jump!

Homage to Paradise Valley by Jeff Scott can be heard alongside the original poetry of Detroiter Marsha Music on Akropolis’ 4th album, Ghost Light, here: https://akropolisquintet.org/ghostlight/

Homage to Paradise Valley was commissioned by Akropolis and Chamber Music America, made possible by the Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Program, with generous funding provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (2019).

About Homage to Paradise Valley by Jeff Scott:
The historical content of these notes by the composer is provided courtesy of the Detroit Historical Society (detroithistorical.org) where one can find a wealth of information on Paradise Valley and Black Bottom. Poetry by Marsha Music—a lifelong resident of Detroit whose father, Joe Von Battle, was a record producer for Aretha Franklin and owned Joe’s Records, central to the Black Bottom community—was commissioned by Akropolis in 2020 to create poetry to accompany Jeff’s music.

Black Bottom was a predominantly Black neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan. In the early 20th century, African-American residents became concentrated here during the first wave of the Great Migration to northern industrial cities. Informal segregation operated in the city kept them in this area of older, less expensive housing. Black Bottom/Paradise Valley became known for its African-American residents’ significant contributions to American music, including Blues, Big Band, and Jazz, from the 1930s to 1950s. Black Bottom was eventually razed and redeveloped for various urban renewal projects, driving the residents out. By the 1960s the neighborhood ceased to exist.

Hastings Street ran north-south through Black Bottom and had been a center of Eastern European Jewish settlement before World War I, but by the 1950s, migration transformed the strip into one of Detroit’s major African-American communities of black-owned businesses, social institutions, and nightclubs.

From the Bantu language of Swahili, “Roho, Pumzika kwa Amani” (Spirits, Rest Peacefully) is a lullaby, my humble offering to the many souls who came before me and persevered through the middle passage, decades of slavery, disenfranchising laws, and inequality. I am who I am because of those who stood before me. May their spirits rest peacefully.

Orchestra Hall closed in 1939, but reopened in 1941 as the Paradise Theater. For 10 years it would then offer the best of African-American musicians from around the country. “Paradise Theater Jump!” is dedicated to the famed theater and harkens to the up-tempo style of “jump blues,” usually played by small groups and featuring saxophone or brass instruments.

This video was filmed in 2019 at Central Michigan University. The exclusive Web Premiere of this video was given during the summer of 2020 at Akropolis’ Club Paradise Virtual Soirée, which honored these neighborhoods and their cultural legacy. Read more here

03. August 2021 · 8 comments · Categories: CovidTimes, Oboe · Tags: , ,

Okay, okay, I thought I wasn’t going to post in August, but I did a little thing with a mask I ordered. It isn’t pleasant. It makes me want to cry, honestly. But if I have to use one, at least I own one now.

09. February 2021 · Comments Off on Teaching · Categories: CovidTimes, Teaching

I went completely to Zoom teaching on March 13, 2020, with a few students starting online lessons even before that. It was a rocky start, just as it was for all other music instructors who had yet to move to online teaching. I had actually done a few FaceTime lessons in the past, because I had a couple of students who went to boarding school, but it was so infrequent and we just ignored the sound issues. But moving to ALL online lessons issues (sound, frozen screens, glitches in time) became rather painful. At this point we’ve learned how to make things work, and I do believe Zoom has improved much at their end as well.

Sound is so much better. Most of us use headphones of some sort (I have only a few students who continue to resist that for some reason). I have to remind some to turn “original sound” back on, but most now remember that prior to the start of their lessons. Lighting can sometimes be an issue (back lighting is a no-no!), and I frequently have to ask students to move their devices in a way that allows me to see their heads AND then hands. (Again, a few STILL resist doing that and I can’t see the right hand at all … why they fight this is beyond me!)

BUT … here’s what I really wanted to write about … I’m so very grateful to the students who have stuck with me. I lost three, but everyone else has stayed, and I even gained two new students. This has been good for my heart, and of course good for my finances. While colleagues have gone on unemployment I’ve avoided that.

It’s also caused me to teach differently and to see and hear things in a new way. I think my teaching has improved because of it, believe it or not.

We are all living in difficult times, but when I think of the kids my heart hurts for them. I try, because of that, to keep things a bit lighter. I know I’m considered strict by many (a former adult student told a colleague “She’s good, but she’s very strict!” Not something that bothered me since I AM strict!), but for now I’m relaxing a bit. These students need to learn, and they need to work, but I also need to cut them some slack. So I do.

I have no clue when I will have students in my house again. I will only accept Covid-vaccinated students. I will only teach live and in person when I have also been vaccinated. Things are moving along, and some are now getting those vaccinations, but I’m not in an age group that is allowed the vaccine yet, so I am somewhat patiently waiting. I do wonder how it will feel to have someone other than Dan in this house with me. It’s been close to a year now with just the two of us.

08. February 2021 · Comments Off on And Finally … · Categories: Can't Stop the Music!, CovidTimes

Yes, one more (But where is “video #1”?!):

Scot Hostetler on all instruments

Quarantine video #2
May 2020
Trio for Oboe, Horn, and Piano by Carl Reinecke (first movement)
This is just an experiment to see what the piece would sound like with English horn instead of French horn.

Just WOW …

Scot Hostetler on all instruments

Quarantine video #3
June 2020
Brahms Chorale Prelude #5 “Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele” op 122
Originally for organ, I play this on the oboe d’amore, English horn, and bassoon. I love this piece especially for the gorgeous last bar.

08. February 2021 · Comments Off on For Your Listening Enjoyment · Categories: Can't Stop the Music!, CovidTimes, English horn

My friend and colleague, Pam Hakl, brought this to my attention. It’s wonderful!

From the YouTube page:
Quarantine video #4
Feb 2021
Just discovered this piece (“A Summer’s Tale” by Josef Suk) thanks to a recent Berlin Philharmonic broadcast! One of the biggest orchestral English horn parts, and it’s for TWO English horns! This is the complete third movement, subtitled “Blind Musicians”
Scott Hostetler

I was quite moved by this: these doctors, working on the front lines of this pandemic, making music … and sending us messages along the way. I hope you enjoy it as well. They KNOW. They’ve SEEN. They continue to work hard and fight this awful virus. They risk their lives to save others. I am grateful.

I must thank oboist Andrea Plesnarski for bringing this to my attention!