11. July 2009 · 1 comment · Categories: pattyRant

I know kids love tours. I know they are good for morale and all that jazz. Sometimes they are even good musically.

But sometimes I wonder about them.

I know, too, that teachers who take their students on tour are often doing so and getting perks. I wonder how many parents know that a teacher may get a free vacation later on, due to getting students to pay what is often a lot of money for a tour. Surely teachers are underpaid, and I suppose this might be the only way they get a vacation, but it still does bother me a bit. (Maybe I’m jealous; I don’t get to go to Europe as so many band directors seem to get to do these days!)

When bands and choirs go on a tour that includes those contests where they compete against other groups, it’s all somewhat silly. You are competing with whatever groups are managing to go on the same dates as your school. You may be pitted against a very weak music program. Winning gold can often be quite meaningless.

I chaperoned a tour years ago, and the main point of it all was to get to Disneyland. At that time, I, as a chaperone, didn’t pay a penny. Then the band director suggested all chaperones and teachers join her for an expensive dinner. When it came time to pay she smiled and said, “We have extra money! I’m paying for this.” Hmmm. Ethical? Were the children — or their parents, really — paying for our dinner? The drama teacher and a math instructor who came along as chaperones shared a room, telling all the kids they were brother and sister. A year later they were married. I’m guessing they weren’t brother and sister after all. Ya think?

Another tour (not a music tour, but a school tour from another department) had the teacher bringing a partner and another person (never quite figured out their particular living situation but a threesome was somewhat troubling) along with his chosen friends as chaperones. We parents were told we tended to get in the way and he preferred that we didn’t come along. But then I realized after the fact that we were told a lot of “incorrect” information. (Some might call them lies.) And money? The price continued to rise, and the teacher was the only one managing the money. Quite questionable.

So I can’t really say I’m in favor of tours these days. And I’m glad my kids are older and I don’t have to wonder what’s going on when kids go on these things. I hope parents are more careful than I was about tours; I’m just so wimpy I kept my mouth shut and never said a word.

I need reeds. I need to work on reeds. I need to hunker down and deal. I need to face the truth of my laziness and then stop behaving that way.

But currently I just want to whine about them.

Think about it. How many other instrumentalists have to constantly worry about these stupid pieces of wood? How many have to build a new mouthpiece all the time. How many have to deal with what weather — humidity, temperature, you know how it goes — does to these stupid things? How many have to deal with plant life, for Pete’s sake?!

What a ridiculous thing a double reed instrument is.

Okay. Done.

(Can you tell I have some stuff coming up and have to get my act together?!)

06. October 2008 · Comments Off on As A Musician … · Categories: Links, pattyRant

As a musician — as an artist — probably the most important thing is surprising people.

-student from the UC Davis marching band (heard on the evening news)

Read more about the issue here.

The marching band (and I would think they’d have something up at their site at least defending what appears to be horrendous behavior) site is here.

If all that is reported is true I just hope I never see any of them in my places of work. I really don’t want to work with people who think that is acceptable behavior.

Okay, okay, I really don’t believe it is … honest! But c’mon … I’m so weary of hearing what we have to change. I recently read one blog where the blogger has determined it’s all about how we dress and our hairstyles. Yes, indeed, younger people will attend if only we look better.


I hate white tie and tails. Really. I think it’s silly to dress in a costume like that, and I will cheer on an orchestra that finds something more appropriate for the 21st century. But do I think at 25 year old isn’t attending symphony concerts because he or she hates what we wear? Nope.

But NOW there’s this, which just made me laugh: it’s the darn name this time. Sinfonietta is too hard to pronounce. Wouldn’t ya know?

After 13 years, the Lancashire Sinfonietta, supported by Lancashire County Council, believes its name may not accurately reflect “who” they really are and could be reinforcing misconceptions among some people that classical music is elitist.

The Lancashire Sinfonietta is a unique professional chamber orchestra comprising over 80 ‘home-grown musicians’. It is the county’s only professional orchestra which includes members of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and the Hallé, and has built up an excellent reputation among concert goers, albeit with a tongue-twisting title.

Richard Hooper, Executive Chair of the Lancashire Sinfonietta, explained:

“We are looking to revitalise our brand to reflect the next chapter of the Sinfonietta’s evolution. We recently hosted a committee discussion to start looking at how we develop and promote both the Sinfonietta and classical music more widely, both locally and nationally, across age groups. Then someone round the table ( a long-time Sinfonietta supporter ) stuttered as he said the word Sinfonietta and got the vowels the wrong way round… we looked at each other and said “maybe we should stop talking about logos and go back to the name itself.”

Whew! Easy to change “sinfonietta” to something else, don’tcha think? Although maybe “Lancashire” is another stumbling block. So maybe they should move to a new location too.

I read it here.

30. August 2007 · Comments Off on Sigh … and Grumble · Categories: pattyRant

After yesterday I was hoping today would be a great deal clearer when it came to our parts. I always carry sticky notes with me to rehearsals and concerts; they are great to quickly attach to pages with problems. Yesterday, when we had completed the OSJ rehearsal of Lucia di Lammermoor there were a number of sticky notes, pointing out where I needed clarification about articulation.

Today my part was put on the stand somewhat close to rehearsal time. “Great,” I thought, “it’s been fixed!”

But not all of it.

I guess whoever was marking the part thought by simply writing “yes” on the sticky notes I would know what to slur. And at one point, where I have a whole note A repeated measure after measure he wrote, “Tie”.

Sure. Okay. But for how long? Do I articulate at all? And where do the slurs begin and end (as I clearly asked on the front of the book)?

As for everyone else’s books? It appeared they hadn’t even been touched. I guess mine only got attention because of all my obnoxious sticky notes.

Sometimes I get pretty darn angry. But of course I hold it in for the most part. And I never name names.

But … to whoever decided to half-mark my part … what would you like? Shall I give the music half the effort as you did? 🙁

Okay. Rant over.

For now.