13. November 2015 · Comments Off on Aspiring (and not so aspiring) Musicians: READ THIS · Categories: Read!

If you are a studying music, this is a must read.

The Straight Dope – An Essay by Steve Trapani – Google Docs

Here’s a snippet:

The Straight Dope, by Steve Trapani

What follows are some thoughts for my students or any other young person thinking about becoming a professional musician which they will probably ignore – but they shouldn’t.

It’s a hard life and a difficult way to make a living. This was something I heard people say, but it didn’t really sink in. “Fine”, I thought, “it’s hard. So what? I’m a hard worker and I’m talented. It’ll be different for me.” This began a long period of bargaining with myself, I suppose, up until this day. A series of justifications and denials, without which, it just wouldn’t have been possible to move forward. I think if you know what actually lies ahead of you as an artist, that you would simply not be able to go on.

Let’s cut to the chase and say that, at least in some measurable ways, I have succeeded. I have been working professionally for 25 years and have been making my living exclusively as a musician for the last 12 years. I have worked with conductors such as Zubin Mehta, Ricardo Muti, Charles Dutoit and Gustavo Dudamel. I’ve played with orchestras including, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, the Seattle Symphony, the San Francisco Ballet and Opera, and New York City Opera National Company. I can be heard on recordings with the LA Philharmonic, as well as several movie and TV soundtracks including Godzilla, Pacific Rim, The Simpsons, and Family Guy. I can play.

22. May 2013 · Comments Off on How the Oboist’s Art is Like a Bad Marriage · Categories: Listen, Read!

Although many musicians won’t admit it, there are conversations that go on between an instrumentalist and their instrument. Making all that beautiful music together requires the cooperation of both parties and there is always a subtle negotiation that goes on between them. For some instruments, these conversations are fairly straight-forward. For example, violinists have conversations that go like this:

VIOLINIST: I’d like to practice my orchestral part.
VIOLIN: Sounds good. Which page should we start on?
VIOLIN: Ready whenever you are, pal.

There are also instruments whose capabilities are so great that they start making suggestions:

PIANIST: I’d like to practice some Chopin.
PIANO: Wonderful! Etude or Nocturne?
PIANIST: Nocturne.
PIANO: You know, we could also play Liszt or Brahms or Bach or Mozart or Tchaikovsky.
PIANIST: Let’s stick with Chopin
PIANO: Right, Chopin it is. Good call. How about some Schumann later?

And then there are those instruments that are just plain difficult. Before I moved to New York, I was a professional oboist. In many ways, an oboe player and their oboe are like a bad marriage. You put on a good face at parties and always appear to be in love when in public, but behind the scenes there is constant bickering and non-stop drama.

AARON: Shall we practice?
OBOE: Sorry, not now.
AARON: What? Why not?
OBOE: I don’t feel like it. Besides, it’s raining.

and listen …

Many thanks to Pam Hakl for this link, as well as the Cleveland at the Bar link. 🙂

It’s not only about cello. Really. I just read some mighty fine stuff at Stark Raving Cello and I encourage you to do the same. Every thing she writes is true and I think I should require all my students who are thinking of music as a profession to read each entry. Honest!

On the First Day of Cellomas we are shown that this isn’t the Survivor set.

On the Second Day of Cellomas we are taught not to ignore pain. Ever.

On the Third Day of Cellomas we are instructed never to leave our instruments in our cars. Never.

On the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth days of Cellomas we are told … BEHAVE!

On the ninth day of Cellomas we are taught about negative voices and perseverance.

And now I must wish Emily quick healing for her ulner surgery. Repair, my friend!

08. March 2009 · 2 comments · Categories: Links, Read!

Soon there will be no recording labels in existence. What are we holding out for then? No one is making any money in classical recording any more, except for members of a few orchestras with very deep pockets (and believe me, those orchestras are throwing money down the drain simply for the prestige value of recording for Deutsche Grammophone or other soon-to-be dead labels). Using recorded music as a marketing tool is the future, using it as a source of direct revenue is the past.

I read that, and much more, here. I suppose some of my colleagues will be annoyed with me, but I do think it’s time for us to get with the era we live in. It seems to me that we could rethink the recording rules we have.

Heck, as I’ve mentioned before, I can’t even get a recording of myself because of our strict rules!

11. February 2009 · Comments Off on One Solution? · Categories: Links, Opera, Read!

So is there anything that these small companies can do other than throw in the towel, close the doors and blame everyone and their cousin for the failure? Of course. These companies, it seems to me, have one chance for survival and one chance only: Announce that for the 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 seasons at the very least they will perform “concert opera” only. No sets, no production. The money will be spent on the singers and on the orchestra. And the repertoire will not mirror that of places like The Met or La Scala. We might actually get to hear operas that have not been performed in decades or, gasp, perhaps newly written works that no regional company could afford to stage but which could be done in concert version. The marketing of such efforts requires honesty: We think this is a reasonable stop gap measure. We do not intend to do this forever unless you really like it. It is a compromise that will allow us to give you real music, and we understand that it is not the full operatic experience that you might wish. The good news is that you will hear music you likely would never hear live if it had to be fully (badly) staged.

I read it here. I’m still contemplating this.

I’m all for whatever it takes to keep opera companies in business.

(What do I want? Hmmm. Summer series of light opera. Or a summer Sondheim festival. Yeah, I need summer work! But those would cost too much. So what I want isn’t going to happen. I just hope what I don’t want — more collapsing arts organizations — doesn’t happen.)

10. February 2009 · Comments Off on Music Is My Bag · Categories: Links, Read!

If you haven’t read Music Is My Bag by Meghan Daum check it out. Very fun. And she played oboe, too. 🙂

… and absolutely nothing to do with music. But I’m sorry, I can’t resist.

“I keep thinking how could I have not known it was there?” Miss Hawkins said. “I will certainly be checking my bras every morning from now on.”

Um, Well. Okay then.

I read it here. You should read it too.

It’s a TOP TEN! (Should I be embarrassed that I don’t know any of the other titles? Hmmm.) But hoorah for Alex Ross. He’s on the top ten list. I guess it’s a good one to be reading, eh? I can tell you I’m loving the book.

So read it! Really.

You can listen to a podcast at Amazon as well. I’m doing that at this very moment. (Which means it’s time to stop writing here!)

30. October 2007 · Comments Off on I Agree · Categories: Links, Other People's Words, Read!

We all have to figure out what we like doing for its own sake, rather than for the attention it gleans us. The college years are an optimal time to explore different studies and immerse oneself in activities that not only broaden horizons, but also kindle a whole new idea of what we may want to do with ourselves once we leave school. Conservatories, being vocational schools, do not offer these opportunities so much.

Barring extraordinary circumstances, I would urge any student not to attend a conservatory for their undergraduate years. (RTWT)

This is not to say every single student should avoid a conservatory as an undergrad, but I do believe most students would benefit more from first attending a university or college.

Keep options open. Explore other alternatives. See the whole world, not just the musical one. Continue to enjoy music. Embrace it if you are able. But keep an open mind. It’s just a good idea.

28. October 2007 · Comments Off on Great Response! · Categories: Links, Read!

Before the performance, Lady Macbeth had been interviewed by the local radio station about the forthcoming production. The interviewer had said words to the effect “Isn’t it rather presumptuous for an amateur company to be putting on Verdi’s Macbeth?” In answer, Marion just opened her mouth and sang. The interviewer was silenced. (RTWT)