Saturday, July 26, 2008

IDRS conference

I'm at an IDRS conference this week, which is geek for International Double Reed Society, which also happens to still be geek for "Bassoon and Oboe Convention". It's been wonderful, if not a little overwhelming. I traveled with a bassoonist friend and an oboist friend and really, I couldn't have chosen better companions for this trip (if in fact I had chosen). I am having a great time and hearing some amazing music. I'm hearing a few stinkers as well, but the great has far outweighed the bad. I've bought lots of music, a little bit of cane, a couple of gadgets and most of all, a brand new, unbelievably expensive bocal.

For those of you who might not know, there are many parts to a bassoon - six in point of fact. And two of the most important parts of the instrument are the reed (which most players make for themselves and might last a week or two in their prime) and the bocal (a long metal tube that connects the reed to the wooden instrument itself). They can make or break an instrument and just as every bassoon is a unique and variable animal, so too are the bocals and reeds that join to it. The perfect bocal is a bit of a holy grail, but an attainable one. Every instrument and player has different demands and tastes. You just have to know where to look and be able to hear it (or have friends who can hear it) once you find it.

Today, I think I bought my little holy bocal. It morphed my instrument into something smooth and velvety and effortless. It was a big purchase and I absolutely believe that it was the right one, but it won't stop me from being nervous about it. Last year, I would have felt silly making such a purchase. It would have been overkill for where I was in my abilities and my commitment. This year, it seems like the right investment.

I have some big dreams, but not in the way one might think. I don't think I want to play in a symphony, but I do LOVE chamber work. I love my woodwind trio, and the bassoon quartet we threw together, and I definitely love the freelancing I occasionally fall into for musicals and such. I don't really enjoy large orchestral pieces with choir, but the jobs I enjoy most are those in musicals or operas. I know, it doesn't make sense to me either.

What I want is to be really damn good. I want to play a piece and be happy about how I've played it, and how it has sounded on the other end. I want to move people's souls and have a riot of a good time while I'm doing it. Anything less is a waste of everyone's time and the last thing I want out of all of this is to waste anyone's time.

Friday, June 27, 2008

No, I haven't forgotten this blog exists

It wouldn't be a far leap for you to figure out that I haven't been playing much. I have been eaten by the hellfire of music history homework! But I have been formally admitted to the Masters program. YEEHAW! :)

I'm pretty excited, and nervous about what kind of scheduling it will all have to involve. I'll be working for OMA, starting my masters, playing with my trio d'anche (woodwind trio), playing for these guys, hopefully freelancing a little bit, and playing in whatever group I get into at the university. Oh yeah, and trying to spend time with my family and volunteer at the kids' schools! It's going to be a frantic year if we don't get organized. And more cane. I'm definitely going to need more cane.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The gig I'm playing in tomorrow was in the paper yesterday. Their photographer had taken a picture of the winds through the strings of the harp that I really wanted to see, but it wasn't used. I wonder if there's any way to see the picture?

Anyway, here's the link :)

OH, and the Tucson Symphony just auditioned for 3rd bassoon/contra. My very talented friend won the audition! Congratulations, Jessie!!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Look ma, I'm in the movies!

A few peeps I know have asked when they might see me perform. Here ya go!

Word to the wise: Never wear white when you know you're going to be filming yourself. Yeesh.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Edited for content

Went back in this blog and edited a bunch of my posts for pomposity. I believe it has been mostly eradicated. Please forgive whatever vestiges remain.

"I was dead at the time."
-Eddie Izzard

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Concerts are finished for a time. The composer whose Concerto Grosso I played in two years ago returned for our world premiere of his Piccolo Concerto. We even had an audience.. it was amazing! He actually remembered me and had kind words about my playing. Just heard a recording from that same season of the orchestra playing Ginastera's Variaciones Concertantes, and parts of it were quite beautiful. It's nice to be able to go back and listen and enjoy.

Friday, March 14, 2008


A book I read recently criticized the word "practicing" when referring to musicians playing music at home. As if one could ever really "practice" the actual act of performing. I forget what he offered as an alternative but he did have a point. There is no way other than lots of performing to prepare oneself for a performance. I have this image of myself walking briskly and assuredly into a recital hall, taking a grateful and graceful bow, and setting down to really enjoy myself and entertain my audience. The reality usually involves an incredible surge of nervousness, sometimes complete with shaking hands and always accompanied by a drastic increase in tempo. I struggle daily to reconcile the two, preferrably on the side of the daydream rather than reality. Self-actualization is only getting me so far.

Anyway, I practiced a ton this week. At least for me. A few hours in the beginning of the week and then 2-3 hours last night, until late enough that my mouth still hurt in my lesson at 9am. Played through my lesson, practiced an hour, took a half hour break, and then back at it for another hour and a half. I'm proud and amazed that I was able to do it. I'm not sayin' it was concert quality playing in that last half hour, but there was progress.

My lips are buff, dude. And my fingers are f*ckin' tired.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Bizzy bizzy bassoony

Finally applied to the master's program here. I still have my statement of purpose to write but I've finally committed to the program by submitting the application. My professor has come around on the Strauss Duet Concertino and claims to actually be enjoying the piece now. That makes two pieces this year that I seem to have won him over to. Not a bad compliment at all.

Playing well. Reeds get better the less I mess with them. Who knew? Lots and lots of rehearsals and gigs. Played a very tiny and lovely wedding over the weekend with my trio, have another gig this weekend, will be playing Mozart's Requiem with some group or other in a couple of weeks, and the chamber orchestra has a concert coming up. March is an ugly, ugly month on my calendar.

Chamber orchestra rehearsals start up soon and I'm excited for the concert. It's been a few months and I'm anxious to play in an orchestra I enjoy again. It took some time but it seems my name is finally out there with some of the right folks and I'm finally getting more freelance gigs. It's a good time for it - need the money, have the time, and I feel like I'm playing better than I had been for a while. What's more, I'm enjoying bassoon right now and that really does make all the difference.

Monday, January 07, 2008


Fell off the ol' bassoon wagon big time. I think I must have soaked the same three pieces of cane about four times. For multiple days. Yikes. I kept forgetting to come back to them. My reed-making mojo has been suffering since the summer. I don't think I've had a reed I was happy about since that audition.

All the same, it's been nice to think about something else for a spell. I'm finally feeling like it's time to get back in the saddle, and looking forward to it. I am unfortunately back on the fence a bit about pursuing that master's degree, but am hoping to snap out of it once work kicks back up and I hear how much my playing has slipped over vacation. Heheh.