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.