Friday, August 28, 2009

Happy New (School) Year!

It's that time of year again. The nights are getting cooler, and shiny white sneakers and notebook paper are on sale---the school year is about to begin! I've always found this time of year fascinating. More so that New Year's resolutions, the new school year is a chance to create positive change for oneself and others. Like a snake that regularly sloughs off its old skin, we have an opportunity to change unnecessary habits and seek out ways to renew our efforts as artists. After a summer to rest and reflect, we begin a semester energized and hopeful.

So, dear reader, I ask: What are your goals for the semester and year? What kind of student do you want to be?

I hope you'll look to the new semester as a time to develop yourself, delve deeply into your studies with curiosity, and seek out new experiences and inspirations that inform and strengthen your own creative endeavors. I'll be doing the same with my own teaching and learning and look forward to our collaborative journey.

Before you walk into your first class, lesson, or practice room session, ask yourself: what are your goals for this new time? How will you achieve these goals? I encourage you to submit your comments/thoughts/goals to this blog so you can share your ideas with all of us.

There are exciting times my friends; make the most of our yearly renaissance.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Shakespeare and how to play music.

  I've always believed that literature, art, philosophy and science bring invaluable depth and meaning to our lives and our music. Today I thought I'd send you some  important teaching from our greatest English bard,  Mr.  Shakespeare himself.  In fact,  the renowned violin pedagogue Josef Gingold often had his students read these exact lines below.   The lines are from Hamlet,  as he is giving advice to those about to perform a play. It is interesting how so much of this speech can be internalized for a fine musical performance! The lines are below, but if Shakespeare's language does not come trippingly on the tongue for you,  read the text first,  then follow the link below for a "translation"  of sorts.   Then get to work making connections to your own practice!  Enjoy.

Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion
be your tutor: suit the action to the word, the
word to the action; with this special o'erstep not
the modesty of nature: for any thing so overdone is
from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the
first and now, was and is, to hold, as 'twere, the
mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature,
scorn her own image, and the very age and body of
the time his form and pressure. Now this overdone,
or come tardy off, though it make the unskilful
laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve; the
censure of the which one must in your allowance
o'erweigh a whole theatre of others. O, there be
players that I have seen play, and heard others
praise, and that highly, not to speak it profanely,
that, neither having the accent of Christians nor
the gait of Christian, pagan, nor man, have so
strutted and bellowed that I have thought some of
nature's journeymen had made men and not made them
well, they imitated humanity so abominably.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Got resume?

Hi All-
I just received an email from a student asking about creating a resume for an orchestral audition. If you have not yet created a resume for yourself, right now is a great time to create a draft of this ever-changing document. Once you have a resume draft,  it's really quite easy to update it and send it on to prospective employers. 

Your first performing resume might be created for applying to open positions in community/regional orchestras  local performing organizations, etc. Send your resume to the orchestra manager and ask for further information on how to audition for the orchestra. However, don't wait for a position vacancy to send in your resume.  It is a good idea to send a resume to orchestra managers if you would like to be part of the substitute list.  
It's likely that your first resume will not have much in it.  That's OK!  Your educational and performing experience will grow in time,  but you need to start somewhere,  so let's begin now.

First things first: Make sure to clearly label your name and contact information.  Triple check that your phone and email info is correct.  You certainly don't want to have a wrong or discontinued number  and/or email account!  

Second, list your educational experience.  What degrees do you have? What major/minor? When was the degree conferred? If you haven't yet finished undergraduate work, list the degree you are seeking and expected graduation year. 
If you have completed graduate work,  list the most recent degree first. 

Next, give a brief account of your professional experience.  If you are currently a school music teacher,  list the school and briefly the job responsibilities (6th grade band and orchestra,  etc). It may be advantageous for the orchestral manager to see that you work in the field of music.  If your current income comes from outside the music world,  you can include that too. Briefly state your position and skills.
Next, list your performing experience.  If you only have experience performing in school ensembles,  that's OK!.  List the years you've performed with a given group.  If you've performed as the principal performer,  list that.  (And please DON'T use PRINCIPLE instead of the correct PRINCIPAL!). If you've performed as a substitute performer with an group,  list that as well.  You don't want the person reading your resume to think you were a full-time member of a group when in fact you only performed with them as a substitute.  List your experience,  but don't over-inflate your activities. Be honest and you'll be more likely to succeed,  because the resume reader will be able to suss out bloated performance claims. However, don't forget to add chamber ensembles that you have performed with and solo recitals that you've performed (degree recital and summer recitals are good to add,  just list the performance and the date).

Once you have drafted a resume,  check extremely carefully for errors.  Typos, haphazard formatting, etc can reflect poor organization or sloppiness on your part.  Have teachers, friends, and parents read through your resume and check for errors too.  The more eyes, the better! They may also help you remember important things that you forgot to add. 

Here's a sample resume below.  Feel free to follow the general format. Read,  then create your own resume.  I look forward to reading and helping you edit your first resume!



Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Summertime Practice Blues

For anyone having summertime practice blues (you know who you are!),  I thought I'd paste a handout that the venerable Christopher Weait (retired bassoon prof from The Ohio State Univ) used to give to his bassoon students.  I think all of these things can apply to oboists as well.  So,  read,  learn from it,  and get off your duff and practice.  Time to go "get awesome!"

Here's a copy of the handout from Professor Weait:


School is out: classes, lessons, rehearsals, concerts are finished. Sounds and feels good; we all need the break.

     Summer can pose real problems for music majors.   The absence of lessons and rehearsals often means the absence of motivation and inspiration from those sources.  Maintaining progress on our instrument may become difficult.  While a rest from your instrument is important, it is too easy to slack off, get lazy, become a couch potato.  The “summer situation” is similar to the conditions you will encounter after graduation when all of the motivation will have to come from you, the musician. Summertime is a good time to get used to this reality for your future.

Here are some summer suggestions to assist you to maintain progress and motivation:

•  chose and learn recital repertoire

•  learn important orchestral excerpts

•  learn to read a new clef or to transpose

•  form a small ensemble for weekly rehearsals

•  perform solos or ensembles in church, at a park, at a music camp, at a day care or retirement home

•  work on your high register (one octave scales)

•  learn new scales: whole-tone, octatonic (diminished), blues

•  play melodies in styles you have never played

•  make enough reeds for the new school year

•  take lessons (it doesn’t have to be with a bassoonist!)

•  teach some lessons

•  compose music for the bassoon: etudes, solos, ensembles

•  listen to recordings: bassoon solos, chamber music, music you DON’T know

     If you are not taking lessons, make your own assignments: scale of the week, etude of the week, reed of the week.  Keep moving through material, do a variety of stuff, not just one thing.  Don’t get hung up on one scale or etude.  If you are working at a non-music job, try to practice before work so you are fresh and alert.  If you get stuck send me an e-mail message.

     The first week of school in September looks like a long way off right now.  It will come all too soon for all of us!  Stay in shape so you can make a good impression at those first week auditions and lessons.

Good luck and have a healthy and safe summer.  I look forward to seeing you in September. 



I hope you found something interesting in there for you! 
Oboe and out,


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Post the First

Welcome,  gentle reader and eager oboist!

This blog is the beginning of something that I've been thinking about for a long time now.  As a performer and pedagogue,  I've been trying to figure out a way to share what I've learned about music/oboe/life and all of these intersections to anyone interested,   So much of what we do is an amalgamation of inspiration from others and our own unique ideas and  I hope that the information provided here will help inform/strengthen and inspire your art. 

My goal is to post musings on practice,  things I've learned,  reed help/experiments,  and teaching points.  I'm also happy to field questions too!  Let's see where this goes!

Gotta get up early tomorrow for more practicing,  so for now,

Oboe and out,