Friday, April 29, 2005

The latest and greatest

Another 10 days of craziness and then I can settle into what should be one of the best summers in my adult life. Sure I'll still be working, but I won't have any other activity but music to worry about. Oh, and I do have to get back to the gym; I've got another 20 or so to lose.

I called Rufi the other day. He's my clarinetist friend. When I first started on sax back in 1996 he was the first person I played a duet with. He turned out to be the first person I played a duet with as an oboist too (I keep forgetting if I ever wrote about Debut #1). Ever since I've known him he's been talking about wanting to get back into Classical music and starting an ensemble. Well now that I am playing oboe I've been calling him regularly to try to light the fire once again. This week his flame is burning bright. It turns out that he's drafting up a proposal to start a neighborhood orchestra (in Washington Heights, the upper Manhattan neighborhood I grew up in)! Everything is in its very earliest stages but at least now things look like they're moving. I don't want to start getting too excited about this yet because I don't want to be disappointed if it doesn't happen. But I will do what I can to help him bring this to life.

In the meantime he told me that we should start getting together, probably on Saturdays, to play some duets. So I was looking to order some arrangements for oboe and clarinet. The next day he calls me back to tell me that he bumped into an old friend who happens to be a bassoonist! Luckily I hadn't placed the order yet and I added some trio arrangements to the mix. The bassoonist will join us on some Saturdays but not all.

So it looks like I've found the perfect place to play for now. He's one of my oldest music friends so he will be patient as I will have a lot to learn. At the same time he has good ears and will be honest with me about how I'm doing. The duets and trios will help me a LOT so that if and when the orchestra does form I might be ready to tackle some of the music. Weeeeeeeeeeeeee!

I have news that I want to share but am still waiting to get a call from a vendor. Hopefully today will be the day.

Practice has been going better this week now that I can focus on the things I need to work on (instead of trying to fix that piece for the wedding). My reed is close to death though, but it's still playing. I have a backup one that sounds kind of nice but is leaky so I have to keep fussing with fishkin on it. 10 more days and I can work on reeds again. I did start one last weekend but it already looks like it probably won't amount to much. A slice of cane came off one of the sides as I was trying to tie it and left a little gap. So I had to tie it funny to try to seal it and I don't think it worked. Oh well. I'll finish scraping it anyway for practice.

Last night I worked exclusively on the Telemann piece. For some reason I can't play as long as I had been playing before. According to this book I'm reading it might be that I had been biting before and so my lips didn't tire as easily since the jaw was too active in my embouchure. But if anything I'm feeling like NOW is when I'm biting and that I wasn't biting before. Not sure what's going on there. But I am trying to pay close attention to the position of the reed on my lips. Hopefully I'm doing it better now than before. I'll ask my teacher this week. I think my lesson will be tomorrow.

Anyway so I think I'm starting to get an idea of how to better practice repertoire. It's hard to resist the temptation to go over the parts that you already play ok; It's a nice feeling to play the stuff you know. But last night I focused solely on the middle of the first movement which has been giving me a hard time. I need to practice more scales in F minor because for some reason the fingerings are confusing me. I think it's because they're really different from sax. I'm ok with the E-flat (even though you hit the lower key and C is the higher one). A-flat, B-flat, and D-flat are causing me to fumble. D-flat requires you to press down a ton of keys, plus the lovely half-hole. On the sax, D-flat is a single key pressed down with the middle finger. C natural requires more fingers than B natural. I was getting used to that now, but in this piece the B is B-flat which has more fingers than C. A-flat is just a pain because of my twisted pinky. That pinky is used both for the A-flat or for the left handed E-flat and F. The middle of the movement tends to stay within that little range of notes that is confusing me so I was making a lot of mistakes there. But now I am glad that I am working on this piece because it gives me an opportunity to work on all of that. On the other parts that I do better, I am trying to pay closer attention to phrasing.

I'm not used to that style of practicing so it was a little frustrating at first. Because you're dealing just with the problem areas. So by the end of my session I put the play along CD in the radio. The set includes a slow tempo version too. The last time I tried this I couldn't play almost any of it. So I wasn't expecting things to be much better. But to my surprise I was actually able to play along with some of it! When I couldn't keep up I tried to get back in as soon as possible. It was hilarious. I sounded awful but I was able to see that I have indeed improved. Maybe in another month I'll be able to play along for the entire first movement at the slow tempo. The second movement I play along at regular speed since it's Largo. The third movement is crazy!! Too . . . much . . . staccato . . . But I am able to play some of the arpeggios as well as the bars with eight notes (as opposed to sixteenth notes). Oh and I played the ending too. Ta-da!

Tonight will probably be some long tones, scales, and more Telemann. Ok time to go to work.

Oh wait, I forgot to talk about the dream I had last night. I dreamt that I was at some music school downtown. I think it was supposed to be Boy's Harbor, but it didn't really look like it. While there I was hanging out with a woodwind teacher who reminded me of my sax teacher, but it wasn't him either. At one point he says that he's going to start the rehearsal so I start taking out my oboe. Other students started walking in to the rehearsal (which was in a very small room). This girl came in with a really funky looking instrument that was like a large, brass snail. She said it was a bassoon! Both the teacher and I said "That's not a bassoon." But she kept insisting that it was a new type of bassoon. Some sax company invented it. Made of brass but would sound like bassoon. We didn't believe her but once she blew on it, it did indeed sound a lot like a bassoon. So now I'm getting excited that I will be playing soon except that my reeds are all breaking in my hands as I try to put them in the instrument. The teacher hands me a clarinet reed and tells me to use that one instead but I know that it won't work and I start to panic a bit. At that point a girl walks in with a sitar. And a few other people are starting to take out other "world" instruments. I woke up at that point. Kind of disappointed that I didn't get to hear what this strange ensemble sounded like. Oh well. Isn't that a funky dream?


Patty said...

I had a dream last night that I sort of remember ... it was rather odd ... but the most bizarre thing about it was that I was in a Seinfeld episode. Hmmm.

But it wasn't a funny episode. So I'm not sure what the heck was going on!

It's great to hear about the duo and trio possibilities you have! I love playing chamber music. I just ordered a few trios myself for the oboe, clarinet and bassoon combination.

Yay for you!

Hilda said...

The other day my husband was watching Seinfeld and it was the episode where he meets a girl but she's always wearing the same outfit. It was really funny, but in the end we never find out why she was doing that!

I'm a little nervous that the oboe part will be hard in the trios. But at least the music is coming to me first so I can cheat and study it before meeting with them.

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