Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Things I was told

I've been meaning to write a long entry about my eventful day last Thursday but I've gotten so busy. I will try to recap everything that happened.

Things I learned at my first official lesson with JL:
  • Two of the four reeds I attempted were actually halfway decent. The one I thought was the best ended up being the worst.
  • I shouldn't scrape the tip to the same thickness throughout. It should be slightly thicker in the center and then taper off as you go to the sides.
  • Uni-tip = bright, screechy sound
  • My embouchure is "very close". *sigh of relief*
  • But I still need to work more on the sides of my mouth coming in better.
  • We went over a plan for me to attack scales. This was very helpful as I was feeling overwhelmed by the whole thing.
  • The correct breathing concept is anti-intuitive (apparently many things oboe are anti-intuitive).

    I walked out of my lesson in a good mood. When I got to the subway station I didn't even care that I just missed a train. I sat down and started reading a book. Someone was playing violin pretty badly on my platform. I felt a bit sorry for the older gentleman as he struggled to get his melodies out (maybe he had a crappy instrument). Yet I was I was happy that music inspired him and that he was trying. So as I walked by him to get into the train I gave him a dollar. He thanked me in Spanish and that's when I realized he was a compatriot. He said that next time he'd let me play his violin. He must have mistaken my oboe case for a violin one? I was happy that I "made his day".

    As I rode uptown I decided to get off a stop early so that I'd be forced to walk through the neighborhood in order to reach my Mom's. I hoped to bump into people I know (this happens VERY frequently). Or at the very least to enjoy the sights and sounds. Boy am I glad I did this. Just one block into my walk I passed by Coogan's and there was a fellow Incarnation School alum! We greeted each other and she informed me that the whole gang was in there meaning all the favorite teachers. Incarnation is a very special place to work at as is evidenced by the large number of teacher who stay there for decades. Apparently I had been invited to this shing ding but the invitation had gone to the wrong address. In addition to my favorite teachers one of my long time friends was there too. We ended up hanging out afterwards. What a wonderful reunion!

    Here is all the advice I got in about two hours' time:
  • One teacher was alarmed that I had yet to work out my career decision. He reminded me of my age and also remarked that he does understand that the path I was originally on (high powered medical or research career) is very difficult to stay on for someone from my background. Now I could have taken this badly but I knew exactly what he meant. Folks were supportive of me while I was still a teenager, but as I've gotten older there is more pressure to assume the more traditional role of mother. Or to simply live a simpler life that allows more time for domestic pursuits. He was pushing for me to find something lucrative to do.
  • My fifth grade teacher, who I hadn't seen since ... ummm ... 5th grade, interjected and told me not to listen to teacher #1. She found her passion in cooking and was excited to hear about my musical pursuits. She said that I am right in trying to find something that I actually like and can see myself doing for many years to come.
  • The one time development office worker told me something along the same lines. She said that I had already "won" because I was happy. She said that many of those people who went on to pursue the high powered careers are miserable and that I have to worry ONLY about my happiness.
  • One teacher insisted that I was the smartest girl he ever taught. Then he reminded me who the smartest boy he ever taught us. And mentioned that he's now chief orthopedic surgeon at John's Hopkins or some other big name place. *sigh* Why is it that I seem to be the only high potential student to not have made anything special of myself?? ALL the people I used to compete with in school have left me in the dust. My grammar school friend is getting her PhD in Biomedical Engineering and everyone else is either a lawyer, doctor, or professor. Anyway this one teacher said there was a perfectly logical reason why I'm still vagabonding. He said to me "Hilda, you're an artist". Then he went on to say that he knew it all along but that he would have gotten killed by the administrators if he had strayed their best student away from the sciences. Hmm, thanks. I thought it strange that he said this and so I prodded him to elaborate. He said that I was always way too creative and charismatic to be able to lead that kind of single-track life that you need in order to succeed in the science careers. He reminded me of things from 1987-1988 and it was interesting to see how the real me did shine through back then. His comments made me think a lot because I do think that part of what makes me hesitate about committing to an intense program of study is definitely my perception that my essence will be limited. I will become less me in order to accommodate the career. Am I willing to do that? He bid me the best of luck with my musical pursuits and told me that he thinks I definitely found my true passion. The last thing he told me as I walked out the door was "To thine own self be true". And with those words from the Bard I will leave you for now.

    dulciana said...

    Wow - you just bumped into somebody and then found yourself surrounded by old friends? What a wonderful surprise! Sounds like you got some great encouragement.

    Hilda said...

    Yep! New York City is really funny that way. One would think that because it's huge things like that would never happen. But in reality the City is divided into a bunch of tiny, tight-knit neighborhoods. I think it's safe to say that about 80% of the time that I'm walking around my neighborhood I will bump into at least one person I know. Also sometimes people I don't recognize say "hi" to me. These are usually folks who attend the Mass that I play at. I'm all the way up in the front so I only know the regulars who sit up there but everyone who attends sees me. That's why I love my hometown so much. It's sort of the best of both worlds. You're in this huge city with tons of cultural and intellectual opportunities but when you go back to your home neighborhood there is a feeling of family and bonding. I really miss it but the hubby loves living in the 'burbs.

    So last Thursday I walked past Coogan's which is probably the most popular bar in the area (it's arguably the only nice one there). The girl who was standing outside is a year younger than me so we were never in the same class at school but we were in the same dance program. I hadn't seen her since I quit dance in 1992. We chatted for a bit outside and then she told me that "everyone" was inside so I followed her in and participated in the Incarnation reunion.

    I went to the school for 8 years (1st - 8th grades) so all these teachers saw me grow up. Since it's the school affiliated with my church I have always been around and at least remotely aware of what's been going on in the school even though I graduated nearly 20 years ago. When I took the year off to teach, it was there that I went.

    So yeah when my teachers saw that I am still wandering around kind of lost they all felt the need to help me figure things out hehehe. They're so sweet!

    oceanskies79 said...

    Thanks for sharing your eventful day.

    I wish you all the best in your musical pursuits.

    patty said...

    ... Hmmm ... here I am, reading your blog, thinking I'm a wee bit envious of your life! Isn't that funny ... I'm guessing you see it that way since you would think that my being a professional oboist would be what YOU want! But I think about how cool it would be to be taking up oboe because I love it (rather than because my parents suggested the instrument), and, perhaps, doing a job that I know doesn't have to define my life, living in the moment, as it appears to me that you do! Hmmm.

    Is the grass always greener? I suspect so. I suspect it's our human nature to want what we don't have and to take for granted what we do have.

    I love that your got so much varied advice ... kind of shows you that there isn't one "right" way, you know?

    Hilda said...

    Thanks, Pei Yun. I wish you all the best too!

    And yes, Patti, the grass is indeed always greener. I'm starting to feel more at peace with how things worked out for me. As long as I feel that my current goals are attainable, I am happy. But as I fumble through my scales that local orchestra seems so far away!