Monday, December 11, 2006


Now I'm officially on gig hangover. That's the part of it that really sucks. One of my first thoughts right when we ended the final performance was "when will I get another gig like this again?" It was so great to play in a group. In fact, this whole experience got me thinking about that in general. Why is it so fulfilling for me to play in ensembles? I mean, I play a pretty "showy" instrument in that there is a decent sized solo repertoire and even in an orchestral setting there is a chance for one to stand out in solos. I remember that when I first started playing oboe that was one of the things that worried me. Initially I was ONLY about the whole ensemble thing. And even now it's still what makes me happiest. I suspect that after always feeling like an outsider everywhere it is especially wonderful to be a part of something bigger and feel like I actually belong. But the cool thing that I am noticing as time goes on is that my instrument has such a unique sound that it tends to stand out even when it's blending in. Kind of like me. Even though I can mingle and socialize just fine, I am always very different from the crowd. In a good way, I hope. As I continue to grow I am a tiny bit less scared of the soloing aspect. I was pretty stressed right before my solos but I have to admit that I was also excited to be heard. Speaking of which, I might have some very low quality (and possibly illegal) sound clips from one of the performances. If I can clean them up some I might be able to share them.

So here's a recap on the performances:

Opening Night: This was by far the most nerve-wracking performance. Everyone in the cast and even some of the musicians were very nervous. I had to keep thinking to myself that this was just like any other rehearsal. Looking out into the audience would make my heart flutter. We ended up being placed on one side of the audience, below the stage. We weren't hidden like in a real pit but at least the audience was not facing us directly. They had to turn their heads to look at us. I never looked anywhere but at my music while I was playing but during my breaks I would look out. Every once in a while an audience member would look at us for a while. So I can only imagine that some were staring during my solos. Eep! J made two new reeds for me and I ended up playing on the better one of those two. It was somewhat hard and I felt that I was loud, but apparently the sound people made everything sound balanced. The nice thing about the stout reed was that it responded well on my fake EH solo (the high pressure one). The lyrical solos came out ok but not great.

Saturday afternoon performance: Is there some kind of bad luck with middle performances? I woke up to find that neither of the two new reeds sounded good. The sound seemed very honky to me. My sister-in-law and her new boyfriend came out for this performance and he started falling asleep a few minutes into it! They ended up leaving after intermission. This turned out to be good because I had some major drama going on second act. During intermission I played around with the reeds some more, trying to get them to soften up. Things seemed to be going ok but during my favorite fast tune I started noticing issues with my higher register. An entire section ended up sounding an octave lower. At that point I wasn't sure what was going on and I ended up swabbing before the next fast number. That one started out ok but then I noticed that certain higher notes were not sounding right at all. For a second I panicked and thought that perhaps the oboe had broken! I look at the page and see that a perky solo is coming up. I swab again semi frantically and go in for a few notes but something was still wrong. The good thing was that instead of a weird different note I was now getting a more familiar gurgling sound. Water in a hole! I quickly thought. I busted out my cigarette paper with only about 10 measures to go before my solo. There was nothing in any of the usual culprits and I almost started panicking again but then I had a Zen moment and realized that it had to be in the tiny octave key. Sure enough the darn thing was a mess. I managed to clean it up with just enough time to play my solo. *phew* The rest of the performance was less eventful. I was pretty proud that not only did I figure out the problem but I managed to remain relatively calm (at least on the outside) throughout the ordeal.

Saturday evening: I had a long break in between and tested all of my reeds once again. For this performance I used the new one for fast numbers and was able to get an older one to work for me for the slower numbers. The softer reed had been playing very sharp before which was why I had ignored it but for some reason the intonation was fine on Saturday. I was glad to have this reed because it allowed me to play around with the dynamics (at least as much as I am capable of at this point). So all in all, this was the best performance for me. Oh, and the trumpet players went all out at the end which is always fun (albeit painful) to listen to.

I will miss the Merrily "orchetra" but have good memories of my "official" debut. In a way I am glad to be able to refocus on my own stuff for now. I didn't play Marcello at all last week nor my scales. Last night I was able to spend time on long tones again and I was actually happy about that for a change. I'm hoping for some more of the same tonight.


Pattyoboe said...

Congratulations, Hilda!

For a quick -- but somewhat noisy -- water in the key fix: blow VERY hard into the octave key (while holding it open, obviously). And I mean hard! It's noisy, but water in the top octave is a real pain.

I swab so often ... I usually even mark my opera parts so I know where I have enough time. Water in keys is especially a problem when playing operas and shows because of how much playing goes on. It's also often too cold in the pit. (I sometimes keep the top joint under my arm when not playing.) Putting the instrument on a stand will definitely cause trouble, by the way.

Anyway, you've now entered the pitworld. Ain't it grand? :-)

Hilda said...

I definitely enjoyed my taste of the pitworld. Not having been exposed to that type of music much before, I hadn't really considered it at all until now. I am certainly interested in doing more of it particularly once I start up on EH. Do you double on anything else? That's my only fear with the pit. I don't really have the time (or desire) to play anything but oboe and EH. Though I guess if time weren't a problem I could get back into shape sax-wise. But yet another new instrument? Oh no, I'll draw the line there hahaha!

Pattyoboe said...

I only play oboe and EH ... and, if necessary, it's fairly easy to add d'amore (although I have to rent the instrument). I don't do anything else and have no desire to do so. I'd get a ton of jobs if I could add sax, flute and clarinet, but I honestly don't think I have the talent or drive.

I manage to get one or two musicals a year most of the time. That's fine by me, although I'd love to do more. Sadly, newer musicals often don't have what we call "straight" books (only playing oboe and its relatives, not a single reed or flute).

dulciana said...

Yay, you did it! I'm so glad. Have a great Christmas, Hilda!