Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Play-In on Saturday

The MCAT is exactly a month away. It feels surreal in a way. I have dreaded taking this test for nearly 15 years and can't believe that it is coming up so soon. Let's hope that I can provide the final push I need to get me there and get me a decent score.

I am supposed to be taking full-length practice exams each weekend but am taking a break this Saturday in order to participate in a local "play-in". Here's part of an email I got earlier this week:
Hi fellow ACMP enthusiasts.

I have been an active local ACMP participant for over 20 years.
I've played
with some of you and been in touch with quite a few
of you over time. A few months
ago I began working at the
Music Conservatory of
Westchester, and I think it is a wonderful
resource for us. Recognizing the possibilities, we have set up
a Free
Play-In for Saturday April 28 from 1PM-4PM.

Features for the day are:
MEET AND GREET for ACMP members and their friends (coffee and
cake will be

FREE PLAY-IN in our acoustically excellent 120-seat recital hall
and other
fully equipped rehearsal rooms.

WE PLAY TOO. Meet, talk and play with MCW Staff.

DISCOVER what the Conservatory can offer you.

As stressed as I am about the MCAT I'm wanting it to come and go already so that I can go back to enjoying my music. I plan for this to be the "SummerO'Music". I want to play as much and with as many people as I can. So it was interesting timing to get this email this week. I am trying hard not to expect too much (I've been let down so many times before). But maybe, just maybe, I will come out of this with some good contacts and the possibility of an ensemble. That would make my life just perfect! I am willing to exhaust all my resources to find myself a group by the end of the summer, but it would be great if it happens this quickly. Well, at least they'll have free cake if all else fails.

If this play-in thing doesn't work out then I will try the following, in that order:
(1) Look into local summer music programs at music schools and community colleges.
(2) Look into such programs in other areas of the country.
(3) Call up my musician friends and try to get them motivated again.
(4) Call random people from the ACMP directory.
(5) Cry.

Hopefully I will find a group before getting to option 5.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Oh. My. God.

Today was a really nutty day. In total I rode on 6 subway trains and 1 bus and walked maybe 2 miles. I studied MCAT physics for about 5 hours and printed out 100 pages of new review questions. I had lunch with a good friend and chatted with my mom on the phone briefly. Oh, and I bumped into my ex-boyfriend whom I hadn't seen in 10 years.

Talk about being tired for a lesson. I got to my teacher's new house (she moved while I was on vacation) nearly panting. This was my first lesson in over a month! A few weeks ago I was dreading going back because I felt so out of shape and had no good reeds, but as the days got closer I was just excited to see her again and get some help getting back in gear.

Earlier this week she sent me a new exercise via email. I was to set the metronome at 110 and play two octaves of the C major scale up and down twice. Slurred. In sixteeth notes. At first I thought I read it wrong because when I got home and turned on the metronome I was shocked by how quickly I was supposed to be playing the notes. I even called her to verify it and she confirmed that I was to play 4 notes per beat. Woah. After laughing about it for a few minutes I gave it a try. I couldn't quite get to 110, but I managed to sort of get it at 100. Oh, and I forgot the best part! After I did this slurred I was then to try it doing two notes slurred two tongued. Boy did that up the ante. While I was able to kind of get it slurred, doing it with the more complex articulation was a nearly impossible challenge. A few days later it was still pretty messy but every once in a while I was able to do it for a few beats at a time.

I also forgot to mention that in my rush to get out of the house this morning I left my Marcello music at home. DOH! But maybe it turned out for the best because we ended up just working on the C scale exercise. This time she did it with me a bit and then left me alone and I think this had a HUGE effect in calming my nerves. Normally I do a LOT of nervous talking in my lessons but today I did almost none. I basically played the entire hour! Another thing which prevented the chatter was that she had the metronome set at 110 and would give me a count of 4 for me to pull myself together and take a good breath and then I had to just start playing. It was weird at first and I fought the urge to talk or otherwise waste time, but then I realized how much more productive I was. In short, this was probably my best lesson ever! I ended up playing something I thought impossible just a few days ago. By the end of the session even the "articulated" version of the exercise sounded decently good. I couldn't believe I was playing that. And it sounded a lot more musical than I expected. Maybe the reed she gave me helped. Gosh, it's so nice to have a good reed for a change!!

Soooo, get this. After we're done she asks me why I think she gave me that exercise. I rattle off a few things including breathing, dexterity, tonguing, etc. They were all good things but that was not why she assigned me that. She wants me to start a new piece . . . the Mozart oboe concerto!!!!!!!!! Oh. My. God. I was so flattered that she thought I was ready for this. Woah. I still can't believe it.

Does that mean I am at least a little bit uber now???

YAY!!! I am so happy and remotivated now. I just had to share this with you all.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Thanks John Picarello

I took a few minutes to read Patty's blog and saw her link to the Joshua Bell experiment. This is very disheartening but I am not surprised at all. I could write a lot about this topic because I feel it has affected my life personally. It's as though every day I am faced by this "decay". But, alas, I don't have time to write about it all and it might be a bit insensitive or cynical. So instead I will focus on my favorite quote from the article.

I absolutely loved Mr. John Picarello's quote:

If you love something but choose not to do it professionally, it's not a waste. Because, you know, you still have it. You have it forever.

That, my friends, captures the essence of how I feel about my (lack of) musical career right at this moment. It's VERY difficult for me to devote so much time to my real career while ignoring the music. I find myself pining for a life where I don't have to worry about money and can go get that adult diploma at Mannes School of Music and maybe never get a real gig but get pretty good at my instrument and play all the music I want to play. I guess I'm still holding on to that dream (in case I win the lottery or something), but for now Mr. Picarello's words made me feel at peace.