Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A lesson!

This past Monday I had my first lesson in two months. Neither of us could believe that that much time had passed since our last meeting. She had been traveling a bit, but mostly I just hadn't been up to it. I went through a period of severe drowsiness for a few months and lost all motivation to practice (or do anything else other than sleep). Now that my appetite is back and I don't need to sleep 20 hours a day, I am slowly trying to get back to my playing.

Taking a two month break from seeing your teacher early on in your musical education is not the best idea in the world. Apparently I developed quite a few bad habits in my time alone.

The embouchure (surprise, surprise) had creeped back a little (my corners). But that wasn't the worst of it. The worst is that I was biting quite strongly. *sigh* I had gotten so used to it that I hadn't noticed what it was doing to my intonation until she played something. Ouch! So now I have to get my jaw and throat looser and more open, while bringing my corners back forward. How frustrating to have to work on that all again when I had it almost done earlier this year. Oh well. She did think that I would get back into shape rather quickly as she noted improvement even by the end of the lesson.

The other weird thing I am doing is excessive motion with my fingers. I do think this was always going on, as it was also a problem for me back in my saxophone days. But feeling clumsy due to non-practice exacerbated the problem because in my mind I am panicking to reach the right notes.

So I am going to try to keep these two things in mind (along with everything else this week) as I work on bringing my Mozart back up to speed. I am also going to start working on the 1st Schumann Romance as a "break" piece, just to not have to spend all my time and energy on the Mozart.

I think that for now the most important thing is getting back into my daily practice routine. For me what has worked the best is to tell myself that I will practice just 15 minutes a day, as long as I get it in every day, as opposed to trying for 1 hour sessions each time. By doing this it gets me on the instrument and almost always I end up playing at least 30-45 minutes, not only 15. It's going to be a slow climb back up but I finally feel the desire again. It's just weird because I am usually a lot harder on myself but I've had to let things go and just take things one day at a time.

Happy playing!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Changed the look a bit

I was contemplating closing the blog down because I felt that I had lost my voice. Perhaps it's not so much that I lost it, but that it has changed. For a while I had the luxury of spending a LOT of time thinking about my newfound oboe obsession. But with medical school and motherhood around the corner, I just can't seem to write the same kind of musical posts as before. Yet I do still feel that I want to write things down so that I can look back at this someday. So I've switched the title to something kind of silly but which also encompasses my triumvirate. I will still write about my oboe happenings though things will likely remain slow like now.

Oh and didn't purposely leave the hubby out of my "three". He's already part of all and everything I do and am.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Yesterday was a pretty big day for me. It was my orchestral debut. The Downtown Symphony had its first concert of the season last night and I played in the Franck symphony as well as the Chaminade Concertino for Flute and Orchestra. But before I did that I had to go through another medical school interview. My alma mater emailed me on Friday to let me know that I had an interview coming up in 5 days. Oh, and I had to be there at 8AM for a special breakfast. FUN! My husband was supposed to drive me in but then that fell through so I had to wake up before dawn in order to make sure that I'd make it to upper Manhattan while there were still available parking spaces. Luckily for me there is no alternate side parking up there on Wednesdays so I was able to find something on a remote avenue. After having two successful interviews I was nervous that my luck would run out at one of my top choices. Thankfully I was blessed with a wonderful interviewer who is very committed to recruitment and was very receptive to my path to medicine. So now I have 3 good interviews down.

Oh, let me back up at this point. So as I mentioned earlier it was a stressful morning for me. Before I could leave the house I had to pack everything I would need for both my interview and the concert. I wanted to be prepared but I couldn't afford to travel too heavily either. And I'm doing all this while wearing my suit. I am not used to dressing up and it tends to make me uncomfortable. Anyway, so at 6 something I was running a mental note of everything I needed to take with me.

Interview portfolio with my primary application, the particular school's secondary application, and my list of questions . . . CHECK
Necessary toiletries for the day . . . CHECK
A non-bulky change of shoes in case the feet get really painful . . . CHECK
An umbrella because it had to rain, of course . . . CHECK
My IPOD for the subway ride to BMCC . . . CHECK
The music I was playing for the concert . . . CHECK
My oboe . . . CHECK
Black top for the concert . . . CHECK
My reeds . . . . . . . . . oops . . . (Hilda 0, PregnancyBrain 164)

Oh yes my friends. The girl who has waited oh so long to finally play a concert with an orchestra left her reed case on top of the dresser. Luckily I didn't realize this during all the interview mania. In fact, I didn't realize it until I sat down on the subway. I had that giddy "thank GOD I just god a seat 'cause 168th to Chambers is a long @ss ride" feeling when I put my hands on top of my oboe case and it felt odd. Immediately I realized that that good reed case was not there. My older reed case was there with three duds. I fought back tears and decided to just keep on going. At that point it was too late to go home and get back in time for the concert.

Once I got there I tested my duds and they were all awful. One sounded like a kazoo. And the other two leaked so badly that they could only play with waterlogged cigarette paper around them and only for a couple of minutes. Thankfully the first oboist lent me a reed and while it wasn't my usual sound (it felt stuffy) but at least I was able to produce sound predictably on it. My little solo turned out pretty well I think. It may even be on film and if it is I will try to see if I can share it with you.

Overall, the experience was great, though my elation was dampened by the reed fiasco. It was exciting to be up on stage and to watch people come in to see us. Though once they turned the lights on I couldn't see the audience at all. Our conductor got all dressed up! And we had "ringers" who filled in missing parts and supplanted the string section so we sounded much better than during rehearsals. I thought I would have time to think about how miraculous it is to be there actually making the music, but instead I was too worried counting bars and looking at the conductor to make sure I didn't miss anything. I did make mistakes but it didn't really matter as the stakes were low and we were just there to have fun. That was the beauty of it. It was great to be with all these people making music and enjoying it.

I hope this is the first of many, many more concerts.