refuelling

February 22, 2015
It has been a bit of a tough time adjusting to working full time while still trying to keep up some kind of practice regimen. I tend to fall into a downward spiral of guilt culminating in late night internet manga and netflix binges. 

I forget, repeatedly, that the best way to restart the desire to play music is to listen to music. I've been lucky enough to get to see not one, but two operas this past month, and tonight had the treat of possibly the most wind-centric concert I've ever attended. Definitely feeling much more motivated...

Of course, a large part of my recent slump has been instrument related. I convinced myself for months and months that I was just stuck in the worst reed slump of my life (for real, I haven't felt like I liked my tone in over 4 months now). So I just kept slugging away at it, after all, I don't want to be that  person that blames their reeds for everything, so I need to FIX IT. 

Then my English horn bell cracked, possibly due to temperature in the room I was playing, or possibly the incredibly dry air caused by heating in this cold weather, who knows, but it was obvious enough for me to get it fixed. $500 later I realized it had a host of other, dryness related, problems. Meanwhile in my oboe practice I'm suddenly feeling like even the most vibrant reeds I can make won't give me any sort low range. This has NEVER been a problem with my oboe, there have been some weirdnesses with the higher range, but never a problem in the low range. Suddenly I felt like a begginner again, hoping that the low notes would come out.

Even still, I thought it was me, I was just becoming a horrible oboist because I haven't been practicing as much or as long lately. Clearly I'm losing EVERYTHING I ever learned.

Luckily for me, my cork finally shrunk enough that the joints were rocking back and forth when I was playing, so I took it in when I picked up the EH. Same host of problems, plus some rust and pads in need of replacement. Not all the work was done, but at least now it's playable again.

What's the moral, kids? It's probably you, but even so, check everything else FIRST. And forget about blame and self worth, just take your instrument in for a checkup any time you feel like things aren't going well. Worst case scenario nothing's wrong and you get to spend a little more time strategizing your reed making or practice approach. Best case it's a tiny repair and you feel and sound amazing afterwards. 
 

Check the dates FIRST!

November 17, 2014
I've recently moved to Toronto, which was huge. I sold all my stuff that I could possibly part with and shipped the rest via greyhound. That was June, I think. It's what, November, now? and I'm only just getting my feet under me again. It's been super hard keeping practicing, to the point where if I pick up the oboe at all it's a success.

However! I'm finally feeling like I can breathe again, and needed a way to get my practice routine back - and viola! (not an actual viola...that'd be...cruel...
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Reed Purgatory

November 29, 2013
Oh, but my reeds are Terrible this month. I have been spending wayyy more time on them with wayyy less impressive results. The more I work the worse they sound and the worse I feel. It's a sneaky hate spiral of Oboe proportions.

There is, at least, two common problems:

-that awful shrieking in the high notes
- horrid flat and kazoo-like tendencies.

Must run now. Will brainstorm solutions/troubleshoot later.

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OperaFeHk

November 2, 2013
OperaFeHk is gearing up to do a show on November 30th again. I'm both terrified and excited (and mildly alarmed that I've become rather used to this particular mix of emotions).

The amount of fiddly details involved in pulling this show together each year always astounds me - I never meant to become involved with (what has really become) an opera company. You'd think the name would have alerted me to Grimey's plans, but I can be a little dense sometimes.

Singers. Actors. SINGERS WHO ARE ALSO AC...
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Who needs goals??

August 15, 2013
You know how they tell you to set goals in highschool? In university? At work? You know how you always rolled your eyes and thought 'I don't need to set goals, I work hard, I know what I want and I'm self motivated'?

Yeah. We were wrong. Lazy brain loves fooling us into not getting things done, that's for sure. I mean, yes, I work hard, and yes, to a certain extent I've always got some internal idea of what I want but...

Well, to be honest, lately I've struggled with having a reason to get into...
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Yes, it's the little things.

September 29, 2012
I've recently started a program at BCIT which involves me getting up at 5:30am every weekday. It's amazing what it's done to my productivity! Suddenly, although I have way more to do, I'm producing way more reeds, practicing more and feeling deliciously alive.

Don't listen to anyone who tells you to slow down and do less when you're doing things you love. Do as much as you can (and sometimes you can do more than you think!)

I have TWO delightful reeds and a bunch of okay ones. Such bliss!

Now I...
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Fear is the mind killer.

August 7, 2012
For a really long time I've wanted to compose music. Why didn't I? Well, I kind of did, a little, when I was smaller and didn't really play an instrument. My friend Sarah and I wrote songs about shoes and mud and people we knew...and accompanied ourselves with the one chord I knew on guitar and usually pots and pans. It was great.

Then I started learning music. I've always been super eager to do well at things and usually end up being pretty mediocre. I applied myself and kept sort of waiting ...
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No more excuses.

April 14, 2012
There's this thing that happens when I go for too long without playing with other people. I start to hate how I sound. It creeps into my reedmaking and pretty soon I'm not happy with anything and I'm ruining what might've been perfectly good reeds with stupid anti-perfectionism.

 I'm playing with Sinfonia this weekend, and the rehearsal was very nice, even though I don't really like my reeds I still felt alright...although I was getting a lot more water in my keys than I was expecting. It's am...
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hardware malfunctions

February 25, 2012
Seriously low on reeds. Having the dull knife problem again. Ugh. I've also somehow damaged the side of my shaper tip with the razor while shaping cane, so now every time I shape a piece of cane the razor catches and it's super hard not to destroy it. AUGH. Not sure how it happened, but I might have to buy a new shaper tip - it's getting really annoying.

Playing Beethoven 4 tonight - I'm still not sure I like it (which is a horrible thing to say, I know, but it just never grew on me). Usually ...
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Stop being so Afraid and Just Play.

February 11, 2012
Making reeds under the pressure of an upcoming performance is always a little terrifying, but it seems like having a revolving cycle of different stages of reeds takes a little of the fear out of it. I've finally gotten to the point where I'll always have a few blanks, a few profiled and a few nearly finished reeds in my case, and boy does that make it easier to have a reed ready for tomorrow when I need it!

This week my student had a reed crisis at the same time as me; apparently an over enth...
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