Wednesday, October 1, 2008

"If we play those measures any faster, the strings' arms will fall off.

There're more of them. And they'll come and get you." So says my orchestra conductor.

Orchestra continues to be fantastic, though unfortunately I don't get to play in Tchaik's Symphony 6. I'm amazed by the quality of the strings, though of course I shouldn't be. We're playing Romeo and Juliet, which you may know has intense, fast, bowed scale runs, and the entire string section can play them cleanly and together with each other. This compared to my previous orchestra's strings, who tried their hardest, but, well, hardly any of them were music majors.

It's still intimidating to be playing first, if only for the counting issue; there's much less chance to follow on entrances, and no-one to blame except myself if I screw up. However, I think that playing first in this orchestra is one of the best things musically to happen to me in a long time. The conductor is really pushing me to be more expressive, more expansive, more exaggerated, and just more audible as well. And of course I'm also being pushed by the rest of the woodwind section, who are very talented. The bassoons in particular are wonderful to sit in front of.

In my lesson this Monday I once again didn't play a note and we worked on reeds. My teacher makes reeds which are wildly different from mine, much shorter and with a longer, more defined tip and a stronger spine, and while I love the way his reeds sound, and play, in trying to make my reeds like his I'm about zero for 15. So I'm temporarily reverting to my normal reeds in order to fill up my box and give me something to play on in orchestra. (He also makes reeds using completely different steps, which compounds the problem. His first scrapes are very concentrated on the tip, which he gets to the point of clearly playing a c before taking more than just the bark and a few brief strokes off of anything else. I like to get my heart and back started before concentrating too much on the tip.)

I did manage to get music to prepare for my next lesson, though. I'm going to go through Barret from more of a teacher's perspective, and keep working on Gillet. Plus, I'm working up the Rathbun duet with another girl in the studio, playing the second part, and preparing part of the Strauss Concerto for next Monday's masterclass.

This past Monday, we had a presentation on the making of Fossati oboes, and got to both hear and try out seven different Fossati oboes. Coming from a Howarth perspective, I found most of them even more extreme than Lorees in terms of sounding narrow and bright, and feeling very resistant. There were a couple that were more open, but I have to admit that I wasn't thrilled with any of them. I did also try the oboe of the girl I'm playing duets with, which I really loved. It was a Loree, but a little bit older (unfortunately I don't remember the serial number), and felt very dark and open, yet controlled. Really lovely. I also introduced her to the trick of switching bells on oboes- I discovered summer before last that a great deal of an oboe's sound is in the bell, and that if you play another oboe with your bell on it, it will sound very close to your own oboe.

I ended up dropping my Broadway class, not because of the amount of work or time it required per se, but because of that time and work didn't fit well with my required schedule. I was really sad to give the class up, since it was my only discussion class, and on a topic I find really interesting, but the professor is letting me stop by his office and pick up all of the articles which he hands out to the class. So I'll still get to read analysis of Les Mis and Superstar, even if I won't get to discuss it.

In terms of my other classes, I've had two of the three of them cancelled in the past two days. History and theory continue to be pretty basic, and I haven't really had a class of piano yet. I think the most frustrating thing about classes, actually, is the lack of discussion, as there's no room for me to argue with the professor. :-)

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