Wednesday, September 16, 2009

At first, the time between the end of EMF and the start of school seemed endless; a month and a half of boredom and inevitably bad practice habits. A month and a half later, with school beginning in a week and auditions in only 3 days, I almost wish I had more time.

The EMF ended as powerfully as it began, though the program for the last week left a little to be desired. But then, I had my big moments in the first half of camp, and the student soloists were truly amazing. I'm so incredibly glad that I had a chance to attend EMF, and I only wish I could go back next year. The conductors I worked under were inspired and inspiring, and I met a lot of fantastic students. I'm sure some of us will run into each other eventually, and I'll be glad when we do!


The auditions at the beginning of the year here determine our rotation: who we will play with all year, and in which order we'll go through the ensembles. And it's also technically a board (also known as a jury). On the one hand, you really get to know the people you're playing with, and all of the wind sections rotate together. On the other hand, you unfortunately only get to play with 1/3 of the wind players. I'm not sure which rotation I hope to get into this year, because while all three are more or less equal, one rotation gets to play in the pit of both operas. However, that rotation also would screw up the schedule I've planned for the quarter. But we shall see.

We have a LOT of audition music. 10 pages, to be precise, with music from Brahms 1, Bizet's Symphony in C, Mendelssohn 4, Debussy's Afternoon of the Faun and Fetes, Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe, Sibelius 2, and Shostakovich 1. French Impressionism is...shall we say, very challenging. In undergrad we played one of the Daphnis and Chloe suites, and I believe it's still the hardest piece I have ever played in orchestra. At some point we'll be told which excerpts will be the ones actually used in the audition, but that point may be Saturday afternoon. Hopefully it'll be sooner. I'm obviously preparing all of them, but it would be nice to have a day to narrow it down.

Hopefully I'll also have some reeds for the audition. My cane lately has been exceedingly mushy, and I'm getting frustrated. I had such good luck for most of EMF, and I was really enjoying feeling comfortable and self-sufficient in terms of reeds. I'm nearly always completely self-sufficient, if only because I'm very used to my very idiosyncratic reeds, but at EMF I didn't do any work on reeds with my teachers until the last week, and I was really happy with my results the whole time. The climate, of course, was a big help- my reeds aren't quite as fond of Cincinnati. But I was similarly sufficient for much of last year at school, and I'll get there again eventually.


I also have...well, not big news, but news that could some day become big news. I'm applying to PhD programs in music history for next year, with the intent of studying 19th or 20th century opera of some sort. I've done a lot of thinking about this over the past year, and it's something I really want to do. I know by now that I'm not good enough to make it as a professional oboist. If I had a different temperament, and could make myself practice 6 hours a day every day, I think I have the raw ability. But that's not me, and it would make me miserable. I don't intend to ever give up playing the oboe, and I hope that I will be able to take lessons and play lots of gigs in the future, but I'm much happier when my stress level is a little bit lower. (And frankly it's easier to be a musicologist who plays the oboe than an oboist who writes articles on the side.) Besides, my classes here have really brought to my attention the difference a really good professor can make on your learning experience. I want to be one of those professors who help their students enjoy and be inspired by the material they teach.

So I've written another personal statement, and I'm figuring out what research papers I'll submit and bracing myself for another round of grad school applications. I'm taking Research and Writing this quarter, a required class for my Masters degree, and I'm planning to write a paper on the narratives created in Pasculli's opera fantasias. There's basically no existing scholarship on the subject, and I'm pretty excited. (I do look forward to the fact that come December the hard part will be over, not just beginning. Thank goodness for no auditions.)


I wanted to make a note of something. At EMF, one or some of the teachers found my blog, and asked my teacher to Speak To Me about it. I don't know who found it, or if they had any specific objections to it. My teacher was certainly nice about the whole thing, and said that she didn't want me to someday lose a job over something I'd written here, but I got quite a lecture and the intention seemed to me to be to convince me to stop blogging. It really freaked me out at the time, because I try very hard to be polite and professional on this blog, but I was caught too off guard to ask if there was anything specific on here that they objected to. I thought about the matter, and I'm definitely not going to stop blogging because of it or delete things that I've written in the past. While I do want to be professional here, and I am careful about what I write and try not to badmouth anyone, the intent of my blog is to give people an idea of the reality of being a musician and an oboist. Specifically, my reality and my experiences. I name names on purpose, I write about specifics on purpose, I hope that this blog comes up when people google pieces I've written about, or teachers I've studied with. I know that people can have very different experiences in similar situations, and I just want to provide yet another perspective. I'm not famous, and I'm not the best oboe player you'll meet, but I love what I do, I involve myself in it fully, and I have opinions that I want to share. I want to be informative. I'm not going to write horrible things about people or groups or what have you, but I'm also not going to never give specifics. I want people to have specifics.

That said, if I ever link to you or mention your name on here and you wish me to remove it, please contact me and I will do so immediately.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Think about this:
How would it be if one or more of your teachers posted a weekly blog about what went on in your lessons?
What if, according to your teacher, your weekly progress was substandard and your teachers blogged their opinions on your progress to the world via the Internet?

racheloboes said...

Anonymous,

First, there's a world of difference between "I think Rachel's got some good ideas, but I wish she would practice more! It's frustrating." and "Man, Rachel sucks! I hate teaching her. I wish she would stop playing."

I hope that when I criticize I do so more in the first manner than the second, and I think there is a lot of difference between the two.


Second, I frankly hold people in positions of power or authority to a different (and yes, higher) standard than I hold people in positions under them. This may be hypocritical, but I actually think that it isn't.

Anonymous said...

The music world is VERY small. It is also full of large egos. These two realities can cause any negative statements to have unintended consequences, whether they were expressed politely or crudely. It's very important to be aware of this, as it would be a shame if you were denied opportunities just because you had offended someone. Working in the classical music profession is not just about playing your instrument, it is also about how you interact with your colleagues. If you develop a reputation for posting negative things on the internet about others, musicians are not going to want to work with you.

Also, your example of "I think Rachel's got some good ideas, but I wish she would practice more! It's frustrating" could still easily be interpreted as being offensive. The phrase "should practice more" could be interpreted a number of ways by any reader. People could deduce that "Rachel" doesn't work hard, is lazy, is not a serious musician, etc. Hypothetically, what if "Rachel" won a job and her tenure review committee read this about her online? This is a good example of how your online critiques could be harming others as well as yourself.

Something to think about.