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Lone Oboe

avoiding the abyss

Updated: 2018-03-06T11:39:20.351-08:00


Tending my little garden


So I am following through, in my own way, on my decision to blog more, but on whatever I felt like.  Lately I've been really into plants and gardening.  I've always loved plants and trees, and when I first moved to LA, I started growing the little dollar bin flower pot Valentines from Target.   They had mini roses that I grew from seed, and they were my pride and joy.  I was thrilled by how they sprang from the ground as their own unique selves, absolutely unequivocally ROSES, complete with teeny tiny thorns and sweet little leaves.  They had adorable little blossoms, and I faithfully tended to them for several years, giving their care to helpful friends when I went out of town.  Here is a picture one such friend took to tease me:Since then, I've been through several more dollar bin Valentine adventures.  I even grew a tomato plant from one that actually produced tomatoes–I was so excited to eat them!  Once a bassoonist friend introduced me to the idea of aqua globes, my world opened up.  I could have lots of plants, and travel (as I did frequently for work), and still have plants!  I started growing the little herbs from Trader Joe's (mostly basil but sometimes oregano, thyme, or sage).  I also finally went and got some plants at a proper nursery. We grew more tomatoes, and chili peppers too!  (They were tiny, adorable, and packed quite a punch).  Lavender and rosemary thrived, smelled wonderful, and their blossoms drew hummingbirds.  Geraniums added bursts of sunny color. I started expanding, adding more craigslist-acquired shelves to both my balcony and roof.  We added indoor plants (my maidenhair fern, Philomena, was my pride and joy.  She cheered me up every time I saw her).Still, plants in pots seemed to have a lifespan that was shorter than I'd like.  Once you'd used enough basil from a potted plant, its leaves would grow back smaller and less flavorful.  My lavender and rosemary would grow too much for their own good, and just when they looked their biggest and best, they would become root-bound before I'd realized it and die off, despite my (too late) efforts to revive them.  Trips away still took their toll on the more delicate of the species (RIP Philomena).  And I came to a few realizations.1)  Plants take a lot of time, and they need daily attention.  You have to catch pest problems and diseases early, or the bugs will take hold and you'll never be rid of them.  I've reluctantly found that once a plant has a problem, it's better to get rid of it so it doesn't spread the pest than to try to fix it, because the problem inevitably comes back.  And in order to prevent the problems from occurring in the first place, plants need CONSTANT VIGILANCE.2) Every plant has its own preferences in terms of light and water, and the labels they come with only provide so much info.  You just need to see where the plant does best and how much water it wants based on its own reactions.3) Herbs are healthiest when you use them, otherwise they grow too big for their pots and suffer.  So I've started using fresh herbs from my balcony on a daily basis, because they taste delicious and the plants are happiest when kept in check.  4) I swear, they like it when you talk to them and tell them how beautiful they are.  I think plants are more social than we give them credit for.  Just read Hope Jahren's book, Lab Girl, and you'll see what I mean.  The New York Times also backs me up here:  So I try to talk to my plants daily.  I just redid my garden after some time away from home, and so far it is thriving.  That's because I've made a point to spend some time with my plants every day, both for their health and mine.  I find being around them makes me happy and relaxed. And it seems I am not alone.  Apparently, companies have started on a greening trend: . They call it "biophilia," and think it helps their e[...]

On College Auditions


Here is what I have gleaned from a scant 2 years of listening to college auditions.  I’m sure more experienced teachers will have lots more to say, and I probably will too after more years, but so far:1) Be cautious when asking for special treatment regarding an audition time.  Requesting special treatment shows that you probably lack knowledge of how the professional classical music world functions, and it shows some disrespect for the teacher and the institution you are auditioning for.  For major symphonies, auditions are planned far in advance for a particular day.  You either make it to the audition that day or you don’t take the audition.  If you wake up with a bad cold that day, oh well, sucks for you, but that’s life. It’s not fair, but that’s how it is.  You pay your own travel expenses, and you work your schedule around it, so if your cousin is getting married the same the same day as the big audition, it’s either the wedding or the audition, no way around it.  So the professional musicians you are auditioning for don’t have a lot of patience for the excuses that you have to miss an audition date.  College audition dates are usually published months in advance, so you should plan your schedule accordingly.  It might be difficult for you to travel to the audition location, but chances are that someone is coming from further than you are.  And remember, once you are a professional musician, you are responsible for getting yourself to auditions on your own dime, so get used to it.  Of the candidates who asked me for special treatment regarding auditions, most (but not all) either had no business being a performance major or they weren’t really that serious about joining my studio.  When it comes down to it, asking for a special audition time implies that your time is more important than that of the person or people you are auditioning for, or that of the other candidates.  Obviously, sometimes there are extenuating circumstances, but you are better off sticking to the audition schedule than asking for special treatment.2)  Know a little bit about the pieces you are playing for your audition.  You should be able to tell me a little bit about the composer (like when and where they lived) and the piece (like when it was written, for what audience or musicians, and what style/time period).  You should also, obviously, know the correct tempo to play it in, and of course play the correct rhythm, notes, and dynamics.  Although it is generally better to play a piece slightly under tempo and accurately than to play it the tempo it’s marked, but poorly, you should attempt to play the piece close to its tempo marking and not significantly slower.  You’d be better off playing a piece that you know very well up to tempo than a newer piece too slowly. In addition, was your piece originally written for oboe?  Is it part of the standard literature?  Does it fit the audition requirements listed for the school?  These are all important considerations.3)  Know a little about the person and school you are auditioning for.  In the days of Google, it is inexcusable not to do a little online research before you play for someone.  What schools did they attend?  What professional experience do they have? What does that tell you about what they might expect from you?  Does the program you are auditioning for suit your educational goals?  Why are you auditioning for them?  For example, if you would prefer to major in music education and not performance, auditioning for a performance degree might not be the best option for you,  and you should make sure the school offers an education major.  Are you hoping for a major orchestral career?  Choose a school with a good orchestra to play in, not one with a chamber music focus. Or vice versa:  if you want to have a chamber music career, choose a school with strong chamber music faculty and req[...]

I 💚 Jerry Brown and I 💚 California.


Also, this:



Well, clearly I have not followed through very strongly on my goals to blog more this year. I tried at first to stay positive, to find common ground. But as things have gotten worse and worse, I gave up on that. Instead, I am trying to just stay up, and not let the world's events get me down. Sometimes that just means staying in a little bubble for a bit. Other times, it means figuring out how to fight back.

Because in 2018, it's time to fight back. On environmental lines, on feminist lines, on economic lines. I'm not sure how music figures in, to be honest. For me, it might mean more chamber music, and being proactive in creating opportunities for myself to make music with friends I enjoy playing with and playing repertoire that I love, instead of just taking what is dished out to me. I think it also means expanding my involvement in the community beyond music, and in civic life. This past week, in which SoCal has been plagued by fire, has been strange. Much of my work has been canceled or postponed. So I finally have enough energy and creative juice to write, but I find myself with too much on my mind to focus on any one thing. So, here are some goals I'd like to set for myself in 2018:

1) Be more environmentally aware: recycle more carefully, use less water, take the car less, and try to find a way to compost.
2) Get involved in the community more: I'd like to go to some neighborhood council meetings, and participate in local events more.
3) Be more active in foiling the current administrations efforts to destroy this democracy: protest more, contact members of congress more, volunteer for organizations like the Giffords Law Center, the Union of Concerned Scientists,  and the Tree People
4) Keep my country moving forward by speaking up and voting:  about injustices like rampant sexism, unfair tax laws, uneven education, insane housing costs, and environmental injustice.

I'm writing this here to help me stay on track.  I hope now that 2017 is mostly done with, I will be able to follow through in 2018!!!

In the mean time, to help deal with 2017, here is a silly video to keep spirits up.  allow="encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" gesture="media" height="315" src="" width="560">

What Does the Fox Say?


This came up on facebook, and it made me laugh just as much as the first time I saw it. 
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Reflections on rejection


"Why is it so important that we all be humiliated, with such ingenuity and at such great expense?  We never thought we were such hot stuff in the first place."
–Kurt Vonnegut

Donald Grump has more trash than you


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Genie: It Ain't Necessarily So....


I meant to post this over the summer, but I forgot. I had been preparing to play Porgy & Bess for the Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre when I was suddenly reminded of the Genie's song from Disney's Aladdin (featuring Robin Williams)--in the middle of It Ain't Necessarily So.  Now I am playing an orchestral suite from P&B and I am again reminded of the similarities.  See for yourself if you hear what I hear (mostly in the "ba-da--doo, waaa, waaa!).

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I am convincing myself that buying those awesome Ray Ban sunglasses at Nordstrom Rack is also supporting a store after criticism from the commander in chief.

practice visitor


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Not so bad, after all...


I have to say, if you have to report for jury duty, the Santa Monica Courthouse is not a bad place to do it.  Assuming you can dodge serving on a 2-month trial, of course (whew!).  Not a bad lunch break:

Women's Marches


While I was unable to participate in a march on Saturday, I was uplifted to see women and supporters of women coming together across the world:

NYTimes Global Women's Marches

I've felt frustrated for a long time that the women's movement has fallen behind, and that we haven't actually moved forward since I was a child.  Maybe we just needed to wake up. In fact, here is some evidence of that, from a fashion blog (remember, women can care about both fashion AND politics, they are not mutually exclusive!):

(On that note, I was kind of tickled to see that Garance has moved to LA from NYC.)

And also, of course, the Teen Vogue article that everyone's been talking about.

So yeah, let's go ladies!



 I haven't really been blogging here for a few years now. I found that I was hesitant to post my thoughts about music, as I've worked longer as a freelance musician, for fear those thoughts might have an adverse affect on my work.  Especially since the longer I've worked, the more frustrations I've had.  However, recently I've decided that now it's more important than ever to be open, honest, and stand up for my beliefs. So I've decided to make a concerted effort to blog more frequently, and say what I really think, and communicate thoughts and ideas I'd like to share. Those thoughts might concern music, or travel, or California, or the environment, as they have in the past. I might talk about politics, though, too. I might talk about more mundane things that nonetheless I've gained an interest in lately, like gardening, cooking, home decor, shopping tricks, or even makeup (third wave feminism, ladies--I don't have to reject traditionally feminine areas of interest if I do it for myself, rather than for other people).  Or books, movies, backpacking, cars, or technology.  I also haven't been writing nearly enough and really I ought to change that (plus it's therapeutic). Right now, I'd like to process this inauguration. I will start by following the example of a man I think I will always hold in my heart as MY president by trying to take the high ground, find common beliefs, and hope for the best. I just read the text of the inauguration speech, and found some things I can agree with. America has for too long been responsible for policing the world, criticized for getting involved but also for not, so we are damned if we do, damned if we don't. I could see it being a good thing if we let the rest of the world do its own thing for a while while we take care of ourselves. We do need it. In practice I'm not sure how this will work out, but I'm willing to stand back and see what happens. I am curious also to see what happens when we cut some of the freedoms of trade. I don't think we need all the cheap crap from China we've become accustomed to buying, and we could all do with fewer, better crafted things made by ourselves in our own country. I recently assembled a tool kit for my significant other, and was appalled when I could no longer buy a steel tool box made in America from Sears, of all the most American of brands. I ended up buying a vintage 1980s Craftsman one (just like my dad's) on Craigslist. They literally just don't make them like they used to. I don't know if it's realistic to bring manufacturing jobs back to the US, if those jobs will just be done by robots soon anyway, or if the pollution they cause will do more harm than good. But I like the idea of quality items being manufactured here, and I'm willing to pay a little more for that. I also like the idea of a regular person without a college degree being able to get and keep a good manufacturing job that enables them to support a family, or at least support a family with the help of a spouse who can also work. More on that later. It's not realistic for everyone to attend college, but these days it seems that's the only way to make a decent life. We need alternatives. And I think if we can be on the cutting edge of technology and environmentally friendly manufacturing, we might be able to support such an alternative. So that's where I agree: let's stop financing the import of cheap crap from China, let's make and buy better goods here. Let's stop getting involved in other countries' businesses for a while and mind our own, see how it goes. Let's invest in our own infrastructure. And here is where I think I might diverge from the current administration. Let's include high-speed intern[...]

LA panorama


Found this beautiful film of LA on linked on the NYTimes  California section.



Just realized Blue Jasmine is Woody Allen's take on A Streetcar Named Desire.

SoCal Thanksgiving


Happy Thanksgiving from Southern California. 

David Weiss, a man of many talents


I've been putting this off for a little bit, but I feel it's important to do, so I am doing it.

Requiescat in Pace, David Weiss.

Last month, we lost another oboe great, and another man with whom I am fortunate enough to have studied music.  Since I am late in posting this, many others have already memorialized him.  So I will keep this short.  David was a great oboe teacher and orchestra coach, we know that.  But he was also kind and generous and always told it like it was, no sugar coating.  That's what we appreciated about him.  I had been meaning for weeks to write him an email, and then one day in late May, my friend Jenny texted me to let me know he had passed away.  I will never be able to send him that email.  I had been waiting til that next big performance, that next audition, was done, and now he's just gone.  I wish I had just written already, and let him know that I appreciated him.  At any rate, I will post this version of Astor Piazzolla's Oblivion, with David playing musical saw, and his family playing with him.

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RIP Ray Still


Incredible oboist and teacher. 

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In December, after over 7 years of living in California, I was finally able to visit Yosemite National Park.  It was just for a day, but it was snowy and beautiful, and I loved it.  Here are a few pictures.Wawona Lodge Rooms Available at the Wawona!(except it was closed...) Yosemite ValleyFrozen StreamFrozen Bridal Veil FallsBoulder, Tree, SnowHalf DomeEl Capitan Fireplace at the Ahwahnee Hotel Pretty TreeHalf Dome, different view Snowy Stream Half Dome at Sunset Lakebed in the MistHalfdome at Twilight[...]

The Snowman And The Snowdog


I love the original, but the new sequel to The Snowman is actually pretty good.  Though the flying song just doesn't compare.  But check out The Snowman And the Snowdog!  It's very sweet.

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This Onion article is both really funny and really sad at the same time:,34732/

Northeast Thanksgiving


Happy Thanksgiving from (I ♥) Bill Cunningham:

Makes me miss my homeland!