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Preview: Clara de Corno

Clara de Corno

Tusen takk.

Updated: 2015-04-02T12:12:52.812-06:00


This is Cool


If you see her spinning to the right, you're right brain is working. If to the left, your left brain. If you can see her spinning in one direction and then the other, you have an IQ of over 160.


Ambiguous Thoughts Inspired by a Particular Event


Yesterday afternoon we were playing La Boutique Fantasque (a cool piece by Respighi/Rossini). And then the lights went out!

It was a nice moment. Especially because we had just arrived at this unison descending chromatic passage, and when the lights went out everyone just sort of extended it, kept going down in half steps, an instinctual musical response to the subito darkness. Aside from just being really funny (because music can be that, you know), it got me thinking. 80+ people from all kinds of backgrounds thrown together on a stage, and in that moment the majority of them made the same choice.

So, the moral of the story? We're all in this together. Like it or not, we are. If the basses miss their entrance, it's part of what I'm doing. If I blow a lick, it matters to the other 80+. And all the good things, which is actually most of what we're putting out, matter for everyone too. It's a nice feeling. And it also can be hard, and fucking scary.

Sometimes my friends ask me why musicians are "so crazy." I think it's because we're so vulnerable. So intimate. So together. You sit down, squeak out notes, and put yourself out there. It's a nice feeling. And hard. And fucking scary.

But those are the worthy things. To look someone in the eyes and tell them the truth, even if they don't want to hear it. To show up, even though you're dreading it all day. To stay calm, and trust, and stick to who you know yourself to be and know what you want, and remember that it will all be alright. To keep your mouth shut when it's the right thing to do. To see the bright side. To give or take space. To reach deep down and find the guts to do it. It's hard and it's exhilarating.

Everyone knows what I'm talking about- it's different for everyone, different specifics, but then it's the same. We're all in this together.

I'm working through some stuff lately, so please excuse the rambling. But it's worth it, and I've always enjoyed work, so it's not so bad. So I'm going to keep showing up, keep trusting, and keep reaching.

More to come...

A Dream Come True


Last night my new landlord, AC, had a chamber music party. I've always wanted to have a chamber music party, but I've been waiting until I own a house with a piano. Since we all know that's not going to happen for a long time, I've done the next best thing--moved into a house with a piano. With a woman who gives chamber music parties.

For those of you who don't know, a chamber music party is just what it sounds like: food, wine, and people sight-reading chamber music. Amazing.

I got to play horn/bassoon duets, Jan Bach's 4 2-Bit Contraptions for flute and horn, an old friend's arrangement of the three Gershwin Piano Preludes for horn and piano, and some beginner jazz duets with a neighbor who started playing the trumpet two years ago. Cool.

It took a lot of effort to get back for the party. I woke up yesterday morning in Texcoco, the hometown of my bf. To get back to Guanajuato, JCHD drove me to the bus station in Texcoco, where I took a bus to the bus station in Mexico City, where I took a bus to Guanajuato, where I took a bus downtown, where I took a taxi home. I walked in around 9 and I couldn't really feel my lips, but I figured they'd come through eventually. I splashed some water on my face, changed shirts, and ran upstairs to a lovely atmosphere of colleagues and acquaintances singing along to a flutist playing famous arias.

As the evening progressed I heard some Dvorak, some Schumann, some Vivaldi, some Puccini and some jazz songs (Gerswhin, maybe? Not sure, even though I could sing along). But mostly I heard soul. I heard real phrases and risks. Yeah I heard some wrong notes and wrong rhythms but I heard smiles and tears, tenderness and passion, suspense and resolution. I heard and felt community and a shared love of self-expression through art. I heard what music is all about for me.

It was important for me to get back and proved to be well worth all six legs of the journey. And I think it's important to focus on these sorts of things lately, to remind myself to focus on the good stuff. Unfortunately in the profession of music there are a lot of things that just get in the way- some of which we must not avoid (auditions) and some of which we must avoid (gossip) in order to continue in the field. But every musical experience can be about the good stuff, if we buckle down, get focused, and let it be.

So, this is my spring break resolution. In the practice room, in the section, at the brass quintet gig, behind the screen- focus on the good stuff. Because there's enough of it to go around.

And thank you, AC, for your chamber music party, at which there was plenty.

The Top 7 Things Not To Do If You Want a Successful Blog Post


1) Don't try to multi-task. You think that episode of 30 Rock playing in the background via won't distract you, but it will. You'll have no original ideas, save the post to a draft, and then feel bad later as you erase it.
2) Don't make promises. If you want to write, you'll write. If you won't, you won't. Guilt has no place in blog-land.
3) If you spend 6 weeks in another country and have this cool idea about changing the color/language scheme on your blog to reflect that, and then post a lot about all the amazing revelations you're having, don't not do it. It would have been cool. Oh well, next time, sigh...
4) Don't fall in love with a guy who a) doesn't have internet in his apartment, b) suggests taking a walk and seeing what's going on when you're bored, and c) doesn't know what a blog is. I do, however, recommend the former in terms of raising your quality of life. Just not your quality of blog.
5) Don't insist on being profound. Or minimum 500 words. Or witty. Or anything. Just blog it!
6) Don't name a post The Top " ." You'll always come up one short.

It's All About Balance


We are lucky to have this conductor with us this week. He really is outstanding and I'm very much enjoying everything I'm learning. I'm also enjoying that he's really dealing with problems our orchestra has, in practical and effective ways. For example, during the second rehearsal he was asking for more third and fourth horn. He asked a few times and then he went on break early to move the sounds shells to actually close the right side of the stage. Simple genius! We actually were playing quite loud, but to no avail since all the sound was going straight out the back door off stage right.

Anyway, something I've noticed, besides his never wavering commitment to musicality, incredibly clear stick technique, overall enjoyable rehearsal demeanor, and bizarre haircut, is that he mostly talks about balance. More of this, less there, because of this. Bring out this, accompany this, background, foreground. It makes sense- really it should be one of the only responsibilities of the conductor, if everyone else is doing their job well. After all, he/she hears more of the full package then any one of us possibly can. Unfortunately, the conductor often starts trying to do everyone else's job for them, and it never works.

OK, back to the positive spin. So, all this attention to balance is making me think about bigger-picture balance. And how I think that might be the secret to it all.

Balance! Work and play. Friends and boyfriends. Alone and together. Internet and nature. Verbal communication and silent understanding. Plans and spontaneity. Activity and rest. Career and family. Classical music and pop music. Getting up early to go running and staying up late to go dancing. Health food and junk food.

OK, those last three might just be justifications, but maybe not. Too much of anything is simply that, too much. The trumpets can sound fantastic, but if they're too loud, it doesn't matter. You can have a great boyfriend (who happens to play the trumpet) but if you spend too much time with him, it doesn't matter. You can be really organized, but if it's too extreme, it doesn't matter. I'm working these things out as I go.

Now, the secret may be balance, but the trick is finding it. That part I still haven't figured out.

I guess I'm going to need a lot more good conductors around to help me with that one...

It's Easy to Start Taking Things for Granted, Like Your Middle Name


As I was walking home today, I realized that after a measley six months in this place, I'm already starting to take it for granted. Sometimes I forget that I live in a place people come from all over the world to visit. But then I see a couple with matching tourist shoes (you know what I mean, right?), and it snaps me out of it.

That's what did it this afternoon, and the rest of my walk home was different- I appreciated the artists in front of the temple and the clown on the steps of the theater and the families eating together and the people oohing and aahing over the plaza I walk through every day. It's a nice reminder.

A lot of things have been happening in my life lately that make me appreciate the things I have usually taken for granted. For instance, I've been to the doctor probably 10 times this month. Nothing too serious, but it still makes me appreciate all the health I do have, as I contemplate doing leg lifts every morning and night for the rest of my life to keep my bad knee good, what migraine pills I have to always have in my purse because this is a new lovely little addition to my life, and that I just have to drink more water, as every doctor from head to knee mentions. But other than that every thing's fine, and I'm appreciative.

I had a cast on for ten days, and boy, when that comes off, you sure are grateful for the ability to walk again.

And then I was cleaning my room and getting ready for "work" by listening to a recording of the pieces we're playing next week. And the music is so beautiful and I was just overwhelmed with the realization is that it's part of my JOB to listen to beautiful music on a Sunday evening. That is not overlook-able- I refuse to ever take that for granted.

I'm also in a real relationship for maybe the first time in my life, and I would say one of the main differences between this and a fling is that there are ups and downs. (hence the rollercoaster comment, for those of you that are stalking me on more than one internet medium.) In a fling there are no downs, once it's down it just ends. Hence a fling having no substance and me being sick of them. The downs in this, and working them out, make me appreciate the ups, and they make the ups better, really. So, I'm feeling pretty darn lucky for my sweeeeet novio.

I just realized that maybe I'm anticipating Thanksgiving (my most homesick holiday) and I'm reminded of my latest self-resolution (besides drink more water)- whenever I'm homesick, I just practice. I figure, I left the States to do all this stuff on horn, so if I'm missing my family, I need to take advantage and do what I came here to do. Which makes me grateful to have a job I really love- playing great music every day. And grateful for the opportunities I get down here (I get to play a concerto with a real orchestra in November!!)

So, when this label on my knee x-ray came along, it was just the icing on the cake. Because really, how often do you get to feel especially grateful for your middle name (mine is Mayhew)?(image)

Been Missing My Blog? Oh, Grow Up.


This quote was just passed to me:

"Maturity is the ability to hold a contradiction."

Behold the following:

A: Writing, and sharing my writing, is really fun, important, fulfilling and valuable to me.
B: I haven't posted on my blog in over six months.

Accept the past. I'm back now.

As compensation, I'll give you the snippets I have almost posted, but never came to fruition, recently.

September 8th:

"Last night I was practicing the 3rd horn part to Borodin's Polovetsian Dances (yeah, if you think that piece is all offbeats for the horns, think again before you show up to the first rehearsal) and something snapped.

I felt the desire to post on my blog.

Actually, more than that. I not only felt the desire (which I've actually felt multiple times in the past 6-month drought, to your great relief or disappointment, depending on what kind of person you are.) I guess it snapped and stuck, because I'm actually writing and I'm actually going to post this.

I know you can hardly believe it- you probably think I'm just leading you on..."


September 3rd:

"Spanish Classes: Unit #1,463: Knee Vocabulary"

(only got as far on the title as that one)

A while back...when I thought I might salvage it without too much notice:

"My Relationship with my Blog

Let's face it, it's been suffering significantly. Or, to put it more diplomatically, it's been changing."

Actually there were many more but I deleted them in a obsessive cleaning frenzy.

I'll admit, it's a little tough for me to come crawling back. But I'm hoping you'll embrace me with open arms. And you can count on me to post at least once a week-I'm recommitting.

Behold this, too:

A: This post is a bit childish and trivial.
B: It's not.

The Weirdest Gig Ever?


There's a bit of competition for this title, but I think last Saturday wins it thus far in my life as a musician.

We "performed" for about an hour at the most expensive wedding reception I've ever seen, which took place in La Mina de Guadalupe. Some of the selections, orchestrated for horn, trumpet, flute, oboe, strings, and DRUM MACHINE included:

"Mr. Jones"-Counting Crow
"Live Forever"-Oasis

Nevertheless, I learned a few important lessons.

**Sight reading rhythms is not easier when you know all the words to the song.
**When it comes down to it, most pop songs consist of very similar elements.
**These elements should not include French horns carrying the melody.

And, finally...

**I will NEVER have this kind of music at my wedding!

Magical Mexico City Tour


I spent last week exploring Mexico City and some particularly beautiful nearby places.This was my view of the Zocalo from my hostel room.The Zocalo of Mexico City is a magical experience I got to repeat five times. La Catedral Metropolitana, El Palacio del Gobierno with the amazing Diego Rivera Murals, the Aztec Ruins, the street performers, and the people, oh the people--tons and tons of people. Unbeknownst to me, everything shuts down pretty early and it's a bit dangerous around there at night (different than the centros of most Mexican cities) but during the day, it's fantastic.I reunited with a friend from school in the "Zona Rosa."As always, a taste of past life makes me hyper-conscious of a) how much not just time, but life, has passed, and b) how much I've changed. Getting a shot of Wisconsin in the midst of Mexico City was a good juxtaposition of me-past and me-present (it's all about me after all, right?) But, aside from the extensive self-analysis, it was great to see RS and get his take on his experiences since school, and meet his traveling partner and here about his experiences living in India and Pakistan!The next day, I spent a whopping 3.5 hours in a bank trying to make an international transfer from Mexico to Norway. Way to go HSBC. The thing is, Mexico City is actually pretty efficient and fast-paced. Unfortunately, the transfer had to be approved by the branch in Yucatan since I haven't changed my address and well...este...five phone calls, two emails, and three and half hours later they finally came through. No magic there.Not my preferred way to spend my first morning in DF, but it was compensated by spending the afternoon "dando una vuelta" (going for a drive?) with my super-cool horn playin' friend JCQM. Mexico City is like 350 worlds in one- you can go from beautiful university campus to neighborhood where the economy is based on stolen car parts in a matter of minutes. I enjoyed getting the world-wide tour.EC showed up Tuesday evening and we did some restaurant hopping as we caught up on the changes of the last year--lots of different experiences, lots learned, lots to talk about.Wednesday was market day which meant a large amount of incredible sights (huitlacoche, pictured above), cheap food (the cake made out of cookies "takes the cake") , and Mexican men shouting "Guera (white girl)!" repeatedly at the top of their lungs. My favorite were the garlic stands (piles and piles of all types of garlic-you could smell it long before you could see it, of course) and the brujería (witch magic) stands with animal legs and reptile skeletons and various skulls just hanging there. When we asked what they were for, our friendly brujería salesman responded, "Que traigan galanes (to bring attractive men)" with a smirk. It was an ideal afternoon, well worth the sunburn and some sore feet.We took off for Angangueo around 4 in the afternoon in order to visit the butterfly sanctuary the following day. Arriving around 8:30 we dropped off our things and headed towards the fairy-tale-like food stands by the cathedral. Michoacan seems to be big on sweets- candied figs, peaches, pumpkin, guayaba, and who knows what else. They eat the super sweet treasures on bread, like a candy sandwich! We passed on the candied fruit, and went instead for "hotcakes" with cajeta (check it out EC-heh heh) and fried plantains with canned peaches, cream and jam.We shivered back to the posada and dove under the covers in attempts to get some rest before our trip the next day. That may be the coldest I've ever been in Mexico!The next morning we caught a bus up the mountain, literally. EC and I have ridden a lot of buses in our time in Mexico, and neither of us had ever quite had an experience like this one. Creeping along the side of a cliff, going around curves and enduring [...]



Kindness abound. On this religious day (this past Friday- to be honest, still not entirely sure the name of the actual holiday, there's so many around here this time of year I can't keep track of all the names), mines all over the state open their doors to the public, putting on a fantastic feast called a "kermess" for whoever shows up, totally free of charge.

Either the food was really amazing or I was overly-influenced by the ambience. Both probably. Tacos (nopales con camarones my favorite), chile rellenos, chile-covered mangos on a stick, piles and piles of fruit, eight flavors of ice cream, cocktail de camaron, tacos dorados topped with a fantastic salsa, elotes, and gallons and gallons of agua de sabores.

Reason enough to go was just to see the mine, a world in itself. We ate the shrimp cocktail sitting on the rail cars--shortly after some miners came to ride them down the track and into the mine- another day's work, after all. 60% of Guanajuatenses still work in the mining industry.

Memories work in strange ways. This day will stay with me forever- the drive through the hills to arrive at "Cubo", the tiny mining town, eating a tamarindo popsicle while sitting on a see-saw and chatting with RA waiting for the feast to begin, exploring the area while the mass finished, finding the only other Americans in attendance and realizing we were both UW-Madison grads, standing in long lines for food, but enjoying the process, since once you got through the first line, during the consecutive line you could eat the food from the previous, enjoying the ride back--feeling a satisfied exhaustion from having a Friday different than any other Friday I've ever experienced.

Every time I think I'm ready for the next phase of my life, I experience something like this which just makes me feel like I'm not done with Mexico yet. ?!?

So how much more time do I need? Will I ever be able to move on without some sad emotions (I highly doubt it).

So then I Wikipedia-ed this strange strange word, in hopes of some Internet wisdom, and this is the best they could do. Thanks Wikipedia.

And Then There's This...


Goodbye to All That #2

...I'll admit I'm back to being undecided. I guess it doesn't really matter and the truth is it will be decided for me. But I'd like to just know what I think. Aaaacckkk!

Clap Your Hands, Shuffle Your Feet


I took in a notable performance last night.First, it was at a bar.Second, it was a composition by Hindemith.Third, it was for double bass and clarinet.Fourth, it was fantastic.I have a suspicion these elements do not often convene.As I understand it, Hindemith wrote the piece for either him and his wife or someone and his wife (at that moment the Spanish didn't get through) who had taken up the clarinet and the bass, respectively, as secondary instruments. The music has absolutely no markings in it, just notes. And it's intended to be played at vacation-time. I was impressed with the freedom with which the performers played. They were very present, they were having fun. Taking risks and playing the music for the first time and the last time. Not surprisingly, they brought the audience right along with them. Laughter, quiet, and applause. Or not.The work consisted of five or six movements. After some of the movements, the audience clapped, after some of them, they didn't. After one of the movements, half the audience clapped.I liked that. It seemed that people clapped when it felt right, when they wanted to clap, and didn't when they would rather just have that last note linger a bit longer. As the performers exhibited and expressed their freedom, they allowed the audience to do the same.So what's the deal with clapping? I won't deny that when an audience claps after the first movement of a symphony a wash of judgement flows through me. But then, I think, on the other hand, why the hell not? I remember reading an article by an "uneducated' classical music enthusiast about his experience of a performance of Beethoven's 3rd Symphony. A talented writer, he described the symphony vividly, coupling the path of the music with his personal experience of listening. He took you along for the ride and then, when it was all over (just the first movement), you were convinced you yourself would have applauded, as he did in the concert hall, only to receive a bunch of shhhs! and awkward looks. The guy has a pretty good point- if you aren't naturally moved to applaud at the end of the first movement of the Eroica Symphony, there's something wrong with you or the orchestra that's playing it. (But, then again, what's so natural about clapping anyway? More often than not, when I'm participating in applause, I end up thinking about what a strange ritual it is and wonder what other life forms would think of us...) The performance was great- rambunctious and humorous and touching and soothing and silly and solid. Afterwards a bunch of the musicians in the audience were talking about pieces we could play in this space- a cafe/bar owned by one of the cellists in the orchestra. It seems that Tuesday nights are a sort of open mike night to often include instrumentalists and their classical music. I'm still figuring this whole Guanajuato-thing out but it also seems that this sort of event is pretty standard (so how cool is that?)I left at 1 am with some new friends, a lot of inspiration, and two plans for pieces to perform soon!So what's the deal with feet-shuffling? All of you musicians know what I'm talking about- the customary way to show your approval or admiration or whatever while you are sitting in the ensemble with someone. Sometimes it means shuffle so the sshhhsshhh sound carries to the ears of the intended recipient, but now it's turned into tapping the knee, bouncing the knee, sticking out the leg, sticking out both legs, waving a toe, who knows.Now, those of you that have ever played with me know I was a big foot shuffler. Kind of cheerleader like. I like to be positive, I like to tell people I like how they play. But I'm telling you, I'm giving it up. It's just getting out of hand. I can[...]

A Reminder About Success


To laugh often and love much
To win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children
To earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends
To appreciate beauty
To find the best in others
To give of one's self
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition
To have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived
This is to have succeeded.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

This Book is Filled to the Brim


Look out, this is an infomercial.I just finished reading The Perfect Wrong Note: Learning to Trust Your Musical Self by William Westney. It is such an amazing book on so many levels that I feel like it has contributed not only to my practice room behavior, but also my mental state while performing, my style of teaching, the way I listen to other players, and my overall approach to life. All of this in just a few weeks. I plan on reading it, or pages from it, once every couple of months for many, many years.When I read a book I dog-ear the pages that hold something I want to remember, something profound, something I want to share, something I want to write down and put in a place I will often see. I know this practice offends some book-lovers out there, but it's what I do. Don't worry, if you lend me a book I won't do it to your book.This book has basically doubled in width due to all the dog-ear-ing.I'm just going to highlight a few, and ramble about what they encourage me to think about."...the reason so many of us lose our bearings about practicing early in life is that we practice in living rooms with other family members in earshot--and healthy practice would simply sound too obnoxious, intrusive, repetitious, and unmusical for others to hear without annoyance...most of us would practice correctly just by instinct if we weren't in living rooms..."In junior high I practiced piano in the living room while my mom was making dinner. In high school it was the horn (and wherever you practice the horn, people are going to hear you). Sometimes I would practice in the music wing at my high school. In college, the practice rooms in the Humanities building. Four years, four hours a day, virtually every day. Summer festivals, practice areas for all participants. Yucatan, my house that I shared with two co-workers. Now, the room I rent where co-workers often hang out.Basically, I’ve spent my entire life practicing within ear shot of people whose opinion I value.This fact in itself is not particularly important. The realization that I’ve spent my entire life practicing while thinking about what other people think is priceless. First of all, it’s taken over a significant portion of my brain. Secondly, it puts me in an automatic state when I pick up the horn- holding horn, thinking about what other people think. Thirdly, it’s an absolute waste of mental energy.Letting this go gives me an incredible sense of freedom. Of course it’s a process and a challenge to face every day. But even considering letting it go opens doors."Again the performer is gently reminded to stop trying to control the outcome, but to stay flexible and focus instead on how the moment actually feels."I performed Tchaikovsky’s Second Symphony every night this week. That is a difficult task in its own right- the music kind of disappears and it becomes a series of notes. Of course the best is to continue to find the music, but sometimes you just can’t. And you begin to feel like you are playing accuracy exercises, and you can’t figure out why there is an audience present. What I discovered in this process is that playing the horn is just inhaling and exhaling with purpose. I’ve played for long enough to understand what produces and what doesn’t. So I began focusing on just inhaling and exhaling. Much like in yoga, when you really focus on the breath, you find a very pleasant space in which to exist. In which to play.I can be a control-freak. I’m interested in letting that part of my personality slide, at least while I’m playing."It would help tremendously if book-smart people thought of music more as a sport and less as an intellectual activi[...]

This My New Theme Song


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I'm on the fourth straight hour of being online today. The end is not in sight.

This is getting insane.

And I love this song.

Now if only I could find a hat like that...

There's a First Time in a Long Time for Everything


Last night, for the first time in a looooong time, I played first horn in a concert in a real orchestra.It was just this tiny little overture ("La Primavera" Overture by "the Mexican Bellini" Beristáin)--I really hardly have the right to be blogging about it, but nevertheless, here I am.It was a very valuable experience.I'm reminding of a post Spot did a few years ago where he said something about it not being good when playing first doesn't feel normal. You want it to just feel usual, no biggie. (I would link the post directly but Spot has been blogging for a a quarter of my lifetime, and I just don't have the kind of time it would take to find that particular post. I have no doubt he'll jump in and provide the link if he feels it's at all important.)Well, it didn't feel normal, but it felt OK. It is so very different than playing in a section, it's almost like they should pay you more or something. ;)What struck me especially was how much more you have to which to pay attention. When you are playing second horn, as long as the first is playing, you pretty much focus all your attention on the first. As long as you match them exactly, you're doing your job.Well, OK, there are a lot of other things you have to be aware of, but at least you have your priorities neatly lined up for you- Objective No. 1: Match first horn. Objective No. 2-28: A bunch of other stuff.But when you're playing first the priorities keep changing: Bars 1-3: Match first oboe, Bars 4-6: Lead, Bars 7-9: Tune to piccolo, Bars 10-12: Fit into brass sound, Bars 13-15: Cellos, Bars 16-18: Lead, Bars 19-21: Bassoons and Clarinets, Bar 22: Stay with conductor, and on and on and on. It's incredibly interesting, satisfying, and mentally exhausting when you are not accustomed.The other big realization I had on the first real concert of my new job playing high horn, not just first, but third, which is really my job here, is that you simply cannot be afraid to miss notes. It's not an option.Firstly, the reality is that you are going to miss sometimes. You play the horn, it's part of the package and there's nothing you can do about it.Secondly, if you are thinking at all about missing, you're chances of doing exactly that increase threefold. This seems to ring even truer for high horn playing, probably because, due to the nature of the harmonic series, the chances of missing are higher up there. (Maybe that's why they call it "high" horn?)Thirdly, if you play not to miss, and you don't miss, it sounds like playing not to miss--- note (whew, glad I didn't miss that)-note (whew, lucked out again)-note, etc.Not exactly why I play music.However, if you play to phrase, to express, to enjoy your sound, to create atmosphere, to collaborate with surrounding sounds, and all of that delicious music stuff, and you do miss, well, it still sounds delicious.Just for the record, it sounds more delicious when you don't miss.But you simply can't be afraid to miss.So, the first time in a long time playing first was, in conclusion, a fantastic learning experience. I hope I get more of them.It was also the first time in a long time I have played a concert wearing a long sleeve shirt. It's cold here at night! It's awesome!On Thursday night I went to a yoga class, and for the first time in a looooong time I feel asleep during shavasana. I think that says more about my mental state in the last...well, long time...than anything. Doing yoga on a regular basis is valuable not only because of the shape it gets you in and the way it helps you breathe, but because it reveals to you so much about yourself and your current state. You can star[...]

Rain Drops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens


So far in G I have a variety of favorite things, but I think I may have discovered my favorite favorite thing yesterday.

I have been looking for a good place to go running in this town. I can't just go out my front door and go from there- this town doesn't work that way. The sidewalks are too tiny and crowded in the center of town (where I am lucky enough to live) and the cobblestone streets are a little too conducive to sprained ankles.

MP clued me into this ramp near my house (this town is made out of stairs and ramps, it's all based on different levels due to the whole city being built into the mountains), that if I just walk up it, and keep walking up, I can get to the Panoramic Highway pretty quickly. She claimed 5 minutes, but let's face it, she's in better shape than I
. 10 minutes isn't bad though, and it's a good warm up.

So I got up there, stretched a bit, and took off. I headed toward the hospital, as MP had suggested, and then ran through the parking lot and followed the dirt road to "la bufa" (not like the opera, music nerds, it's just what the call this place up in the mountains here). By the time I got there I was pretty worn out (that darn altitude...arrgh!) but I kept going a bit further, luckily.

La Bufa is like the opening of the Sound of Music, except a little browner, and warmer, I would imagine. And a bit more trash, I guess. But once you've lived in Mexico for awhile you stop noticing the trash.

But truly, it is so beautiful and peaceful up there. The air feels amazing and you just feel that the world is yours, up there looking out over wide open spaces. I went at about 6:30 and the sun was just starting to go down. The light against the hills was perfect, and ever-changing. I think if I go up there four times a week I will never again be in a bad mood. Then, as icing on the cake, as I walked back down it was just getting dark, and the lights in the houses sparkled in just a way that you almost think they're candles, like Whoville from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas or something.

Some of my other favorite things include that it takes only 1 hour for my laundry to dry, my 43 second "commute" to work, my eccentric and very sweet horn students, that we are playing a Brahms Serenade in a few weeks, and how tourists ask me when I'm around the theater..."Ingles? Oh, good, do you know about events here? Blah blah blah..." (I'm sure this will get old real fast, but for the present it makes me feel special.)

My favorite things do not include today's breakfast experience. I was sitting at the table, eating a bowl of cereal, forcing it down as I wasn't really hungry anyway but knew I had to eat something before rehearsal. I hadn't even had coffee yet when this happened. One of the cats, "Castro" creeped up to the counter right next to the table. I glanced over and he started gagging, more of a dry-heaving actually. I had about four seconds to think, "what in the world..." and then he proceeded to throw up all over the counter. I literally ran to the other side of the kitchen and dumped out my bowl of cereal. Awesome.

Cleaning House, Or Just the Third Floor


I realize that in the last 1...2...3...4...5...months I've been pretty ambiguous on the logisitics of my situation. Just little hints dropped in various posts and side-bars. So I guess it's time I come clean.In October 2007 I quit the Yucatan Symphony Orchestra and headed out on what ended up being a 10-week spree of freelancing in various orchestras in Mexico (and one in the States). I lived out of my suitcase, met a TON of musicians, saw many different parts of this amazing country, and drank a lot, I mean A LOT, of cappuccinos of various quality out of paper cups.My last "gig" turned into my current "job", here in Guanajuato, Guanajuato, Mexico. They needed a third horn player, I showed up, played a week, and then they asked me to stay, at least for six months for now. So, I got the job, and then we went on vacation for two months. That was pretty cool. :)I headed back to the frosty north, and spent about a month and a half there, just long enough for me to begin to imagine the positives of life in the USA again. But, always faithful to the orchestra, I came back here a few weeks ago to settle into my new job, new climate, new home, new life!So far, so good. It is FANTASTIC to have a job playing high horn, as I can take the drastic improvements I've made in that area in the last year and really put them into use. I feel for the first time in my life that playing high notes is not especially scary or difficult, but is rather just like playing the rest of the notes. The horn is actually beginning to feel easy, and I find it's the music that's difficult, not the instrument. Now that, that is fun.The climate here is perfect. At least so far. But it was perfect before too, and people say it doesn't change much. It's like heaven compared to Y...The home is lovely as well. I'm renting the third floor of a house one block away from the theater, and right downtown. So the location is perfect, and I really like the space (below is my bedroom and my balcony!) And the view from my balcony!Of course the best part is drinking my own homemade coffee from my own favorite Nissan mug. That's probably what I missed most when I was "on the road"!As far as my new life...well, I don't really have one yet. I mean, aside from rehearsal, I don't really do anything, and it feels pretty bizarre after running around the country for two months, and then running around MN for two more months. My days are basically pretty empty and I'm not sure what to do with myself.I've found that I'm filling my time with this one huge question: how can I get better at the horn?? I've made a lot of leaps in the last few years, but I want to make quite a few more. I finally have an embouchure that works, a mouthpiece I love, and at least an order in for the horn I want. It's pretty much all on me now. I'm doing a lot of reading, listening, reviewing of old information, and processing. I'm hoping it all comes out the bell sooner or later! I've also become aware of some of the major things that have held me back so far and had some breakthroughs regarding that. But I think I'll save that for another post...Alright chicos and chicas, I hope that answers all your questions. I'm going to try to be better with the pictures, but I make no promises.[...]

Cats and Cat-Like Things


I've never lived with cats before, in fact I was always was under the impression that I was allergic to them. I probably still am, but since there is no carpet in this house and they never come upstairs (where I spend the majority of my time), it's not a problem. Still, it's going to take me quite a while to get used to seeing them on the stairs (still startles me every time) and on the kitchen counter (I try to use language to tell them to move and it never works so then I groan and push them off...)

There is this guy in the trombones that keeps meow-ing while we rehearse these absurd pops pieces. I try not to laugh, to maintain a professional demeanor. It really shouldn't be that funny anyway, right?! I don't know what it is, it must be the timing, but every time he does it I just cannot contain the giggles.

So far, this orchestra seems a lot less catty than my previous one, but I'm sure it's just because I'm still new. But they at least talk about work a lot less, which is refreshing.

Because the door in our house is a little strange and doesn't always close like it should, J doesn't feel comfortable giving a key to the house cleaner. Since someone's not always home when she comes to clean, they've found the next best solution: when she finishes cleaning the house next door, she just jumps over from their balcony to ours, cat-style, and goes in through the upstairs, naturally! (Only in this crazy town!)

Sicker Than Sicker Than a Dog


Tuesday night I began to feel ill and by Wednesday afternoon it was like a truck had run me over. I was hobbling around moaning to myself and wondering how I was going to get through the 7 hour recording sessions the next day.

Luckily it never came to that because I was so sick I got out of it. I think I probably would have fainted on stage anyway.

It was pretty much the absolute worst time to get sick, on my third day in a new job and new city, hence, no one to really help me out. At least a clinic and a pharmacy are all within 5 minutes, walking.

The worst is over and I'm beginning to see what resembles my old self again. I'm even feeling optimistic.

The Good Things About Being So Sick You Can't Get Out of Bed For Four Days:

1. You have plenty of time to watch some movies you've been meaning to see that find in your new roommate's den like The Holiday and The Graduate and review all your old favorites like Moulin Rouge, The Sound of Music, Clueless, and Sex and the City, Season 4. Let's face it, you can't do much else.

2. You don't have to do dishes because you don't have to cook because you don't have to eat because you have ZERO APPETITE.

3. You lose 15 pounds because of number 2.

4. You're new roommate makes you amazing chicken soup for when you start to turn the corner.

5. When you come out of the stupor, you feel like making a fresh start.

6. When you come out of the stupor, you appreciate the important things, and find it easier to shake off the not-so ones.

7. When you go back to playing the horn, you really appreciate your new embouchure change all over again.

8. Meryl Streep was right when she said the secret to great hair is not washing it too much.

I'm still definitely under the weather, but at least I'm out from under the truck.

If You Like Me, You Will Love My Friends


This post isn't about me (imagine that!). This post is about two friends and two assignments for you.

The first assignment is to voted for AD at

All you have to do is send an email to and include your name and phone number in the email.

You could spend hours reviewing the episodes online, or you could just trust me that she's the foxiest one on the show, no contest, and take one minute to vote.

The second assignment is to check out:

This guy posts way more on his blog than I do, so you can use it as a substitute when your really craving C de C. I like his politics, and he makes the best videos.

I am enjoying starting a new life in G...but I haven't come up with a good blog title for all that yet, so you'll just have to guess the details. :)

The Clincher


I've been vacillating between two very enticing Democratic candidates for awhile, leaning towards one lately, and now, after reading this, I've definitely made my decision and gone the way of my leaning.

So there, I'm done vacillating.


2008-01-30T11:30:51.453-06:00, it's not a kind of pasta, the latest pop star, or recently discovered Puccini's...

a kids' song!

And also the absolute cure for any kind of bad mood. Just follow the instructions, and be silly. (But really, it has a great beat.)

A tutita, a tutita, a tutita-ta.
A tutita, a tuitita, atuitita-ta.

Pulgares arriba.

A tutita, a tutita, a tutita-ta.
A tutita, a tuitita, atuitita-ta.

Pulgares arriba, codos atras.

A tutita, a tutita, a tutita-ta.
A tutita, a tuitita, atuitita-ta.

Pulgares arriba, codos atras.
Pies aparte.

A tutita, a tutita, a tutita-ta.
A tutita, a tuitita, atuitita-ta.

Pulgares arriba, codos atras.
Pies aparte, rodilla juntas.

A tutita, a tutita, a tutita-ta.
A tutita, a tuitita, atuitita-ta.

Pulgares arriba, codos atras.
Pies aparte, rodilla juntas.
Caderas arriba.

A tutita, a tutita, a tutita-ta.
A tutita, a tuitita, atuitita-ta.

Pulgares arriba, codos atras.
Pies aparte, rodilla juntas.
Caderas arriba, lengua afuera.

A tutita, a tutita, a tutita-ta.
A tutita, a tuitita, atuitita-ta.

Pulgares arriba, codos atras.
Pies aparte, rodilla juntas.
Caderas arriba, lengua afuera.
Ojos cerrados.

A tutita, a tutita, a tutita-ta.
A tutita, a tuitita, atuitita-ta.

Pulgares arriba, codos atras.
Pies aparte, rodilla juntas.
Caderas arriba, lengua afuera.
Ojos cerrados, désen una vuelta!

A tutita, a tutita, a tutita-ta.
A tutita, a tutita, a tutita-ta.

I could do other jobs.


Ok, so I'm a little weak on the titles lately. But I'm writing, so you've got to give me credit for that.

This has been an interesting "vacation" for me, in that it's been way longer than a normal vacation, so it's been a little taste of life in the US again, and not as a musician. Sort of. I'm not really working (8 hours a week doesn't count), but I'm not playing outside of the practice room either. I'm not gallivanting across state borders every other day to play random gigs and sub in commuter orchestras. And I'm not walking to my full-time orchestra job in the same hall every day. So, I'm doing something I haven't done since before I graduated from college--I am not working as a musician.

This has provided a few insights (always important to have insights!), the first being that I think I could work in another field and be happy. I mean, maybe. And I used to think that I had to be a musician or nothing. So that's nice to know. Like I think I could be the secretary at Peppermint Fence Pre-School and still find a satisfying life. (They had an opening, it crossed my mind). Or I could go back to school and get certified and be a Spanish teacher and really enjoy that. Or figure out how you become a translator, and really up the level of my Spanish and learn some other languages and do that. And these ideas are all kind of exciting to me; they make me think of the other parts of my brain and talents I would be exercising in these pursuits, or others.

But, at the same time, this two month period away from playing for money has shown me that I have it in me to be a horn player. (I've always been a big fan of the juxtaposition in my blog, have you noticed?) I have continued to improve completely on my own in the last 2 months, I have really solved some things and stayed committed in the practice room. I've worked on a lot of the self-s (self-discipline, self-confidence, self-acceptance, self-awareness, self-evaluation) that are so important to being a musician. And I've really enjoyed the process and the results! I've been to a few great orchestra concerts and gotten that rush at the thought of being up there, like I used to as a teenager. And that feeling alone is enough to keep you going for a good couple of years. I've also come to appreciate the logistic advantages of being a musician and see how I could make a really great life for myself with a decent orchestra job.

The freedom I get from the above insights combined is significant. I get to "keep up the good work" and continue to pursue my dreams, but I don't feel this unbreathable pressure to make it. I just really, really want to, which is different.

And as I was telling my Dad the other day in the lobby after an SPCO concert, worst case scenario, I continue doing all this stuff for the next however many years, and if I arrive at point in which I just am not going to make it, I become a manager at Target until I figure out the next thing, and I have no regrets. Really.

There are so many amazing things to be done in the world. I'm just choosing one of them.