• Thumbs strictly sideways

    I have this student who usually gives ratings on music with her thumb, especially when she feels she feels shy or bashful about giving a piece she’s performing some sort of approval that’s less than stellar.  She sticks her thumb out sideways (versus up or down) to set her opinion on a strict middle-of-the-road option.  There’s so much good and so much unfortunate going on lately, that I find myself agreeing with her.  I would much prefer to live my life in the optimistic glow of seeing all the beauty in the world, but so much other stuff just keeps poking through.

  • Unions and a shoe analogy

    I’ve had the wonderful experience this weekend of being the Portland Opera Orchestra’s official ROPA delegate at this year’s annual conference. ROPA (and I needed this too) stands for Regional Orchestra Players’ Association, and is a division of the musician’s union that covers some smaller budget, shorter season orchestras in the country. Every year we hold a conference to discuss the status of our respective 85 (!) orchestras, and also plan and strategize for short and long term futures. At its most specific, it’s a technical discussion of our industry. At its most broad, its an annual labor union conference. At this point, let’s put in an alert here –…

  • Competition

    When I think back to the moment that really sparked an interest for me in my musical career, I’ve got to think WAY back. I was sitting in the middle of the second violins in the intermediate orchestra that was part of the Front Range Youth Symphony association in Colorado. It seemed like something fun to do, and I figured I would be good at it – I was already the best violinist in my tiny fifth grade school program, and I hadn’t even had to try. I was able to rely up to this point on my genetics that gifted me a good ear and ability to follow basic…

  • In which the snare drum and I share some serious personal space

    Plum, pineapple plum, pineapple plum plum plum, pineapple plum, pineapple pineapple pineapple… That, my friends, would be the “fruit salad” version of the rhythmic motif from Ravel’s Bolero, a piece that I’ve somehow managed to make occupy a significant portion of my brain. The repeated rhythm has become both a constant companion in my day-to-day hummings AND a convenient metaphor for the way I’m running my life at the moment. No matter how much preparation I wish I had for a given day, and how much I try to dig my heels in the ground to give myself more time, the sun comes up and goes down with an annoying…

  • What a summer!

    Turns out when you book a flight from St. Louis to Portland on Southwest, you can’t get a direct flight. You have to stop somewhere and change planes, and today I’m changing planed in Phoenix. So that’s a three hour flight to Phoenix, and a three and a half hour flight to Portland. (Nope, I didn’t check this before I booked the flight. I never do. I simply close my eyes and click the “purchase” button. It’s much easier to deal with myself traveling when I take myself by surprise, sit back, and enjoy the ride. Makes me less grumpy for my husband, too.) I decided six and a half…