December 26, 2009 15:31
When the holidays arrive, music blossoms everywhere. Merchants play carols on loudspeakers, friends gather together to sing door-to-door, children assemble on stages everywhere to sing, people toss coins into the open cases of buskers more willingly, choirs hire an orchestra to accompany them in ambitious productions....why?
Actually, it's no mystery why music comes out of hiding on special occasions and holidays: it's one of the most powerful means of expressions we humans possess.
Sure, we roll our eyes, playing Leroy Anderson's Sleigh Ride for the umpteenth time, or hearing "Jingle Bells" on the loudspeakers in Walgreens. Yet through all the saturated airwaves, hurried and harried preparations, overbooked schedules, it can be possible to catch a few moments of transcendence. Did you?
I had a few:
After the performance for the public school outreach project where I taught all semester, I stood there by the stage, quite exhausted from herding the over-excited children -- all beginners -- around for several hours and making sure chaos didn't reign completely. They had performed very well. Suddenly, a little girl who'd been in my class ran up to me, threw her arms around my waist and exclaimed, "That was the funnest time I've EVER had!"
Singing and playing a spontaneous "Feliz Navidad" at the big party at our very small place, with friends gathered around the piano with violins, guitars, a mandolin and many voices.
All the Suzuki students and teachers in our group, playing "Shalom Chaverim" together in a round. It gets me every time.
My son, singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" with 120 of his very diverse classmates -- and realizing that all those fourth-graders were singing together, and in tune.
The bell choir on Christmas Eve -- so well in sync on this night that their separate chimes became a single thread.
A friend showed me this moment, of some east-coast musicians who brought their instruments outside during a snowstorm -- made my day!
Did you have any such moments? What were they? Please answer the vote and share!
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December 19, 2009 21:54
Let's say you arrive to the performance -- or to your lesson -- with less than 10 minutes to warm up. What will you play?
I can be honest in saying that I'd play a Galamian three-octave acceleration scale, with a number of bowings (slurred, detache, spiccato, ricochet and sometimes up and down-bow staccato). I really do find my scale routine to be relaxing.
Do you have any interesting warm-up rituals? Please vote, and share your thoughts below.
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December 11, 2009 15:50
December's celebrations bring much music into the open -- don't all celebrations?
The question I pose to you today is: Are you in the mood for sacred or secular music? Would you rather go sing or play the Messiah, or the Nutcracker? "Silent Night" or "Jingle Bell Rock"? In general, would you rather play a Mozart Requiem, or a Mahler Symphony?
Of course, you are allowed to like both. We all do! But vote for what first comes to mind for you on this December day, and then share your thoughts about sacred vs. secular music.
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December 5, 2009 23:40
How far would you go, how far have you gone, for a gig?
I'm talking about the distance you would drive, or fly, to play. My cellist friend, Wendy Velasco, recently shared this article from the Sacramento Bee, which details the lengths to which working musicians regularly go in order to sustain a career in music. Though it came as no great surprise to me, I realized that sometimes people don't understand that musicians often keep regular jobs in distant cities, with much of their earnings absorbed in the expense of traveling.
Personally, I've certainly had this experience. When I lived in Omaha, Nebraska, I had a contract in both the Omaha and Lincoln Symphonies -- Lincoln being about 60 miles away (I-80 being a sheet of ice across which the snow blows horizontally, a dizzying drive in the dark). When I lived in Denver, I had a contract with the Colorado Springs Symphony -- about 70 miles, but a different kind of snow because it involved going over a mountain pass. I was fortunate that I wasn't in the caravan that once was stranded in a developing blizzard. When the police came to dig out their car, they had to leave their instruments behind, the horror! More recently, for a number of years while living in California, I drove 60 miles every month or so to play a regular contract in the Redlands Symphony, and really, I've driven all over the very wide Los Angeles metropolitan area for work in various symphonies and groups.
I haven't flown all that often to play, but once while living in Denver, I flew back to Omaha to play a symphony series -- that would have been about a 550-mile jaunt.
How sustainable is this lifestyle? It's pretty tough, especially when you have children, and I don't do it on such a regular basis any more. But many of my colleagues do; this is simply a normal part of life.
How about you? What is the farthest distance you've traveled? Do you have a regular gig that requires a long-distance commute? Have you taken touring that took you away from home? Do you simply live out of a suitcase? Is this okay, or does it make you crazy? Please vote, and tell us all about it in the comment section below.
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More entries: November 2009