Thursday, December 20, 2012

Fall 2012 = Defeated

Semester #3 of grad school is now complete, and whew, it was a busy one!

I had my first graduate recital last month. The program consisted of the Schumann Romances, Poulenc Trio, Grovlez Sarabande et Allegro, Handel Concerto in G minor, and the Arnold Sonatina. I've never really been one for chamber music, but I feel so fortunate to have had the privilege to perform the Poulenc Trio with an incredible bassoonist and pianist. It was my favorite piece on the program, particularly the second movement, and I'm inspired to pursue more chamber music in the future. I passed with flying colors and I was told that it was "a John Mack worthy master's level recital." I had chosen the program knowing that it would be a challenge, but I put a lot of time into preparations and was incredibly happy to hear that I had done it justice. Listening to the recording, there are of course a few things that I wish I could change, but overall I was happy with my performance.

Classes are now over, and I'm thankful for the break. I was again at the maximum of 16 credit hours, in addition to preparing for a recital and working two jobs, so it was busy. However, I enjoyed my classes for the most part. There were of course some less than thrilling components... for instance, I learned that in order for a printer to work, it had to be plugged in and turned on. Despite that, I did legitimately learn a lot this semester and it was worth the craziness.

One last thought for this post: If you have not yet seen The Hobbit, make plans to do so immediately! It was absolutely fantastic and the best movie I've seen in a long time. A re-read of the book has now moved to the top of my "relaxing over break" to-do list.

Merry Christmas and enjoy the holidays! :)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Life After Interlochen

What happens after an amazing summer? It's back to Ohio, back to school, and back to routine.

I am now in my second year of graduate school. Because I am working on two separate degrees (music performance and library science), it's essentially a three-year program.

I began the semester by taking the music history diagnostic exam. I can now say that I tested out of the entire music theory sequence (three courses) and the entire music history sequence (four courses)! :)

I am taking:
  • Information Technology for Library and Information Professionals
  • Management of Libraries and Information Centers
  • Research Methods for Libraries and Information Centers
  • Access to Information
  • Oboe Studio & Lessons
Once again, I'm at the maximum number of credit hours for graduate students. This means that I'm busy, but it also means that I'm learning a lot!

My major goals for the semester are to perform a successful first graduate recital, earn all A's again, and finally perfect my reeds. Wish me luck! :)

Monday, August 27, 2012

"Art Lives Here"

This is Interlochen's motto, and for good reason. There are literally hundreds of events that take place during the camp season. No matter your interests, there's something for you at Interlochen. Below is a list of what I was able to experience this summer :)

June 17: Drum circle
June 18: Advanced Oboe Institute: Preparing for College Auditions
June 19: Advanced Oboe Institute: Etudes master class
June 19: Flute faculty recital
June 20: Advanced Oboe Institute: Etudes master class (x 2)
June 20: Cello faculty recital
June 24: A First Gathering
June 26: Los Angeles Children's Choir
June 27: All woodwind master class: The ins and outs of breathing
June 30: Interlochen Symphony Band and World Youth Wind Symphony
July 1: World Youth Symphony Orchestra
July 4: Faculty recital
July 5: Shakespeare Festival: A Midsummer Night's Dream
July 6: Junior ensembles: Choir, Band, String Ensemble, and String Orchestra
July 7: Interlochen Symphony Band and World Youth Wind Symphony
July 8: Interlochen Philharmonic
July 8: World Youth Symphony Orchestra
July 10: Collage
July 13: Intermediate ensembles: Concert Orchestra, Wind Symphony, and Symphony Orchestra
July 14: Interlochen Symphony Band and World Youth Wind Symphony
July 15: Interlochen Philharmonic
July 15: World Youth Symphony Orchestra
July 18: Faculty recital
July 19: Staff recital
July 19: Styx
July 20: Junior ensembles: Choir, Band, String Ensemble, and String Orchestra
July 21: Interlochen Symphony Band and World Youth Wind Symphony
July 22: Interlochen Philharmonic with the World Youth Honors Choir
July 22: World Youth Symphony Orchestra
July 26: Faculty/Staff Big Band
July 27: High school repertory theater: Midsummer/Jersey
July 28: Interlochen Symphony Band and World Youth Wind Symphony
July 29: Intermediate Choir and Intermediate Vocal Arts Ensemble
July 29: Interlochen Philharmonic
July 29: World Youth Symphony Orchestra
August 1: Faculty recital
August 2: High school musical theater: Children of Eden
August 3: Junior ensembles: Choir, Band, String Orchestra, and String Ensemble
August 4: Interlochen Symphony Band and World Youth Wind Symphony
August 5: World Youth Symphony Orchestra and Les Preludes
August 11: Adult Band Camp chamber music recital
August 12: Adult Band Camp concert
August 13: Sheryl Crow
August 14: Mauchley Piano Duo
August 18: Dukes of September

Not bad at all, I'd say :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Adult Chamber Music

Adult Chamber Music followed the Adult Band Camp.

I was responsible for two small string orchestras, a small wind ensemble, and about 25 chamber groups, each consisting of two to six players. Oh, and every group had new repertoire every day... so there was a LOT of music flying around!

This week was different in that I didn't have to stay for rehearsals, and that I was expected to work the reference desk. I began every day at 8am, delivering music to the two string orchestras and the wind ensemble, and then I would work the reference desk for an hour. After those rehearsals ended, I would go back to pick up that same music.

When I returned to the library, I would spend the next hour or two working in the back, preparing music for the larger ensembles for the next day or putting away music from ABC the week before. At this point, the participants were in rehearsals with their small chamber groups.

After lunch, the list of repertoire for the next day's small chamber groups was available. I would spend the next hour pulling those pieces and solving problems. The most common was when a piece, such as a Haydn quartet, was checked out, so I had to find another edition of the work that was available. In some cases, this wasn't possible and a new piece had to be assigned.

I stayed in the library until close (7pm) every day, alternating between working in the back and at the reference desk.

There was a TON of music read and performed during this week so it's impossible to provide a full repertoire list, but I can give a sampling. String quartets played lots of Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven. Winds played repertoire staples like the Mozart Serenade, Gounod Petite Symphonie, and Beethoven Octet. Winds and strings combined for readings of the Beethoven Septet and Bach Brandenburg No. 2.

Fortunately, we had multiple copies of the most popular pieces. For example, these are all Beethoven quartet books:
The Enso String Quartet, the Mauchley Duo, and other faculty members performed recitals every night. The faculty held daily master classes and pedagogy classes, in addition to coaching small ensembles, so the participants were able to spend a lot of time learning from them. It was a great week :)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Adult Band Camp

Adult Band Camp was, first of all, a lot of work.

As you can see, there were quite a few pieces. The camp only lasted a week, so all of those pieces weren't actually performed. Every rehearsal concluded with some sight-reading practice, which was a lot of fun.

There would be a full band rehearsal in the morning, sectionals and chamber music in the afternoon, and faculty performances in the evening.

With eighteen band pieces and some chamber music in the mix, there was a lot of music to keep track of. It was further complicated by the fact that the brass section rotated piece by piece, so each musician had a truly unique part assignment.

However, I'm very happy to say that I made it through with zero mistakes! The coordinator of the program later told me that a lot of the musicians had told him that I was the best librarian that they had ever had. Being an ensemble librarian is often a thankless job, so it was truly touching to receive such a compliment :)

As always, I'll conclude with the repertoire from the week.

The band performed:

The Star Spangled Banner - John Stafford Smith, arr. Jack Stamp
Untitled March - John Philip Sousa
El Camino Real - Alfred Reed
Suite of Old American Dances - Robert Russell Bennett
Sleep - Eric Whitacre
Scenes from the Louvre - Norman Dello Joio
America the Beautiful - Samuel Augustus Ward, arr. Carmen Dragon
Florentiner March - Julius Fucik
Winter's Eve March - Loren Kayfetz

The band sight-read:

Lincoln Portrait - Copland
Abram's Pursuit - Holsinger
On a Hymnsong of Philip Bliss - Holsinger
From Dawn to Dusk - Lloyd
Lord of the Rings - de Meij
Rushmore - Reed
Chester Overture - Schumann
Through the Vulcan's Eye - Smith
Salvation is Created - Tschesnokov

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Les Preludes

Les Preludes is so important at Interlochen that it deserves its own post.

Les Preludes is an event in which all of the students in the World Youth Symphony Orchestra, World Youth Wind Symphony, Interlochen Philharmonic, and Interlochen Symphony Band get together to play Liszt's tone poem Les Preludes. It occurs on Sunday of Week Six, following the weekly WYSO concert, and is the final event of the camp season.

This year, we had 435 students crammed onto the stage of the Bowl. Dancers are also involved.

Les Preludes comes with two additional rehearsals -- Tuesday evening and Saturday morning at 7am. I took these pictures at the 7am rehearsal, which is why there isn't much of an audience :P

Although this is the last time that the students play together, the piece also represents new beginnings. It's an extremely emotional event, and afterwards it's incredibly common to see students crying and hugging one another, all while trying to take some last minute group photos.

For the ensemble librarians, it's one of our biggest challenges of the season. Getting music back from 435 students is difficult enough, but doing so in the midst of the chaos following the performance adds a whole new level of difficulty. 

Because we did need to work the event, we got the perk of reserved seating in the front row. It made it a lot easier for us to spring into action once the piece was finished. 

The entire event went incredibly well, from planning to performance to music collection.

This year's performance was, as Les Preludes always is, an incredibly special moment in Interlochen's history, and I agree with those who say that it becomes more emotional each time that you witness it.

The end of Les Preludes means the end of camp.

To the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Week Six

Week Six, the busiest week of camp.

It was an even week, which meant that there was a lot happening with Junior Band. Members of the Intermediate Wind Symphony joined them in rehearsal on Thursday to fill out the instrumentation, and then the combined group performed their final concert on Friday.

WYWS had their final concert of the season on Saturday. The program consisted of:

Through the Looking Glass - Jess Langston Turner
Emblems - Aaron Copland
Lux Aurumque - Eric Whitacre
L'homme arme: Variations - Christopher Marshall
The Stars and Stripes Forever - John Philip Sousa

It was an ambitious program, but I couldn't be more proud of the students. They improved so much over six short weeks, and they really came to play well together as an ensemble.

My final listening recommendation from WYWS's repertoire this summer is the Marshall.

All music students know the famous L'Homme Arme:

Now, check out Christopher Marshall's Variations for a new look at an old melody. There are several different recordings available on his website:

The highlight of Week Six, of course, was Les Preludes. But more about that to come!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Instrument Exploration Class

At Interlochen, junior and intermediate campers can take an elective class called Instrument Exploration. In this class, students get to learn a bit about and try a bunch of different instruments. Some instruments are only given one fifty-minute class period, so it can be quite a challenge deciding how to make the most of that time.

I was given the opportunity to teach oboe to this class. We spent some time talking about the reed, how to crow the reed, and how to form a good embouchure. I then had the students try some exercises along with Smart Music. I'd never used Smart Music before, but it's a really neat tool. The exercises in the method book I used were very simple (four quarter notes and a whole rest, then repeat). However, Smart Music made them more fun for the students because there was background music.

With such little time to give students their first exposure to the oboe, my main goal was to make it a positive experience. The students seemed to really enjoy playing along with Smart Music as a group, so I thought it would be a good idea to have each student play individually and "solo" along with the recorded track.

I asked who wanted to go first.


And suddenly....

This got quite a few laughs from the students, and one from me as well.

But after one student successfully performed alone, they all wanted to do it. In fact, they wanted two or even three times to do it.

At the end of the class, I asked what the students thought about the oboe. A lot of them said "it's really hard!"

But one girl said, "I really like it! It's my favorite!"

I was really glad that even one student had such a positive experience that she would consider playing the oboe in the future. These moments are what make teaching truly worth it.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Week Five

Week Six (and core camp) is over, but it's been so busy here that I'm a bit behind with my posts.

Week Five began with a new batch of juniors, as well as new repertoire and a new conductor for WYWS. I got to see a few great performances, including the Faculty/Staff Big Band concert that I mentioned in a previous post. I was also able to attend the opening night performance of Midsummer/Jersey, which was a modern take on A Midsummer Night's Dream. It was great because I had seen the Shakespeare Festival perform the original play earlier in the summer, so I was able to make the connections between the two plays.

WYWS had their weekly concert that Saturday, with the program consisting of:

Partita - Robert Linn
Symphony in B-flat - Paul Hindemith
Galop from Moscow, Cheryomushki - Dmitri Shostakovich

The Hindemith is an incredibly difficult band piece, but the kids did a great job with it. It's not very commonly performed, so definitely give it a listen if you have the time! Here's the first movement to get you started:

Sunday was my day off, but I spent most of it on campus. Even though it was my day off, it was wildly productive. In between concert hopping, I spent a few hours in the library putting away WYWS music and preparing music for Adult Band Camp. In the span of about seven hours, I attended three concerts: the Intermediate Choir and Intermediate Vocal Arts Ensemble concert (I worked with those groups last summer so it was great to see them again!), the Interlochen Philharmonic (last movement of Mahler 1), and the World Youth Symphony Orchestra (Elgar Cello Concerto with soloist Anthony Ross and Sibelius 2). I even found some time for myself to clean my room, paint my nails, and walk the mile down the road to Bud's to get a coffee!

Things are starting to calm down here now that Les Preludes is over and almost all of the campers have left. I'll catch up with my Week Six post in the next day or two :)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

One more week of core camp... then what?

Every summer, one ensemble librarian stays for an extra two weeks after the main camp to work with the Adult Band Camp and Adult Chamber Music Camp. This year, that librarian is me! :) 

Adult Band Camp (ABC) is a six day experience. More than seventy adults come to Interlochen from all over the country, and many of them have been coming for years. Musicians will get to participate in master classes with the faculty, participate in chamber music rehearsals, and of course play in the full band. The full band rehearses every day, and concludes on the sixth day with a concert open to the public.

Adult Chamber Music Camp (ACM) is a week long program. Participants can choose one of two tracks: "Horizons," which allows participants to read a lot of music with many different players, or "Polestar," which allows participants to focus on a few pieces with the same group of musicians. This year's theme is "The Joy of Discovery." ACM permits up to two hundred musicians, which means that there are quite a few chamber groups. It will be a challenge to manage that much music, but it's nothing I can't handle! :)

There will be daily chamber music performances as well, featuring ACM faculty and the Enso String Quartet, the artists-in-residence. I'm really looking forward to getting such exposure to chamber music. I think it will be an amazing learning experience.

The last of the music for the core camp is out, so I've been able to get a head start on preparing music for the Adult Band Camp. There are seventeen pieces to prepare, so it's a lot of work...

For those of you counting, yes, there are more than seventeen carcasses of music there. The middle stack of five carcasses is all ONE piece, Johann de Meij's Lord of the Rings. It's one of my favorite band pieces ever and I love talking about it, so I will probably post more about it at a later time.

For now, though, it's back to work!

Friday, July 27, 2012

World Youth Wind Symphony Video

New video released today about the World Youth Wind Symphony:

It's a privilege to work with such great kids :)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

"A Little Minor Booze"

As an oboist, I've had an interesting relationship with jazz.

In my high school jazz band, I played first tenor saxophone. We went to four or five jazz festivals every spring, and we got to see the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra and the Swing Machine, in which my high school band director played the trombone. I enjoyed it, and looked forward to it, even.

In college, jazz suddenly stopped appealing to me.

The jazz portion of my freshman year western music course? I quickly learned to raise my hand when everyone else did, and I did well in the class.

Jazz improvisation? Most embarrassing class of my life. I understood the theory, but the creativity and willingness to experiment just wasn't there.

Jazz concerts? I attended them all. It's sort of expected when you're dating a saxophone player. But mostly I just stared at the program and wished it would go by faster.

Maybe it was the intense focus on oboe and the all-too-time-consuming process of making reeds. Maybe it was the new teaching style that was the polar opposite fit for my learning style. But it just wasn't for me.

Here at Interlochen, I've been trying to broaden my horizons. I've gone to a cello recital, a percussion quartet  performance, and the Los Angeles Children's Choir recital. I went to the Shakespeare festival's production of A Misummer Night's Dream, and I have a ticket to see the high school repertory theater program's production of Midsummer/Jersey tomorrow night. I even went to see a piano concerto performed with the World Youth Symphony Orchestra.

If there's any place in the country to explore new things in the arts, it's here at Interlochen.

It therefore made perfect sense to attend the Faculty/Staff Big Band recital this evening. And, dare I say, I enjoyed it.

As the recital began, I found myself looking at the program, wondering if there would be a good place to duck out. In the middle of the second piece, "A Little Minor Booze" by Willie Maiden, though, I found myself thinking something during a jazz performance that I hadn't for a long time.

"Wow... that was really cool."

And I stayed for the entire recital.

Now, I'm not saying that I'm all of a sudden in love with jazz. But I'm intrigued once again :)

Monday, July 23, 2012

"What happened to your music?"

This is one of my favorite questions to ask when a student comes to me asking for a new part.

Common answers include:

"I forgot it in my cabin."
"I think I left it somewhere in the cafeteria."
"I left it somewhere and I came back and it was gone!"

But, occasionally, we get some interesting responses:

"I set it on the Pepsi cooler and it got a little damp."
"I wrote my shopping list on it."
"It fell in the lake."

And, my personal favorite...

"I threw it away."

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Week Four

Another week down. Officially 2/3 of the way through core camp!

Being an even week, it was a lot of work. The last batch of WYWS folders went out yesterday afternoon, the juniors had a concert on Friday, and a new batch of juniors is arriving today and will begin rehearsals tomorrow.

The highlight of the week was a visit from my boyfriend! He even got a gold star from Alice because he drove seven hours to see me :)

We went to the staff recital in which some of the other librarians were performing, and then we went to the Styx concert. It was a great way to spend the evening!

The juniors had a great concert on Friday, and then WYWS performed on Saturday night. This week's program consisted of:

Saisei Fanfare - Brett William Dietz
Fantasia in G Major - Johann Sebastian Bach, transcribed by Richard Goldman and Robert Leist
Lost Vegas - Michael Daugherty
Folk Dances - Dmitri Shostakovich

My personal favorite was Lost Vegas. It was written by the same composer who wrote Bells for Stokowski, which WYWS played in their very first concert. I was unfamiliar with this composer prior to this summer, but I've loved both of his pieces that my band has performed. Listen to Lost Vegas here:

Today's my day off, which will be a nice, lazy day hanging around campus. I'm going to both the Interlochen Philharmonic and World Youth Symphony Orchestra concerts later today, and I also plan on doing a lot of reading. I just started a new book last night, and I'm already a third of the way through it and can't put it down :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mission Point

Most of the librarians have Monday afternoons off. We work incredibly hard, so this week we decided to do something special -- tour the wineries at Mission Point!

We began at the very tip of the point at the lighthouse and beach. The lake has receded over the last few years, leaving a "martian land" between the sand and the lake.

We then proceeded to visit five wineries:

2 Lads...

Chateau Chantal...

Bowers Harbor Vineyards...

Peninsula Cellars...

They have a wine called Detention, and their advertisement was writing lines on the board:
"I will only drink good wine!"
and Chateau Grand Traverse.

The entire area was absolutely gorgeous. Exploring was an amazing way to spend the afternoon.

And now... it's back to work. I have a stack of Copland parts calling my name :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Week Three

Another week down. Camp is officially halfway done!

Monday brought a new batch of juniors, and, with it, entirely different instrumentation. In the last session we had five trumpets and one flute, but this time we have five flutes and no trumpets! The differing enrollment is challenging to work with, but it's a great bunch of kids and the conductor is fantastic with them.

Week Three also brings Collage, which is advertised as a one hour sampler of all that Interlochen offers. Performances included a harp ensemble, scenes from theater and musical theater productions, the World Youth Wind Symphony and World Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Jazz Ensemble, creative writing readings, dance performances, and chamber groups. It's an incredibly busy few days, with the dress rehearsal on Monday night and the performance on Tuesday night, but the end result is fantastic. See for yourself:

On Friday, I worked the intermediate band and orchestra concert. The Intermediate Concert Orchestra librarian was out of the state for a wedding and job interview, so I stood in for her and collected the orchestra's music after the concert (which, if I may add, is much more difficult than it sounds!). Although I had been to the intermediate concerts many times, I had never actually worked with the group, so it was a new experience for me. 

Saturday was, of course, WYWS's weekly concert with ISB, which was to be webcast live. WYWS had another great program:

Riff Raff - Ryan George
Lauda - Steve Danyew
Traveler - David Maslanka

Sunday was my day off, and a wonderfully relaxing one. I started off the day in the library, breaking down ICO folders and doing a bit of organizational work. I then went on a hike with one of the music reference interns. We hiked around a lake, and it was gorgeous. We'll definitely be going back!

I ended the day by attending the Interlochen Philharmonic and World Youth Symphony Orchestra concerts. It was awesome for two reasons: 1) I had never been close enough to campus to make it to an IP concert before, and 2) WYSO played Firebird. It was the 1911 version of Firebird, too, which was incredible to see because it's not performed nearly as often as the 1919 version.

Each week seems to be getting better and better, and Week Four is already off to a fantastic start. I'll post again soon about the adventures from yesterday's afternoon off :)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Lessons from Young Oboists

Working with the Junior Band, I've gotten the opportunity to observe several young oboists, all of whom have been playing for a year or less. While their playing is at a higher level than I expected, there are three bad habits that I noticed right away:

1) Not pushing the reed in all the way. Well-meaning band directors will often tell students to "push in" or "push out" when tuning individuals. Young oboists, upon hearing this, will sometimes pull the reed out of the oboe, not realizing that pitch is actually changed with the embouchure and amount of reed in the mouth, rather than the amount of reed in the instrument itself. The staple (or tube) of an oboe reed is an extension of the instrument itself, and pulling it out affects the sound of the instrument.

2) Not soaking the reed. Soaking a reed in water, rather than spit, is very important. First of all, soaking the reed in water allows it to become equally wet on the inside and outside of the reed, which will make the reed more consistent, require less soaking as the rehearsal goes on, and even improve the reed's response and opening. Secondly, soaking the reed in water actually extends its life. Our saliva breaks down the molecules in a reed and slowly kills it over time. Soaking a reed in spit speeds up this process.

3) Leaving the reed on the oboe all the time. When there is a break in rehearsal, directors will tell students to set their instruments on their chair. Young oboists do so, not thinking of the danger in which they are placing their reeds. It may take an accident leading to the death of a reed for young oboists to realize the need to protect their reeds. During breaks, the reed should always be removed from the oboe and placed either in the student's reed case or on the student's stand.

I think the most interesting thing about these observations is that none of them involve how these students actually play the oboe. These are minor bad habits that are easily fixed once students are aware of them. Raise awareness!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Week Two

Week Two was quite a bit busier than the first week, mostly due to the switching of juniors and the preparation of new WYWS music.

I have Monday afternoons off. After attending my morning rehearsals and packing up the rental pieces from the first concert, I headed to the Sleeping Bear Dunes with one of the other ensemble librarians. Making the climb was more difficult than it looks (especially if, like me, you're not at all used to walking in sand!), but I'm proud to say I made it to the top :)

Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty ordinary and I followed my normal schedule.

On Thursday, things began to get interesting. Junior Band was joined in rehearsal by members of the Intermediate Wind Symphony. Junior Band has pretty sporadic enrollment, so sometimes we end up with odd instrumentation. This session, we had only one flute player and no low brass players! Some of the intermediates join the juniors in concert so that all parts are covered. New players of course means extra music, but preparing and distributing it went very smoothly. The intermediates handled the situation extremely well, which of course helped!

On Thursday night, I was able to attend the Shakespeare Festival's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. I had read this particular play multiple times in school, but it was my first time seeing a Shakespeare play live and it made all the difference. I really enjoyed the performance and I'm glad that I got a new experience :)

Friday was the day of the junior concert. Junior Band joined the three other junior ensembles for a final concert. Each ensemble performed very well, and it was encouraging to see young kids performing at that level. Also, adorable!

Saturday was an incredibly busy day. Students in WYWS receive two weeks of music at a time so that they can practice farther in advance, and Saturday was the day new music was to be distributed. For Weeks Three and Four, WYWS has about a dozen pieces, so preparing all of that music and booking those folders was quite the adventure!

On Saturday night, WYWS again had a concert along with ISB. It was another great program, consisting of Avelynn's Lullaby by Joel Puckett (composer in residence) and an arrangement of Respighi's Pines of Rome.

I have always loved Pines of Rome, particularly the last movement (Pines of the Appian Way), so I was very excited when I found out that it was on my band's program. I'd highly recommend giving this arrangement a listen!

Today, I got the opportunity to attend the Cherry Festival in Traverse City, see the air show, look through the crafts fair, and explore downtown. We headed back to campus in time to see WYSO perform Pictures at an Exhibition. It was the perfect way to spend my day off!

New music is ready for the session of Junior Band beginning tomorrow, a new conductor is arriving to work with WYWS tomorrow, and I have finally unearthed my desk because all of the music that was strewn all over it is prepared and distributed. Looking forward to a fantastic Week Three!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Ensemble Library Olympics

In honor of the summer Olympics, the ensemble librarians have spent some time over the last few days creating our own version!

The Library Olympics will feature various tasks that we complete on a daily basis, competing for both time and accuracy.

To determine events, we looked at each of our strengths.


Wagon running...




And more!

The event in my honor?

Communication. In other words, figuring out what the conductor/manager/musician really wants :)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Sharp or Flat?

One of the ensembles that I work with is the Junior Band, which consists of students who have just completed grades 3-6. It's an amazing educational opportunity. Even though I did not pursue a degree in music education, I am still frequently found in situations in which I must teach private lessons and lead sectionals. Additionally, I have never had the opportunity to work with beginning students before. It's an entirely different ballgame because, well, it's been a long time since I was in their shoes :)

One thing that struck me the other day was the conductor's explanation of how to remember what to do when you're sharp or flat. Some conductors merely say "push in" or "push out," and as you get older, it's almost automatic.

This conductor, however, launched into an explanation that sharp meant that a student's pitch was too high and that flat meant that a student's pitch was too low. He then explained how to fix it with the help of our "magic pencil sharpener."

At the beginning of the session, every student was given a "magic pencil." The pencil was magic because if it was used, no more mistakes would be made. To sharpen these magic pencils, students use the magic pencil sharpener.

If a pencil is flat, you'll want to push it in to the pencil sharpener to sharpen it and release its magic.

If a pencil is sharp, then you'll want to pull it out of the pencil sharpener because it's ready to be used.

I never learned any helpful little tricks like this when I was just beginning band, and it would have helped a lot. It's very enlightening to revisit this time in young musicians' development, especially after completing the first year of my master's degree in performance. It's really bringing me back to the basics in my own way of thinking, and I have already learned many new, creative ways to get a lot of information to the students in a short amount of time (and in ways that they'll remember!).

It has been great seeing how much the kids have improved in just a week and a half, and I can't wait to see how much they will grow in their last few days here. They have their final concert on Friday, and then they will leave camp. It will be sad to see them go, but a new session with new students and new repertoire will start on Monday :)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Week One

Well, the first week is over!

Students arrived last Saturday, auditioned on Sunday, and began classes and rehearsals on Monday.

On a typical day, I spend two hours at Junior Band rehearsal and three hours at World Youth Wind Symphony rehearsal. When I am not in rehearsal, I’m mostly likely to be found in the library, working on music for the next concert.

On Saturday nights, my band shares a concert with the second high school band, the Interlochen Symphony Band.

Last night was WYWS’s first concert, and the program consisted of:

Smetana Fanfare – Karel Husa
Lullaby for Kirsten – Leslie Bassett
Rose Variations, featuring trumpet soloist John Aley – Robert Russell Bennett
Bells for Stokowski – Michael Daugherty
“The BSO Forever” March from Divertimento – Leonard Bernstein, arr. Clare Grundman

It was NOT an easy program, but the kids managed to knock it out of the park. They received standing ovations at three different points in the program (after the Bennett, after the Daugherty, and at the very end).

My favorite piece on the program was the Daugherty.

It was a new piece to me, and really challenging for the kids. They all did a fantastic job, but the brass especially got a lot of positive feedback at the conclusion of the concert. Some of their features (such as 12:45) actually gave me goosebumps. It was incredible.

I couldn’t be more proud of what the kids were able to accomplish in only six rehearsals, and I’m looking forward to watching them continue to grow as musicians over the next five weeks.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Ins and Outs of Breathing

Yesterday, I was able to attend an all woodwind masterclass given by Alexa Still (professor of flute at Oberlin Conservatory) called “The Ins and Outs of Breathing.” The class focused on the pedagogy of Arnold Jacobs, the late tubist of the Chicago Symphony.

The class started with an explanation of the respiratory anatomy, complete with handouts and diagrams.

From there, it extended to an explanation of proper posture:

  • Feet flat on the ground
  • Knees directly above the feet in a relaxed position
  • Hips directly over the ankles
  • Shoulders directly over the hips.
  • Keep the neck area loose.
At first, this posture may be a little awkward, as it will make you feel like you are leaning forward or tipping over. However, try taking a deep breath in this position, and you will find that it’s easier! The main point of checking posture is to make sure that one is not doing something to inhibit breathing.

Ms. Still continued the class with a few exercises:

·         Arms out, thumbs down. Move your thumbs up as you take a breath.
·         Breathe in 4, out 4. Then in 3, out 5. Then in 2, out 6. Then in 1, out 7. Then finally, in half and out 7 and a half.
·         Use your right arm as a measure of your air. Put it up 1/3 of the way to your shoulder and take in 1/3 of your air capacity.  Bring it up 1/3, and then another 1/3, and then bring it down 2/3.
·         Hardcore: All air out, hold as long as possible. All air in, hold as long as possible.

The main point of these exercises is to help you become aware of how much air you truly have.

“There’s a limit, but you can maximize what you’ve got.”

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Brief Introduction to Ensemble Librarianship

So… what does an ensemble librarian do, exactly?

In its most simplified terms, an ensemble librarian is the person responsible for preparing, distributing, and collecting all of the music that is to be performed.

It sounds like a simple job, right? As musicians, we arrive at the first rehearsal and expect that music will already be on our stands, just waiting to be played. We don’t often (or at all!) think about all of the work behind the scenes that goes into preparing that music.

Preparing just one piece of music, however, can take a lot of time.

The ensemble librarian must:

  • Pull a skeleton. A skeleton is one copy of every part that will be kept in a safe location. This way, even if every single member of the viola section loses his or her part, there will always be a backup copy.
  • Number the parts. Parts are numbered in score order, and then given a letter to denote each individual copy. For instance, Flute I’s skeleton will be given the number 1, the first additional copy will be 1a, the second will be 1b, and so on.
  • Erase all unnecessary markings.
  • Fix all errors in the parts (also known as doing errata).
  • Put bowings into the string parts.
  • Check for and fix any bad page turns.
  • Determine proper part divisions.
  • Put music in the proper folders.
  • Distribute!
At Interlochen, we also create Listening Lists for the students, in which we list a few recommended recordings of each piece. Recordings are available on CDs or records we place on reserve in the library, online listening databases such as Naxos, and various other Internet sources such as composers’ websites or YouTube (especially for the newer band pieces!).

In addition to this prep work, we also attend every rehearsal and performance of our ensembles so that we can make any changes or hand out any additional/replacement parts as needed. I spend five hours in rehearsal every day, and then I return to the library to work on the next session’s music.

If you're interested in learning more about ensemble librarianship, check out the following resources:
  • Major Orchestra Librarians' Association website:
  • A Manual for the Performance Library by Russ Girsberger
  • The Music Performance Library: A Practical Guide for Orchestra, Band, and Opera Librarians by Russ Girsberger and Laurie Lake

Preparing music requires great attention to detail and is a very time-consuming process. Next time you receive music, please take a moment to thank your librarian. They’ll appreciate it more than you know.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Advanced Oboe Institute

As I mentioned in my last post, I had the privilege of attending some of the Advanced Oboe Institute classes during prep week here at Interlochen. This was my first time seeing Elaine Douvas in action, and all of the wonderful things that I had heard about her are true.

The first class I attended was a roundtable discussion about college auditions and beyond, which was led by both Ms. Douvas and Mr. Stolper. While class was underway, campus was placed on a severe thunderstorm warning. The lights kept flickering on and off, which made for a very interesting atmosphere. A few key points from the discussion:

  • Keep an audition notebook. Make lists of the schools you plan to visit and apply, as well as their repertoire requirements. Write down your thoughts and impressions. Get organized by keeping everything in one place!
  • Multiple day workshops, like the Advanced Oboe Institute or the John Mack Oboe Camp, give students a much better idea of someone’s style of teaching than an hour long sample lesson.
  • Never take an audition without your teacher’s blessing. If you don’t do a reputable job, the committee will look up who you are!
  • In auditions, they are looking for someone who is teachable. It has been said that great actors can be made out of anyone. It’s the same principle.
  • You could put everything into the oboe and come out with nothing. Think of every possible way that you could have a life in music and not set your sights on one of those orchestra jobs.
  • You can get a year’s worth of work done in the summer when you don’t have to worry about classes. Take advantage of it!
Other classes throughout the week covered solo repertoire, etudes (Barret, Ferling, and Vade Mecum), orchestral excerpts, and, of course, reed making. Like my posts about the John Mack Oboe Camp, I’ll narrow it down to the ten biggest things that I took away from class:

·        The two axioms of music are to delay crescendos and to delay decrescendos. Move all dynamics to the right to avoid doing anything too soon.
·        If Barret was smart enough to write the book, he was smart enough to know what dynamics he wanted. Don’t change them!
·        You must learn to phrase within the tempo.
·        Make a list of things that would make you sound as a singer sings, and incorporate them into your playing.
·        A slur is not a phrase mark – it just tells you when to tongue, like it tells a violinist when to lift the bow.
·        The big rule of mixed articulation is that all notes must be equally heard.
·        Sound like a wind instrument, not a lip instrument.
·        Think of something you know to learn something you don’t.
·        Playing should have the same inflections as speech. Don’t deny the natural curve of the music.
·        The subtext of your warm up should be that this is fun, this is easy, and I can’t wait to play for you!

My next post will talk about training and prep week in the ensemble library. But now, it’s time to enjoy my first day off in a week and a half! Well, after a few visits to the library to meet managers and faculty... But I can't complain :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

John Mack Oboe Camp, Part II

As promised, a few notes from the second half of the week with Martin Hebert teaching:

  • Crescendos and decrescendos are not steady changes in dynamics. They are more curved.
  • Your tongue is its fastest around age 19. From there, it only gets slower. Learn to double tongue!
  • To leap up to a high note, think of a cat jumping up onto a chair. Don’t use too much or too little energy. Use just the right amount!
  • Rules can be broken if done convincingly.
  • Be aware of which notes have more zing. Let notes stick out when you want them to, not when the oboe wants them to.
  • Be careful how literally you take some markings. Always consider the overall shape of the phrase.
  • Practice chunks at a slow tempo, but also practice chunks at full tempo. Be able to start anywhere in the piece.
  • Always plan and prepare your breaths.
  • Don’t get too attached to reeds. They’re not going to last very long!
  • Know your phrasing. Think in fast motion even if you’re playing in slow motion.

JMOC was incredibly informative and inspiring, and I've already begun to incorporate some of the lessons into my own practice sessions.

I’m ahead of schedule with my work in the library, so I’ve also been able to attend some of the Advanced Oboe Institute classes here at Interlochen. Elaine Douvas is teaching this year, and I’m continuing to learn a lot. I feel very lucky to have the opportunity for such intense oboe study with such fantastic teachers over the last two weeks. I’m close to filling an entire notebook in that time (I will probably finish it off tomorrow!), and I don’t think I have ever been this inspired to play the oboe. I’m very happy I’m spending my summer at Interlochen, “where music lives” :)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

John Mack Oboe Camp

It’s been awhile since I’ve had Internet access/time to write!

I had an absolutely fantastic time at the John Mack Oboe Camp. It was my fifth year attending, but I think it might have been my favorite. The camp seems to get better and better, and I left feeling unbelievably refreshed and inspired.

One of this year’s teachers, Linda Strommen, recommended putting together a summary of what we learned. Here is my list of the ten main ideas that I took away from the first half of the week, during which Ms. Strommen taught:

  • We as musicians can create pain, but we can also take it away.
  • Ignorance is not stupidity. It is an opportunity to learn.
  • Articulation is only as good as the tone on which it is produced.
  • Become your own best teacher.
  • Sing! Even if you don’t have a great voice, it will help you to define your concept.
  • Evaluate your music. What was Barret trying to teach in each etude? Why is each orchestral excerpt an excerpt?
  • Going slow is not remedial. It’s professional.
  • Predestination: You must play each note like it must go to the next note.
  • Make connections between etudes, solo repertoire, and excerpts. For example, the circular motion of Barret Articulation Study #10 is similar to that of Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin.
  • Dream big, work hard and smart, and enjoy your colleagues.

I will try to post about the second half of the week in a day or two.

I’ve been at Interlochen for three days now, and although it has already been incredibly busy, I couldn’t be happier to be back. Stay tuned for updates! :)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Interlochen Ensemble Assignment

There are eighteen large ensembles that rehearse during the camp season. All of these ensembles, consisting of both vocal and instrumental groups, are divided among the seven ensemble library interns. Each intern is assigned two, three, or four ensembles. Although this can seem unfair at first glance, we all have close to the same amount of work due to the different demands of each ensemble.

This year, I will be working with the World Youth Wind Symphony and the Junior Band. For each of these bands, I will be responsible for preparing, distributing, and collecting all music. I will work closely with the ensemble manager, conductor, and sectional coaches to make sure that everything runs smoothly!

The World Youth Wind Symphony is the top high school band at Interlochen. They have new repertoire and new conductors every week for six weeks. They perform every Saturday night with the Interlochen Symphony Band (the second high school band). This band is abbreviated to WYWS, and is pronounced “why-wiss” or “wee-wees.” I personally prefer “wee-wees” :)

The Junior Band is the only band for kids in grades 3-6. The program consists of three separate two-week sessions, and students can stay for one, two, or all three sessions. Each session concludes with one concert.

In addition to these groups, I will also be the bowing and errata assistant for the World Youth Symphony Orchestra, the top high school orchestra. Orchestra librarians have to mark string bowings into each individual part, which is a very time consuming process. Doing errata consists of detecting any inaccuracies in the music and correcting them, thus avoiding wasted rehearsal time. With pieces like Stravinsky’s Firebird on the docket for this season, there will be quite a bit to do!

Training begins in about a week and a half, and I am very excited to begin. I had really wanted the opportunity to work with both WYWS and Junior Band. I love that I have both extremes (the youngest group and the top group) in the band division, and I am looking forward to learning a lot from my focus on band this summer!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mass of Tribute

This weekend, I had the privilege of playing in a mass for my friend John. He wrote Mass of Tribute to honor the memory of his mother, who was sadly lost to cancer last August. Performing in the mass was a great experience, and I am so glad to have been a part of it. 

For more information about the mass, visit John’s website:

If you don’t know John, please take a few moments to check out some of his other works. He is commonly referred to as John “Williams” Pasternak :)
UPDATE 6/5/12: The orchestra arrangement of the Mass of Tribute is now on John's website:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Introduction/Summer Plans

Hello! Chances are, if you're reading this, you know me. Sure makes introductions easy! :)

I just finished my first year of grad school, studying both oboe performance and library science.

So far this summer, I have spent a lot of time working in the Performing Arts Library on campus, and just recovering from the hectic school year.

In two weeks, I will be attending the John Mack Oboe Camp in Little Switzerland, North Carolina. This will be my fifth trip up the mountain and I am looking forward to learning new things and reconnecting with old friends!

From North Carolina, I will go directly to the Interlochen Center for the Arts in northern Michigan. I will spend most of my summer there, working in the ensemble library. I worked in the ensemble library last summer as well, and I cannot even begin to recount all of the cool things I learned and all of the wonderful experiences I had.

When I returned to school this fall, a lot of people told me how much they enjoyed seeing my adventures, stories, and pictures on Facebook. Interlochen is truly a magical place, and I am happy to share what I can with all of my music-loving friends! This summer, this blog will take you to Interlochen with me :)