Archive for June, 2008|Monthly archive page

On the (french) horns of a dilemma

As a musician there’s nothing I like better than playing with other musicians. In fact I would almost go so far as to say I HATE playing on my own (well, a plausible excuse for not practising, anyway). So it’s been an interesting experience recently playing with other musicians and really not enjoying it. I realised once again also how powerless you are as a single player in a larger ensemble to actually control what’s going on or at least influence it. Particularly when you have 37 bars rest.

So, picture the scene (and I have purposely changed the instruments to anonymise my comments and avoid any awkwardness), containing the following elements:

  • A flute player who taps his feet, inevitably at a different time to the conductor.
  • An aged clarinet player who can’t hear the conductor is always asking “where are we going from”
  • A leader who gets lost
  • A solo pianist who is young and hasn’t played with a less-than top rate orchestra (ahem) and thinks that they can change speed on a sixpence
  • A conductor (bit hard to anonymise) who not only has difficulty following the pianist, but also has a habit of beating two beat bars as two down beats
  • A viola section who only appeared on the evening of the concert
  • A brass section light of three trombones and a horn
  • An orchestra over-reaching itself with the repertoire

I could go on, but I expect you’re getting the picture. Now at this point I should probably confess myself. I’d only been to two rehearsals, after a previous experience with this orchestra.

On mature reflection of course I could ask questions such as: “Who am I to make these judgments on the orchestra?”, “Where to I get off saying that the orchestra is over-reaching itself?”, “If they only picked easier pieces to play, how would they learn anything?”. Plus many others in a similar vein. So my dilemma is this – do I cast myself adrift from this orchestra to avoid the uncomfortable times (yes I could never really be a teacher, could I?), or do I continue to add some experience (and a needed extra bassoon) to the orchestra and learn something myself from the experience. A real dilemma since neither answer is ideal. I’d love some thoughts.

Another year has slipped by – where did it go?

So what happened to 2007? Well I’m not too sure. I DID go to the Concert PosterJudie Tzuke concert, it was fabulous. It was the promotional tour for her new “Songs” album of more acoustically-styled tracks, but none the worse for that. And yes, she DID sing “Stay With Me ‘Til Dawn”!

So while I’ll forget 2007, 2008 has started very well on the music front. I’ve used my own cooking and sent emails to some nearby orchestras as linked from the amateurorchestras website. Luckily some wrote back and within a couple of weeks I found myself playing 1st bassoon in “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” with the Aylesbury Orchestra at a Sunday afternoon children’s concert. It’s great to be playing again, and it’s already kicked off a number of other playing opportunities. I’ll talk about them here.

The other exciting musical event has been the splendid birthday gift of an AKAI EWI4000S. I’m SURE I’ll talk more about that too. It’s a midi wind synthesizer, but that really only hints at the capability and ease-of-use of this piece of technological wizardry. I’m just beginning to understand how to make it work and get the best out of it.

Footnote: I was just writing a new post and discovered this unposted-post – seems still relevant, although Judie has now released the second of her “Songs” albums.