Saturday, May 2, 2009

Chocolate and Cimarosa

I haven't been writing about my oboe lessons much lately, but I'm definitely still going and still loving it.

This has been a tough year for practicing. I've had a VERY hard time fitting it in, both time-wise and energy-wise.

"Yet you've made a lot of progress!" Kyoko said to me recently. "How are you doing that? If you could practice more, you'd be a prodigy!"

She's so patient. I am deeply grateful that she understands my inability to be the model music student doesn't mean I'm less serious about learning music; it just means I'm on call at the hospital every half second and raising a family and trying to get dinner on the table and keep activities under control and exercise a little more and meditate and write and read and rest, and I'm LUCKY when I can steal twenty or thirty minutes a few times a week without interruption.

For someone like me progress just means I'm a little farther along this year than last year, and maybe my sound quality, pitch, and endurance have improved noticeably as well. Last year I could only get throught the first three of Gordon Jacob's very lovely, very interesting "Ten Little Studies." This year I can pretty much play through all of them - and with a little practice, I could probably do so without sounding utterly AWFUL! :) But I still struggle with left keys and very high / very low notes.

The Zipoli's do-able (though my high notes need work). The Corelli-Barbirolli's do-able. Even some of the orchestral parts we've looked at are getting to be do-able.

But the Cimarosa. The Cimarosa is KILLING me. And we're only tackling the opening movement right now!

The first fifteen bars or so have such heart-stoppingly beautiful moments in them - a make-your-chest-ache kind of poignancy and beauty. But not with me playing! Butchered, butchered, butchered. My son, who sometimes comes padding up the stairs to listen when he hears me practicing, has been known to say of this concerto, "Mommy, can you try your impossible piece now?" My impossible piece. That's what this Cimarosa feels like at he moment. I want to go back to my friendly Corelli-Barbirolli, but like any good teacher, Kyoko won't let me rest on my laurels without a new challenge to keep the juices flowing.

At my last lesson Kyoko and I just had to laugh at my struggles - I mean, what are you gonna do? There's only so much over-and-overing you can ask of an adult student during a lesson. At one point when I mangled a tough couple of measures (repeatedly) I finally stopped and said, "Where's my chocolate? I need therapy!" It became a running gag. "Quick! I need another chocolate!  It's the end of the measure!" (We never actually ate during the lesson, of course. Though after reading about what pink marshmallow Peeps do to oboe reeds, I'm tempted to try.)

Ah, Cimarosa, why have you done this to me? So out of reach, like an unrequiting love...


Christine said...

I love that you are a musician, and that you have kept it up. I'm a PA student presently, and a bassoonist at heart, struggling to make the most of both worlds. Seeing you do it with your career and family gives me hope that this isn't something I'll have to set aside forever.

Go double reeds! :)

T. said...

Amen to that! :)

Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone. Keep up the good work!

Lisa Johnson said...

I'm glad you brought us up to speed with your lessons. It would be cool to hear a snippet of your music on your blog. Can you record something and upload it? Maybe a piece for your blogaversary? ; )

T. said...

Anali, I've actually thought of that...then I get cold feet and think, "How could I possibly reveal to people outside my family how pathetically BAD I really am?!" We'll see...Maybe the courage and the tech-savviness will come...

Jo said...

I hear what you are saying about the left keys! I lost the tip of my left little finger when I was a baby - the only time it affects me is when I see a C# / Eb combination coming up in a piece - I will do anything to get round it, including sliding with my right little finger, which is such a bad habit!

Just keep going with the Cimarosa - you will get there in the end, and the first time you play it through perfectly will be such an amazing moment.