Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Review of MGSO concert

Here is the link to the full review.  There is one line that reviews my playing:

"Le cor-anglais est impeccable dans sa petite phrase répétée..."

Yay!!!  I am on cloud nine right now.  And I got it from performing Nuages....haha!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Winter Biking Accessories!

I have officially decided to continue to commute by bike throughout the 2012-2013 Montreal winter.  Most people have told me that I'm crazy.  Ha!  I did a bit of easy googling and found a bunch of blogs by people who bike during the winter in snowy climates.

I did not consider doing this until I was at school last Wednesday and it started snowing...a lot.  I had biked to school, so I needed to bike home.  On my way home on the quite icy streets, I wiped out.  I then knew that I wanted to do winter biking.  The wipe out didn't hurt.  I knew it was coming because there was no way I was going to be able to have any traction on the ice.  I was going very, very slow and I fell.  I felt so young again!  (Like when I snowboarded all the time before it could "hurt my career".)

I took the metro the next two days while reading up on winter biking safety.  I found it funny that all winter bikers say to not dress too much because you sweat while biking and it is bad to sweat too much in the cold.  People who are non-bikers keep saying, "Aren't you going to freeze?  You should wear more clothes!"  Ha!

I also learned that the best snow bikes are hard tail mountain bikes with low tire pressure, but I will have to make due with my road bike.  I found this great way to make homemade snow tires!  The icy roads have melted since Saturday, so I won't do that until after break, but I'm pretty pumped.  I also learned that I should be able to put my feet on the ground immediately.  That wouldn't work with my 30-year-old stir-up pedals.  I also needed to bite the bullet and get some good biking lights.  For the extreme cold, I will need a pair of snowboarding goggles (Adam said mine are long gone...argh...) and a biking face mask.

This weekend, I did some minor shopping and bought my bike some new pedals and bike lights!  Here are some pictures and the product reviews:
This is the "before" picture of my bike.  Notice the rusty pedals.
My new, super awesome pedals!
 I got Bike Attitude pedals ($30 CAD).  I really like them.  They grip well to my shoes, so I can push with the ball of my foot without slipping. They supposedly don't rust.  I will review that come spring time :)
 I got these Frog Strobe lights by KNOG ($32 CAD).  They are made of silicone and are weather resistant and should last 80 hours.  What is super nice is that they fit anywhere on the bike.  They stretch around and hook, and stay in place.  They have 3 blinking functions and a steady light function. I have a red and a white light.
 On the bike.
 Off the bike.  Easy to quickly take off and put in my locker at school.
And since it is the winter and I don't want to make my bike all rusty again, like I did a few years ago, I not only carry my bike up the steep outside stairs, but these inside stairs as well.  Every day.  Dad better be proud.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Live Stream Tomorrow, December 1st!

If you would like to hear my MGSO concert live tomorrow night (Saturday, December 1st, 7:30 pm Eastern time (6:30 pm central time)), listen to this link at the appropriate time:

Debussy- Nocturnes
   I.  Nuages
   II. Fetes
   III. Sirens

Shostakovich- Symphony 13
  I. Babi Jar
  II. Humor
  III.  In the Store
  IV.  Fears
  V. Career

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Orchestra concert tomorrow and Saturday!  What are we playing?  Debussy's "Nuages" (Images auf French) and Shostakovich's Symphony 13.  I'm rocking out on English horn, which is pretty rocking in the Debussy.  The first movement is a giant English horn solo.  Take a listen!

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Thanksgiving in Canada was in October.  I began my American celebration of Thanksgiving with school.  Boo-hiss!  Thankfully (har har har), class was finished by 12:30.  I went home and practiced, and then feasted with the Bolts!

My friend from church, Alicia, is from Colorado and is doing her post-docs at McGill in oncology and toxicology.  Crazy stuff!  Her mom, dad, brother, and sister, who all had the week off, flew up to Montreal to bring Thanksgiving to her.  Alicia invited me and her friend Lou to join in the dinner with them!

It was very nice.  There was a beef roast, mashed potatoes, beans and carrots, squash, bread, prosciutto wrapped around basil and melon, cranberry walnut pie, and pumpkin pie.  I had previously decided to "un-vegetarian" myself for that one meal, as to not impose on my lovely hosts.  I had a bit of everything.  I don't crave meat anymore.  I had a bit of the beef, but not much.  It didn't satisfy me in the way meat used to.  It is also interesting to note the vegetables the typical meat-and-potatoes family uses.  There are few varieties of vegetables used, and they are often done in a boring and quite tasteless way.  If anybody is curious about being vegetarian, I recommend spending some time with a vegetarian and vegan and let him or her cook for you!  It will introduce you to a new taste palate, which, you will learn to crave.

For example, my lunch on Thursday was quinoa with some sautéed mushrooms and green pepper, mixed all together with tabouli (a parsley, onion, tomato, bulgar middle-eastern combo--so good!).  That combo always gives me a huge nutrition rush.  Quinoa is a grain that is a source of complete protein.  It is important to have a mix of of colors in vegetables to get an easy variety of nutrients. Dark greens often have a huge kick of iron and essential vitamins.  I sometimes get falafel and put it on top of this mix.

Even though Thanksgiving is complete, here is a video on property rights and the pilgrims.  This is something our brainwashing schools never taught us....

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thank you, Dr. Paul

Here is Ron Paul's Congressional farewell speech.

When I am sad, I listen to Margaret Thatcher.  This is my favorite.

These two people make me want to go into politics, striving to be just like them :)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Advice from married women

Hello married women who read my blog!

Do you have any pre-wedding/marriage advice for me?  I really am looking forward to being married, but am having a hard time with the concept of the wedding.  I keep on having these weird dreams about it, or I can't sleep, and just prefer to not think about it during the day and night.  Is this weird?

I am trying to be cooperative with this social tradition, but I am truly terrified for the whole shindig.  In the words of Martin Luther: What does this mean?

Feel free to comment or e-mail me with any advice!

Montreal Metro

Once-in-a-while I take the metro to school.  I really am not liking it.  It is efficient and was cool at first, but really, it is filled with icky germs, is extremely hot, and quite crowded.  I feel like a factory farmed cow when I am on it.

I get on the orange line at Beaubien, transfer to the Green line at Berry-UQUAM and get off at McGill.  I do the opposite to get home.

The time tables are super fast during peak hours, and still fairly fast (a train every 6 minutes or so) during off hours.

I have been biking to school in the rain and cold this week.  I prefer that to taking the metro.  Grandma Hazel's words keep echoing in my head, "Wear a hat!  You lose heat through your ears!"  So, I follow her advice and wear a headband or hat underneath my helmet.  I also have a plethora of mittens and gloves to choose from depending on the weather.

Election 2012

I am so on edge with this election.  I keep on calling my dad for support.  Here is a neat commercial.  I saw it online a few weeks ago, but I guess it is really hitting the TV stations now:

Saturday, October 20, 2012


This piece is stuck in my head every day.  We are playing it for the next orchestra concert.  I'm on English horn.  Enjoy.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Engagement

Hello All!

I have been M.I.A. for about two weeks now...oops!  I have some neat blog entries planned out about the metro, oboe, and my future.

As many of you may know, my wonderful Boy, Justin, proposed to me while he was visiting me in Montreal this weekend!  My cousin Emma has requested the proposal story.

Justin will not get his ring until May 26, 2013.

Friday, October 5 was my 25th birthday.  It happened to coincide with BGSU's fall break, so Justin planned to visit Thursday-Sunday.  On my birthday, he reserved a fancy restaurant and told me to dress up nice, and not complain about how expensive it is, and to let him pay for meal.  He would not tell me where we were eating.

We took the metro down as far as we could, and then grabbed a taxi to the restaurant.  It ended up being an adorable restaurant in Old Montreal called Barroco.  They had reserved a little table in the corner by the gas fireplace and the stone wall so we could have privacy.

We started with cocktails and a salad called "Autumn Harvest".  It was so flavorful!  It included beets, walnuts, goat cheese, endive, sprouts, clover, and other veggies that I can't remember.  We also had a basket of sourdough bread.  My entree was the special, which was veal brisket with a spinach, mushroom, and veal lasagne, all covered with a pureed carrot sauce and fresh parmesan.  So amazing!  The flavors were outstanding.

When we were done eating, he handed me my birthday card.

Inside was a romantic letter about how life has been wonderful since we've been together and how he wants to spend the rest of his life with me at all times.

Then, he took out the ring box, and said, "Will you...?"  Both he and I started crying as I said yes and he put the ring on my finger.  Later, when we told the story to my brother Adam, Adam gave Justin a long lecture about how he was supposed to get down on one knee because, "My sister is a LADY."  Regardless of Adam's opinion of the proposal process, what Justin did was perfect.  We didn't draw attention to ourselves by being private.  It was us.

After, we got a lava cake dessert with raspberry sorbet.  The restaurant gave us each a glass of complimentary wine to congratulate us.

I was not surprised.  We had been talking for a few months about wanting to get married.  Once we learned that I would graduate December 2013, we decided we wanted to get married in May 2013, so we can have all summer together.  The end goal for us has been marriage.  We just "knew" after dating for a short time.  We would prefer to be married sooner rather than later.  He is so supportive of my oboe career.  Our communication is very open and we are both willing to compromise when we need.  It's so much easier and fun to handle life with Justin.  I can't imagine the rest of it without him.

Anywho...we decided on May once I was in Montreal.  He had been planning on asking my dad for a while, but my parents weren't answering the phone because his cell phone number was coming up as "unlisted".  I told mom mid-September that we were wanting to get married in May.  She was so supportive and was expecting me to say something like that.  Justin hadn't gotten hold of Dad yet, but Mom wanted Dad to talk to Justin first and she didn't want to keep the news from him, so as we were on skype, I e-mailed Justin forcing him to call Dad then.  Mom and I ganged up on him.  It was pretty great.  Dad was thrilled and Justin found that my dad isn't THAT scary!

We communicated with my parents and Justin's dad to find a wedding date.  I called Pastor to get his blessing to marry us on our chosen date.  He was very happy and supportive.  Then Justin proposed.  We could have gone from relationship to marriage without the proposal, but, we like the "official" status of the proposal.

We used my Grandma Hazel's ring.  It is gorgeous, meaningful to me, and economical for both of us.  We had it sized in August.  We also picked out our wedding rings in August, put them on layaway, and are paying them off when we get a cash gig.  The Chicago Bears have paid for $90 of the rings!  Justin's dad doesn't sell the Bears tickets he doesn't use, so Justin has been selling them to people when he has an extra ticket at a game.  The money he makes off of them goes toward our rings :)

Have a great week!  Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Biking in Montreal

I took many pictures while biking home from school tonight so that YOU can experience the scenic 3.5 mile journey through Montreal.

This is my bike at school.  Just chillin'.

This is Queen Victoria.  She watches over us while we practice.

The music buildings are in the cool big-building area of Montreal.


We get our own bike lights.  Cute, huh?

This is actually a really long incline.  It is really fun to whizz down while riding to school.  The ride up is not so fun.  But, it has toned my thighs in only a matter of a few weeks.

There is the incline sign.

This is Montreal's mountain.

This is a small part of Mt Royal Park.  It is gorgeous to bike through.

I bike past a football field and tennis courts.

This is a very common building style in Montreal.  The townhouses are three stories. The stairs to the second floor are always outside the building and the stairs to the third floor from the second floor are inside the building.

Front view of such a building.

I love passing this restaurant.

Our own traffic lanes :)

These bike kiosks are all over the city.  It costs $5 a day to rent a bike.  If you come and visit me, we can bike all over!

When I get home, I carry my bike up to the second floor balcony and lock it there.

I carry it up these steps.  Yeah, very steep.  I will have an awesome right bicep soon.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

On being vegetarian

GASP!  I have been working on this endeavor for a month.  The strange thing was that it just happened and for the most part, has been easy!  Yes, some of my family members are thinking, "Has she gone crazy hippy liberal?!"  The answer is, "No.  I've become more thoughtful in my conservativeness."

I did give into one McDonalds chicken sandwich.  I blame that on drinking vermouth with Russians the night before.  I don't crave meat, honestly.  I have found so many great ways to eat vegetables.  Just the other night, I made a wrap.  I had hummus, mozzarella, huge chunks of tomato, and onion on a pesto tortilla.  It was so good!  I love the freshness of fruits and vegetables.  I've been trying to eat more whole grains and less sugar as well.  The sugar has been a difficult journey.  Sugar is as addicting as cocaine, hence why we have so much type two diabetes in first world countries, so not letting myself eat it everyday has caused some major mood swings.  I'm balancing out now.  Sugar isn't evil, but I think 10 grams a day is the recommended dosage, while American consumption is WAY more than that.  I made a small batch of cookies tonight using organic unbleached bread flour, so the texture is weird, but it has a cool nutty flavor.  I kind of like it!

This summer I read a variety of books on being vegan thanks to my awesome friend Colleen.  (Crazy, Sexy Diet, Skinny Bitch, In Defense of Food, Thrive)   I was just curious as to why she lives that lifestyle and the books broke my prejudices.

I linked the books so that you can check out the websites for yourself.  I learned that you can easily get the amount of protein and iron you need each day (and more!) in a vegan diet.  I learned that a healthy vegan eats a large variety of different plants, sending so many more nutrients to cells than the traditional western diet.  Brendan Brazier, the author of "Thrive" is a professional triathlete and is also a vegan.  Every book was well researched and cited.

I am not going to go vegan.  I do not have the intentions of forever being a vegetarian.  So why am I doing the "vegetarian thing"?

1.  When animals are factory farmed, they live in their own poop and pee, are only fed genetically engineered corn often mixed with the meal of other animals (or their own kind), are pumped full of hormones to grow quickly and antibiotics to ward of infection, and their natural fear hormones are filling their own bodies.  Whatever, they are soul-less creatures, I used to think.  What goes into them, goes into whoever eats them!  Why would I want to eat a high-calorie food that has little nutrition, makes my body antibiotic resistent, and adds extra hormones to my body?  Not me!

2.  Most meat is not local.  This puts a huge strain on the environment.  A giant percentage of the food grown in the US goes to feed these animals from #1.  This food needs to be shipped. The animals poop, expelling excess methane into the air, which hurts the ozone.  To clean up yards and grow the food, tons of water needs to be used per EACH POUND of meat.  Then, the meat is shipped thousands of miles, all over the US, wasting more gas and polluting the environment.  Brazier conducted studies on the environmental impact the meat industry has on gas and water supplies in the US.  A person can make a bigger difference in reducing their personal carbon imprint by stopping eating meat than by stopping driving a car.  Isn't that crazy?

3.  When you eat a diet of mostly vegetables, there is no limit to what you can eat.  When I eat food now, I feel no guilt at all.

4.  You can prevent diseases by eating organic, unprocessed, whole foods.  You can even turn off certain genes that are in your DNA.  This preventative measure (with exercise) saves a lot of money in the long run.

5.  I have had difficulty with digestion, especially when I am stressed.  I learned that my body has a difficult time digesting meats and dairy.  When I cut these out of my diet, I honestly feel so much better.  I haven't had any IBS symptoms since being here, and if I was eating meat for every meal, my body would not handle the stress of McGill.

6.  Vegetarians and Vegans respect hunters!  Hunters are killing animals who live in their natural habitats, eat the food they are meant to eat, exercise and do things when they want, and need to be weeded out before winter.  When you hunt, it is often local and many hunters use most of the meat from the body.  It has a much higher concentration of nutrients than factory farmed meat and is leaner.  Go hunters!

7.  If you know somebody locally who butchers free-range cattle and chickens, you will be spending more money on food, but the meat will be substantially better for you.

8.  As a Libertarian, I hate government subsidies.  The government subsidizes #s 1 and 2 hardcore.  How is this right?  Meat should be way more expensive than it is.  Why are fresh fruits and vegetables competing with rotting animal carcass?  They shouldn't be from a cost standpoint.  It's all political.

There is my long list.  I want to be able to hunt my own meat.  I came to this realization very recently.  I want to have my own vegetable garden.  By doing these things, I can rely more on myself for food, and help sustain my body and the environment.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Long-distance relationships

As you all may know, I am in a long-distance relationship.  I thought it would be hard.  And so far, it has been a good thing.

I do not know how my relationship would be now if my professor would never have been offered her job at McGill.  Boy and I had been seeing each other since January and really liked each other.  We had dropped the "L" word a few weeks before I got the call that my life could be changing real quickly.

I was very nervous at first because Boy was not enthusiastic about me doing the AWSO because we would be apart for six weeks and he had had bad long-distance experiences in the past.  Well, I went to Rice Lake for four weeks before I did AWSO.  We agreed that we really liked each other and wanted to make it work.  Being away from each other, but still close enough to visit, caused us to open up way more than we would have otherwise.  We have had plenty of tears, some bitter words, and deep discussions.  Ultimately, this improved our communication and brought us closer together.

Boy moved me to Montreal.  This was a wonderful experience, but it was so, so, so hard to say good-bye.  Skype has made it much easier to communicate at a distance than we thought was possible.  We treat gmail like text messaging.  And he is going to visit me in two weeks!  Yay!

He's been my rock in the many ups and downs I have had in Montreal.  Many people my age have warned me that long-distance is difficult.  I have had a failed relationship of my own, partly due to long-distance.  The real difference is that I do not have doubts about Boy.  He is the real deal and I don't have any desire to replace him or be alone again.  Since being with him, I have been a better person.  He supports me for who I am, even during the ugly times.

Distance is annoying, but I am who I should and want to be with.  That makes it easy.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

My dream life...

The last few years, I have been formulating in my head how I want to live once school is done.  I have a major dilema; my desired career and desired lifestyle do not work together.

An oboe performance career generally revolves around living in a big city, getting a fancy orchestra job, freelancing, and teaching a bazillion rich kids.

My ideal lifestyle would to live in a little cabin in the middle of the Northwoods, away from most civilization.  I want to grow my own garden and learn how to hunt (need to get over this vegetarian thing I have been loving the last three weeks though) to provide most of my food.

I like the peacefulness of nature, providing for myself, and being out of the drama in a large community.  In the past year, I have been influenced by conservationist ideals and the extremities of libertarianism.  Wouldn't it be great to be able to be let alone and fend for myself?  The best place to do this would be in isolation.

Well, how could I use my oboe?  I could still teach, if students would want to study with me.  However, I definitely see a need for chamber music in the Northwoods.  If there are opportunities for people in small communities to see professional classical music very nearby, they tend to jump at the opportunity.  If I am not hell-bent on making my whole life my career, then, why not do something that people would enjoy, even if I made little to no money doing it?

In church this morning, I was reminded that someday I will be old and frail and on my deathbed.  Then, it won't matter what I have done with my life, it'll matter how I served the Lord.  I can keep life from getting in the way by enjoying God's creation, taking time to be quiet, working the earth, and making music with the talents he has given me.

Now, this may all be a dream, but it is a good dream.  A dream I hope to fulfill.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Burnout: A discussion

I spent all of May, June, July, and August obsessing about getting into McGill and making the move for my oboe career.  I am now doubting the whole thing and the feeling is coming from so many directions.

1)  List jobs for an oboist and keep in mind that an oboe teacher does not have nearly the amount of students that a piano teacher has.
2)  I love orchestra!  Wait:  orchestras are folding all over the world.  And politically and economically, they should because if an orchestra can't sustain itself, it shouldn't be in existence.
3)  I love orchestra!  I have to beat out five billion oboists, many of whom are better than me.  Case-in-point, here at McGill.  I auditioned at the level of a junior in college.
4)  Continuation:  at BGSU I was awesome, at Madison I was awesome, at a conservatory, I am not awesome.  Universities are self-sustaining, ego bloating, tax-sucking institutions that have screwed my mind (and many others's) to thinking that I can actually do what I want to do.
5)  I feel too old to still be in school.  If I would have done my undergrad in four years, I could be done with my masters degree last May.
6)  Joel has a house and a job and is productive to society.
7)  My career ambitions have no positive impact to our nation's economy.
8)  Canada (rather the nation of Quebec) is a socialist hell-hole.
8.5)  I miss my nice apartment in Bowling Green.
9)  I love playing oboe, but I think of all the money that was wasted on conferences, supplies, gadgets, travelling, auditioning, and what not.  It's depressing.  I could sell a lot of it, keep the basic oboe and reed-making stuff and only play for myself.
10)  I don't want to teach band.  I really don't.  I love playing oboe, but I feel that it is a waste of money to make a career out of it.
11)  I could just be over-reacting to the let-down of the stress and excitement of the past five months.
12)  AWSO did not paint a nice reality for performers needing to survive on an income.

I love studying with my professor.  She is amazing and will push me to be the best I can.  I don't know if I'm cut out for this.  I am almost 25 and am starting to think of this now.  I'm so frustrated with myself.  For sure, I will do this semester.  If I still feel this way by the end of the semester, I may just drop out of grad school and become a secretary or go back to retail.  At McGill, I am super motivated to practice.  It is amazing, but as the list above suggests, I don't know if I want to pursue that anymore.  I'm not anything special and I should stop pretending that I am.  It is just selfish.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

My Room

Now that I have lived in Montreal for two weeks, my room is still a mess, so I'll just post photos of how I actually live.  I have a small room that is connected to another bedroom, only separated by a curtain.  Another girl who lives at the house, Elizabeth, should be graduating in December, and she's going to leave, so I can probably take her room.  It would have a window and a bigger bed.  No desk, so I will think about it.

I really miss my apartment in BG.  It was nice living alone, having my huge bed and a separate space to do everything.  I miss the dishwasher, garbage disposal, stainless steel sink, a newer building, but if I would have that all here, I would be paying at least double than now.  It is nice to have roommates.  Last night, we all drank vermouth and sprite together.  I like that I have to bike everywhere.  Soon, I will have a post specifically about commuting via bicycle.

Lucy has taken to sleeping under my chair when I work at my desk.  I think my room is appealing because of all the random strings hanging from my chair.  I catch her playing with them all the time.

In sad news land, Max died on Wednesday.  I don't think it will hit me until I am back at home again and he won't be there to snuggle.  However, Smokey is now free to sleep next to whomever he wants!

In my next posts:  commuting and musicing.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


I'm sorry that I haven't posted pictures yet!  I never remember to take them, even though my camera is alway with me.

Montreal has had its ups and downs.  This is the case with any new city.  A major up is that since last Sunday, I have logged about 56 miles on my bike.  That means my legs are going to be crazy awesome by the time the snow falls.  By awesome, I mean huge, but I like being firm and big rather than tiny and jiggly.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Montreal: My new temporary home

I have officially been in Montreal for half a week.  Here is an overview of my place.  Pictures will come.

~3ish miles from school
~eastern part of Montreal (which is really north, but they have kooky directions)
~third floor flat of a three floor town house.  These are very common.
~Front and back deck
~My own room, but it is part of larger room divided by a giant curtain.
~Fully furnished!
~No garbage disposal
~Have to hold the shower head yourself
~Meal worms!!!!!!!!  At least I know how to handle them from when I lived on Spaight Street.
~Nobody has complained about me practicing oboe yet.
~My neighborhood speaks French and English only if you ask.
~My neighborhood is only a few blocks from Montreal's "Petite Italie".
~There is a wonderful farmer's market/organic food stores that is open all week during business hours 3 blocks from my place.
~I have 3 roommates, but I have only met one
      *Tanya is from Ukraine
      *Margherita is from Canada
      *Elizabeth is from Mexico
      *We have the majority of the North American continent represented!
~BGSU sent my transcripts without proof of withdrawing, which I just learned today they don't put on a transcript, but McGill needs it, so an official letter is being sent by BGSU. Why do things have to be so complicated!  I could have arranged this in July if 1)  I would have known BGSU doesn't put records of withdrawing on transcripts or 2) If McGill would have told me that the transcript didn't have the information they wanted when they received it a month ago!
~I heard the health care is horrible here.   Major months of waiting for a simple appointment.  ER visits have waits up to 24 hours.  Internationals have it worse than Canadians.

That is the overview.  Pictures soon!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Private, Corporations, Non-Profit, Government

I have worked a wide variety of jobs in my life.  I used to compare them by how much I made and how many hours I could get.  I have recently been thinking about what was expected from me, how I was treated politically, religiously, if I got what was owed to me, etc.  Here is the breakdown:

Rice Lake Convalescence Center: Dietary Aide (Government)
~ 15 hours a week
~Close to 9 dollars an hour
~food included
~fast-paced work, held to exact break times
~held to state regulations and unexpected inspections
~need to do a good job, or you could kill an old person
~hours subject to nepotism of manager
~Sunday church was respected
~Didn't have any down time outside of breaks

Culver's (Privately Owned Franchise)
~20-30 hours a week
~50% off of food while working, 25% off while not working
~One 15 minute break between 5 and 11 hours of work
~two 15 minute breaks if you have 12 hours of work
~Fast paced at meal time
~Sunday church was respected
~hours subject to amount of time employed (longer with Culver's= more hours)

Custodial Staff at UW-Madison Eagle Heights (Government)
~40 hours a week (mid-May-end of August)
~teams of two (about ten teams) clean individual apartments in a large neighborhood and are checked on by two supervisors who can verify if an apartment is done and move them to the next apartment
~two 15 minute breaks, one half-hour lunch
~did wait up to three hours to be inspected once we were done= nap and reading time (paid)
~many teams wasted time, slept, read, when supposed to work, so were extremely slow and making the same amount of money as the hard-working teams
~Weekends off, but had a possibility of being called on Saturday or Sunday for emergency cleaning

Kohl's (Corporation)
~Depended on season; off-season: 15 hours/week, regular: 25 hours/week, holiday: 35-40 hours/week
~Able to pick-up overtime during holiday season
~Can trade, pick-up, or give-away hours
~Yearly reviews and raise scales
~part-time health care packages available after one-year of service
~I was always able to ask off for gigging
~Hours subject to availability
~Sunday mornings respected

Oboe and Piano Lessons (Private)
~I can raise my own rates- High School I charged $10 per half hour, I raised it in college, and after I had my degree, I raised it to $30/hour
~I had a policy where you could get out of lessons due to sickness and had one parent/student badly abuse that policy
~Some parents were extremely flexible
~I prefer teaching through an organization, like the Community Music Lessons program at the UW.  The site is neutral and payment is controlled through the main office, so I would always get paid.

BGSU Graduate Assistant (Government)
~I taught oboe methods
~twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays
~free tuition and a $224 stipend/month
~preparation for lesson plans, information sheets, grading, quiz and text writing, grade entering
~subject to two observations by my advisor a semester (which I was notified in advance)

Blessed John XXIII (Private-Church)
~$38.50/service, $100/service for holiday
~9:45 am Sunday morning service, able to pick up Saturday night services sometimes
~Sight read hymns on oboe
~Great director/pianist, all staff got along, well-organized, musicians are often graduate music students
~Have to give up my Sunday morning church, but not required to be Catholic
~Religious discussions encouraged
~However, service content was conservatively Christian

AWSO (Non-Profit)
~Contracted at $1500 between June 15-August 4 (contract promises to pay musicians for all weeks played in case of cancellation)
~Paid $750 for June 15-July 22
~Sent a letter saying that they cannot finish paying for us due to lack of funds
~Musicians don't have enough organization to strike back
~Organization allowed to do whatever
~Cannot declare bankruptcy.
~Our Sundays were controlled and religion was mocked by director at the services.
~Poorly managed
~Director in cahoots with politicians to get him out of jail, get corporation money, etc.

All my work experiences are very unique.  I found that the fairest situations were run by corporations.  You have to work, you start out at a low pay level, but can move up in the pay scales, your religious affiliations are respected, you are paid according to contract, I have been able to pick-up and give-away hours, and I have had the ability to learn more to move up in my position.

I want to make my living just doing music, but I feel that I will need to do something more stable on the side.  I find that the more structured the company/job, the more equal it is to everybody.  When individual people make all the decisions and have nobody to answer to, the workers can be cheated out of hours, money, ability to stay at the job, etc.  These are my experiences.  Here is some food for thought:

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Epic story of illegal playing...

What is going on here?  Well, our lovely director said that his "contact" in Pittsburgh did not raise any money (of a supposed $150,000) or advertise for our Pittsburgh concert.  Well, if we wanted any hope of being paid, we had to do as he said (which never ended up happening).

He wanted the chamber groups to go out into the community and play as an advertisement.  Cool, right?!  Well, he told us specifically where to go, which was onto corporate private property, and perform.  He never asked permission from any private property.  I'm sure his mind was thinking, "These people should be honored to have the privilege to have musicians come and perform for them for free."  Well, these companies also have the privilege of hiring people if they WANT to perform.

This picture beautifully illustrates how he took my quintet, drove us to the front of a skyscraper (I can't remember which company it was though), told us to stand right there and play, and that the worst that can happen is that we would be arrested.  Then, he stood right by us and made us play.  I was so nervous about the situation.  He wouldn't go inside and ask permission!  Why couldn't he just had called the companies in advance or scouted out public property sites that would have been legal for us to play on?

Other groups were asked to leave by security guards. It was so uncomfortable.  It makes me angry that we had to play illegally on private property to fulfill our contracts that he did not fulfill.

Well, I will laugh about this in 20 years.


Hi All!

I took a break from blogging for a bit to recuperate after the AWSO.  So, it turns out that we are not being paid.  He sent us all a letter saying that $750 for 5 weeks is enough (even though the contract promised otherwise.)  He says that that is comparable to the previous 55 years (even though other people on the tour have had that falsified by friends who have done this in the past).  Eh....

It turns out we should have left on Thursday instead of finishing out the tour.  I had a feeling his motives was to hold us on by giving us hope of possible payment and then not paying us.  I was correct.  At least I made a ton of great musician friends who I will keep in touch with for a long, long time.

Luke, Glenda, Matt, and Me: The Oboes!

Wen (bassoon)!

Fantastic Four Woodwind Quintet

Justin and his mom came to the final concert in the Pittsburgh area and took me back to their place in Canfield, OH afterwards.  Most people spent their stranded week-and-a-half going to Philly, New York, and Washington DC just for fun.  As great as that sounds, I was happy to go back to Bowling Green.  It worked out for me, because it was Dr. Leclair's last week in BG, so I was able to fit in two lessons.  These focused on excerpts and the Mozart Concerto, which were both needed.

I have also been baking and cooking!  Blackberry cookies, cherry custard, Punjabi eggplant, etc.  Yummy!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tour Ends Early

Hello all.

The tour is ending after our concert in Monessen, PA on Sunday evening.  This is what we were told by Boudreau's messenger yesterday.  The truth is, since he seems to be refusing to pay us for this week and we have only received half of the money, the tour for us ended 1.5 weeks ago.  Hmmmm....

Something fishy is going on...
~he was upfront about everything on the tour until one week ago, now he avoids people
~his numbers he tell us aren't consistent, nor are consistent with numbers given by people in the cities we have played at
~he claims to not have enough money to hold us to contract (which he would owe everybody $250), but after doing some simple digging online, his assets are valued between 1 and 5 million dollars.
~he files as an educational non-profit, and I have found some tax documents from years past online, but he is currently not filed in any PA non-profit database.

I did know the risk of having the tour cancelled when I received the contract, so I knew there was a chance I wouldn't make the 1,500 promised.  I don't have a ton of money, and I definitely could have had a back-up job plan if I knew I wouldn't be doing this until August 4th, but I won't die without it.  Some people were relying on the money and are stuck at their parents's homes until student loans kick in.

There is a theory that Boudreau is doing creative accounting to support his many musical and artistic commissioning endeavors.  I am curious and will see what I can find on it.  I don't think anyone is going to see the $250.  I do think the matter should be looked into.  The stories of years past are starting to unearth.  Some professors knew of the strangeness, but yet didn't say anything about everything they heard.  Why is this?

The other question is: should I leave once the boat gets here on Thursday and I can get my bags, or should I stick it out until after the concert on Sunday?  I have no job, no home, and I am living off of others.  I really, really sound pathetic.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hear the Fantastic Four

We are playing four movements from Irving Fine's Partita.  This is at a brunch for donors who contributed over $500 to the AWSO.  The location is in New Martinsville, WV.

Meet the Fantastic Four

We are the Fantastic Four Woodwind Quintet!  Why is it four, and not five, you may ask?  Our group was randomly assigned when we came to the AWSO.  On the small ensembles sheet, we were listed as Group 4.  We love quintet and get along well.  We have designated ourselves as Fantastic Four!

I play oboe, but you should meet the other members.

Mallory Phillips is a flutist and piccolist from San Antonio, TX.  She attends graduate school at Oklahoma City University and frequents the professional orchestra world with her piccolo.

Chester Howard is a clarinetist from LA.  He received his BM from Eastman and is working on his MM at SUNY Stony Brook.  He plays a mean bass clarinet as well!

Our hornist, Jessica Young hails from Amarillo, TX and is working on her undergrad at University of North Texas.  She has crazy stories of UNT's band recording sessions.

Adam Drake plays the bassoon!  He is from Satellite Beach, FL and is working on his BM from Florida State University.  He also is working on degrees in accounting and finance.  He is one smart cookie!

American Wind Symphony Orchestra Days

Here is the official declaration by the mayor in New Martinsville, WV.

Boudreau Explaining His Coast Guard Arrest

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Video from Ravenswood

Here is a video of us performing under a guest conductor with his granddaughter singing the National Anthem in Ravenswood, WV.

More West Virginia

AWSO had another concert on Tuesday, July 10. It was last minute and hosted by a town about 25 minutes away from Ravenswood.  This rocked because they fed us lunch and supper both on Monday and Tuesday.  West Virginia is quite hospitable.  We rehearsed in Ripley’s High School auditorium and performed a different program than on Friday evening.  The program was shorter because our director wanted it to stop around an hour.  We played two lovely new pieces (to us): Adagio by Rodrigo and an arrangement of a Vivaldi piccolo concerto for piccolo and small chamber group.  The Vivaldi had a strange band which consisted of flute, alto flute, bass flute, oboe, English horn, Heckelphone, 3 bassoons, contrabassoon, and trumpet.  It worked and was orchestrated well.

This morning (Wednesday), we drove to New Martinsville, WV.  This time, we only had a two hour drive.  We are playing in the Lincoln Theater.  It’s an old theater with class.  You may be wondering what happened to the boat.  Well, it is stuck in the river because it is being towed and many of the locks are broken down.  The Marine Corps run the locks and weren’t allotted enough money to maintain them throughout the years.  If the boat arrives to Pittsburgh in time (within the next week), we should be good to continue on the tour, but in the meantime, we have to hope that towns want to hear us, not just see an old boat.

Ron Paul could fix this.  Honestly.  He would take military money out of foreign wars and into rebuilding our infrastructure.  Political rant done.

(Midnight)-  Our concert is done!  It went extremely well and the place was packed.  Our program was similar to last night.  We were in a cute little/cramped theater, but it had charm.  My host family is wonderful.  We have already had some great conversations.  I’m off to bed!  My quintet plays in the morning.  I will try to record it on my computer so you can all see a video J.

I'm Back!!!

I'm sorry that it has been awhile!  I have not had a reliable internet connection.  Here are the latest posts:

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

We are in Ravenswood, WV.  Our concert was on Friday evening in the high school auditorium instead of the boat.  It did not have the appeal that a boat would have, but it was much cooler this way.   Here are my thoughts (and the facts) of the trip so far in West Virginia.

The people here are very kind and generous.  I have been provided every meal since lunch when we arrived on Thursday.  Housing was organized in advanced and we all had places to stay.  I am staying with an absolutely wonderful woman named Carol, who has been extremely generous in all regards.  She drives us everywhere, even though all the places we need to go are a few blocks away.

Organization of the music has been the usual: unorganized.  I was yelled at from playing a part wrong in a piece, which I almost cried about because he kept nagging me that I was playing it wrong, even though I was allowing for the correct amount of rest, correct notes, everything.  I was slurring.  Just like my part told me.  He said, “The score says to articulate every note!”  Thankfully, Glenda stood up for me and said, “Her part has the section marked as slurred.”  So then I crossed them off.  He’s done that to others as well.  The percussionists fight back though. 

We taught at the school, actually others did.  Bassoons and oboes go home because there were no bassoons or oboes to teach.  I use the time to practice.  However, the directors go and do something else during that time, and there were no teachers present, just random kids with instruments, so Camp Counselor Mike took charge and made an impromptu schedule.  We are told to teach, but not given any guidance or organization.

The town was unorganized in getting money for the group and doing advertising.  The people in charge of those aspects of bringing the AWSO to the town did not do their jobs.  There weren’t many at the concert, but those who were there loved it.

Now, we were supposed to leave Saturday to go to Parkersburg, but Parkersburg postponed it until later.  Boudreau consequently asked Ravenswood to keep us until Wednesday.  They are mad about that and rightfully so.  The families only wanted us for two or three nights, not a week.  We have been trying to play around in the community.  A bunch of chamber groups played at churches.  We played at First Baptist Church.  Yet another Sunday where I couldn’t go to my own church.  I’m really sick of this.  Boudreau said that he doesn’t get religion.  He’s not religious, so therefor he sees music as merely entertainment for churches.  I don’t think he understands that there are real reasons behind church music and that faith is a real thing.

The service had a call to worship, multiple prayers, including a prayer request session (which I never enjoy).  We played “special” music, but it was just the Gigue movement from the Fine quintet.  They had a time where everybody stood up and sang three or four praise songs in a row.  Although nice and moving, you could replace “God” or “Lord” with “Mother Earth”, “Allah”, etc.  This is why I generally don’t enjoy praise band music.  There is very little substance to many of the songs.  However, there are the exceptions that are fantastic laced with Christian dogma.  The sermon was based on John 5 where Jesus healed the lame man at Bethesda.  From the sermon I learned that this man was lame because he had done a specific sin to cause this and shouldn’t sin anymore so he doesn’t have any other horrific incident happen because of the sin.  Oh, man.  Every sermon I have ever heard in the WELS on this passage among all other times Jesus tells people not to sin is because it has a worse effect of going to Hell.  Also, this man was not lame because a specific sin had caused it.  Ailments are all here because there is sin in the world, but it isn’t cause-effect.  The pastor did have a point that we should use common sense and know that if we are alcoholics, alcohol will probably destroy our livers, or that if we sleep around, we will probably contract venereal diseases.  But some smokers never develop cancer, some people can eat as much as they want and never gain an ounce, some people murder and steal and get away with it.  The sermon wasn’t focused on the eternal consequences of sin.  The sermon told me that Jesus taught this man how to live a more comfortable life by following God’s commands.  I would label this a works-based sermon.