Thursday, December 12, 2013

I think I wandered to the North Pole

Hey All!

I moved from Montreal to Hinckley, MN! Last Thursday in Montreal was warm--in the upper 30s (fahrenheit)! I flew back to Minneapolis on Saturday and came home to -20 F. This week, it got down to -45 with the wind chill at night. Oh, and before this massive freeze, Minnesota got blasted with snow. I came home to freezing temps, dry air, and tons of ice.

But now it is fun! We are out of the cold spell. It hit 9 degrees today around noon, so I went skate skiing. I haven't done that since undergrad, so I'm quite out of shape, but it was still awesome. The Willard Munger Trail that we biked on in the summer becomes a hot spot for snowmobiles in the winter. The tracks make perfect conditions for skate skiing.

Pretty, right?

I also have been updating my website, especially in the Events menu. I have a few recitals lined up for January. I hope to get even more lined up. I have been doing a lot of e-mailing and making phone calls the past few days. I also finished my application for my Minnesota teaching license so I can sub to make money for oboe traveling, house, and babies.

I need one of my brothers to get a deer! They have gotten nothing yet! We are running out a venison and I have just started cooking it in ways that taste so good. Does anybody reading this blog want to share some of your Bambi with us?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


**This was begun on December 5, 2013**

Hey All!

I have completed the requirements for a Master of Music: Oboe Performance at McGill University.

I feel happy, sad, exhausted, relieved, and a whole mix of other emotions that are just as polarized. I have been in school since I have been four with one semester off at 23. I am now 26. The last three years have been filled with life-changing events. I don't know what the future brings, but it is not as certain and does not include a specific goal, such as a degree with many requirements. This in-and-of-itself is scary. What is life without degree milestones? I guess I will find out.

In the last three years, I auditioned for grad schools and the Army, chose to go to BGSU for Dr. Leclair and the assistantship, met my husband, blindly followed my professor to McGill, became engaged, performed two recitals, got married, and finished my degree requirements. I ended up doing a total of 5 semesters of master's work.

Isn't this crazy? I remember how often I struggled with what I wanted and what was easier. I am glad I chose the more difficult roads. It helped so much having Justin to support me through all of it. We were only dating for a few months when I decided I wanted to stay with Dr. Leclair. It was awkward at first because I thought he would want to break up with me, and he thought I would want to break up with him. Once we figured out that we wanted to stay together, the rest was history. We have done over a year-and-a-half of a long-distance relationship and I truly believe that it helped bring us close much faster than had we continued living four blocks away. He helped me through my emotional struggles, with my sublet disaster in BG, and supported me through the happy times as well. I am so happy to have met him. I owe that largely to my oboe professors. Professor Fink suggested I study with Dr. Leclair and she convinced me to come to BGSU instead of take an Army contract.

At BGSU, I met some amazing people, but I am really happy that it led to McGill. McGill has so many phenomenal teachers and students. I was challenged in everything to be a better musician and scholar. The oboe studio is competitive in a good way. The school is top-notch in the music world and it forced me to step up to the plate. I had to grow-up in my personal and musical lives.

I learned to live in a country/province where French is the primary language (and I do not speak French). I navigated foreign paper work, set up a bank account, found places to live, rode the Greyhound to Toledo (very frightening) and Amtrak through the beautiful Adirondacks. Justin and I have driven between Rice Lake, Wisconsin and Montreal more than once. I learned how much I can travel with just a bike and my feet. In a way, I reverted back to fifteen with my transportation, and it was liberating.

I rediscovered my love for biking. From this love, I dropped fifteen pounds that I had gained between turning 21 and Ohio and learned to re-love my body through this.

In oboe, my tendonitis virtually disappeared the first semester I began studying with Dr. Leclair. She was insistent that I learn how to breathe correctly with good body use. I had been living off of massage therapy before studying with her and for the first time since my freshman year of college, I was able to claim pain-free arms. From her, I learned the importance of playing absolutely in-tune, techniques to develop phenomenal rhythm, and different stylistic nuances. We studied scores and listened to recordings. She asked me to be her personal assistant for her book, for her tenure documents, and for the Berio marathon concert. She was there for every single concert I played at McGill and always gave honest feedback so I could become a better oboist. She always had time for extra lessons during the week. She transformed my reed-making. More importantly, she transformed my mind from being negative and often punishing myself in non-constructive ways, to a practical problem solver.

The last three years come down to Dr. Leclair. I am so thankful that my life has been shaped by a strong, positive, intelligent, talented, and dedicated woman who took a chance by accepting me as a student.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Maison Symphonique Performance Video

Here is a video from part of Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe from November 3rd!

American Thanksgiving in Canada

Hey All!

I celebrated American Thanksgiving last Saturday with Alicia. We cooked a wonderful dinner which included a beef roast, stuffing, potatoes, carrots, corn, cranberries, wine, and a pumpkin cream cheese cake roll.

I will note that eating the dairy has caused me awful itchiness all week. It was an amazing experience for my taste buds, but, I have been doing some more dietary experiments this semester that has led me to conclude I have a severe dairy sensitivity. I will write about this soon.

My Final MGSO Concert- Listen live online tonight!

Hey All!

Tonight is my final MGSO concert, and final event of my master degree. We are playing Verdi Nabucco Overture, Brahms Violin Concerto, and Stravinsky Rite of Spring.  I am playing the principal English horn part on the Stravinsky. It's a pretty awesome part! You can listen to it live here. 7:30 pm eastern, 6:30 pm central.

The concerto soloist is Professor Axel Strauss. He is amazing! Ahhh! And Zach is playing the principal oboe on it and is rocking the solo.

If you have seen Disney's Fantasia, then you have heard the Rite of Spring. It is the volcano and dinosaur work. It has such a marvelous story behind the premiere. I recommend reading about it!

I also get to finish my final concert with a solo :P

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Dear Friends and Czech Food

Hi All!

I survived my recital! I just received word that the recording is in the office, so I will put it up online within the week for you all to listen.

A few weeks ago, my dear friend Andy from church took his daughter Kathy, Alicia, and me to a lovely little restaurant called Prague here in Montreal. It was ridiculously good!  Here are some pictures:

 I had the Jägerschnitzel, which is a fried thin slice of pork, with mashed potatoes and veggies.
 Alicia had some yummy beef and dumplings!
 Apple fritter for dessert! Yum!
 Andy and his pork knuckles :) He was in WWII, hence the poppy for Remembrance Day.
 This is Kathy. I cannot remember what she ordered.

Andy is in the hospital right now. He is sad because he missed my recital and I'm sad because he is ill! I had an adventure going to visit him in the hospital. I had to take the orange metro quite a ways, and then get on the 140 bus to get to the hospital. It is an extremely French part of the town, so communication was hard at the hospital, but I found him! And now I can describe to you what a hospital in a single-payer health system looks like. Don't expect much if we get to that. If a hospital looked like that in the US, it would be violating at least a dozen health codes, but, people seem to like the government covering health care.

Justin was here last weekend. We went to a Hungarian Bazaar and had lunch. Here is my food from that:
Sausages! Sauerkraut! Potatoes! Pickles! Rye Bread! Num, num, num!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Program notes for my recital this Friday

Hey All!

Here are my program notes for my recital, this Friday, November 22nd at 8 pm in Redpath Hall on the McGill campus. Please come if you are able or want a holiday in Montreal :) These notes follow the rules for note writing at McGill, hence no citations. My information was gathered from Grove, DMA and PhD dissertations, other scholarly articles, professional websites, and personal score study.

Programme Notes for Master of Music in Oboe Performance Recital
Alana E. Henkel
Recital Date: 22 November 2013

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788), son of Johann Sebastian Bach, was a composer, Clavier player, court musician, and writer of Versuch über die wahre Art das Clavier zu spielen. In this treatise, we have a succinct discussion on how musicians were to ornament during the Baroque era, although it received heavy criticism since it did not agree with Johann Quantz. This affects how one interprets his Sonata for Oboe Solo in G minor, H. 562, Wq. 132 (originally for flute in A minor). CPE Bach wrote this work (1747) while he was in service of Frederick II, an amateur flutist and composer, for whom many of Quantz and CPE Bach’s flute works were written. CPE Bach was underappreciated during his lifetime because he never was awarded the title of virtuoso from the King.

This late Baroque work with movements Poco Adagio, Allegro, and Allegro, is written as an unaccompanied solo; because of this, the figured bass is often written within the melody and the three movements feature contrasts between the lower and upper registers of the oboe. All three movements are also heavily ornamented. CPE Bach is known for writing out his preferred ornamentation, which contrasted with Baroque composers’ tendencies to write skeletally so that the musician could improvise his or her own ornaments. Bach did this for teaching purposes and because he didn’t believe that musicians should ornament music unless they positively enhance the original music. By writing in his own ornamentations, he did not have to risk having musicians perform his works poorly. He also writes many appoggiaturas. In his treatise, he states that they should be performed on the beat and for a long duration as to create dissonance. This is where he disagreed with Quantz, who believed appoggiaturas should be before the beat and quick in duration.


Clara Wieck Schumann (1819-1896) was a Romantic virtuosic pianist from Leipzig, Germany who in recent history has begun receiving recognition for her compositional genius. She was trained as a pianist by her father and began touring Europe at an early age, making her solo debut at age eleven. In 1840, she married composer Robert Schumann. She continued to compose and perform while raising their eight children. She and Robert had a partnership in which they studied topics such as the pedal piano and counterpoint of J.S. Bach. Robert often quoted her compositions in his work—sometimes too much of her work to Clara’s annoyance.

Her Three Romances for Violin, op. 22 was composed in 1855 for Joseph Joachim. Brahms had hinted in a letter to Joachim that he would greatly enjoy his Christmas present that year, which was this piece. Joachim and Clara took it on a European tour and the piece was well received, especially by King George V of Hanover. These Romances were written a year before Robert died. Robert was in a mental institution for two years prior to his death in 1856 and Clara was not permitted to visit until two days before his passing. During that time, she mainly performed to earn money for her family, but she did compose the Romances, and then only composed one more work after Robert’s death.

The first movement, Andante molto, is a through-composed Romance in Db major. The oboe is the main melodic instrument, but the piano does equal the oboe in melodic importance in two sections and overshadows the oboe in melodic influence shortly after the climax.  The second movement Allegretto starkly contrasts the first movement. It is written in ABA form, with the “A” sections in G minor and the “B” section in G major. In this movement, the piano propels the harmony through a chorale-like accompaniment, only becoming a melodic force in the “B” section during a brief call-and-response dialogue with the oboe. The third movement, Leidenschaftlich schnell, is also in ABA form, “A” in Bb major and “B” in G major”. While the movement is marked as “passionately fast,” it is written in a way where the piano is expeditious, while the oboe floats a heartfelt melody on top of the speed. The combination creates a movement that is both quick and unhurriedly wistful.


Henri Tomasi (1901-1971) was a notable French composer and conductor from the mid-twentieth century. He won the Prix de Rome in 1927 and helped found the contemporary music group “Triton” with prominent composers Prokofiev, Poulenc, Milhaud, and Honegger.

Évocations for solo oboe (1967) is dedicated to Étienne Baudo, a student of Georges Gillet, and professor of oboe at the Paris Conservatory from 1961-1973. In this work, Tomasi aurally describes women from around the world in four movements: Peru (South America), Nigeria (Africa), Cambodia (Asia), and Scotland (Europe). In each movement, he uses styles from parts of each woman’s culture.

The opening movement, Peruvienne, uses stylistic elements from the herranza and the huauco.  The herranza is a supernatural mourning piece where a woman sings and plays a small drum. The opening (and reoccurring) line mimics the small drum, while the short phrases with large legato intervals mimic the vocal element of the herranza. The huauco is a communal labor festival where performers play pipes and large drums. This is illustrated with glissandi, fast turns, and diatonic phrases. These two contrasting styles are interwoven to demonstrate the cultural variety of a Peruvian woman.

Nigerienne is written in a five-part Rondo form in a cultural style called Ajogan. Queens use the Ajogan to praise their husbands, slander their husband’s enemies, and to highlight their lineage. In this style, women repeat their phrases so that the audience can clearly understand what has been said. Tomasi repeats short phrases to emphasize the story-telling role the oboe plays.

The third movement, Cambodgienne (Apsaras) is a depiction of the pinn peat ensemble of southeast Asia. This ensemble has approximately ten instruments, including drums, xylophones, and gongs. It is used for a variety of purposes such as court entertainment, shadow puppet plays, and religious ceremonies. Apsaras are women who dance to the pinn peat ensemble. According to mythology, they are timeless and beautiful female creatures who sing and dance for the gods. This movement alternates between melodic and percussive elements of the pinn peat ensemble. The first and third sections attempt to imitate a Cambodian scale by leaving out Cb and at times, Gb. The middle section imitates the Roneat Ek, the “female” xylophone instrument of the ensemble.

The final movement, Ecossaise, includes the famous Scottish folk song, “Now simmer blinks on flow’ry braes” by Robert Burns and a traditional jig, which contains short quotes from “The Countess of Eglinton’s Delight.” The folk song is important to Scottish culture and Robert Burns was an important nationalistic poet. The text to this poem, which introduces the movement is:

Bonie lassie, will ye go,
Will ye go, will ye go?
Bonie lassie, will ye go
To the birks of Aberfeldy? (1787)

Birk is the Scottish word for Beech tree, and this particular area overlooks the Falls of Moness. It is a beautiful site in Scotland and the text is asking a woman to visit this waterfall. The following jig is a celebratory form of entertainment, and is written in the traditional detached 12/8 fiddle style.


Arthur Honegger (1892-1955) was a Swiss composer and member of the Parisian group “Les Six,” which comprised of Poulenc, Milhaud, Auric, Durey, Tailleferre, and himself. Honegger used this group for companionship, as his compositional style is different than the other five members. He studied at the Zürich and Paris Conservatories and is considered one of the twentieth century’s most dedicated contrapuntists. His music is described as tonal with an individual use of dissonance. His music was and is still popular, with almost all of it recorded during his lifetime.

American philanthropist Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge commissioned Honegger’s Concerto da Camera for flute, English horn, and string orchestra (1948). She requested a chamber piece be written that featured English horn as a soloist. She intended this work to be premiered by Louis Speyer, English horn of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The concerto was actually premiered in 1949 by Marcel Saillet on English horn, André Jaunet on flute, and Musicum Zürich conducted by Paul Sacher.

Honegger’s Concerto is comprised of three movements, Allegro amabile, Andante, and Vivace. The piece as a whole is optimistic in style. The first movement is based on three motives; the English horn introduces the lyrical motive, the flute then introduces the spritely motive, and the intervallically distant motive is introduced partway through the piece. The two instruments develop the first two concepts together and separately, each time in longer phrases until the third motive is introduced, then each instrument begins taking on a distinct personality until the piece unites in unison.

Andante consists of dissonances that flow in and out of one another. The theme is constructed in two parts. The low strings introduce the first part, while the flute then continues the second. This elongated melody is repeated throughout the movement, mainly by the strings and English horn with flute floating in a mournful obbligato, and finally, in dialogue between the flute and English horn.

The final movement, Vivace, is an intervallic romp, which showcases the technical abilities of a flutist. The melody reminds one of a jig, but it contrasts with soaring lines that harken us back to the first movement of the concerto. Throughout the textural excitement, Honegger includes contemplative moments that may be perceived as quiet inside jokes.

The work as a whole is orchestrated in ways that showcase the exemplary attributes of the flute and English horn.


Concerto No. 1 in D minor (1776-1777) by Ludwig August Lebrun (1752-1757) is a classical concerto composed for Lebrun himself to perform. Lebrun was a famous oboe virtuoso. He was a member of the Mannheim Court Orchestra beginning at age fifteen for Elector Karl Theodor. His playing was described by The Mercure in 1779 as velvety, sweet, and having perfect execution. Schubart described him as “a genuine musical genius.” In his lifetime, he wrote six oboe concerti and performed in France, Germany, Austria, Italy, and England.

This concerto consists of Allegro, Grazioso, and Rondo. The first movement, Allegro is in the classical sonata-allegro form. It is introduced in d minor, modulates to the relative major of F, and then is recapitulated in d minor. The Grazioso is a lyrical aria in ABA form in F major. The final Rondo is, as it is labeled, in Rondo form. It is mainly in D major with a short modulation to d minor during the “C” section. This section uses the same “alla turca” rhythm in the celli and bass that was used by Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven during this time.

Lebrun’s concerto reveals how talented he actually was. The first movement uses the third octave F twice. Mozart’s Oboe Quartet K. 370, composed in 1781, also utilizes this note, but this range of the oboe is so extreme that one rarely finds it in classical works. However, Lebrun was writing for himself and he decided to showcase the extent of his personal tessitura. He also featured lyricism, quick articulations, room for ornamentation, and places in each movement for the oboist’s own cadenzas.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Reviews of the November 3rd MGSO concert at Maison Symphonique

Hey All!

Here are two reviews from our concert last weekend. It was extremely well received.

La Presse review (French, official reviewer of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra)
Montreal Gazette review (English)

Recital Program and Poster

Hey All!

I promised that I would tell you about my recital that is coming up on November 22nd, 2013 at 8 pm in Redpath Hall on the McGill Campus in Montreal, QC.

If you cannot read this properly, my program is this:

CPE Bach- Sonata in G minor for solo oboe (originally in A minor for solo flute)
Clara Schumann- Three Romances for violin
Henri Tomasi- Evocations for solo oboe
Arthur Honegger- Concerto da Camera for flute, English horn and string orchestra (w/ Dakota Martin)
Ludwig August Lebrun- Concerto in d minor for oboe and chamber orchestra

Assisting me:
Pamela Reimer, piano

Chamber orchestra:
Alexandra Bourque, conductor
James Enns; Grace Takeda; Emma Bazinet; Marlena Pellegrino, violin
Thomas Quail; Victor De Coninck, viola
Thomas Beard; Jari Piper, cello
Mei Lackey, bass
Lucy Song; Sarah Crabtree, flute
Katie Horgan; Vaughan Cooke, horn

This recital is FREE! It is my second and final degree recital for my master's in oboe performance. It is being professionally recorded, so I will put it up on my soundcloud later. However, if you have always wanted to travel to Montreal, this would be a good thing to come and see :)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Blogs I Currently Enjoy

Hey All!

I love following blogs. I believe this annoys Justin a bit. That's fine, because his video games annoy me ;) We are all different! Here is a list of blogs I am currently enjoying and a little explanation as to why.

1. Ann Althouse

Ann Althouse is a law professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I started following her almost three years ago, when she was covering the Governor Walker/Teacher's Union craziness. I like how she has the ability to analyze politics fairly and doesn't mind not staying with a party line. She is always questioning what is happening and encourages intelligent discussion.

2. Penelope Trunk

Penelope is well known for giving fantastic out-of-the box career advice. She has founded several companies, is a career coach, and has a diverse working background. She also has a homeschool blog. What is appealing about her is that she links every opinion to a recent study from a prominent university or lab. She has a talent for statistics. She also shares everything about her life; her childhood of sexual abuse, her divorce, abortions, marital abuse, dates, good times, bad times, etc. Nothing is off-limits, and it is refreshing.

3. Mama Natural

Justin hates this one! I like it because it is a video blog of a crunchy Chicago mama. She is currently in the final weeks of her second pregnancy, which she has been posting about every week. She also posts on topics such as organic food, exercise, potty training, homemade make-up, etc. Her personality is bubbly and contagious!

4. Lem's Learning Levity

This blog is made up of my favorite commenters from Ann Althouse's blog. This previous July, she heavily moderated the comments, which made me, and many of readers upset. Blogs are often about the comments! My favorite commenters banded together and made their own blog full of free discussion.

5. Things Wot I Made Then Ate

This blogger, ChipAhoy, makes wonderful and beautiful food from scratch and takes pictures of it. He also has a dazzling wit.

6. Very Bloggy

Beth is from my hometown in Wisconsin. She now lives in California with her husband. She is a professional writer and blogs about her stay-at-home, crunchy-liberal mommy adventures. She is very honest about her struggles and successes. I like this because she takes other women's "perfect lives" and shows how these things may or may not work for others.

7. Kent's Bike Blog

Kent blogs about his travels on his bike. He also shares tips about safe biking. His scooter has also been known to make quite a few appearances as well!

8. All Season's Cyclist

This guy reviews so many bike products! He is a hardcore bike techie and is out to educate the world about proper biking and maintenance. He is currently doing a series on winter biking. I am loving it!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Epic Weekend: MGSO, food, and upcoming Pronto Musica concert

Hey All!

I had a crazy busy weekend. Friday was a bit hellish since my day began at 4 am and ended at 1 am...I did sleep until 10 on Saturday, but it does take more than 9 hours of sleep to catch up from a doozy like that!

We had our concert in Maison Symphonique today. It went fabulously. We had 1,500 in attendance. Composer Kaija Saariaho received and honorary doctorate from McGill today during the concert. We then performed her Laterna Magica. Fantastic piece! We ended the concert with Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe. Other pieces at the beginning of the concert were short overtures by Verdi and Wagner.

Here are some pictures from the hall:

We had rehearsal all Saturday afternoon. Then Alicia and I enjoyed Taste of Montreal at Le Pois Penche. We had a gourmet three-course dinner for $29, which, looking at the regular menu, is a really good deal at this restaurant. I had a lovely salad with maple vinaigrette, a tender beef shoulder with potatoes, Christmas-tasting cranberries, and sprigs of broccoli tasting things that were delicious. For dessert I had goat-cheese mouse with warm sugary peaces and sugar crumbles. So amazing!

Finally, I have another concert coming up this Thursday! I am playing principal oboe with the new Montreal-based ensemble, Pronto Musica. Our concert is Thursday, November 7 at 7:30 pm in Pollack Hall in the Old Music Building on the McGill Campus. It is directed by Alexis Hauser. We are playing Mozart Symphony 40 in g minor, Ravel's Pavane for a Dead Infant Princess, and Wagner's Siegfried Idyll.
This is Zach and me during the Mozart rehearsal tonight. Lindsay has the bassoon in the background.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

CBC MGSO Musician Feature

Hey All!

Here is the link that features musicians of the MGSO for our concert this Sunday. I am in it! w00t! And I look a lot older than the 18-year old girls. Oh, mortality.

I am an Auntie!

Hey All!

My sister-in-law Melissa and her husband Greg just had their first child today. Her name is Annalise. She was 8 lbs 9 oz and 19.75 inches long. She was delivered at 42 weeks by caesarean section.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

This week: media star!

Hey All!

This week, I am a face in a CBC article to promote the MGSO concert at Place des Arts this upcoming weekend. I will post the link when it is up on Wednesday!  I am also going to be interviewed and possibly play a little oboe for a morning news show in Montreal on Friday morning to advertise for the concert. Craziness! I'm a bit nervous. I should go and make reeds now.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal

Jerry and Starla visited Montreal for two days. They took me out to dinner and we went and saw a sound and light show at the Notre-Dame Basilica. So fun! For some background, Mom and Dad met Jerry and Starla in Madison, WI at Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel when they were all much younger. Starla is and has been for many years, the head librarian at Wisconsin Lutheran College, which is a pretty good school! My cousin Jim is a professor there as well.

Here are some photos of the Basilica.

My Professor's Book is Out! And Embouchure Modeling...

Click here to check out or order Jacqueline Leclair's new book Oboe Secrets: 75 Performance Strategies for the Advanced Oboist and English Horn Player.

In it, you can see me model some sexy embouchures.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

This is 26

On October 5, I turned 26. My friends Lindsay and Ben had me over and Lindsay and Nadia made chicken, onions, and cake. We also did facials and our nails. w00t!


Lindsay and Nadia!

Me and cake!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Free Live-Stream Tomorrow (Saturday, October 5th!)

Hey All!

We just finished our first McGill Symphony Orchestra Concert. The second concert of this program is tomorrow night, Saturday, October 5, 2013, at 7:30 pm eastern time in Pollack Hall on the McGill Campus in Montreal. It is also streaming live online! (6:30 pm central for all you Wisconsinites!) Click here for the link to listen.

This concert is listed as #20 in CBC's top 20 orchestra concerts to see in Canada in the 2013-2014 season. That's pretty awesome considering everything else is quite professional! Well, we are considered quite professional too ;)

I'm playing principal oboe in the Ginastera Harp Concerto, the second work on the program.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Finding oboe opportunities in rural Minnesota

Hey All!

I am desperately trying to not feel suffocated in my USA home while in my last few months in Montreal. We live in a very rural part of Minnesota. The people I have talked to have reinforced how difficult it is to find performance work there. The encouraging thing is, that I am the most professional musician for at least 50 square miles, but that is because there is no market for it.

I have a piano student all lined up for January. I will work on recruiting a studio when I'm home at Thanksgiving vacation. My website will be a huge help for creating a "get-to-know-me" feel without actually being there. My new student's mom said she liked reading about my performances and listening to my recordings. If I can spread the word via flyers and newspaper ads referring people to my website, that should be helpful!

I've also been e-mailing community colleges and Universities to let them know I am in the area for if anything ever comes up (like their oboe prof going on sabbatical or they need a interim musicology lecturer). I have had one response so far. When I graduate, I will e-mail them all again, attaching my CV and really pushing my website. I will also try, try, try to attend any performances they put on.

This brings me to the other problem with this arrangement: money for gas, money for concerts, money for professional clothes that aren't falling apart. I made our budget off of J's money to be very generous for gas, but none for clothes, none for concerts. I have some subbing lined up, but I hope it is enough to have savings and to cover these other things. I will basically work to support what I want to do and hope it is enough start-up capital for me to actually be able to do what I want.

And when will I be home for my husband? I am not the type to throw-out my career dreams. I hope it all works out. I want to homeschool our hypothetical children so I can spend time with them before running off to do my career stuff. If I don't homeschool, they won't have a mommy around very often. That wouldn't be good.

And I really, really want some adjunct positions. It would make getting a real University tenure-track job so much easier if I decide to go back for that DMA. If I find my niche in rural MN, I will probably not want to go back though. We will see.

I'm finding it hard to balance my hypothetical career with my real and present marriage in my mind. I've been reading a lot of Penelope Trunk to learn how to cope. Once-upon-a-time, I thought I would have my life together by this age: a career, a house, a husband, a dog, maybe a kid. Everybody would be perfect and happy. Why do so few people tell you that life actually gives us headaches?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Website Launch

Hey All!

I just launched my personal website to advertise my music stuff.  Check it out!  It is

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Runny Eggs

Hey All!

I like my eggs over-easy.  I love the yolk all runny so I can use my bread, potatoes, or whatever else is there to sop it up.  I think the yolk tastes glorious when it is hot, but not done.

I just made myself a deviled egg.  It was delicious.  When I cracked open the egg I boiled this morning, I noticed the yolk wasn't quite done to what a perfect hard boil egg yolk should be. Whatever.  I made it and it was glorious.  And it reminded me of my mom.

One Easter when I was young, probably between 11 and 13, my parents had recently gotten a brand new stove.  As per tradition of our church, we had an Eastern breakfast that families brought food to share.  My mom volunteered to make some hot dish and colorful Easter eggs for around the table.  One woman opened up a hardboiled egg, which my mom believed to be hers, and bit into it and said in an annoying tone, "Ewww!  The yolk isn't all the way cooked!"  You know what?!  It doesn't matter.  The internal temperature when the egg was cooked was probably hot enough to kill all of the germs, and then it was refrigerated, so, it was fine.  And I probably liked the taste way better.  I didn't notice anything wrong.  The point was, this woman somehow wanted to be superior to somebody else by putting on a putzy show.

My mom went home and cried.  She went on about how she wasn't good enough as a wife, mother, church woman because she didn't have the eggs properly done.  Well, she had gotten a new stove, which probably had different temperatures than she was used to. I didn't get it though.  I thought the eggs were fine. I am sure I ate a ton of them.

The funny thing is, I find I care how other people think of me as much as Mom does. I do go home and cry and I do fret over being the "perfect wife" (even though, I am an awful wife for being away from my husband for three months to finish school...harhar...the people who criticize that don't take into consideration how many couples do distance over the course of their marriage). From what I gather, this critical woman's daughters have grown up to be as judgmental and prissy as that comment she made.

I like runny eggs.  I think that developed because I will never forget how upset that egg comment made my mom. I thought her eggs were perfect. So anyone who wants to criticize them--please shut your mouth and fix your own eggs.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Oboe Secrets: 75 Performance Strategies for the Advanced Oboist and English Horn Player

Please check out my professor's upcoming book!  I helped create all of the examples and photos.  I even did some embouchure modeling.  You can pre-order it on  It will come out in October.

Facebook: The Life vs. The Show

Hey All!

I am guessing that many of you find me through Google+, because I choose to advertise this blog through that medium.  I do not advertise individual posts on Facebook for the following reasons:

1. I have a lot of Facebook friends that I would prefer not comment on my blog
2. Facebook friends see enough music and food thoughts already
3. I may be tempted to stop writing about what I want to write about

Today I will address my third point.  I will first categorize people by they way they post:

1. The negative Nelly who wants lots of attention through being only negative
2. The positive Polly whose posts almost always brighten up your day
3. The political activist
4. The religious activist
5. The career advertiser
6. The witty commentator
7. The occasional poster
8. The observer

I enjoy numbers 2, 6, 7, and 8.  Numbers 3 and 4 are okay once-in-a-while, but some people are relentless.  Number 5 gets annoying and number 1 needs a therapist.

While growing up, I would get jealous of certain friends or families and complain how that person has a perfect life.  My mother, in her infinite wisdom, told me that I do not know what happens behind the scenes in that person's life.  It is so true!  Some people put on a front of a perfectly charmed life, but are actually sad and conflicted.  We never know what is really happening.

Since the age of media technology, we have been able to widely advertise a persona. Some people only show the fantastics parts of their lives.  It is so easy to think that so-and-so has a better marriage than me or wonder why I can't have eating self-control like John Doe who only posts health food photos. (Yes, I have posted things I have made on here, but if I posted everything I ate, I would be so ashamed.)

What if I posted on Facebook everything about my life?  The good and the bad?  What if Positive Polly is hurting deep down, but wants to fit that perfect person in her head?  How many people are trying to act like they have great relationships through what they tell the world on Facebook because they don't want to admit they have some hard work and problems to resolve?

I don't want to know every single detail of a person's life, but I need to remind myself that not everything is as it appears.  It is also a good reminder to myself to not use social media as a way to costume my life, but to figure out how to fix it.

To the people who are transparent with their struggles and successes in a tasteful way: Bravo to you!

*Smokey lives his life transparently.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Back in Montreal

Hey All!

I am back in Montreal, and have been since Sunday. I arrived back to the same room (but this time with a double bed!!!) and immediately got to work.  I've been doing work for my professor in assisting her with her tenure application.  So. Much. Editing.  It's fun though.  I've also been practicing and taking lessons.

I have a chamber music group in the workings now.  All I can say thus far is it is religious, it is a trio, it will be professional, and it will be so much fun!  It will be based in the Northwestern Wisconsin area.

I am so excited for life!!!  It is all so much fun :)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Random Thoughts

Hey All!

My husband has been having some forehead acne issues, nothing gross, but he was puzzled by the phenomenon.  I told him he needs to start washing his face and got out a travel size men's facewash from my brother for him to use.  His responded by staring at it and then asked, "So, I just put it on my face and let it dry?"  He did not know how to wash his face.  He said nobody ever taught him.  I once had to teach my brother Adam how to wash his face.  I wrote out a long list of instructions I taped in the bathroom cupboard.  He then faithfully followed them.  Is this a male thing?  Do they not teach boys how to wash their faces in youth magazines?  I remember reading all about it in American Girl, Girl's Life, and Brio.  This is disturbing.

I'm working on making a real website for myself.  But I'm being lazy because it takes work to learn a new thing.  Ugh.  Please encourage me to finish it.

Hinckley has super cheap haircuts.  I got my hair cut for $12 plus tip today.  If I want a manicure, it is $15.  I will definitely treat myself to one every-so-often.

When people die, they do not turn into angels.  Angels and humans are separate beings.  Angels are just souls without the ability to choose anything outside of God's will.  Humans have a body and a soul, have the ability to choose to reject God, and if they believe in Jesus as their Savior from sin, they will go to heaven as a perfect soul and be reunited with their bodies on the last day.

I leave for Montreal on August 25.  I am very ready to be done with school.

In oboe news:  I will be playing oboe with the Mesabi Symphony in Virginia, MN and English horn with the Heartland Symphony in Brainerd, MN.  Yay!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

McGill Reed Making Workshop 2013

Hi All!

Here are some pictures from the McGill Reed Making Workshop last week!

Upcoming Minnesota Performances!

Hi All!

I am now the second oboist for the North Shore Philharmonic Orchestra, which is a semi-professional summer orchestra in its fifth season in Duluth, MN.  I will be performing on Thursday, July 25 at the Minnesota Discovery Center  and on Saturday, July 27 at the Tall Ships Festival.  I will get you those times when I know them :)

Also, my final master's recital is scheduled for Friday, November 22, 2013 at 8:00 pm in Redpath Hall on the McGill campus.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

New Town Checklist

Hey All!

I KNOW!  I need to take pictures and put them on here!  Ahhh!  I will soon.

We have been busy doing all sorts of things one does when moving to a new town.
~I've been slowly, but surely, setting up house, and practicing.
~Justin's been working.
~Set up our joint bank accounts.
~Got our library cards.
~Went on an area tour from one of Justin's co-workers.
~Walked the entire town.
~Meeting the neighbors.

I hope all of your summers are going splendidly!!!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Wedding Thoughts 4 Weeks Later

Hey All!

Well, Justin and I have been married for four weeks today! Yippee!  Being married is pretty great and I will recommend it to anybody.  I like having the security from the life-time commitment.  I do struggle with feeling like I am failing as a wife at times.  I've set up rules for how to be a good wife in my head, but I can't quite keep up, so I end up feeling like a bad wife.  There are less requirements on how to be a good girlfriend!

I am a bit surprised.  Mom keeps receiving compliments from many people about our wedding.  I honestly thought more people wouldn't like it due to one particular person in our lives who liked to complain about everything we were doing.  It turned out that everybody but that one person had fun!

I had the advantage of having played piano, organ, and oboe for many weddings.  I knew what I liked and hated in weddings.  Here are some of my words of advice for wedding planning:

~Know yourself and your style.
~Know your budget and stick to it.
~Know your time constraint and delegate, or, just have your mom do everything!
~Know what wedding industry crap you want to toss out and know that IT IS OKAY TO DO THAT!
~Be considerate of your guests' time.
~Know who your guests are.  We did this.  It makes sense.
~Make very specific time tables with the age group of your guests in mind.
~Have somebody watch your 19-year-old brother at the bar closely.
~Keep the marriage the focus of the day.  People who cling to their wedding day for years tend to be a bit miserable.
~Send thank yous out as fast as you can.
~If you are Christian, actually focus on Christ in the service.  If you don't bother with Christ in a church ceremony, have it in a court house, or have a non-religious ceremony.

Starting Out

Hey All!

I'm working on starting out as a professional oboist in an area where I have not gone to school.  I met with cellist and conductor, Josh Aerie on Friday to play for him and to ask questions about music in the area.  He set me up with some new contacts and gave me some amazing suggestions for how to get started in the Duluth performing and teaching scene.  I am super excited.

However, I need to make myself a real website.  Any suggestions, loyal blog readers?  How do I go about building a website?  I suppose I can google it, but tips from experienced website builders may be helpful :)

Husband and I met with the Pastor and his wife of the church in Duluth.  They are beautiful people, inside and out.  The church and mission are simply amazing.  And they have an AWESOME ORGAN!  I'm sold on joining this church, even if it is a little over an hour away.  The closest WELS church to us is 45 minutes away, so what's another 20 minutes?!

Over and out! ~A

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Honeymoon, Part 2

Hey All!

We are getting settled in our new home in Minnesota now. It is much cooler than Florida, but I like it better here :)  There is a fantastic bike trail that Justin and I rode yesterday evening.  I will take pictures and share them with you all later.

I shall continue showing pictures from the honeymoon!
 This is from our last supper on the honeymoon.  We at a fantastic little restaurant on 5th Avenue in Naples called Citrus.  It was amazing.  The food was phenomenal and the service was even better.  We were second customers when we sat down, but shortly after, we were the only customers and our waiter gave us amazing amounts of attention.  He even gave me two free glasses of wine because it was our honeymoon!  Justin is drinking an oatmeal stout and I'm drinking some Spanish beer.  Please forgive me for not remembering their names.
 Below is a crab ravioli that we had as our appetizer.
 This is Justin's snapper.  He gobbled it right down!
 I can't remember the name of my fish.  It was described to be like swordfish and it started with a K...With it came a sauce and veggie medley of spinach, tomatoes, and capers.  Very good.
 For dessert we ate a creme brulee (pardon my lack of accents) trio that were lemon, lime, and orange.  Wow!  So good and I hurt so bad after all that fantastic food.
 Earlier in the week we went to Collier-Seminole State Park for some Everglades hiking.  It was buggy and beautiful.  I enjoyed my hike.  Justin wanted to be lazy, but I forced him to have fun!

 We were in panther territory.  However, we did not see one, nor did we have to fight one.
 This is a giant grasshopper, as you can see from the comparison with my shoe.  It was quite tall as well.