Because.. Johnny Depp

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My daughter said something that got me thinking about blogs today, specifically my own. She and I were having lunch, discussing her probable evening plans with a friend who will be sleeping over. I was shocked to hear she might prefer to watch “The Smurfs” over “Edward Scissorhands”. Now, don’t me get wrong. I do love a good Smurf yarn, but choosing the tiny blue nincompoops over the incomparable Johnny Depp in one of his best roles? WHAT?! To be fair, I have not seen the new Smurfs reboot and she has only seen a teeny portion of One Of the Best Movies Of My Adolescence, but still. She gave some defense of her ridiculous choice that I didn’t listen to and my defense? Because.. Johnny Depp. The ultimate teen chick flick! Just about any Johnny Depp movie (not “Donnie Darko” and the like though, since it’s about the mafia and mafia = Guy flick) may qualify as a “chick flick” because.. Johnny Depp!

This led to a lamentation on my behalf that I couldn’t conceive of an instance in which I might write “Because, Johnny Depp” on my own blog. My blog is and always has been bassoon-centric (which likely explains the vast readership of two, in all probability also bassoonists). But my dear daughter, with her wonderful sense of humor and her generation whatever’s lack of delineation, countered with, “Why not?”

And here we are, at “Why not?”

Johnny Depp is an artist, a master at what he does. To the extent that he does not watch his own films, and I don’t think he ever has. Not even the dailies. He does his absolute best to convey the chosen character, and then relies on the director and editor(s) to do their work and make it all jive.

And why not? There’s hell all can be done about it once the film has gone to print. It is an incredible exercise in both craftsmanship/artistry and letting go. Isn’t that something to which all artists aspire? The idea that one has done one’s absolute best and can do no more to improve or expand upon the work at hand. There’s hell all I can do about a live performance once it’s completed, so I have to let go at some point and trust that I’ve done everything I can do to be ready for this music, this group, this performance. Musicians have to let go, too.

But after, when a day or so has passed and I’m ready for reality, I do listen to my own recordings. I do pick out the little (or BIG) bits that I can improve on for next time and make note of the things done well. But then, I’m not Johnny Depp.

And here it is, your moment of randomness (go ahead and click, it won’t bite):

http://www.loudbassoon.com/cinema/S/secretwindow.html

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On to the next!

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My part-time education job of seven years has just been given a rather unceremonious heave-ho. As is the state of all education in Arizona, it was always somewhat precarious. Over the last couple of years though, I had been fortunate enough to receive some benefits – state retirement system, sick time, personal days, etc – of which I was able to use the bulk of before the end of this school year. I feel immensely grateful to know now, when I am already on hiatus and thus not missing the loss of paycheck, that I will likely need a different employment situation come August.
So! On to the next, right? Here’s hoping “the next” means more music and playing than ever before.

Performance

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Need: At least 1 musical performance monthly.
Why: Sanity, relevance, and growth.
How: Will begin with duos, asking colleagues for interest.
Where: Doesn’t matter much. The goal is to play.

Read Something

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Books abandoned are sad vestiges of misplaced trust. This ocurred to me today, or perhaps I only remembered something I’d read. How deeply a reader-author relationship is based upon trust. There have been a number of books which I have read and while reading, have only elicited a lukewarm response in me. I soldier on, hoping and trusting that this author will not let me down. That somewhere between this part and the end is the thing that will make worthy the hours I’ve spent immersed in this person’s brain. So, too, does the author trust the reader to go on, to finish, to try to understand the vision that put ink to paper and began a new world within these covers. Without this trust, this daring of both parties, there can be no exploration. For it IS daring to open a book, to dive into another’s mind, not knowing what will be discovered, shared, imparted, impressed, distorted, illuminated! And it IS courageous to take the wheelings and turnings of one’s own mind down for others to scamper about in. Where were will we go? What will we think and feel on the other side? Through what madness might we travel, caves might we spelunk, fears might we learn anew?
Dare! Risk! Explore! Read Something Today!

 

Connect!

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I love musicals. I do. But not just any musicals. I love Stephen Sondheim and Claude-Michel Schönberg. And whomever made Wicked, I loved that! Having just recently seen “Company”, with Patti LuPone (and others), I was excited when I heard that she was coming to town!

 
So we went. Gussied up, late-ish on a Sunday night with a zillion other things to do but still, we went. And we were sadly disappointed. Her voice was great, her pianist was fantastic! The stage was simple, as was her attire of an all black pantsuit flowy thing. But she sang on without much pause between numbers in this endless barrage of Broadway bravado and machinated persona. The schtick was thick with a running series of fabricated anecdotes relating to the songs she was singing. She went from one song, and one trite anecdote to the next with no pause and no apparent passion for the music she was singing. I must confess that, perceiving a concert to come that could as easily be obtained over DVD or Spotify and at a more convenient time with better parking, we left at intermission.
 
On that night and on that stage, Patti LuPone made zero connection to her audience (i.e., me and my date). She shared her voice but not her soul (groan, I know but still..). I left knowing nothing more about her than that she can belt out a good tune, but I knew that before I went. Why did I even leave my comfy couch that night?
 
These days, we have a zillion and a half ways to disconnect from our world. They need not be named – you’ve already thought of at least five. The REASON a person leaves their house to experience something they might as easily sate with a quick YouTube search is to have an experience, to connect with someone or something that they cannot find in their own little bubble. It is the purview of the artist and the organization to make that connection, whether it be through personal stories and addresses, choice of dance/song/art piece, or by simply and unequivocally “Showing Up” to ones own performance. Without that little thing, that bit of soul and self, we are wasting everyone’s time.

Malaise with a side of drama

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Last week, I went to a wind quintet performance. About two-thirds of the way through, I started wondering what the point was of this performance. Further, I began wondering what the point was of what I do, my own musical exploration and performances and those of my musician comrades. What’s the point?

 
Make no mistake, this came not from a place of desperation, depression or jealousy. I felt very removed in these questions. Why Am I Doing This? Why Are They Doing That? Does any of this matter to people not in our field? Why should it? Who really cares?
 
Two days later, I found a note from my “Theories of Performance” instructor asking us to read this article on the effect of records on live performances. It’s really incredible. Things I had never even considered! According to this article, violin vibrato was used sparingly until this century when they figured out that you can hear the violins better on recordings if the tone is more alive. You wouldn’t think of not using vibrato in any performance nowadays, whether it was recorded or not. Wow.
 
Despite my initial detached musings, this nonetheless sent me down the rabbit hole in a fit of self-mortification in which I began to fear that what I’ve spent the last 2+ years chasing is in fact completely useless and pointless. I’m over it now. However, last weekend was no fun. Thanks be for the joy of music and friends, more so for the two in combination. I’d been locked away in the practice room for weeks with rehearsals on hiatus and no creative outlet, dying in my own melodramatic mind. Give me music with friends or give me death!

Dreaming dread

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Awful dreams last night. I dreamed I was arguing with my instructor over my grade. She was saying she thought a B would be appropriate and I didn’t agree. Three A’s out of five papers and an A on the midterm spells “A” to me, even if I got a B on the final. But every time I discussed, this woman in a turban would pipe up and say, “Sounds like a B!…. B…. Yeah, that’s a B!”. She wouldn’t shut up and as TurbanGirl is a respected colleague, I was in a pickle. Decidedly, not an awful dream but still unsettling. Good I be a wee bit nervous about finals?

What makes me say awful is the (yet another) dream of bassoony destruction. My bassoon just starts to fall apart, piece by terrible piece. First the joint lock, and then the wing joint just starts losing whole sections of wood right in my hands. The rest of it has impact damage and looks as if it is seconds from doing the same. AAAAAHHHHH! Enough, already. And in the dream I’m thinking, is this reparable? Or is this the kind of catastrophic thing that necessitates a new bassoon? Do I want a new bassoon? Will the insurance pay out for a new bassoon or will they think I did it deliberately? And why the hell do I keep having these dreams?!

So to you, dear reader. Is this a literal fear of my instrument being destroyed? Could it be a symbolic representation of something else in my life that is falling apart, or that I fear is falling apart? My bassoon is the most precious Thing that I own. Wouldn’t it’s dreamy destruction serve as exactly the wake-up call I would need to move on re-directing the outcome of something equally dreaded? No idea. I’m just sick of the neurosis.