Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Night of the Long Knives

I recently finished reading the book "In the Garden of the Beast" by Erik Larson. The book is a non-fiction book about the events that took place in Germany before World War II through the US Ambassador's eyes. It was fascinating, horrifying and sad. What is remarkable about these events is that Hitler's rise to power occurred both quickly and slowly at the same time. Germany was like a lobster in a pot as the water heats to a boil. One particular place the author refers to is a little garden in Berlin called the Tiergarten park which possessed an eery stillness and was like a sanctuary from the impending doom. What gave Hitler absolute power was an event referred to as The Night of the Long Knives. On this night a series of political murders occurred numbering well into the hundreds, perhaps more. No one really knows how many people were killed....anyone who disagreed with Hitler was dead. If this were made into a movie, the perfect soundtrack would be the second movement of Mahler's Das Lied von Der Erde. The music possesses such a depth of emotion; loneliness, sorrow, and weariness. It is as if we are transported into the past just before the horrifying event takes place. And among the stillness of the Tiergarten we hear the voice of God pleading with Germany to stop and warning them of what is about to occur....but it is a warning that is futile...and it is full of deep sorrow because the Voice already knows what has and will happen.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Battle of the Mind

What is the real game?
It is a game in which the heart is entertained,
the game in which you are entertained.
It is the game you will win.

(Quoted from The Inner Game of Tennis)

So, as mentioned in my last post, I've been reading The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side Peak Performance. I read a chapter in the book the other day that shocked me. It was me! It was how I achieve my zone...it it why I play well sometimes and not so great other times. Here's the paragraph:

"Focus is not achieved by staring hard at something. It is not trying to force focus, nor does it mean thinking hard about something. Natural focus occurs when the mind is interested. When this occurs, the mind is drawn irresistibly toward the object (or subject) of interested. It is effortless and relaxed, not tense and overly controlled."

When I read that I about died from the shock of understanding. Jelena's favorite saying is "use the music to help the technique."

Performers have a lot of things to think about while we practice and perform. Not only do we have a technical aspect (intonation, response, finger coordination, articulation etc.) but we have a musical aspect (phrasing, the x factor, etc.) But when we perform we have other thoughts that invade our concentration; we analyze how something just went, we critique ourselves, we get distracted by the baby in the audience that just started crying, we have self-doubt etc.

But to keep myself from being distracted I must stay focused on what I am trying to express and how I want to achieve it musically. My body, my sub-conscience, takes care of all the other technical things...if I let it and not try to control it. The author calls these two separate "Selves" self 1 and self 2. Self 1 is the controller, the teller...the ego. Self 2 is our natural talents and abilities....it is the same self that learned how to turn on a light switch...and the same "self" that learned how to walk. We don't have to tell ourselves how to walk! Learning a piece of music can be the same way...so Tim Gallway says. And it makes perfect sense....we have to let ourselves learn it and not overly control the process of making mistakes..and self-correction. Self 2 will figure that out eventually.

Anyway, so those are my thoughts right now. Gotta work on reeds!

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Schubert Rosamunde Entr'act III

I get to play this piece on Sunday under Alan Heatherington, a well-known conductor in the Chicago area. I am very excited but it's funny how sometimes I don't realize big deals when they stare me in the face. It's probably a good thing actually.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Why Would Anybody Want to Play the Oboe?

Regardless of the fact that every oboe player I know posted this on their facebook page, I thought this youtube video was kind of funny and worth posting. I also love the oboe solo in the Brahms Violin Concerto which is played throughout the video.