Memories of John Mack

I just got done reading through the recent issue of The Double Reed and found all of the letters remembering the life of John Mack. I thought I would add mine to the mix… I went to the John Mack Oboe Camp one year and I came away with a tip that has affected my life in a very profound way – both inside and outside of music. It is…

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The pulse and sightreading…

We’ve just put the finishing touches on our new book, “Play It Right the First Time: The Oboist’s Guide to Becoming a Master Sightreader in Just 10 Minutes a Day.” In the book, I talk a lot about rhythm and pulse, and how very important that is to being a great sightreader. When it really comes down to it, having great rhythm and a rock solid (yet flexible) inner sense…

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Tombeau de neckstraps

I had the pleasure of playing Tombeau for the first time a couple weeks ago. I played second oboe/English horn and it was a really fun part, though there are some really quick switches. Due to some past wrist problems, I play both oboe and English horn with a neckstrap now, and fast switches always offer a sort of conundrum for me: Is it better to wear 2 different neckstraps…

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Effinger Stuff

In the freelancing world, there is often a lot of the same work; pick-up orchestras for the Messiah, or maybe church wedding gigs. So, I always get a little excited when something comes along that is really different, and more importantly, really fun to do. Not that long ago, I got the chance to play with a professional vocal ensemble, and was thrilled to discover a piece for choir and…

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Listening is a good thing

Listening to other oboists play is a great way to stay in the “loop,” get new ideas, and inspire your thoughts on a piece of music. I just got 2 new CDs of incredible oboe and English horn playing: Julie Giacobassi (with guest artists Rodger Weismeyer and Eugene Isatov) Eugene Isatov in solo New CDs are also a great way to learn about new rep– On the Giacobassi recording, I…

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IMEA coming up

Growing up in NY state, we had NYSMA solo contests, which featured graded solos of our choice. But here in IL, they’re called IMEA contests, and instead of featuring solos, they require a slow and fast Ferling study (no choice of which ones, they are assigned each year). I’ve prepared lots of students on these and have judged them a few times, and it really seems that these are way…

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Expect the unexpected… always.

Playing two programs a week with Grant Park has had me thinking about how I prepare for a first rehearsal. With only 2-3 rehearsals on a program before a concert, it’s imperative that every musician knows their part (and hopefully the piece) cold for the first rehearsal, so that rehearsal time can be devoted to interpretation, style, and ensemble. Ideally, when I prepare a piece of music, the first thing…

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Congrats to Anne!!

It’s not often that we toot our own horns, but someone once said, “If you don’t toot your own horn, there is no music.” At any rate, in this case, I think it is more than warranted. Please help us congratulate Anne Bach (co-owner of MKL Reeds) on winning the second oboe job in the Grant Park Music Festival. For those of you outside of Chicago, the Grant Park Music…

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Really good reeds…

After you’ve been playing the oboe for a while, you develop your own system for organizing your reeds. If I am preparing for a recital or some other solo, it is not unusual for me to put away those “really good reeds” as I make them so that I have a collection for the big day. With this Bach Double performance in particular, I remember being surprised by the really…

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Taking a break…

Playing the oboe is not easy. I think back to when I started and I marvel at how much practice and dedication it takes just to get a nice sound out of that little piece of wood. That said, I am always surprised at what good can come from taking a break from the oboe and giving it an extended nap in its case. You would think that not playing…

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