Saturday, January 7, 2012

Back from winter break

Over Christmas, and almost to New Year's, I was down at my parent's place. It was really nice, a very good trip. I brought my horn, in the hopes of practicing, having my parents hear me play, and seeing my old teacher. Some of that worked out: I played for a bit, almost every day. But I did discover that it was essentially impossible to practice in the usual sense. There were always people around, so of course they would listen. And if they are your aged parents, they don't want to listen to you work on your scales, even if that's what you would normally do. So I could play, as long as that playing was a performance. Okay, out comes the pieces I've been working on; out comes the Bach cello suites, I can try and sightread my way through. And out comes the book of Christmas carols. My wife played on the piano and her melodica, my son played some clarinet, and Tim, one of their caregivers, played my mom's guitar. He was amazing, actually. Turns out he led a church choir for 20 years back in the Philippines, and nearly went to a conservatory in Manila, in composition, before his scholarship fell through.

I did get a chance to take my horn to my old teacher. He put it on his machine, checked the seals, and adjusted a few pads. A touch-up is usually required after an overhaul, which we did in May, which is one of the reasons I wanted to see him. It's sealing better now, and I feel like it's helping the low register. We also put my son's clarinet on the machine. It has issues, to be sure, and my son and his teacher have started to make noises about it. The leak tester showed some of the problems, but there's no way to tell how much the work it needs (a full repad/overhaul) would help it without investing in the instrument. And the clarinet, labelled "La Sete", probably a stencil from German maker, likely has some inherent issues unrelated to its seal and setup. I guess we're in the market for a decent Buffet R13 at a decent price. We also sat down and read some music. We did the first Mozart divertimento for two clarinets and a bassoon, with my son on clarinet 1 and my teacher transposing the clarinet 2 part. That was really wonderful. I haven't played with him since, hm, must be 1987. He's got a gorgeous sound, and I learn a lot just playing in the same room as him.

My first rehearsals are next week. I want to be ready, particularly for the university symphony, which has been a challenge for me. I guess I'm doing okay, though, since I got seated for the next block too. Haydn 104 (2nd) and something called Legend (1st). Not sure what that one is, I guess I'll find out.


  1. Your readers want you to write about learning to play bass as well. We demand it!

  2. Okay, I'll work on something. But, no time, no time.... :)