There are some folk who don't see the gem inside my rough exterior who might consider me a hot head. To which I say a hearty "bite me". But let this opinion be a caution that within this blog may lurk items of a venting nature or perhaps those which might be considered a rant. So be it. Proceed with caution. You have been warned.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Music Therapy

It had been a long tedious work day. Expiring deadlines coupled with unreasonable requests for last minute changes. Members of other departments calling for help rather than solving problems on their own. The ongoing process of new and exciting software bugs appearing requiring fruitless hours of troubleshooting. I was tired. Maybe not physically but certainly mentally fatigued. When I got home the last thing I wanted to do was go out again and exert any effort whatsoever.

But we had a double reed quartet rehearsal scheduled. After a quick frozen pizza refueling (frozen pizza hardly qualifying as food but simply fodder) I packed up the bassoon case, grabbed a stand and crawled into the car. My wife, in much better spirits than I, loaded her oboe and english horn and we headed for the interstate and a thirty minute drive to our second bassoonist's house.

Our double reed quartet is a fledgling effort, as yet gigless and still in search of coherence. We'd not met since the end of our orchestra season in May and I was hoping to make it through the evening with little heavy lifting. All four of us play in the same orchestra. The thirty something accountant second oboe with the blazing technique and amazing sight reading, the mid twenties band teacher second bassoon starting her family and my wife and myself, both of the latter of another generation.

The four of us are good friends and as we assembled instruments and fussed with reeds we caught up with each other. Second oboe was back from a weekend country music festival - wife and I had tales of horrible and amazing experiences playing for a community musical. As we began to rehearse we kept it light playing several tangos, a Gottschalk dance and a Csardas and as we played some of the things that keeps guys like me playing began to happen. When a group like this is formed there is a period when everyone may be playing their parts but the real ensemble, the "oneness" that is the goal of fine performance only comes with time, with familiarity with the other players and learning to feel what the other players will do, how they will form their expression and nuance almost before they do it. And finally, last night after three years of sporadic rehearsals searching for repertoire and a voice as a group, it began to happen. We began to sense how this player would interpret this phrase, that ritard. How two of us should articulate a passage together. How we begin to transcend the written dynamics and shape the rise and fall together. As the two hours came to an end we worked on a Bach prelude and finally for a brief moment we four became one voice - the voice of an organ - the whole much greater than the sum of its parts.

Driving home I was no longer tired. My wife and I didn't speak much - we have been together long enough that we didn't need to. This is why we keep doing it. Because sometimes, sometimes the magic happens.

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