Friday, July 20, 2012

How it Started, Part One: "If he can do it, why can't I?"

Let’s go back in time to summer 2010, when this project began. I was sitting alone in my apartment, staring at my reed desk, trying to will myself to practice. And I couldn’t! I could not move out of bed. I had no energy or desire left.

I’d been working for ten years, starting at a restaurant the week after my fifteenth birthday. No music festivals for this lady; summer jobs instead. Three simultaneous part-time jobs for most of graduate school; then for my last semester, I went to grad school part-time and worked full-time in the office for the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. Plus oboe jobs and auditions.

By summer 2010, I was ready to retire!

My life had even calmed down a lot at that point. I graduated from Temple University in January 2009; I had just one full-time job in the development office at the Curtis Institute, where I still work. But I struggled to keep my oboe playing at the level I wanted, especially when I didn’t have any specific jobs to prepare for. And when I did have gigs, it was very difficult to go into the office when my nights and weekends consisted of reedmaking, practicing, rehearsals, and shows.

Then I remembered my friend and colleague, bassoonist Jacob Smith, who I met when we both worked at the Chamber Orchestra. Jacob, who you will get to know more in a forthcoming post, is a father of two and all-around nice guy who boasts quite an impressive resume:

  • Director of Development and Marketing for both the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society and the renowned Marlboro Music Festival
  • Co-Owner of Whiteboard Media, online marketing, SEO, and web design gurus
  • At the time Jacob also served as Chairman of the Board of PhillyCarShare, our local nonprofit version of Zipcar
  • Oh, and he happens to be a pretty awesome musician, too, who has performed with The Philadelphia Orchestra, the pro orchestra that the Academy of Vocal Arts hires for its productions, Philly Pops, Opera Company of Philadelphia...the top groups in town.
I thought, "If Jacob can do all this, why can't I?" My fund-raising job was challenging, but I wasn’t an executive. I was playing with some good orchestras, but certainly not The Philadelphia Orchestra. There had to be a way -- and others might benefit from advice from someone like Jacob. The Double Reed, the IDRS journal, came to mind because our membership is so diverse -- from amateurs and enthusiasts to soloists and professors.

So I emailed Jacob to arrange an interview and the IDRS to pitch the article.


Next up: How It Started, Part Two: "Maybe I am the only oboist trying to do this!"

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