Saturday, July 21, 2012

How it Started, Part Two: Maybe I AM the only oboist trying to do this!

The IDRS responded favorably to my concept. The Double Reed’s oboe editor Dan Stolper said of my pitch: “Your plan for interviews with professional double reed players who hold jobs outside of performance or teaching sounds fascinating, and I will be happy to help you bring it to fruition in an article, or a series of articles.”

Jacob Smith and I met for our first interview in August 2011. I left our meeting feeling even more amazed by all he manages to do, but not as encouraged as I’d hoped. Bassoon reeds, I learned, are very different from oboe reeds. As in, they last a lot longer. Jacob told me he makes reeds once a year; and he is not the only bassoonist I spoke with who does this!

That’s just simply not even possible for us oboists. Pursuing music and another career is difficult no matter what your instrument or other job is. But, I hypothesized, reedmaking added a whole extra layer of challenge to the situation. After talking to Jacob, it seemed that it wasn’t even reedmaking, but oboe reedmaking that was the problem. Bassoonists were doing just fine! I turned to the IDRS Forum to find other interviewees, and the majority of responses I got were from bassoonists.

Eventually, I did get replies from two oboists: Laurel Kuxhaus, an oboist and professor of engineering, who you will meet in a later post; and an oboist working in publishing who initially participated, but then said they did not want their answers used. Wanting to have a better mix of oboists and bassoonists, I shelved the article, and decided that I better make up my mind which career I wanted to pursue. Doing both would be impossible if I wanted to progress any further in either.

Fast forward to June 2011, when I was performing on the Pennsylvania Sinfonia (PSO)’s summer chamber music series. I reconnected with Chris Schmidt, retired oboist from the PSO and Bach Choir of Bethlehem. I’d met Chris before, but this was the first time I’d really talked to her. I learned that in addition to being an oboist, she also worked as a children’s librarian for most of her professional life. Immediately, I asked her if I could interview her for the article I never thought I’d finish! Chris’s story is incredibly inspiring, and I know you will enjoy reading what she had to say, which will be one of the upcoming posts.

Then I went back to those who had replied to my IDRS Forum post the year prior, and three people agreed to participate in interviews which were conducted over the next couple of months via phone, Gchat, and email. Jacob kindly let me re-interview him in person. A few more months later, the article was complete. Along the way, the idea to supplement it with a blog had emerged; I wanted to be able to post the complete interviews, which were condensed somewhat for publication in the journal, and I wanted to speak with folks who aren’t oboists and bassoonists. So two years later, here we are! Welcome!

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