today’s find

the “city-wide garage sale” was today — basically an antique flea market. i found this 1958 national geographic atlas for $35 — europe is completely different; see the photo of the entirety of the former yugoslavia, for example. interesting to compare it to my modern nat.geo atlas. i’m a huge map geek, always have been.

i’ve been soliciting penpals on the postcrossing website. couple of germans answered so far. they sound cool so i figure i’ll write and see what happens. i’m kind of a bad pen pal but i always try and change… we’ll see…

practice session for the barista competition tonight. competition is the 23rd, not too far away now. i’ve gotta work on my speech/presentation now; i’ve got my signature drink down and all that. gonna bring my whole setup tonight and see how it goes.


so i went all the way up to round rock with the oboe to sam bass music to have it adjusted — and then of course it played fine in front of the guy. but he did notice there was a springy thing popped out of its position so he moved that. when i mentioned i’d come from south austin he told me that alan franklin at strait music on 290 (soooooo much closer to me) does very fine work and can be trusted with your instrument — but you can’t just go into strait and leave it, you have to ask for him in particular. much as i appreciated the guy at sam bass, at least there’s no need to go north into williamson county after all, as long as i can go to alan at strait. williamson county scares me — there, i’ve said it.

random oboe

so it’s been a while since i posted, doh. i am still fighting the reeds and i think i’m just too reckless with the knife — gouging the cane way deeper than i need to and then shredding the tip before i even get a crow out of it. takes more finesse than i apparently have. meanwhile, it’s back to the music store for another reed. the one i’ve been playing was great but suddenly really sucks. at least it got me through the concert season…

of the four ensembles i listed a couple posts back, i played one concert with the waterloo group and then bid them adieu — wasn’t that fond of the conductor. the austin civic wind ensemble is a joy to play with — very talented people there. i’m trying to get a wind quintet started. (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and horn.) the st. edward’s university orchestra is pretty fun as well. we played some nice repertoire for summer I (massenet’s “phèdre” was my favorite, especially the little oboe duet), and summer II will start pretty soon. after july 4th, ACWE is on summer break too until probably late august.

the howarth needs some adjustment; suddenly B and C are very flat. new oboes need a lot of adjustment at first, so this doesn’t concern me too much — what concerns me more is finding someone decent to do the adjustment. i guess my teacher usually takes hers to the guy at strait music if it’s fairly routine; major work i think she takes to san antonio.

speaking of teacher, i haven’t seen her in months; we had a few reedmaking lessons and then i stopped going for a while. gotta start seeing her again for actual music lessons again — i’ve improved quite a lot in the interim and could use some more musical guidance.

reeds and such

so i have a lesson in a little while. we’re going to work on reeds. i tied 4 blanks yesterday and i totally need help scraping them so i don’t utterly destroy them, like i have on the last couple attempts. got a blister on my right index finger tying them with all that extreme tension you have to use. on the side of the finger, right where you use it all the time for everything. it broke today at work, duh, shoulda known that would happen. gross.

i think i’ll bring the new howarth to the lesson today; if we’re doing reeds i probably won’t be playing it much if at all, depending.

i can’t find my schumann “three romances” music. i think it ended up in one of my rehearsal folders. suppose i better go look for that before i leave for the lesson…


so i don’t wanna pollute facebook with a million random things all night, so i’ll just do it here.

it’s been a crazy busy week and today is the first day i’ve not had to go anywhere or do anything. sunday was st. ed’s, monday was waterloo (super-hard stuff to play, wow), and tuesday was the austin civic wind ensemble, which was my first rehearsal with them. they’re playing a cute concert of mexican songs which is fun. wednesday i had a walk-through meeting for the RAWartists show on the 21st, where i’ll be showing my encaustics among lots of other artists, musicians, hair & makeup people, photographers, filmmakers, performance artists, fashionistas, and others. it’s a “cocktail attire” affair at the belmont (305 west 6th), 8pm – 2am (which is gonna be difficult, ouch) and i’m not sure how it’s gonna work with all the attendant accessories i would like to have with me if i make a sale. assuming i make a sale. gotta keep a positive attitude. i also have to sell tickets for this thing; artists have to sell 20 tickets at $15 each (=$300) or make up the difference ourselves. so it’d be nice if i could sell all 20, yikes. do i even know 20 people who’d come?

thursday made me cranky — the show we (the austin encaustic artists group) had at the dougherty had kind of a sad opening last month — mostly the artists and their loved ones. so they decided to have a closing reception too — although i don’t know who decided or when, as it was just randomly announced on the facebook group within the week. taking the show down was gonna be on friday during the day, but suddenly it got moved to thursday night after the reception ended at 8:30. that’s fun. so yeah, thursday night suddenly went from a free night to a taken one. but friday i had an oboe lesson which is always fun, and the evening was free, so we went to a friend’s whisky tasting party — woo!! i brought a rare port-aged edradour (not just *finished* in port casks but aged in them from the very beginning) and got to taste some other yummy things. the japanese yamazaki scotch in particular was really really nice. seems weird but they’ve got the right climate and everything for making scotch, so… yeah, yummy.

today was totally free. we went to costco briefly and then i practiced oboe for a while, patiently trying to break the howarth in for 20 minutes (swabbing it out after 10) and then switching to the old one… argh… tried to make a reed but totally sucked at it — i can tie them fine now but when it comes to carving/shaving them i’m a disaster. gotta hang on until friday’s oboe lesson where i can get a hands-on demo. and there’s new cane coming in plus some bitchin’ neon blue thread, woo. hopefully i’ll get a handle on it with the (20-year-old) cane i have left before i destroy any of the new stuff… (20 years, there’s yer problem, hah)

there’s a mosquito in here and it’s making me nuts. where the hell are they coming from? i kill one and another appears in its place. argh.

so tomorrow there’s a reception way up in georgetown for the encaustic show at the library there from 2-4, and then st. ed’s from 5-7. who knows if i’ll be able to make it from one to the other on time — i’ve already emailed the conductor to tell him i might be late. no idea what the traffic might be like, and it takes like 45 minutes even when there’s no traffic. actually i’m thinking the super bowl might eat all the traffic, because by 4:00 everybody’s pretty much glued to the tv anyway. maybe.

and then the week starts all over again with work on monday at 5am. woohoo!!

ensemble playing, yay!

so i contacted four community bands/orchestras and will be playing in probably 3, though i’ve only rehearsed with one of the three yet.

the fourth one was the austin symphonic band; they let me sit in on a rehearsal even though they don’t need any oboes. as it happened two of the oboists were gone that night so it was a good thing i was around. they’re phenomenal. it’s a full-on symphonic band lineup with 90 players. big rich sound, totally amazing. bummer i won’t be joining them, but whatever.

i went to the waterloo wind band’s rehearsal on monday night and it was fun — a small, growing group that has a lot of promise. they’re rehearsing for a spring concert and so it’s all broadway and pops, which i kinda dislike. but oh well — they were so glad to have an oboist — they had none at all — that they were all “an oboe! yay!!” when i walked in.

then i had a little, brief audition with the conductor of the st. edward’s university orchestra — apparently it’s such that they need players from the community to fill out the roster, as st. ed’s is not exactly a music school. i played a bit of the schumann i’ve been working on (three romances) and did a little sightreading for him, and he was satisfied and invited me to play. i think he just wanted to make sure i didn’t completely suck.

this coming tuesday is the austin civic wind ensemble‘s rehearsal. i inquired and they were totally like yeah, come along. don’t know much about them. they’re way up north and the rehersals are 7:30 to 9:30 pm — that gets me home around 10, and then i get up at 4:30 for work, which sucks as i try to be in bed by 9, but whatever. i’ll manage. waterloo is the same hours but they’re like 5-10 minutes away. st. ed’s is earlier, 5-7 and they’re totally close too.

so st. ed’s is sunday night, waterloo is monday night, and ACWE is tuesday night. i kinda wonder if i’m spreading myself too thin, but we’ll see.

the howarth is lovely but i have to break it in carefully so i can only play it like 10 minutes at a time for a while.

i tried to make a reed yesterday but it was a huge fail. couldn’t keep the cane straight, couldn’t tie it tight enough to close the sides, couldn’t wrap it well… god, it was awful. i was watching kerry willingham’s videos on youtube and trying to follow along but didn’t succeed. gonna have to have faith teach me in person. i used to make my reeds back when, but apparently i’ve completely forgotten how. the reeds i’ve been buying so far completely suck. argh.

i really need to get my butt into the encaustic studio again — haven’t been in weeks. i’ve got plenty of time to do it, just haven’t been sufficiently motivated.

stolen instruments

just putting this out there:

Stolen instruments:
On thursday 24th of january 2013 my instruments were stolen in the Thalys Train 9325 from Paris to Brussels
The train was supposed to go at 10.01 hrs but arrived in Brussels only around 13.30 hrs. Due to technical problems it also stopped in Lille, where people got of the train.

The instruments were stored above my head – a classical case.

The instruments are:

An English horn Lorée Paris from 1913, serial number CC39
An Oboe Lorée Paris, from 1893 serial number H81
The instruments were in a modern black nylon double case (dimensions c. 50x40x10 cm) with the brand name Lorée Paris labelled on it

If you have any trace of information about these stolen instruments – of quite irreplaceable value – please let me know.
With kind regards

Stefaan Verdegem

Brusselsesteenweg 38

B-1850 Grimbergen – Belgium

#32 2 269 97 35

ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner

so all six oboes arrived on friday afternoon and once they had returned to room temperature i tried them out right away. wasn’t as impressed by the rigoutats as i thought i’d be, not even the riec. the fox was about as pedestrian as i expected, and the yamaha was bright like people said it would be. but the two howarths stood out, and the new one was better than the used one — i trusted it more in the lower register.

so yes, soon i will be the owner of a new howarth S20c. it’s a student model designed for high-schoolers, really, but its tone is absolutely lovely and it’s really very nice. a definite step up from the one i have now.

now to build my embouchure back up plus my endurance… and at some point re-learn how to make my own reeds. i still have shaped cane that i bought a million years ago that hasn’t been used yet.

i emailed a lady at the austin philharmonic about possibly joining and will probably contact a couple of the other community groups as well. i know my teacher plays in a couple of them too. i’m so excited to start this up again!


so i called the two oboe people today and i should have oboes from both of them coming to me on friday to try out. gonna see the teacher i went to last week to get her opinion too, probably on tuesday.

omg! friday!!

cut and paste from a message to friends

if you’re on facebook you probably know i’m super-obsessed with finding an oboe right now. i’ve got like $3000 to work with, which isn’t all that much when you’re talking about these instruments, but that’s the way it is.

i haven’t played since i left minneapolis in 1997. didn’t know a soul when i got to massachusetts, didn’t know of any groups to play with or anything, so i just kinda let it slide. and then it slid some more, and etc etc etc. but lately i’ve really really been missing that particular creative outlet — it’s like singing, almost. voicing something that you otherwise couldn’t, in any other way.

i still have the ancient student oboe that i played in college. i’ve been practicing again and while it’s tiring for the lips, i seem to be in better shape than i thought. had one lesson with a nice lady who’s studied with one of the oboists from the austin symphony, so that gives me confidence in her and it went pretty well. probably see her again once i get paid friday.

also, i signed up for a free trial with and they have a *shitload* of oboe music. i think i downloaded just about everything available.

so i’ve been talking to a couple oboe dealers, nora post and hannah selznick, both very nice women and as is customary with this sort of thing, both will send a couple instruments out for trial with no obligation. so i talked to mathew last night and got the ok to take some out on trial; if there’s something i absolutely have to have now there’s always AmEx. so i think i’ll call both of them today — ideally i’ll get the four from hannah — a rigoutat RIEC, a howarth S20, a yamaha 441M and a fox 450), and the two from nora (rigoutat delphine and another howarth S20) all at once so i can compare the two rigoutat models against one another (hannah has the RIEC, nora the delphine) to see if i’m missing out on much if i don’t get the more expensive RIEC and get the affordable delphine instead. rigoutat is supposed to have a darker sound and that’s what i’m going for. leaning toward no on the yamaha but i should try it out just to see.

i’ve had trouble sleeping because i can’t stop thinking about it, it’s so exciting.