Quick [holiday] note

Hi everyone!  I have been crazy busy, but I wanted to let you know what has begun to take over my mind and senses lately….

That’s right the Holidays are upon us!   Happy Holidays and for those lucky ones that have a full week off for Thanksgiving I hope you’re enjoying it!

– another sopraboist

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Lost in the big city….searching for balance

Hello everyone!  It’s been a long while since I’ve posted, but I’ve been very busy!  I have made my move to NYC and have been spending my time getting settled and beginning this new challenge of working through a frightening DMA degree at the CUNY Graduate Center.  In the past few months I have learned so much about New York life and how the next 5 years of my life will be.  In short, I will be extremely busy for the next 5 years.  I will be constantly working on my skills as an oboist and vocalist while balancing my time with my school studies and also working to support myself.

This leaves little time for much rest and relaxation, let alone something I believe normal people describe as a.. uh, social life. (I’ve heard rumors about such things…) So I’m currently working to figure out the correct balance for me and what will keep me running at full capacity.  In my short years on this planet I have learned that there is a way to balance your life in order to reach your full potential. This situation I’m facing now is one that is definitely going to be a challenge.  At this point in my search for balance I have found that it begins with taking one day at a time, one hour at a time and really one moment at a time.  There are only so many hours in the day and I am only human.  Without proper rest and fuel for my body full functionality does not happen.  I know this is something everyone goes through, yet not all wants to address it.

I have so many things I want to pursue in my life and career and tackling this search for a balance in my life will help me to be successful in the present but also in the rest of my life.  This balance I’m searching for is a definite life-long evolving process and I will continue to update as to how I’m doing with it.

I urge those out there reading this that are just going through motions without a sense of balance to search out your balance.  You will be much happier internally and find that you are able to achieve things you only dreamed of.

I will leave you all with a picture that signals the beginning of my NYC picture scrapbook.  Enjoy and live your life balanced!

– another sopraboist


Something to look forward to…

I just came across this article while catching up on facebook.  It definitely gives me something to look forward to as I get older.  Check out this wonderful article and study on musicians’ brains.        (link to original article at the bottom)

(My favorite line, and what has to be a quote of the day is: “With that in mind, perhaps joining a marching band now will make you the smartest person at the retirement home in the future.”)

Want to keep your mind healthy and sharp throughout your life? Pick up an instrument. A new study found that musicians might have brains that function better than their peers well into old age. Bet you wish you stuck with those piano lessons after all.

Researchers tested the mental abilities of senior citizens and discovered that musicians performed better at a number of tests. In particular, musicians excelled at visual memory tasks. While musicians had similar verbal capabilities to non-musicians, the musicians’ ability to memorize new words was markedly better, too. Perhaps most importantly, the musicians’ IQ scores were higher overall than those who spent their lives listening to music rather than performing it.

The experience of musicians also played a role in how sharp their minds were. The younger the musicians began to play their instruments, the better their minds performed at the mental tasks. Additionally, the total number of years musicians played instruments throughout their life corresponded with how strong their brains remained years later.

The study also found that musicians who took the time to exercise between symphonies had even higher-functioning brain capabilities. This finding supports another recent study that reported people who walk regularly maintain healthier brains. With that in mind, perhaps joining a marching band now will make you the smartest person at the retirement home in the future.

Summary
While it is known that practicing music repeatedly changes the organization of the brain, it is not clear if these changes can correlate musical abilities with non-musical abilities. The study of 70 older participants, with different musical experience over their lifetimes, provides a connection between musical activity and mental balance in old age. “The results of this preliminary study revealed that participants with at least 10 years of musical experience (high activity musicians) had better performance in nonverbal memory, naming, and executive processes in advanced age relative to non-musicians.”

Introduction

Changing one’s lifestyle may postpone the onset of problems connected with old age, like Alzheimer’s disease. These diseases cause cognitive changes like loss of memory, reasoning, and perception. Adequate rest and physical exercise as well as a lifelong habit of stimulating the mind are favorable for clear thinking in old age. Musical activities, undertaken throughout the lifetime, have an impact on one’s mental health during old age. This has been studied in this current research work. Practicing music for a number of years brings about certain changes in brain organization. Comparing the lucidity in old age of those pursued music related activities and those who didn’t may help to understand the effect of the music-related reorganization of brain on successful aging.

Methods

— Seventy healthy participants, aged between 60 and 83, were divided into three groups, based on their degree of involvement in musical activities, over their lifetimes.
— 
The three groups were similar in average age, education, handedness, sex ratio, and physical exercise habits.
— The first group, namely the non-musicians, never received any formal musical training. The second group, the low activity musicians, had one to nine years of training. The third, the high activity musicians, trained for more than 10 years and played regularly afterward.
— All were tested for brain strengths such as memory, attention, and language prowess, using standardized tests. Their mastery on the use of language, ability to remember, and ability to express oneself were tested.

Results

— Verbal intellectual ability and learning, as well as recall of verbal information, were found to be similar across the three groups.
— The high activity musicians were significantly better at performing tasks based on visual inputs.
— Although language prowess seemed to be similar across the groups, the high activity musicians’ memory for words was significantly better than that of non-musicians.
— The age at which musical training started affected visual memory, while the number of years of training affected non-verbal memory.

Shortcomings/Next steps
High activity musicians have a better chance of retaining certain mental abilities in old age; however, preexisting factors that may affect their choices have not been considered in this study. Social influences like motivation should be considered in future studies. Effects of musical training on verbal memory need to be analyzed further, by considering changes in brain organization that set in with age. A study on whether the effects of music are generalized or whether they affect only specific parts of the brain could also be undertaken.

Conclusion
Engaging in musical activity for most of one’s lifetime significantly helps remember names, and enhances nonverbal memory, the ability to work based on what one sees, and mental agility during old age. The habit of physical exercise, in addition to musical involvement, further adds to mental lucidity in old age. Starting musical training early and continuing it for several years have a favorable effect on metal abilities during old age. Musical training also seems to enhance verbal prowess and the general IQ of a person, although it is possible that people with higher IQ tend to pursue music more seriously. It is advisable to think about our lifestyles and change them accordingly to have a better chance at a healthy, clear-headed old age.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/20/music-intelligence_n_904124.html

– another sopraboist


Anyone can

I had to share this amazing video of this Korean boy who I am quite frankly amazed is alive, let alone able to sing the way he does.

-another sopraboist


Thank you!!!

Just a quick note…

Many MANY thanks to everyone who attended, donated, helped out, etc to make the concert last night possible.  My favorite thing is to be in front of an audience and you all made that possible last night and into the future!!

Thanks!!!

-another sopraboist


The Voice is the Oboe and the Oboe is the Voice

It’s been 4 whole years since I’ve presented a solo concert in my hometown, but the wait is over!  Please join me at Festus Methodist Church June 3 at 7:00 pm for a wonderful evening of voice and oboe.

Program:

Sonata for Oboe and Piano – F. Poulenc
Serenade for Oboe/Voice and Piano – J. Coleman (world premiere)
Shepherd on the Rock – F. Schubert
Cinq Pieces pour le Hautbois – A. Dorati
12 Variations on Schubert’s Heidenröslein – L. Sinigaglia

There will be a reception to follow!

Hope to see you all there!!!

-another sopraboist


Endings and Beginnings

As I reach the end of my time in Connecticut I am becoming more and more aware at how intrinsically linked the words end and begin are.  Inevitably as you near the end of something it means the beginning of something else, yet that isn’t always how we view the situation.  As you walk across the stage at graduation you find yourself in the midst of a ceremony titled “Commencement,” a word with a huge double meaning. While it signifies the end of something, possibly something very meaningful to your life, something you may not want to leave or forget, the often forgotten double meaning of the word is that it is the beginning of something.

Lately I’ve been focusing so much on the beginning I’m about to embark on (beginning a DMA, moving to NYC, etc), that I’ve forgotten to bask in the endings I have been bombarded with. Yesterday I had my final lessons with my students and as each lesson was finished it finally began to sink in that I would not see these great kids again.  I am quite sad at that thought.  One student I have been teaching well over a year and am amazed at his progress. The fact that I will not be a part of or witness that progress anymore saddens me.

This celebration of my Connecticut end has been lost in a mist partially because I haven’t had any reason to feel like it was ending.  Sure I finished my degree, but I have chosen not to walk at graduation, and at my new school in New York I will still be studying with the same oboe teacher.  So in a very weird psychological way it’s not an ending, but a continuation. What I’m learning, or more accurately remembering, from all of this is that I need to take the time to smell the roses.  Once these endings are gone, and I’m fully in the beginnings the ending celebration window will have closed.

In short, celebrate every month, every week, every day, and every moment.  They all have endings and beginnings!  That’s that stuff that makes up life, and shouldn’t life be one giant celebration?

-another sopraboist


Make Tracks for the Zoo

In a mere 20 days I will be running in my first race ever!  The race is back home in the great state of Missouri and is affiliated with the St. Louis Zoo and the Children’s Hospital.  I never in a million years thought that I would enter any kind of race, but after I returned to the gym following the new year I realized that it wasn’t as hard as I thought to get my body and mind to travel farther distances and decided to challenge myself and of course drag my mother along for the ride.  We are both working on our overall health and I know this is a great goal to help us on our pursuit.

Some of you may be wondering about how I train and what kind of equipment I use…  So here goes…

As far as the shoes I wear, I happen to be a minimalist runner, so I sport the Vibram Five Finger Sprint.  I absolutely love them!  (Plus they look awesome…)  They allow me to run faster and farther than when I have regular running shoes on.  The only downside, and it could just be the way I run, but I have some huge calluses forming on my heals!

I also run with my iPhone using the RunKeeper app.  I currently have a love/hate relationship with this app.  It seems to shortchange me on distance and my speed.  For instance today I ran well over my distance for the 5K yet when I finished it said I still had a bit to go.  I remedy that by going to my account online and creating a course to see how far I actually did, and can guesstimate how long it actually took me.  Today I believe my 5K was finished in about 28-29 minutes, which is just a minute or so slower than my pace in the gym.

My training began on a treadmill in a nice climate controlled gym (it was winter in New England! There was NO WAY I was getting out on the road in the 65+ inches of snow we accumulated in one month alone!)  Yet I’m finding this was a nice way to begin since I have to keep up with the treadmill unlike road running where you can waver as much as you like.  In addition to the running I would also do a bit of cycling for about 30 minutes.

The weather has finally become acceptable for me to run outside and I will admit the first few runs were brutal!  I had lost my digital companion in the treadmill numbers, so I was all over the place with my speed and it also didn’t help that I had sustained a 3 week respite from running due to a busy schedule of music.  But as of today I am finally back to where I was on the treadmill.  I could have even ran another 3 miles! (Ok maybe not but I sure felt good when I was done today!)

So if you’re in the STL area on May 22 please come and join my mom and me in our first 5K!  Even if you’re walking!                     Make Tracks for the Zoo

(In a few months I might be able to do this….)

(Hey.. a girl can dream!)

-another sopraboist


Have a Heart for Haiti Benefit Concert

And at this time I would like to direct your attention to the plug of one of my upcoming concerts…

At 4 pm on May 15, 2011 the Essex Consort which I am but a small part in with Karen Birch Blundell and Adam De Sorgo is performing a concert at the First Congregational Church in Essex, CT to benefit Sister Cities Essex Haiti.

Program:
Prairie Song by Cecilia McDowall
The Garden of Love by Jacob TV
Etudes pour Hautbois (I and VI) by Gilles Sivestrini
Sonata for Oboe and Piano by Bill Douglas
Recitative and Aria from the Wedding Cantata by J.S. Bach
Before Spring for English horn and piano by Philip Rothman
Trio for Two Oboes and English horn by L.V. Beethoven

-another sopraboist


Happy New Year!

That’s right, Happy New Year! I have been pretty bad at this blogging thing thus far, yet I now vow to be better!

The phrase “Happy New Year” although most often spoken on January 1st or in February for some, is one of my favorite “isms” from a very good friend and mentor. This shocking statement of his has become a regular greeting, even on the hottest of midsummer days. To me it means that everyday, or even every moment is a new beginning, so seize it! What else do you have to lose?

I try to infuse this tactic into my life (it’s not always easy nor am I always successful) yet when I do life is not only more interesting but more fulfilling and certainly without regret for a missed opportunity. Recently so fulfilling for me that this little farm girl from the midwest is moving to “The Big city!”

So go on the rest of this lovely spring season and have a Happy New Year! (I know I will!)

-another sopraboist