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On riding Gates Pass

I just got home from riding up and over Gates Pass here in Tucson, and I think it was the most beautiful ride I have taken so far. It was also my longest and steepest single sustained climb yet, which may have enhanced my enjoyment.

At the top of the pass I felt like I was on the edge of the world, and on my descent I was gliding off that edge. After the pass I biked through the desert for a while and it was overwhelmingly beautiful. Maybe it was the endorphins my body released to counter my fatigue, but the moment I could not help but laugh in amazement at the desert’s beauty will not soon be forgotten.

On my introduction to cycling

Recently, I have become interested in cycling. There is a race called El Tour de Tucson, which is 107 miles around Tucson, that I have begun to train for. As a means to this end I have begun a weekly training regimen, in which each day is dedicated to a certain skill or aspect of cycling, either increasing sprinting speed, building endurance, climbing, or simply getting in base miles. While it is only my second week of this program, I have already gotten faster and gained more endurance. I have seen more of the beauty of Tucson in the past week then I observed in the entirety of my previous semester here. I feel better about myself than I have in a long time.

All of this, however, leas me to a question. If I practiced my instrument like I have practiced cycling, what results could I achieve? I have developed a great many bad habits over the course of my instrumental career, and while I know intellectually how to practice efficiently, actually doing so has not yet happened. With cycling, I have had the opportunity to start fresh. No bad habits from previous practice. All of my knowledge about how to practice efficiently unimpeded by inefficient muscle memory.

Whether on the road or in the practice room, I have a great deal to learn, and I hope that this broadening of my horizons will continue to give me insight into how to accomplish my goals more completely and efficiently.


A good lesson from Andrew Hitz:

One afternoon in 1985, Lorrie [oboeist Lorrie Berkshire Brown] got a phone call at 4:00 pm asking if she was available to play with the New York Philharmonic that night.  They needed a second oboe for the Dvorak Cello Concerto, which she described as “the mother of all second oboe parts.” She not only said yes, but it obviously went very well since she played with them for another seven years.

While it took a little bit of being in the right place at the right time (she was home and took the call), the important thing is that she was ready for the call.  She not only took the call but was ready with basically no warning whatsoever to go and nail one of the difficult parts in the orchestral oboe repertoire.  She got an opportunity and made the most of it.

Are you ready for the call?

Btw, last chance to hear Rouse’s Oboe Concerto is tomorrow night. Read the rave review in the Times. Student Rush available.

Meditation on a New Beginning

I have been at UA for almost two weeks now, and it has been really amazing. I feel that I am getting at the roots of some of the problems in my playing, and the people in the studio have inspired me a great deal. I do wish I was a little more comfortable socially though. I often find it difficult to talk to my fellow musicians, and, especially today, find myself agonizing over some small thing I said earlier that day. 

In any case, I know I made the correct choice coming here. I have high hopes, and a great deal to learn.

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