Thursday, December 1, 2016

Ideas on practicing
Nadina Mackie Jackson

As a result of preparing two particularly challenging pieces this fall (Silver Angel by Constantine Caravassilis & Sonata Concertante by Nikos Skalkottas), I am in the process of compiling & publishing my first comprehensive book on technique.  And thinking a lot of what it means to practise. 

If you have a musical goal and a powerful feeling of how you want it to resound, you will find the path, or rather, the many branching paths.  Astonishingly, they will occasionally link at a point that is not visible from your present perspective.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

GO JUMP IN THE LAKE! Learning to swim in new places

My life is always nuts. Even though I am just a quiet little blue-haired bassoonist, trying to look after my family, students, pay bills, update my website, make art, make reeds, light a fire under my snoozy management and play concerts, other stuff is always happening.  My lawyer doesn’t even say hello when she answers the phone these days, she just laughs and says, “What now!?”

Thursday, March 31, 2016

GENDER & CLASSICAL MUSIC – some interesting questions from a university student

Once or twice every year, I get interviewed by high school or university students and I find that they ask very relevant questions.  I have decided to post the questions and my hasty answers as they cause me to reflect on areas that I have chosen to forget or ignore.

In the past, these are the kind of questions that we (women and musicians generally) would answer in neutral and veiled terms, and while I hope that I've honestly avoided that, it becomes second nature as we try to protect ourselves from being seen as troublesome.  It is time for classical musicians to be more candid, if only to make our stories more interesting.  And also to explain some of the weirdness and occasional inability of classical groups to thrive.  Even the effort to share our experiences candidly gives us experience in expressing our uniqueness.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Make a Note of This

I have always kept journals.  And I encourage my students to do the same.  

And to be truthful, I have many simultaneously running journals…  a reed-making journal, a student development journal, a health journal for my father, development journals for my son when he was younger, training journal for me, an project journal for my website and concerts and future projects… you get the idea.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Gumption 101 (Summertime for Bassoon Students)

Teachers and performers who really make the world a better place are a rare breed, and Jo Ann Simpson is one of these people.

A fine professional bassoonist, she is an exceptional individual who actively, calmly, and insightfully nurtures the talents of young players and those of the many professionals she invites to her camp. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Playing Music Is Easy

Tonight was our first concert with Jonathan Cohen, playing Handel, Bach, Mozart & Haydn with Violons du Roy.

It is now late I am too tired to write a lot, but I have to say something about this experience.

It is always a revelation of some kind to play with Violons du Roy.  They are so serious, so loving, so fun.  Since Bernard has been ill and now recovering, there have been many guest conductors and I have met a few when I come as guest principal bassoonist.

I love playing with VdeR, but whenever I return to any orchestra after an extended run of solo playing (just finished a Maritime tour with my chamber group THREE), I always worry about the transition from speaking in a solo voice to singing in the chorus. 

And sometimes, as my friend Valdy, says, playing classical orchestral music makes me feel like I’m being shot at. 

But not this week.

Tonight, as we all left the stage, I was surrounded by musicians talking, laughing, walking with buoyant steps.  More than one musician said they would like to play the concert again, i.e. tonight!  And then our excellent second horn, Louis-Pierre Bergeron, said something like, “ wow, it’s easy to play music!” and we laughed, because, despite the very high standards and the striving, it WAS easy tonight. 

Jonathan Cohen sat at the keyboard, supplying continuo and gesturing fluidly and alertly and transmitting, listening, floating and guiding the musicians in a way that I am at a loss to describe yet which each and every musician recognizes as the real thing, immediate, and absolutely natural.  The kind of natural that is born of an alert mind and exquisite craft, honing of skills and thoughts.

I could say more but I really have to go to sleep as we are going to play the same concert in Montreal tomorrow at the Salle Bourgie (October 16, 2015).  If you can come, you will be very happy that you did.  I know that I am.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Solitary Refinement - Hotel Room Practising

All traveling musicians have to practice in hotel rooms.

Mid-June, 2015, I was just returning from Ottawa where I had premiered my newest concerto commission with 13 Strings & Kevin Mallon (Silver Angel by Constantine Caravassilis) and played Vivaldi G Minor RV 495.  I was between houses, so I booked into the Holiday Inn near the Royal Conservatory and near my son’s school.  On June 16, I said good-bye to my son and then practiced for an hour before driving to Waterloo for another rehearsal.  

I was in the midst of my current chromatic interval routine, my Major Third Chromatic Up-Down Fill-Ins and Up-Down intervals and in the fastest and highest phase of the slurred intervals.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Back to the Blog

I have never stopped thinking, albeit a tiny thread of a thought, about my blog.... my life has been so, well.... life-y!  in the past year... tours with classical and folk musicians, first art show in 5 years, selling house, moving to apartment, waiting for rezoning a church, couch surfing, touring, looking after elderly father and family, teaching, moving into my church, premiering new concerti...

I've been in my new place for 6 weeks and I am happy.  My church is the place I've always wanted... it's like I am living in a concert hall with a really good backstage...and my bed is in the same room as the grand piano.  This must be why I live alone, who else could tolerate such weirdness!?  I am still doing all the things I've ever done, including playing concerts, helping my fantastic, iconic, frail-former-superhero father, touring, recording (today, finishing my THREE disc with Lesllie Newman and Guy Few at Maureen Forrester Recital Hall in Waterloo).  Yet it's better now...I have a studio home smack in the downtown core of a small town, steps from the postoffice, surrounded by kindly neighbours and the wafting fragrances of different types of farms.   I'm on the highway a lot to be in different big cities, which is exactly how I like it.

And between unpacking boxes and practising, I am grabbing some time to learn about the phenomenal tools available to musicians and artists these days, following a 9 week free course by the incredibly experienced and dedicated Ariel Hyatt of Cyper PR and learning something mind-glowingly relevant every day, sometimes twice per day.

So life is still very life-y, but I am enjoying all of it... here is the back of my former church/new studio.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Family Day 2015

I visited my Dad on Family Day.

I left Toronto with a truck full of groceries from the Korean supermarket next to my Toronto apartment and drove north in record cold temperatures (not really that cold) and the blazing sun that slowly morphed into a magenta and golden sunset as I neared Parry Sound.