Friday, November 3, 2017

MUSIC, MONEY, SUCCESS & FAILURE - Part Two - who were your teachers and what did they teach you?

MUSIC, MONEY, SUCCESS & FAILURE  - Things I Keep Learning  From My Amazing Yet Weird Career

 Part Two - who were your teachers and what did they teach you?

We cite their accomplishments as if they were somehow our own and we often have a childlike parallelism, something along the lines of  “if my teacher plays in an orchestra, then I can too.”

Whatever the catalyst, their inspiration will be remembered in one incident or sensation. Your teachers are found everywhere, throughout your life.  Not all of them teach us good things.

Friday, October 27, 2017

MUSIC, MONEY, SUCCESS & FAILURE - Part One

MUSIC, MONEY, SUCCESS and FAILURE  - Things I Keep Learning  From My Amazing Yet Weird Career

Part One -  how long did it take you to learn that concerto?

After my most recent concerto concert on October 11, 2017, a bright-eyed student asked me how long it took me to learn the challenging and beautiful Apollo X concerto for bassoon, strings and percussion, written for me by Paul Frehner.
Second performance of Apollo X
photo by Bo Huang photography

Sunday, October 15, 2017

OUT OF THIS WORLD - new music


Last Wednesday night, October 11, 2017, I played four new works for bassoon and strings and percussion with my Out of This World Orchestra.   Two of the works were written for me and I am connected to all of the composers. 

The intense main concerto, Apollo X, composed by Paul Frehner for me and Orchestra London in 2013, has three movements inspired by various popular songs from the 1960s and 1970s that were, in turn, inspired by the Apollo space program and the race to put a man on the moon. Extended virtuosic passages of rhythmic precision and complexity, contrasted with some harmonics and Berio trills along with mysterious floating textures from the strings and percussion.  It is a very absorbing piece to play and it is surprising and beautiful to hear.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

SOLITARY REFINEMENT
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.