Thursday, December 25, 2014

An Oboe Merry Christmas!

Last Sunday I debuted the oboe d'Amore at church on worship team and for communion.

Our team was short an electric bass, an electric guitar, and vocalist because of  out of town family commitments. So, the team members included myself on d'amore, Ben on the grand piano, Janet on her bass viol, and Josh on drums. It was more acoustic sounding, except that we were miked.

We got a lot of good complements, and people even clapped several times. The songs were all traditional Christmas hymns with a more contemporary setting. I improvise - that is make up - my parts with an emphasis on sustained tones with some embellishments and a few fancy noodly stuff thrown in. Fun. I also throw in the melody at times.

Everything is recorded, so in awhile, Ben will give me a recording of everything I have played in the last couple of months. Then I will see if it really sounded as good as we all felt it sounded!  Reality check.

My daughter said it sounded good - which is high praise coming from her! She's pretty picky. She also noticed that I was having a little trouble with breathing, which no one else noticed. I was. I had to use my asthma inhaler just before we played, and my lungs hurt just a wee bit. While my breathing on the d'amore is much more comfortable than it was a couple of months ago when I started playing her, there is still some discomfort.

So, I'm going to have to finally admit that my asthma is a bigger problem for me than what I want to face up to. Off to the doc. in the new year. I'm so much better than I was even a year ago - actually Sept. of 2013 was the last time I had bronchitis. That is a long stretch for me!  Maybe I can make it to be never having bronchitis again, let alone the flu or pneumonia!  Music must have healing properties at least to the extent that playing a wind instrument makes a person want to have more air!  It motivates me to get the help I need so I can keep blowing for many more years. :-)

My husband and I also did communion music. We played Of the Father's Love Begotten and Thou Who Wast Rich. Thou... uses the French melody Quelle Est Cette Odeur Agréable.

Here's something I wrote about the hymn Thou Who Wast Rich. from last year.   When I wrote this blog post last year, I had just returned from Honduras a few weeks before. My pastor friend and his family were really trying to change the church culture in the area where he lived. The prosperity Gospel with its emphasis on giving to wealthy preachers was something he abhored. In fact, in his church, he didn't even talk about tithing!  His people were poor, so how could he ask them to give up what they themselves needed to live on?  He and his wife were the ones being generous and encouraging true generosity, not giving in order to become rich or to make others rich.

It is something I had been thinking about a lot as well. So, this hymn expresses a lot of what I believe to be who Christ is and then who we are expected to be as followers of Christ - generous and giving, not greedy and taking. I want to live that way, myself. Christmas is a good time to remember Christ's sacrifice and the sacrifices we are to give in His name.

 It is one of my favorite Christmas hymns, or maybe one of my favorite hymns of all kinds.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Oboe True Confessions

Okay, so I did a newby kind of really embarassing thing last Saturday. It was something that I have told students, even, to never do. It's sick 'em in oboe cleaning.

You see, the top of the upper joint of the oboe is quite narrow. You have to run a kind of thin silk swab that is sown onto a strong string with a weight at the end through the bore of the instrument. It's a bit tricky, since if you're not careful or if the swab is too thick, it will get stuck.

The oboe bore is conical shaped. Anyway, I've never gotten a swab stuck. Ever. Until last Saturday.

It was really stuck. I had pulled really, really hard to get it through. Oh, my!  Did I ever feel dumb.

I hadn't realized that the bore of the oboe d'Amore was even smaller at the very top than the regular oboe. The swab I use for my oboe is too large for the d'Amore. Duh!

So, on Monday I went into the local music store, and rather sheepishly confessed my transgression. The technician was in and was able to quickly get the piece of swab out. He told me that it was really jammed in there.

I knew that already. Anyway, d'Amore back in service. After Christmas, I'll take her in for a tune up. It's now broken in.  He'll check it all over to make any adjustments that may be needed.  Some of the notes aren't quite right pitch and response wise.  It can't all be me or the reeds. Honestly, it can't!

Sunday I hope to debut the instrument for communion music at our church. We shall see. I'll play my regular oboe for worship as well.

I love this.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Oboe D'Amore Update

Something very exciting arrived today. Well, I suppose not everyone would find it all that exciting, but I do. It's this!

Da L'opera Omnia Di J. S. Bach (Tuttii "Soli-duetti-trii E Passi Tecnici" Per Oboe, Oboe D'amore, Oboe Da Caccia, Taille (II Volume))

Very cool.  It's from Milan. This volume has oboe, oboe d'Amore, and English Horn parts to the Christmas Oratorio, the Easter Oratorio, and a bunch of other things. Fun. 

Bach was very kind to the oboe, all of them.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Oboe Update

Well, I did a crazy thing last month. I purchased an oboe d'Amore.

What do I want to do with it? Well, try to tame it in the first place. There's the breathing issue and the reed issue and the fingers issue and all that.

I suffer from asthma, so a few years ago when I purchased a new oboe, I needed one that was free blowing and reeds that were kind of soft. Reed making was never my favorite thing to do, so I talked to a fellow oboe player who was also trying to return to the instrument. She was suffering from lyme disease. Because of her physical limitations, she had started to use ready made reeds and had purchased an oboe that was easier to play than her Loree from when she was actively playing.

I thought that was a great idea, given the amount of time as well as the amount of money I had to invest in reeds. Reedmaking takes about half of an oboe players time, and I wanted to just play and not whittle so much. I still have to adjust the reeds, but that's not so bad.

The Fox 300 I purchased is an asthmatic's dream oboe. Yes, you lose some projection and richness,  but it sounds very nice. It has all the bells and whistles of any professional oboe. Also, I don't have to worry about it cracking, like my old oboe did.

Now the d'Amore is a different animal, but not too different. My asthma is much better than it was a few years ago. Our little Cocker Spaniel, Sam, has been gone about 3 years, now. Our parakeets died a year or so ago. So, we are pet free. They were our daughter's pets, but all parents know how that goes. I made some other changes in bedding and stuff like that, and it has made a huge difference.

So, I thought maybe I could fill up a larger oboe made of Grenadilla. Man, I have to work hard to build up stamina - which is a good thing. It's coming along, but that part surprised me. I never had problems with the English Horn when I played it in college, but that was how long ago, now?

This is very good for me in so many ways.

I may have to break down and start making my own.  The reeds I purchased for the d'Amore are not very well made. I have to practically remake them anyway. We shall see.

Of course, for an oboe player, it's always the reed, the reed, the reed... :-)  What a bunch of whiners we are!

Stubborn little things. They have to learn new positions, but not new fingerings. Old dogs always have trouble learning new tricks, but my sisu will prevail.

Sisu is what makes Finns sit in a hot sauna and then go jump in a frozen lake. So, it makes us do crazy things.

"Sisu is a Finnish word generally meaning determination, bravery, and resilience."
- Wikkipedia

My goal with all of this?  Okay, so now comes the really weird part. I want to play Gospel blues oboe. My muse is Mahalia Jackson. 

Also, I have been playing my regular oboe in the worship team at our church. I love that, since I get to improvise my own parts. It's getting so I don't really need the lead sheet, so I am slowly weaning myself away from the printed page. Of course, the worship songs are straight, so it is easier for me to get into it.

The blues are a different genre, of course. We shall see. I'm trying to record something every day on Sound Cloud. That keeps me motivated. Also, I can check my progress. 

Another thing I want to do is learn the d'Amore parts to Bach's works. A book is coming in the mail and is supposed to arrive on Christmas Eve. 

Never too late to dream new dreams and try new things. You never know where they may lead. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Okay, so my oboe and I have kind of an off again, on again relationship - a bit like a rocky love affair. Right now it's on.

We have a few gigs coming up - 1,) the wedding of the sister of our son-in-law; 2.) a Christmas program at a large church in the neighboring town. That involves a real orchestra my husband and I get to play in. Rehearsals start some time this month. ; 3.) some communion music for our church; 4.) and I get to play my oboe in the worship band at church - which is a bit odd, since I play along with keyboard, drum, vocalists, keyboard, and electric guitars. I call it a rock band, but my daughter reminds me it just worship music. No matter. I'm very excited - too excited, actually - about being able to play my oboe in a rock band. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Hey, if it involves drums and electric guitars, it has to be a rock band, right?

I'm also thinking of calling my old jazz teacher for some lessons. Well, actually he was our daughter's tenor sax teacher when she was in high school, and I took about a month's worth of lessons from him. He even had me play in one of his recitals. So, I learned K.C. Blues out of the Charlie Parker Omnibook and played it. Of course, his other students were all kids, but hey!  He told me it sounded hip - and then we giggled. He even wanted to learn oboe himself, since he thought it was well-suited for jazz.

I got my oboe overhauled. I got new reeds. I got my Charlie Parker Omnibook. I also got my Bach b Minor Mass and pretend that the continuo is an electric bass guitar.  I'm gonna' give Dave a call. Well, at least I'll have fun with this. It's good to try new things.

Maybe I'll get an English Horn. It might be better suited to jazz, even.

My daughter mocks me and is not impressed.  Meh.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Glory - 4

Genesis 1:1-5

Genesis 1

The Creation of the World

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Technically I guess this is not the first manifestation of God's glory, but maybe it is the first. 

God's Spirit is present, hovering over the face of the waters.

The word "kabod" or "glory" when used of God has to do with His abiding presence.  His glory has to do with His great great and weighty reputation and importance.

Light is shiny, as is the Shekinah glory of God.  Hmm.

So, since this post contains my thinking on the subject of "glory", I 'm going to say that this is the Bible's first mention of God's glory.  The problem is that the word "glory" is not in the text, but the concept is certainly there.

God's Word begins with the light of His glory shown on the face of the deep.

No, light is not God, but it is used over and over again as a symbol of God's work and presence.  Since God is spirit, having no physical body, He both creates and then uses physical things to show us what He is like.

This statement is true.:

1 John 1:5

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

In the context of 1 John 1, the Apostle is talking about God's sinless moral character.  It is about His holiness in contrast to our sinfulness.  Darkness is used as a symbol of sin, and light as a symbol of sinlessness. 

Some are tempted to turn the phrase "God is light"  around, but that is not correct grammatically in the Greek.  

Some also try to turn around the phrase "God is love", saying that "Love is God" in the same way.  That was a popular interpretation of the Hippies, as you can well imagine.  One of God's attributes is love, as in He is loving.  We dare not deify love itself, as many pagan religions do.

1 John 4:8

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

The first verses of the Bible found in Genesis 1  remind me of 2 Corinthians 4:6.  This verse supports the idea that the Bible begins with a manifestation of the glory of God.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

"We have here a further account of the first day’s work, in which observe, 1. That the first of all visible beings which God created was light; not that by it he himself might see to work (for the darkness and light are both alike to him), but that by it we might see his works and his glory in them, and might work our works while it is day. "

I love this Matthew Henry quote as well.:

"This was not only the first day of the world, but the first day of the week. I observe it to the honour of that day, because the new world began on the first day of the week likewise, in the resurrection of Christ, as the light of the world, early in the morning. In him the day-spring from on high has visited the world; and happy are we, for ever happy, if that day-star arise in our hearts."

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Glory - 3

Okay, this is pretty complex, since God's glory has to do with His abiding presence as well as His fame, importance, and reputation. The word "Shekinah" is added to the word "glory" when it means God's presence, or God's manifest presence.  The term "Shekinah Glory" does not appear in the Bible, but the concept does.  I'll talk about that later.

There are some groups who want to see the Shekinah Glory as it appeared in Old Testament times.  They go through  weird rituals to try to get the Shekinah to appear.  I think that is very odd, and very occultic.  Nowhere in the Bible are we told to seek such an outward manifestation of God's presence.  We are to seek Him spiritually from the heart.

So, I am not trying to encourage people to look for strange manifestations.  My idea is to try to show, in my own inadequate way, how the Shekinah Glory of the Old Testament is fulfilled in the coming of Jesus Christ, who is Emmanuel, God with us.  Also, Christians are the temple of the Holy Spirit.   Therefore, we should not destroy that temple, but should glorify God with our bodies. Here is the entry from the Reformation Study Bible about that.

"3:16 God’s temple. God signified His presence in the temple by filling it with the cloud of His glory (1 Kin. 8:10,11). Now He lives in His people by filling them with the Holy Spirit. Paul’s focus here is on God’s people as a corporate whole; in 6:19 the emphasis shifts to the individual Christian’s body."

That is generally understood to mean that all we do, say, and think should be governed by God.  We are supposed to live to glorify God and show His presence in our lives by how we conduct ourselves in the world.

More later, but here are some Scriptures I'm thinking about in relation to God's abiding presence.

Matthew 1

The Birth of Jesus Christ

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ[e] took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed[f] to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwillingto put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
cf. Isaiah 7:14

I Corinthians 3:16-17
16 Do you not know that you[a] are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple.

1 Corinthians 6:18-20

English Standard Version (ESV)
18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin[a] a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Glory - 2

A couple of months ago I went to Bible Gateway to search for passages with the word "glory" in them. I was preparing some power points for a conference I was participating in.  It was pretty amazing, since there are hundreds of verses containing that word.

I am no scholar, of course, so it will be clear that I am not trying to write a treatise on the subject of "glory" in the Bible. This is for devotional purposes, please understand.  I try to stay within orthodox Evangelicalism in what I say, but please forgive any mistakes of grammar, interpretation, or anything else that might be not quite right.

So, I looked at different passages to get a feel for how the word "glory" was being used.  Then I looked at a couple of dictionaries in Hebrew and in Greek.  I have never studied Hebrew.  Greek is somewhat more familiar to me.

I found that the Hebrew word is transliterated into English as kabod or kavod.  That's pretty simple. So far, so good.  Here is some of what I found out about the usage of that word in the Old Testament.

It was used for shiny things.

It was used for weighty things.  Then, figuratively as people  who were weighty in their importance - either an individual or a nation that deserved honor.  "Heavy" or "weighty" is evidently the most basic meaning of the word.  I am not sure of the etymology of the word "kabod", but I read something - that I can't find now - that gave me the impression that the first part of the word was an actual measure of the weight of something.
 Not sure.

It was used for glory in battle.

So, I like this photo of some ancient Canaanite swords. If I understand the usage correctly, these things had kabod!

It was used for the glory of God, especially at specific times in Israel's history when God manifested His presence in a cloud of glory.  This was especially meaningful to the children of Israel after they escaped from Egypt and God used the glory cloud to guide them.  Thus, God's glory is associated with His abiding presence.

God's glory was manifested, too, as judgment against sin, as well as salvation.

"Kabod" was used in reference to human beings who were famous and important.

"Kabod" was used in reference to famous or important nations as well.

So, honor and fame are also meanings of the word, depending on the context of the passage.

Below you will find links to some reference material in case anyone would like to research the meaning of the word "kabod."

Great entry.:  Holman Bible Dictionary.
Not so great, but helpful, I guess.  The format is awkward. : Strong's Hebrew

Simple and sweet: Ancient Hebrew Word Meanings - The author emphasized that "kabod", as in God's glory,  was something that could be seen.  I guess that should go without saying.  

Do what I did and enter the word "glory" into the search feature at Bible Gateway

Monday, March 17, 2014


I took this photo in Honduras last November.  The lake is the famous Lago Yojoa.  It was a pretty amazing sunset we witnessed.

Recently I have been looking into the meaning of "glory" in the Bible.  Basically, God's glory as seen in Scripture carries the meaning of God's abiding presence.

No, the sunset is not God.   The Bible does not teach pantheism or panentheism.  God is not part of His creation nor is His creation divine.

However, His creation should inspire worship of the One who made it all.  So, my next blog topic is "glory."