Dr. N.A.N.'s Blog

News, views, and how the world skews from San Antonio, Texas

Archive for September, 2008

Anatomy of a collaborative experience

Craig backstage of Kimball Recital Hall and one of his 3 (!) tubas.

Craig backstage of Kimball Recital Hall and one of his 3 (!) tubas.

Besides the leaves turning and the temperature dropping, fall always means a tuba recital.  Craig Fuller and I have been playing together since I arrived at UNL in 1995.  Craig is part of the low brass faculty at the School of Music where he teaches euphonium and tuba. I remember the first time we played together–the director at the time sent me an email telling me that Craig was looking for a collaborative pianist and would I please step up to the job.  I remember being annoyed because I didn’t want to play for a TUBA player.  I was hoping to collaborate with a visiting bassoon player who had a big reputation coming from an important music school on the east coast.  Alas, I was not given that assignment but instead was told to play with Craig.

Well, that was 14 years ago and Craig and I have played at least one recital every year with few exceptions. We have covered the tuba repertoire as well as many pieces that Craig “borrowed” from other genres.  He has lifted French horn repertoire, voice repertoire (Brahms, Beethoven–An die ferne Geliebte, Schumann, Wagner), oboe music, Bach viola da gamba sonatas–you name it, we have probably either played it or at least considered playing it!  What’s amazing about Craig is that when he plays the tuba, it doesn’t sound like a tuba.  Well, I guess it always sounds like a tuba but he can play with the speed and accuracy and lightness one would expect from a flute.  This man can even execute trills on the tuba!

Last night, Craig and I played yet another recital at Kimball Recital Hall.  Click here

Craig Fuller - Tuba Recital

Craig Fuller - Tuba Recital

for a blow-up of the program. After it was done, Craig made a very wise observation.  He said that as much fun as it is for us to perform together, our rehearsals are even more fun.  I have to agree with him.  Our rehearsals are often filled with laughter, gossip and silliness.  And, we have an understanding–Craig always brings the coffee and chocolate.  No rehearsal is complete without these two things.

For the next several weeks, I know I’ll keep checking my calendar looking for my rehearsal schedule with Craig only to be disappointed because the fun has come to an end.  Of course, until next year…

Amy, my student and expert page turner

Amy, my student and expert page turner

The Other Kind of Green

You know, it isn’t easy being a vegetarian.  I guess it’s kinda like Kermit being green.    I made the decision to go meat-less in 1992.   I still remember the conversation I had with a couple from Springfield, Missouri.  They didn’t set out to change my carnivore habits but simply explained to me why eating vegetables was a better choice.  In the 16 years that I haven’t eaten meat, I have eaten some fowl and I continue to eat fish (fish feed themselves).  I could never give up dairy products or eggs (my “world’s best chocolate chips” wouldn’t taste the same if I didn’t use eggs or butter).  For me, being a vegetarian is a personal choice.  I don’t expect anybody else to adopt my lifestyle choice.  The only problem is that my cats refuse to join me in my meat-free diet.  They insist on eating chicken and turkey and one of them even likes pork products!  What is a mother to do?

I love almost all vegetables with the exception of zucchini.  I have hated zucchini since I was a little girl.  My mother still doesn’t understand why.   I think it is the bitter taste that the nasty vegetable leaves in my mouth. I remember when she would serve her famous zucchini boats (even the mere thought of them makes me cringe), I would look for ways to “dispose” of my portion without her knowledge.  I spent many an evening waiting for her to leave the kitchen so I could quietly dump the boat in the trash.

I do like zucchini bread so go figure…

Did you know that eggplant in Arabic is zaalook?

That chickpeas in French are poi chiches?

That the word for chocolate is almost universally the same?

That fried tofu is actually very tasty?

“Piano-in-Tow” update

I’m almost reluctant to mention it but I think the details for “P-i-T” are finally coming together.  The reason that I’m reluctant to even write about it is that I have learned from experience that nothing is 100% reliable and the moment that I think it is, BOOM!, everything falls apart.  So, with some fear and trepidation, I give you a “P-i-T” update.  My first tour will include several towns in almost-central Nebraska and in Beatrice, Nebraska which is south of Lincoln.  I will visit with 6th grade music students in Schuyler on October 14 and high school band students on the 15th in Beatrice.  I will also give a more formal performance for Beatrice parents and community members in the evening.  The following week, I will be in Albion and Columbus for both school and evening presentations. I felt a twinge of excitement when the temporary tattoos I had ordered showed up on my doorstep yesterday.  Can you imagine 100 kids running around with “P-i-T” stickers on their faces, arms, ankles (and goodness knows where else…)?  Parents will really appreciate me for that. “Piano-in-Tow” t-shirts should be available soon.  Let me know if you would like to purchase one–they will be VERY reasonably priced!

One other note, I had a  productive meeting with an enthusiastic producer from Nebraska Educational Television the other day.  I am hopeful that she will be able to supply me with a video camera and tripod so that I may create video blogs from the road.  Now wouldn’t that be funny.  Your nightly update on Dr. NAN’s excellent adventure…