Media Consumption And Stuff Update

TV: Mad Men Season 6; Superstore Season 6

Music: Birds of Chicago

Books: Radium Girls

Podcasts: Cold, Season 2

Clarinet: About an hour of practice that included reed adjusting.

Exercise: Digging around and chopping at some stumps in the yard with an axe for about 30 minutes

I wonder if I can keep this up. I mean, I even squeezed in a nap.

A Letter I Sent

Subject: General Praise for Your Content

Hi Michael,

I am one of many, many, many people who found a ton of spare time during the pandemic and dusted off their clarinets. Getting reacquainted with my clarinet over the past year has been super fun, and since I peaked in 9th grade (I’m old enough to be in 39th grade now), I’ve often reflected on how I reached high notes or tackled a difficult passage so many years ago. I don’t know: maybe I was a better instrumentalist then, but maybe I’m a better musician now? Just cuz life and stuff has reformed my perspective and how I approach goals. And practice. You know?

I hate to say I stumbled upon your YouTube channel, because I try to be deliberate in most of my choices, but you were a significant part of a journey down a clarinet rabbit hole. I found Michelle Anderson, and she mentioned you, and I’ve enjoyed your performances as well as your tutorials.

It’s not much of a leap to say I’m a better player-musician now than I was a year ago. And that’s due to listening to excellent musicians like you. And learning how to REALLY take care of my instrument (I’ve since upgraded from my student model to an intermediate). And adjusting my own reeds. Your content is an invaluable resource, and I hope you keep all of it up.

Anyway, you’ve been incredibly generous sharing as much as you do. Just want to say thanks.

If you’ve wondered while filling orders who you’re shipping to in [City], Utah, that’s me. I’ve loved supporting your business in my little way.

Thanks again, and happy summer!

May

This is Michael Lowenstern’s YouTube channel.

Here is his shop.

This is Michelle Anderson’s YouTube channel.

Here is her website.

These have been my main resources for clarinet advice in the past year. They’re fun and informative and incredibly encouraging. If you relate to the clarinet at all, check out these amazing folks. I’m still contemplating lessons and masterclasses from Michelle. I do know that I need lessons if I want to get better.

That is all.

Good Reeds

There ought to be an app that keeps track of reeds. And it should be called Good Reeds.

There probably is. But maybe Goodreads told them to change their name.

I currently use a little notebook documenting the date I open new reeds, the amount of time in subsequent days I play them (usually five minutes), the temperature, and the humidity of each day I play on them as I break the reeds in. And I rate them on a scale from 1 to 5 according to how the feel as I play them. It usually takes about a week to break a reed in to my liking.

It’s been a decent system so far, and I’m currently using some real winners. But I’m also trying to be patient with what seem to be duds. And since I’ve learned how to sand duds into sounding better, I can’t say that very many reeds would go to waste.

I did purchase a synthetic reed today, Legère brand. Opened the package, placed the reed on the mouthpiece. It was immediately ready to go. And the strength of the reed felt really good. Great response and projection. One of those almost cost as much as a box of Vandoren V12s, 3.5 strength, but one of those should last as long as an entire box of bamboo reeds.

I tested the reed on my student clarinet. I can’t wait to get my intermediate clarinet back from the shop. I can’t believe it took a reed to get me extremely excited again about playing.

—–

It rained today, giving some relief to the land after a pretty intense drought. We hope to get more rain throughout the summer. We hope more people are thinking about water conservation more than they are trying to keep their lawns green.

Fixing Clarinets

Today I took my newer, not-my-33-year-old-student-model, Bb clarinet to the shop. I told the repairman it needed its yearly maintenance tune-up and to look at the transition between open G and B5: the seal might not be completely closed for a smooth jump up the register. He said that my place in the queue puts repairs about 10 days out.

So I can play my student model and/or my A clarinet in the meantime.

I also took my Gretsch metal clarinet apart today. The head on one of the screws had worn completely flat, so I spent some time gently hammering my smallest flathead screwdriver into that screw to form a groove deep enough for unscrewing. It got to where if I pushed hard enough into the screw and turned lefty-loosey, enough of the screw would be above the hole for me to unscrew the rest using needlenose pliers.

Glad that worked.

Gotta look at the springs and clean the keys and screws; replace the rest of the pads. Then put it all back together. I wonder if I have to buy a junk metal clarinet for parts just so that I get screws the right length. The repair kit I have is for modern clarinets, and not all the screws are the same size as those from the metal clarinet. Most of the screws are still good, though–it’s just the one that has a bad head.

It looks cool. Even if I don’t get it playing perfectly or at all, working on it is pretty fun.

Fifty

Today’s the 50th day in a row that I’ve blogged. Not that a lot of those posts actually said anything important. But it seems significant to form a thought and write it down. Real action. Sort of. Whether those thoughts develop into something more substantial is a different story, but looking back at the past 50 days, all those posts had potential to become more. It’s encouraging to see the potential in things.

I can’t decide whether the past 50 days passed slowly or quickly.

The next 50 days are summer days.

Should be interesting enough.

Ten minutes left in the day. Cutting it close.

Here’s another clarinet video. Still in the mood for cheesy love songs. I’m a real sucker for those.

From Instagram June 3, 2019

I wrote this two years ago:

Carla loves gardening and working on her yard. If you’ve seen her yard you know the love and great care she puts in the beauty she creates. I’m no gardener, but for the past couple of weeks I’ve been out in our yard, pulling weeds, planting flowers, meditating, crying: devoting that time to her. Yesterday morning I was pulling weeds, Z was running around in the yard, while Reilly was working on the obituary. It occurred to me that not only is this yard work–this beautifying a space–a good way to remember Carla, it’s a quiet way to feel a certain communion WITH her. It is sacred.

For the past couple of days we’ve been working hard trying to rebeautify our yard. I really love remembering Carla this way. It crossed my mind today while pulling weeds when we first found out she was sick, I wanted to ask her about all her gardening secrets. Which I didn’t do. And I didn’t think it was appropriate as her time here shortened.

I took some video footage of some of the greenery in our yard and put it to music. A modest tribute.

The Passing Evening

It’s 11:33 PM. I totally let the day get away from me.

I do not know what to make of the range of feelings about my baby heading to 2nd grade next school year. First grade was such a blur. Like, Kindergarten blurred into the summer, which blurred into 1st grade. And now another summer is already upon us. We like summer, but time is sure being funky with the pandemic and isolation and then people returning to society. It’s weird.

This evening I multitasked between watching Game 2 of the Jazz-Grizzlies series and piecing together a recording. Whenever I exported a revised version of the video from the editing software to the hard drive, I would peek out of the office into the tv room and check the score of the game. As I was editing, I could overhear Reilly and my brother talk about different players and the bad calls the officials were making. I mean, the Jazz won, which is what we want.

And I finished the video. Could have used a bit more cleaning up, but didn’t feel like it this time. Wanted to revisit my mid-teens again. Enjoy, and good night:

Better

One the way back from dropping Z off at school, this song came on the radio:

Ah, 1990s. The song makes me feel good.

I woke up feeling better. Headache gone, but left nostril plugged.

Last night I did take a luxurious bath. We live in a desert, and I try to save water when I can, but sometimes I need a bath. Turned the water on as hot as I could stand, added some bubbles with epsom salt and lavender, let the water fill the tub to halfway, and I lay back and relaxed.

Maybe it was also the ’90s when I first heard about the conflict between Israel and Palestine. So much conflict and turmoil between those two countries. Populations. Cultures. It seemed so distant when the news reported about this when I was a teenager. For some reason now, my heart more strongly senses their suffering and yearns for their peace. The internet has a lot of resources for providing aid and support. Gotta be a better global citizen.

I recorded this today. Just wanted to include it.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

I Don’t Know What to Write About Today

Stumped. A zillion topics, and I can’t get my brain off the ground.

I’ve had a headache all day. I’ve drunk a lot of water, and I’ve made sure to take my allergy medicine. The headache has accompanied sneezing and some achiness. But I attribute that discomfort from playing the clarinet longer than usual.

The pollen count has been so high.

I very seldom get headaches. Most of the time I’m smooth sailing. I work straight through my day. Lots of water, enough food. Maybe rest? Is my rest lacking? Would that make a difference?

Maybe some stretching, too. Increase circulation.

Could have squeezed in a nap today. Perhaps I was also excited for a new clarinet barrel getting delivered today. Barrels are such interesting accessories, in that different ones affect tone in different ways. I put the new barrel on my Bb, and the cork is a little loose, so I wrapped some teflon tape around it to form a better seal. Which makes a big difference.

But yes: an early bedtime would be nice tonight.

So I won’t have to write about a headache and how my day has centered around it.

I mean, NOW I have ideas, but I’ll save them for later.

You know, when I don’t have a headache.