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I just returned home from Louisiana very early this morning from our Valentine's Pop concert with the Monroe Symphony. This is always a fun event because there are tables set up for guests to dine at and decorate so it's very festive. It also fell right before Mardi Gras and we were treated to some delicious King Cake during one of the rehearsal breaks.


While I was in Monroe my colleague gave me Silverstein's new Omniguard lip protector to try out (thanks Scot!). I've used EZO for years to protect my lip while I play and have been fairly happy with it over the years but wanted to give this a try. The pack includes the Omniguard, a pair of tweezers, a handy carrying case, and instructions for molding it to your teeth.


It's extremely simple to use and if you mess it up, the item is able to be remolded...I tested this feature out since I didn't get it quite molded the way I wanted to the first time. You simply have to boil a little water and wait for it to cool to 140 degrees Fahrenheit then dip the Omniguard into the hot water using the tweezers. The Omniguard turns clear once it's ready to mold and you can fold it over your teeth and press it down to shape it. It only takes a few minutes to set and will turn white once it's finished. You can trim up any sections that may be rough or a little big. The first thing I noticed as I practiced with the omniguard this afternoon is that it really stays put and it's very comfortable and smooth. Some other products that I've used can feel very waxy but this isn't the case here. I also like that the material is thick. It's meant to be used for about a year before you have to replace it. I'm sold on it, anything that makes performing more comfortable is well worth it for me. 

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It's been quite a while since I've last posted. I've decided to give my website a fresh, new look and I do plan on updating more frequently now that it's been redone. This week, I'm excited to be joining the Plano symphony on bass clarinet for five educational concerts. I really enjoy performing children's concerts, for many of the kids it's their first experience seeing a symphony orchestra perform and their excitement is a joy. 



I'll also be performing with the Monroe Symphony in Louisiana this weekend for our Valentine's pop concert.


One of the more unique concerts that I've performed in so far for 2018 was with the Dallas Chamber Symphony. We premiered a new piece by composer-in-residence Douglas Buchanan called "Crossroads" which featured the Dallas Street Choir. The Dallas Street Choir's members are made up of people experiencing homelessness and is meant to give them a musical outlet and voice. The concert was accompanied by an art installation by Willie Baronet made up of signs he had purchased from different homeless people he met. It was an eye opening project that I was glad to be a part of.


 I also had a chance to perform Poulenc's "Gloria" in the newly renovated sanctuary of First Presbyterian Dallas. They had a wonderful celebration for the reopening!




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2016 was an amazing year for me! I performed with the Monroe Symphony, Longview Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Abilene Philharmonic, Midland-Odessa Symphony, Irving Symphony, and Las Colinas Symphony.  Doing what I love and working with such amazing colleagues is a wonderful gift.  I'm looking forward to the new year!

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This has definitely been a great summer!  I had the opportunity to travel to Vail, Colorado with the Dallas Symphony to perform the Rite of Spring at the the Bravo! Vail Music Festival.  Aside from getting to make great music, we were able to take some time to go hiking around Rocky Mountain National Park, relax by the pool, and try lots of delicious new places to eat.  It was tough coming back to the Dallas heat after that.  We also were able to visit our families and take some vacation time.







 I'm usually at ClarinetFest blogging each year but will be absent this year teaching masterclasses. Safe travels to everyone going this year!
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I'm off to Monroe with my husband to play our next pops concert!  If you're in the area, check out our Frank Sinatra concert on Saturday night. There will be tables set up to bring your own delicious food and it will be a fun time.

Last weekend, I performed in a chamber music concert with the Camerata Winds. The concert was called "Colors of the Winds" and featured recent woodwind quintet arrangements with different colors in the titles such as Dreams of the White Tiger, Blues for Woodwind Quintet, Red Lights!, Pink Panther, March from The Love of Three Oranges, Pink Panther, and The Frog and the Golden Ball. We each dressed in a different color to match the theme.

I also was able to participate in a few races! I ran the Paris, Texas half marathon which was delightful! The course went through picturesque trails, over bridges, and passed by the Eiffel Tower which was complete with a red cowboy hat on top. I also volunteered as a St. Patrick's Day 5k and got to help run some of the timing and finish line activities.

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Our last Monroe Symphony concert was a lot of fun and since it was right before Mardi Gras, I was able to enjoy some king cake and crawfish etouffee. Delicious! It was also nice to have a little downtime to enjoy a walk through the beautiful Black Bayou Wildlife refuge and catch up on some reading. I'll be back in a few weeks for our Simply Sinatra pops concert.



This week and next week I'm in the Dallas area performing with Camerata Winds and will make a quick trip up to Paris, Texas to run the half marathon there. Paris has its own Eiffel Tower with a cowboy hat on top of it so what's not to love about that?
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Each spring, I help approximately 60 students prepare for their solo competitions. For many of those students, this is their first time performing a solo with accompaniment. It's exciting and fun but can be daunting at first glance. To help with this, I've put together a list of eight quick tips to have a successful solo competition!


1. First, always pick a solo that challenges and stretches your abilities without overwhelming you. This is especially true if this is your first time working with an accompanist. Ask your private lesson instructor or band director for feedback or assistance when choosing a new piece.

2. Once you've selected your solo, check and make sure that it meets all of the requirements for your competition. For example, our high school students here in Texas are required to pick from our Prescribed Music List while most middle students have free reign. You'll want to purchase your solo music with accompaniment early so that you don't get surprised with backordered or out of print music!

3. Listen to as many professional recordings as you can and follow along with the score in front of you. That way, you'll know how your part and the piano part fit together and your rehearsals will go smoothly. Use the tap function on your metronome to get an idea of how fast you'll want to perform the work and begin working up to this.

4. Book your accompanist long in advance and make you get the music to them in plenty of time to learn it before the first rehearsal. This is a great time to communicate what tempos you are planning on working at. Always ask about fees up front so that you can pay them on time.

5. When first rehearsing with your accompanist, it's a great idea to record your run through. You can review this later and see if there's anything that you may have missed in rehearsal. The Tonal Energy app is a nice recorder/metronome/tuner/and tone generator and is affordable for students.

6. Practice performing often for friends and family, especially if competitions or performances make you a little nervous! A run through will also make sure that you are in good performance shape.

7. Make sure that you break in plenty of reeds in advance and that your instrument is in good
working order.

8. Finally, enjoy your performance! You've put a lot of work into this and it is your time to shine and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
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I'm thrilled to announce that I won the Longview Symphony Orchestra audition this weekend and will be joining them as Second Clarinetist!  My first concert with them will be on October the 8th and will include Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 (always a clarinetist's favorite), Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D major performed by Chloé Trevor, and Beethoven's Egmont Overture.  Join us if you're in the area. 

I've also been busy with lots of gigs and teaching now that the season and school year are back in full swing! 
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One of the many exhibit hall rooms.
The exhibits at ClarinetFest are open which means that it's time to try out all of the latest and greatest clarinet equipment that can be found!  We finished setting up our booth first thing this morning and of course I went around and visited other booths as time allowed.  I have more ground to cover over the next few days and lots of things to try since there are tons of vendors here.  
Trying out a basset clarinet.
A clarinet made of boxwood


Colorful!
Lisa's Clarinet Shop even has a photo booth! 








































I also had the chance to attend Michele Zukovsky's presentation about her father's experience studying with Simeon Bellison. She shared stories, photos, recordings and included her own musical demonstrations. I was also able to attend the Backun artist recital this afternoon and you can check out that concert report on the ClarinetFest blog where I'll be doing some guest blogging.

Michele Zukovsky accompanied by Steven Harlos.

 



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I'm in Lawrence, Kansas this week at the International Clarinet Association's annual conference, ClarinetFest!  It's one of my favorite events of the year, a great chance to try out new equipment at the exhibits, watch presentations, and listen to great concerts and master classes.  After a run and a delicious big breakfast at Ladybird Diner, we drove to campus to pick up our swag bags and registration packets before watching the first recital of the day.


The swag bag that contained our program and other goodies.
Welcome to ClarinetFest!

This year I'm helping out at the H. Karlsson Woodwinds and I hope that you'll stop by and say hello!  She has a great selection of new and used Buffet clarinets, Gao clarinets, reeds, and music jewelry.

The initial set up, merchandise will be set up in the morning.

After set up I attended the host recital featuring Stephanie Zelnick and Robert Walzel.  You can read more about that recital on the clarinet.org website where I'll be guest blogging this week as one of the conference reporters! I also had a chance to attend Pierre Genisson's clarinet recital before grabbing a tasty dinner at Baan Thai Restaurant. The evening concert was unique in its presentation, it was entitled An Unlikely Muse and featured David Shifrin on clarinet and actor Jack Gilpin playing Richard Muhlfeld.  Together they told the story of Brahm's later years after he had announced that he had retired from composing.  After meeting Richard Muhlfeld, Brahms comes back out of retirement to compose the two clarinet sonatas, trio, and quintet.  The listener is treated to excerpts of these compositions as the story is told.

One of the recital halls.

Onward to the next day!  
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