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Happy New Year!
It’s that time of year again, time to get back in shape after several luxurious days of holiday merriment and zero days of practicing. I made a decision going in that I would let this break be a honest to goodness break and not stress out about practicing.Taking a week off to decompress, park it on the couch, watch the complete Star Wars saga, and eat pizzelle’s was perfectly delightful. I’m finally learning that breaks without guilt are a good thing.FullSizeRender(1)
My practice these past few days have been some of the most mindful and productive practice I’ve had in months. Why? Because during the flurry of the orchestral season and full swing of the semester at CSULB, I simply don’t always have the time to do all the things I want to do. Mindful practice, yes. Thorough practice, mostly. But there are days when I have rehearsals and concerts, or a full day of teaching, where my practice time is whittled down to the bare necessities. I always make time for long tones, technical studies, and études before diving into what’s on tap for that week or the next. But when I return after a break, and especially during winter break from the university, it’s a wonderful opportunity to expand everything out and be more comprehensive in my woodshed. More importantly, it’s a chance to get in there and work on things in my playing that will make me better. My bass trombonist husband Steve often says he “wants to see how good he can get at playing this thing” and I concur.

The new year is also a time for reflection, where I look into the rear view mirror at the year that’s just passed with gratitude, but also ahead with enthusiasm for what’s to come. I recently read an excellent blog post by Dana Putnam Fonteneau, creator of The Whole Hearted Musician. Dana’s posts always resonate with me and this one was no exception, in fact, it inspired this blog post I’m writing now.
In the spirit of that, here are some highlights from my 2015:

Holiday fun at the Oakland Symphony

Holiday fun at the Oakland Symphony

I love my orchestra, Oakland Symphony. We had a few concerts in 2015 that were definitely career highlights: Backing up the brilliantly talented and entertaining Kevin Spacey, performing the massive Eighth Symphony of Shostakovich, and an outstanding concert production of Bernstein’s “Candide.”  Awesome. All of it.

It’s always a pleasure to work with my friends at the Pacific Symphony. Their production of “Sleeping Beauty” with American Ballet Theater was exceptional in every way. I wrote a pretty detailed account of that back in March, which you can read here.

Steve bought me my first real camera as a birthday gift in March, and I’ve taken more photos in the past 9 months than I can count. I did a fair amount of photography when I was a teenager, so coming back to it all these years later has provided me with some much needed balance as well as being a terrific creative outlet away from music. Here are a handful of my favorite shots from this past spring, summer, and fall.

I explored my more adventurous side a bit more this past year with sailing and stand-up paddle. If you had told me even 2 years ago that I’d be such a big fan of both of these water sports, I’d have never believed it.


Sailing with friends in the Carquenez Straits before an Oakland Symphony concert in November

Alamitos Bay - No better spot to go paddle boarding!

Alamitos Bay – No better spot to go paddle boarding!

After many months of hard work and patience, my proposal for a summer flute course at CSU, Summer Arts was accepted. Words cannot describe how happy this made me. CSU Summer Arts is something I participated in twice during grad school, and then again two years ago as a guest artist, and now I get to present my own course. The line up of guest artists is off the charts, to say the least: Flutists Carol Wincenc, Ali Ryerson, Robert Dick, Ian Clarke, John Barcellona, and yours truly, with pianists Bryan Pezzone, and Wendy Caldwell, and SF Bay Area drummer Akira Tana and bassist John Wiitala. (Flutists, mark your calendars and don’t miss this opportunity to work with these fine musicians and pedagogues!)PicMonkey Collage

We’ll spend two weeks in beautiful Monterey Bay at CSUMB, teaching, performing, learning, gaining inspiration from one another, and basically soaking in all that is visual and performance art from a variety of disciplines. I wrote a blog post about my experience there in 2013, which you can read here. Suffice to say, it’s another one of those soul feeding experiences.


June was filled to the brim with goodness, with a return to the Iowa Piccolo Intensive…

… and presenting and performing at our Biennial Andover Educators Conference in Portland.

I dig Portland …Such a fun and vibrant city!


Mc Cullough Bridge, North Bend, Oregon

In July, I headed north to beautiful Coos Bay, Oregon to perform at the Oregon Coast Music Festival, something I’ve done since 1998. Due to other performance and teaching conflicts the previous two summers, I hadn’t been to OCMF since 2012, so returning this past July was pretty special. You can read all about my adventures here.

Warren Jones and I after the SF Opera Center/Merola production of the "Don Pasquale"

Warren Jones and I after the SF Opera Center/Merola production of the “Don Pasquale”

Another summer highlight was my other job that I love with the SF Opera Center Orchestra and the remarkably talented singers in the Merola program. I simply can’t get enough of opera, so getting to play “Don Pasquale” under the great Warren Jones was beyond amazing. He told me that my name was the best Italian opera name ever, and as it turns out, Warren really, really likes the piccolo. (Yes!)

I promised myself years ago that one day I’d get my dream flute; a 9K gold Muramatsu. This past summer, I finally did. This flute is gorgeous and makes practicing fun again. It’s as if someone moved the soft/loud goal posts of dynamics and all the sudden I can go way further than ever before, with a more diverse palette of colors than I’ve ever been able to create. (Thanks you, Muramatsu!)

IMG_0191My annual trip to NYC to teach was filled with many laughs, inspiration, and beauty. My dear friend and colleague Carol Wincenc and I presented our second annual “Day of Musical Rejuvenation” in Manhattan. We had a house full of talented flutists, singers, and pianists who performed for us in a master class and evening recital. Fabulous! I also presented my annual Body Mapping workshop at SUNY Stony Brook. It’s great to return year after year, track the progress of students, and make the acquaintance of new, talented musicians. In between all of that and a host of private lessons, I was able to fit in some quality time with family. Look forward to seeing you again soon, NYC!


Me and my president! CSULB President, Jane Conoley and I at the CSU Board of Trustees Poster Session in November.

IMG_9260Yep, 2015 was chocked full of many wonderful things, for which I am grateful. My plan for 2016 is to continue finding balance between work and play and to make time for the people and things that matter most. It’s tricky being a freelance musician. One day I’m working in LA, the next in SF; Santa Barbara one day, Oakland the next. My freeway philharmonic colleagues and I have to keep a lot of plates spinning and serve many masters. Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Cheers to a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year!