Friend: what are all the woodwind instruments?

Musician: clarinet, saxophone, oboe-

Friend: oh is that the one with the weird mouth thingy

Musician: oboe? well yes but there are two instruments with weird mouth thingies. The oboe is the small weird one and the bassoon is the big weird one

Friend: and don’t the musicians have to wet the weird mouth thingy???

Musician: well yeah and single reeds-


This work by Guillermo Calzadilla, born today in 1971, combines performance and sculpture. A pianist emerges through a hole carved in a grand piano to play the fourth movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s famous Ninth Symphony of 1824 (widely known as “Ode to Joy”) while walking around the gallery space. 

The artists chose “Ode to Joy” for more than just its universal recognizability. Over the last century the tune has been appropriated by such politically contradicting movements and institutions as the Nazis, the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and, most recently, the European Union.

[Jennifer Allora, Guillermo Calzadilla. Stop, Repair, Prepare: Variations on Ode to Joy for a Prepared Piano, No.1. 2008. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. © 2016 Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla]

Advice for ukulele players

It’s been one year since I learned the uke and though I’d still consider myself beginner/intermediate, here’s some of my advice! 

-Learn the chords before you try to play your favorite songs. I immediately tried playing songs when I hadn’t gotten the chords down to muscle memory yet and it was so frustrating. Now I go back to the same songs and they’re easy cause those chords are programming into me. It’s boring but worth it in the long run. Please just practice switching from chords as quick as possible and strum, then after the basics, you can see your progress in the form of songs!

-Be patient! You won’t be Tyler Joseph or Jack Johnson overnight! But take it slow, be determined and forgiving with yourself and you’ll improve over time.

-Learn G, C, Am, and F. Obviously learn others eventually, but if you learn these four you’ll be stunned at how many songs you can play with this. Most of your favorite songs are probably combinations of these chords.

-Don’t look up strumming patterns…or maybe not “don’t” but try to avoid it, because it’s way harder to remember a strumming pattern than to really just feel it listen to the song, feel the beat and feel the music instead. It’ll sound way better that way. Just don’t do any funky pattern unless you’re experienced..keep it simple.

-Toughen your hands. In no way does ukulele compare to the rough calluses you get from guitar, but a few of your finger tips will get calluses and my advice it to let this happen. Don’t try to moisturize/smooth it out because tougher hands means you can play for longer periods of time! Avoid hand lotions on your finger tips, try dipping your fingers in rubbing alcohol to keep it dried out, and don’t pick at it. 

-PRACTICE PRACTICE! As a college student and overall busy person, I don’t play as often as I should, but try to play at least twice a week for 30min to see improvement, but any amount of time should help. 

January 13: Hear a demo of the Artiphon INSTRUMENT 1, a digital “multi-instrument” containing a guitar, violin, piano, and more, as part of the exhibition Making Music Modern: Design for the Ear and Eye.

[Artiphon. INSTRUMENT 1. 2015. Injection molded ABS. Image courtesy Artiphon Inc.]