My first bobblehead doll: guess who?

Johann Sebastian Bach bobblehead

I now own my first bobblehead doll! Abby was reluctant to let me take him home, but I argued that he would inspire me in the playing of his music.

So who, and why?

Pittsburgh Music Alliance launch party


The Pittsburgh Music Alliance had a launch party that Abby and I attended, held at Contemporary Craft in the Strip.

The Pittsburgh Music Alliance is a new collaboration of five Pittsburgh music organizations for the purpose of increasing their audience:

You can find more information on the Facebook page.

Food and information tables

Food and tables

As we wandered around at the party, we sampled the food and checked out the tables of the five organizations.

(There are photos of the party here.)

Live music

Recorder quartet

We arrived in time to see my recorder friends perform as a recorder quartet, playing a variety of selections. Fred, Helen, Mike, and Annie were delightful.

Afterwards, members of the five music organizations took turns performing for us. Unfortunately, the acoustic situation was quite poor amidst the party conversations going on everywhere, but I enjoyed watching the people who sang and played for us.

The bobbleheads

We saw approximately ten bobbleheads, each in its unopened box, sitting around. I got very excited. It turned out that they were being given away. I secretly always wanted one since seeing my friend Henry with one on top of his piano; he had one of Beethoven:

Beethoven bobblehead

By the bobbleheads, there was a sheet saying something like, “Name a piece I wrote and you can take me home.” It seemed that nobody was really enforcing this, but when I offered to take one, I said the bobblehead would help me as I worked on the composer’s [flute sonatas]().

Notes on Johann Sebastian Bach’s flute sonatas

The composer whose bobblehead I got was, of course, Johann Sebastian Bach, a hero of mine in the past year during which I’ve gradually fallen in love with Baroque music.

What instrument?

I am faced with a conundrum when trying to play Bach’s flute sonatas: what instrument should I use to play this music?

In the case of his son, CPE Bach, two months ago in a recital I played a movement of CPE Bach’s solo flute sonata using a modern flute. I feel that the nature of CPE Bach’s music, more dramatic and agitated, makes the modern flute a reasonable instrument for the piece; I feel that it is definitely reasonable to play the music on a Baroque flute instead, but that I actually prefer it on modern flute.

Plus, CPE Bach’s music is much easier to play on modern flute.

Unfortunately, Johann Sebastian Bach’s flute sonatas, although I prefer them on Baroque flute than to modern flute, are much harder to play on Baroque flute. It turns out that I dislike almost all recordings I’ve come across of this music on modern flute, with one exception: the recordings of Emmanuel Pahud.

My decision

I’ve made an unpleasant decision. I work on the slow, easy movements of the flute sonatas on Baroque flute, and I don’t currently work on the harder movements at all. I’m still far worse on Baroque flute than on modern flute, and those fast movements are beyond me on Baroque flute. And I don’t really want to play the music on modern flute. This is just my personal choice.


I had a great time at the Pittsburgh Music Alliance season launch party. It was inspiring to see my recorder friends playing, and to see others in the early music community performing with enthusiasm. (Seeing people singing as an ensemble even got me thinking about getting into that sometime maybe.) If you enjoy fresh, vital performances of early music, check out the five organizations mentioned!

Finally, I’m grateful to now be the proud owner of a Johann Sebastian Bach bobblehead doll. Every time I see him, I remember that I must play his music with verve and soul, because he’s watching.

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