Historic Time Wasting Milestone: VFTP 1000 Posts!!!

It is with a mixture of pride and sheepishness that I write to call readers’ attention to the occasion of Vftp’s 1000th post. It is a sign of the sheer magnitude of time wasting that has gone into this project since 2006 that it is hard to say definitively which post exactly is the 1000th, as there have been posts which have been temporary and others which have been quietly withdrawn in the name of career prolongation. There have been others that have been so minimal, so crap or so short that they hardly count.

In any case, it’s been a lot of fun thus far, and it is nice to now be at the point where there is so much material here that I will often see posts listed in the “Random Posts” field and not be sure what they are about until I re-read them.

I think Vftp was pretty much the first regularly updated conductor’s blog (many industry “experts” told me that conductor’s must never blog) and I’m pretty sure I’m the only nutcase conductor to have reached 1000 posts (many of my favorite non-conductor bloggers reached this milestone long ago, but conductors tend to be a slot lot). Do I have any wisdom to share for other conductors contemplating a blog? You betcha.  Here are my top-10 “conductorblogging” tips:


10- Don’t blog in pajamas, it just reinforces a stereotype.

9- Don’t blog before the second coffee or after the second martini

8- Never write anything which violates the trust of the musicians or the privacy of the rehearsal process

7- Don’t expect anyone to know when you are joking

6- Remember, anybody could be reading. I remember my shock early one when I realized a couple of very high-powered people were religiously reading. It’s not just your friends and your regular commenters. Also, more people have google alerts for themselves than you would think so if you slag somebody off, they’re almost sure to read it.

5- Everything is a draft- it’s never to late to revise.

4- Try not to put your fist through a window every time you find a typo. Without an editor, it is hopeless. Just keep revising every time you find something.

3- Having the word “conductor” next to your name will always make you suspect to some people. Don’t sweat it, but don’t forget it either.

2- Don’t promise readers anything- nothing seems to doom a future post quite like announcing it before it is written

1- Use the phrase “my Beethoven parts look like a fucking Mahler symphony” as often as you can. (see what I mean)


I’ve also learned not to expect too much reader participation. My attempts at polls and memes have all failed miserably. Still, one keeps trying… I thought it might be a fun way to mark this milestone by asking readers to suggest their favorite posts. Is there a post that you particularly liked or loathed? Let me know.

It does seem painfully true to life that this milestone was substantially postponed due to the technical problems we had here for much of the month of February. To my delight, we’ve moved the blog to new servers at Portland Internetworks, where the technical team are far more capable and cooperative than at our previous home.

I’ve come to like a lot of things about having a blog. First and foremost by far has been the dialogue with other musicians and music lovers. Your comments are a priceless part of this whole enterprise, as are the often far more direct and  even outrageous emails. Please keep them coming.

I also like what all this writing does for my understanding and interpretation of the music I perform. I’ve learned so much from writing here- sometimes putting something into words really helps me crystalize what I am reaching for in a performance.

Finally, it has been incredibly empowering to have this forum and to see it grow over the years. Not being able to post for much of the last month has put into sharp focus just how much being able to put my two-cents worth on the record in a variety of topics has meant to my sanity over the years.

Of course, there are many other topics I wish I could talk about more directly here. A friend recently admitted he didn’t read they blog as much today as back when I used to “dish the dirt” a bit more freely. I guess there will always be things we have to wait  to say until the right time.  Meanwhile, I have to try to make a living, and sometimes too much truth telling makes life tough for the truth-teller.

Meanwhile, make an old blogger happy, and keep reading some of the archival stuff if you haven’t already done so. The one real flaw of blogs is that they way over-prioritize what is being written today over what might be more important and more interesting from last year.

And please, as always, do let me know if there are topics you’d like me to write about.

Thanks for reading!



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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

Learn about Kenneth at www.kennethwoods.net

All material in these pages is protected by copyright.

9 comments on “Historic Time Wasting Milestone: VFTP 1000 Posts!!!”

  1. Robert Gable

    I tweeted about this yesterday but also wanted to comment my congratulations. Having read those thousand posts, I have a much better understanding of that podium view. Thanks again.

  2. Peter

    Congratulations Ken!

    Your blog is haven of common sense and good humour. Long may it continue.

    I would be interested to know how you think blogging is changing musical criticism.

    Internet and mobile communications have the capacity to bring down dictators around the world, so could the same phenomenon undo some cultural czars around the place?

  3. Ed Chang

    Congratulations! I have great admiration for your posts – both interesting and substantive. Also – excellent list – I should stick that on my wall somewhere!

    Good Luck towards #2000,

    Ed Chang / The Daily Beethoven

    (PS – the post that sticks out for me is the series you did on “ur-texts”.)

  4. Patrick

    I found the Young Concertmaster’s Guide to be particularly insightful – and not just for concertmasters (I’m an aspiring conductor/composer)! Repertoire reports have also been very insightful in that regard. Keep up the great blogging.

  5. Kenneth Woods

    @Robert Gable

    Many thanks, Robert. I’m awestruck at the idea that anyone besides me has read them all! If true, you a surely a saint, and I apologize for the thousands of typos you have endured in the process

  6. Kenneth Woods
  7. Kenneth Woods
  8. Peter

    Thanks Ken!

    Readers should know that Ken blogged very successfully through the Mahler in Manchester series and generated some substantial ripples in Mahler circles thereby, including his by now miuch hailed appearance of Radio 4’s Today programme.

    As for the power of blogging, it has the power to subvert received opinion and the way establishments protect the status quo by shutting out what threatens them. But you have to have a point, if you are to subvert successfully or else you just end up as being labelled a krank.

    Ken expresses himself carefully and authoritatively – and he’s also a successful practising musician which means he’s no arm-chair enthusiast, but living through these issues day in day out.

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