Saturday, December 30, 2017

Reed Repair Shop: Commercial Reeds

Commercially made reeds - those profiled-cane, shinily-wound Jones and Lesher and Emerald Reeds - have their place. They are designed for beginners, or for young players, or for players that don’t have reed-making skills of their own or a private teacher where they live.  And there are thousands of people who fall into that category.  These reeds are designed to be relatively affordable, and they are designed to WORK, immediately out of the box.

But they are not meant to sound GREAT, and they are not 100% conistent, and they are certainly not meant for an advancing player to make beautiful, nuanced music on. 

The ideal answer is to make your own reeds, or work with a good teacher who can help you by supplying reeds at the appropriate strength or by working on what you have - but there are plenty of scenarios in which you might find yourself holding a store-bought reed AND possessing high oboe standards, and wanting to make the one thing match the other.  Maybe you ARE a teacher, and your big-eyed student has just brought one of these in.  Maybe you are desperate because your last good reed just cracked down the middle and the only reed in miles comes from your local Q and F.  Maybe you have no better source, but you want to sound better. 

In this video I analyze and repair a random assortment of reeds from MY local Q and F, and offer advice and suggestions. 



Here's the YouTube playlist with all of my other Five Minute Reedmaker videos.  You could subscribe right there if you wanted to - I've finished dropping weekly videos but there are a few more in the pipeline, and I'll keep making them as relevant questions keep occurring to me!









Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Five Minute Reedmaker: Finishing Tips and Tricks

After you get to the point where your reed has structure, symmetry, and balance, and you still don’t quite like it, what then?  What can you do to fix problems like Too Hard, Too Easy, Too Sharp, and Too Flat? 

The Five Minute Reedmaker offers tips and tricks.  (My favorite ones are at the end!)


Here's the YouTube playlist with all of my other Five Minute Reedmaker videos.  You could subscribe right there if you wanted to - I'm dropping a video each week until the end of the year.


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Five Minute Reedmaker: U vs. W

A student asked me as we were making reeds together whether I use a U or a W scrape.  I didn’t immediately know the answer, so I quickly ran the experiment and discovered that it makes a BIG difference!

Today I’m going to talk about this distinction - which was not one I’d given any thought to before it solved my own problem this past month.

UPDATE: I was asked for a quick video demonstrating this technique more thoroughly, and it is HERE.  Thanks for the request, Sameer!





Here's the YouTube playlist with all of my other Five Minute Reedmaker videos.  You could subscribe right there if you wanted to - I'm dropping a video each week until the end of the year.



Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Pleasure in Doing It

Sometimes I just like having run. After your shower and your coffee it feels good to have run, earlier in the day, and to feel that gentle ache and tiredness in the muscles that comes from having used your body productively. I don't always enjoy running while it's happening, and I HATE the snow.

But running in the snow is such a pleasure.  It's exhilarating.  It's freeing.  It feels like being a kid again, with the icy wind in your face and the triumphant feeling of doing something all by yourself.  Anyone can go out for a jog when it's 65 and sunny, but I was out this morning, in 22 degree weather, with the snow all blowing up in my face, and I met another woman running  - and as we passed each other we both raised our arms like Rocky and cheered for each other, and for ourselves, just filled with the
gleefulness of being in the club. The club of crazies.

This pleasure, the joy of winter running, is hard to come by.  It's HARD to power through the resistance of leaving a warm house.   No part of your body wants to go out there.  No matter how persuasively you try to tell yourself that you'll enjoy it, you know that it's worse outside than inside.  But once you start, for 30 minutes or so it's the best thing ever. 

Similarly, you have to overcome some resistance to practice the oboe.  Soak up a reed, put the thing together, play the first few notes and sometimes you just say "UGH, so this is how it's going to be today."  The pressure feels bad.  The first sounds of the morning are not beautiful.  And it's tempting to put the thing away and go back to bed. 

(Just me? I bet not.)

But there's a reward if you keep going a little bit. If you power through a few minutes of warming up, and you get into a piece of music you like.  Or one that has an interesting challenge.  Or one that makes you feel like someone else.  Or one that makes you feel like yourself.  At those times, the pleasure is not in having practiced, it's in practicing.  When you're in the zone, and you're focused, and you're overcoming resistance - just a little - there's nothing like it and you don't want to stop. 

And it's that magic, that in-the-zone feeling, that only-I-am-in-the-intensity-of-this-moment feeling, that keeps us coming back.  Some months I'm less of a runner, some days I hate the oboe - but I always come back. The pleasure is really in the DOING of it.