Skip to main content

A Narrow Escape

I almost fell into the trap last night. I almost said it. Almost confessed in public to a reed problem. I had been playing along, and things were fine, and then suddenly there was a little gunk in the reed, or a little corner tore, or something, and the oboe mumbled for a couple of beats instead of singing out proudly. And the conductor stopped and asked for more sound. And I said "Yes, absolutely, it was just a… a thing." Stopped myself just in time.

This is the lesson that I drive home for my students constantly. It's the lousiest thing about the oboe, and it's the ugly truth. No one cares about the reed issues. Any problem that is audible to others is STILL YOUR FAULT.

Sure, sometimes that bratty piece of cane does change abruptly, or miss an attack, or sound a little raw. A reed is never perfect, and you should have controlled it better. If the reed just refuses to do what you want, you should have made a better reed. Not making your own reeds yet? You should be. At minimum, you should have CHOSEN a better reed from your case. Don't have another? That's your fault too. The details of what just happened in your mouth are of no interest to anyone but you.

It took me a long time after graduating from school to stop allowing the reed to be an excuse for MY misses. Everyone knows the oboe is hard, and that the reeds can be problematic, and people will pretend sympathy, which makes the whine all the more tempting.

Ultimately, though, either the playing is good and competent and present or it's not, and if it's not it should have been. Allowing myself an out just keeps me from taking care of business, and I can't have that. I'll struggle and gripe in the privacy of my practice room, but at the gig the Unfussy Oboist makes it work, or apologizes for her own errors.

So that little slip was a near miss. I caught it in time this time, but I will stay on my guard for future moments of weakness.

Comments

  1. Well said! I succumb to the temptation of Reed Whining far too often, and you're so right - no one cares!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Resonance

When my students get too MOUTHY with the oboe, I put them in a corner.

Really.

They tend to play the oboe only from the TOP of their body, north of the collarbone, and it winds up unsupported.  Fussy.  Weak.  And out of tune.

So I back them into a corner, and have them stand a foot or so out from it, facing out into the room.  And I challenge them to find a sound that resonates BEHIND them, out from the corner of the room that they are not facing, to fill the space without blowing directly into the space.

It's a weird metaphor.  I wouldn't have any idea how to describe the physical technique to do it. When I find it in myself, it feels like my back is puffy and my body is round, and large, and barrel like, and also collected and zipped up, and supremely powerful.  If you know me, you know that these statements about my body aren't remotely true.  But that's what I feel when I'm blowing well, and filling the room, and owning my resonance.

I teach resonance.  I talk …

Five Minute Reedmaker: Length of the Windows

My Five Minute Reedmaker Season Two seems to be largely about experiments.  People ask me how LONG, how THICK, how SLOPED, etc - and I'm running the experiments for them and for you.

I've been posting these videos on YouTube, and sharing them from my Facebook Page, but haven't totally kept up with sharing here on my blog.

Here are the ones you may have missed:
Length of the Heart
Fallacy of the Long Tip
Moldy Cane

And here's the new one:




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 I run out of ideas this season.
Here's my website, where you can order reeds or cane or ask me questions.  Questions will keep these videos flowing! 

Here's how you can send me your own reeds to analyze and improve on video for your learning pleasure!

Never Trust an Oboe, Part 2

(Part One HERE)
(Similar story HERE)

Mercifully, THIS one didn't happen to me.  But my poor student was playing an audition for his orchestra, and reached up with his right hand to turn the page of his music.  And heard a "plink".  And when, a split second later, he returned his hand to his oboe to continue playing, he found that his entire thumb rest had fallen off onto the floor, leaving only the post it had been mounted to.

With his hand now contorted uncomfortably, he finished the audition - ably, I am sure - and tracked down the crucial little piece of metal.  Evidently the screw that secures the adjustable thumb rest into its most optimal position had come out - never to be found again - so the thumb rest itself now can escape at will.

He devised a workaround - teflon tape to keep the thing in - but let this be a lesson to all of us.




Seriously, the oboe is not your friend.  It's like a cat trying to slip out the door - it's just WAITING for an opportunity …