When my students get too MOUTHY with the oboe, I put them in a corner.
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 had the most interesting conversations with a few of my students after my first recital performance last weekend. One thanked me for exposing her to so many interesting new pieces that she had never heard before. One admitted unabashedly that his favorites were the familiar ones, the ones he already knew from his previous listening. And both of these observations rang true to me.
See, I LOVE learning new music. I really enjoy digging into a piece and breaking through an unfamiliar harmonic language to get to the depths of it. To discover the composer's intention, and to find the universal emotion or experience at the heart of the work, and then to communicate that meaning back out to an audience. This challenge is fun for me, and I think I do it well.
I have to be fair, though. By the time I have put that kind of work into a new piece, it's not new to me anymore. By the time I get it to the recital stage, it's an old friend. I find great pleasure in performing i…