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 went in for my yearly mammogram last week. As you know, it's not exactly a painful procedure, but it's uncomfortable, and as I was being manipulated into the unwieldy machine I got to thinking about what a peculiar job it must be to jam women into awkward positions, over and over, every fifteen minutes all day.
So after we were done I asked the technician about that, and she LIT UP, the way people do when they FINALLY get to talk about the thing they are passionate about, and she talked about the advances in the technology since she was starting out, and the things this machine was capable of. She talked about the women it has saved, from dying of cancer, of course, but also from unnecessary surgical disfigurement. It was completely inspiring listening to this lady love her weird job, and I left feeling fantastic about the whole ordeal. It's great to see someone who is doing what they are supposed to be doing!
Two weeks before, I had my first Mendelssohn rehearsal with…