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Showing posts from March, 2016

Modifications: Making it Work

I mentioned in my last post that I found a lot of tension in my body and hands during my last recital. I spent a day working on SUPER relaxed playing - scales and long tones- and then a day working on the hardest passages of the Rouse with my primary goal being gentle, soft fingers.

What I discovered was a hand position issue. I was a little too contracted in my right hand to comfortably play ALL of the required Ds, Ebs, and forked Fs that the piece asks for, as fast and as frequently, for 25 minutes under pressure.

So I went to my trusty package of gel pencil grips - the ones I buy at the grocery store for a dollar or two and use to replace the ill-fitting thumb pads on my students's horns. I cut one up and added a tiny dab of mounting putty - the blue stuff that you use to hang posters in your dorm room.



And I constructed this:



It stretches my hand just a little, and lowers it just enough that I can play what is required without effort. Feels cushiony and comfortable, too.

I h…

Learning Live on Stage

I was prepared for my recital.  I knew all of the notes and all of the ornamentation that I intended to do, and I had rehearsed multiple times with my pianist and I had planned my entire script. Under controlled conditions, I knew I could play every note in the Rouse Oboe Concerto


But live performance is not a controlled condition, and I am not ashamed to say that I intend my four spring recitals to be a tool for my own development of that concerto.

I had my first performance yesterday, and in some ways I pleased and surprised myself. Many aspects of the recital went very well. I was proud of my Bozza and of large sections of the Vivaldi. And I found that I could easily play through the entire program without worrying about endurance, which for me is always a concern.

In part, giving four full recitals incorporating the Rouse was an intentional plan to build my endurance for my single symphony performance in May.  Like swinging dummy bats before it's your turn in the lineup - I f…

The 21st Century Musician

When you are preparing for a performance there comes a point at which you need to change from preparing for perfection to preparing for performance. Until I make that change I don't feel that I'm even close to being Prepared.

I've been working on the Rouse Oboe Concerto for months now. Maybe a year. But working on it in the abstract way that you do when you have all the time in the world and you want to really do it right.  Small passages, striving for perfection. Analysis. Looking at the score and the part and listening for tiny details in the orchestration. Contemplating the exact shapes I want to make in my slow movement, both big picture and small.

I love this abstract work, but there comes a point at which you have to bring your focus out a little and start to make the real compromises that live performance will require of you. Endurance becomes a factor. Real world nerves and the temperature on the stage. The actual reed you are actually going to play is almost certa…

Cleaning Your Reeds

Updated: I've posted a video of my plaque cleaning technique HERE!

Oboe reeds are made from organic material, and over time it is inevitable that they will age and change.

The first few days of change are usually quite welcome, as you break the reed in by playing and the opening gradually settles down to something you can be comfortable with and the response becomes more and more predictable.  You might even hit a plateau where it appears to be perfectly consistent and reliable for several days! But after that, the reed seems to be on a constant gradually accelerating downslope, until it eventually collapses into a sharp, non-responsive, mushy mess.

We can rejuvenate the reed during this time by cleaning it, and can often extend its life as well!

There are three good ways to do this.

First, least invasively, you can just run some fresh water through and over the reed AFTER you play each time.  Go ahead and rinse that reed in the sink, shake it as dry as possible, and tuck it righ…