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Showing posts from April, 2016

Priorities

I know myself.  When I get stressed, the first thing to go is any sense of priority.  I always have a million projects going, and the closer I get to the completion of any one of them, the less I want to focus appropriately on it. The new ones are more fun. I know that about myself, but it's a hard habit to break.

I am performing the Christopher Rouse Oboe Concerto with the South Bend Symphony in 10 days.  I am talking about it for the newspaper tomorrow, I'm filming a promotional video on Friday, and I need to prepare my talking points for these. I need to keep playing it daily to make sure that my ducks stay in their row. I should probably put out a blog post and a FaceBook announcement and maybe a newsletter promoting the concert. My costuming could use a little more attention.

But what's really interesting to me, and what I'm dying to focus on, is the redecoration of my oboe studio which will happen sometime this summer. I would far rather surf around on Pinterest …

Bringing the Oboe Along With You

I have a new motto this year, which I use for myself and my students alike.

Bring the Oboe Along With You.

Musically, I'm a phraser.  I'm an ideas girl.  I love to make a plan and GO for it, full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes.  I obsess about momentum and flow, both for myself and my students.  And traditionally, I have prized the big phrasing ideas and the thrill of the chase over the actual execution. 

Let's be clear - I'm pretty good.  But I have permitted mistakes to go by unchallenged, as long as I was proud of the work I was doing.  Careless or lazy errors I could beat myself up for, but as long as my head was in the game and my intentions were good I didn't mind when notes didn't quite speak on time or the low register was a little messy or a slur didn't go.

Breathing, and Gratitude

I love breathing.

I love how cold air feels coming into my nose and I love how on a warm humid evening the air feels soft in my body.

I love that I can turn a simple breath into a quiet space of personal calm.  I love that my breath powers me when I run.  I love that I can breathe with intention to start a piece of music or breathe rhythmically to cement my body to the ground as I draw an arrow back in a bow or breathe deeply to find my center and connect to my intuition.

Stringed instruments are amazing, and I admire people who have studied and practiced and worked for years to make pieces of lifeless wood really come alive and sing.  But to make music with your breath is another element of intimacy.  It makes the whole thing seem more human.

People frequently comment on my lung capacity after a solo performance.  They ask about how I practice breathing, and say that I must work out, and are amazed that I can play phrases as long as I do. In part, this is an oboe thing.  We use less …

Knife Sharpening

I've gotten a lot of questions on this topic, and the most recent querent prompted me to make a video to demonstrate.  You can find that HERE.

Knife sharpening seems to strike terror into many hearts.  And it's little wonder.  Many famous oboists have gone on record as saying that a sharp knife is the most important aspect of reed making. People have entire systems of stones and strops and rods set up to sharpen their knives. And it is important, of course it is - but I don't believe that you need your knife to be razor-like, or objectively the sharpest blade of any in your home.  The reed knife has one job - scraping cane off in precision ways - and it has to be sharp enough for that, and sharpened optimally for that purpose.  More than that is overly fussy for my taste.

This is not to say that I allow my knife to be dull.  A dull knife forces you to put too much pressure on the reed and can cause cracking. Obviously it can lead to terribly inconsistent scraping, and scra…