Skip to main content

Deciding

I was chatting with a friend this week and she was lamenting being too busy to write.  It’s exactly the way I’ve been feeling, and something I rarely hear a musician say.  We always complain that we haven’t been practicing - in fact, I think I said precisely that back to her - but mostly we musicians don’t talk about our other forms of creativity, and that’s a sad thing, 

Even when I can’t make time to practice, I play the oboe every day.  When I’m sitting in rehearsal I try to bring mindfulness to my work, so it’s not just walking through notes and rhythms but actively trying to be artistic, to be interesting, to play with integrity, to be great.  This is why I can let practicing go on a busy day - it’s not that I don’t need it, but I can scratch that itch at work, while simultaneously doing something someone else wants.  I’m a multitasker from way back.  

Writing though, is a thing I can’t do while I’m making reeds.  Or when I’m in rehearsal.  Or very effectively while driving.  And somehow this creative task is an outlet that I really need.  I think more clearly when I write.  I fill the rest of my time more efficiently.  And I feel better when I’ve gotten my thoughts out of my head and onto paper.

Last week I drew the Two of Swords as a card representing my week, and the moment it came up I knew that it was telling me to Decide.  My stress in that particular moment was about not having enough time to prepare for my November recital, around a week filled with long meetings and non-playing days and fall break for Zoe.  So I Decided that being an artist was important to me, and I Decided that putting in the work was important to me, and I got out my planner and made practice times for myself around all of my other obligations.  I sacrificed working out, I sacrificed writing and creative time, I compromised on sleep, and I got some legitimate practicing in and I’m feeling better now.  

This week is different.  I know I’ll be practicing (recital in November, you know). I haven’t bothered to draw a new weekly card, because I know what I need.  I’m going right back to that Two of Swords, and I’m DECIDING that making time for my own creative work off the oboe is important.  

No one has all the time they need.  It's so easy to disappear into the relentless busyness of the day to day and let the important work fall by the wayside.  But even in a frantic week of a busy month, there are some minutes.  There are even some hours.  You can find them if you decide to make it a priority. 

Now that I’ve decided, it’s just a matter of going back into my planner and following the steps to make it happen.  This is comparatively easy.  I’m moving forward, decisively, in the mission of being me. 


Comments

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 …