Skip to main content

Reed Mindset


In our dress rehearsal Saturday morning I became aware of just how GREAT my reed was. It felt so EASY to play the oboe.  I could come in perfectly softly, with or without a strong attack.  I could enter loudly and in tune, with or without accent.  My pitch was centered, my tone was attractive.  I could taper right off the ends of notes EXACTLY as I needed to.  And all of these things just felt RIGHT.  It’s so unusual to have a reed that I didn’t have to MANAGE, that I didn’t have to keep an awareness of in the back of my head, that I didn’t have to massage in certain registers or dynamics.  I could just THINK a musical gesture and then DO it, without compromise.  It was a fantastic feeling.

RIGHT IMMEDIATELY behind that awareness of my great reed came anxiety.  How terrible would it feel when I inevitably had to return to a lesser reed?  When this one died?  How could I ever make something THIS GOOD again?  WHAT IF my concert reed tonight was LESS GOOD, could I perform as well as I was doing right now? Should I put this amazing reed aside and SAVE it?  What if this moment is the peak reed moment of my life and everything else forever afterward is worse? 

This is a SCARCITY MINDSET!  

I recognized it right away because of all the mindset books I’ve been reading.  Letting myself feel tension about the GOOD REED that I was ENJOYING playing on and playing as well as I ever have?  That is ridiculous.  And so I stopped myself.  Identifying the thought made it go away.  I just enjoyed that reed for the whole rest of the rehearsal.  I relaxed into the goodness. 

Sometimes, the oboe IS easy, and the reed IS good, and there is no reason for me to ruin those times by thinking about the other ones.  

I can empower myself by remembering that I am fully equipped to deal with the rough times.  I make reeds well and fast, I adjust them as needed, and I know how to make things work in a suboptimal situation.  Reeds are an abundant and renewable resource.  I can have another one anytime.  

This is what it means to be Invincible.  

Sometimes, like this weekend, I also get Lucky, and that’s a thing to be grateful for. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Discouraging Words

I can remember at least two old cranky violinists coming to talk to young me about NOT going into music.  There was a session, for example, during a Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra retreat in which a real RPO professional (who was probably 47 but whom I remember as ancient) told us that, statistically, no one who graduates from music school wins auditions for jobs because there are only like 4 jobs out there in the world and 7000 hotshots coming into the job market every week. 

Quit NOW. 

I may have misremembered the details of this speech, but I remember the emotional jolt.  It was designed to discourage.

Last weekend I was presenting at a Double Reed Festival, and heard some oboists grumbling about another presenter who had evidently given something of the same talk to a roomful of masterclass attendees and participants.  High school students and cheerful adult amateurs.

And look, there's an element of truth to this.  Classical music is not a growing field, and it is leg…

Generosity in Programming

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…

Self-Talk

When we started the opera cycle (An American Dream, showing at the Harris Theater tonight and Sunday afternoon), the four woodwinds were sitting stacked in a rehearsal room.  In other words, the flute to my right, the bassoon behind me, the clarinet behind the flute, just like in the orchestra.  And it was OK.  We were fairly close together, the room was resonant, and we were working on orchestral details.  But when we moved into the pit, this seating felt VERY isolating.  The four of us were far apart, on two different levels, the wall was right next to me, and intonation and ensemble were very much more difficult.  Our entrances and releases were not clean together, and because we had to balance to the singers on stage, I found my playing getting more and more tentative.  Don't be too loud, don't come in early before the clarinet, keep everything in the box, try to lead the entrances but stay in the texture... And it felt like everything that was not quite great was my fault…