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Showing posts from May, 2020

Make More Reeds

I recently met with a former student who proudly described THE reed she was working on to me.  She’d gotten it to a point where it made a beep, but it didn’t really play on the oboe yet, but it HADN'T CRACKED!  I celebrated with her - but I limited my glee.  One slightly successful reed - in the past month - is a good start.  It’s further than she had gotten before.  
But that is no way to be abundant.  If it takes you a month to sort of make one reed, where’s the incentive to even start? No one has that kind of time, and you can’t make your living on one reed a month even if it’s a perfect reed.  
More to the point - the learning curve at that rate is basically a flat line.  Reedmaking is an art as well as a craft.  I can teach someone to construct a reed in a single session, and we can get to a beeping reed in that time. But the next part? The part where you finish it to your comfort and then go out in public and play on it?  The part where you analyze what you don’t like, form a …

Separating it Out

Last semester, my student came in with the Hoedown from Copland’s Rodeo. 

Let me guess, I said - the low tonguing passage?

Of course she assumed that she had a tonguing problem.  We always assume that.

I started by checking her oboe. There’s no point in beating yourself up to tongue a low D if your instrument is fighting you.  Turning screws is less work than practicing.  That could have been but was NOT the problem.

Then, in rapid succession, we isolated and improved her air, embouchure, and fingers.  Within 20 minutes we had solved the passage and moved on. 

All of these aspects of oboe playing get so tangled up as we work on difficult pieces and passages.  You can work on something as HARD and as EFFORTFULLY as you want, but it can’t really get better until you can isolate your issues and get to the bottom of them.

In our case, I started by taking the tonguing out and asking her to slur the passage. It sounded terrible.  We slowed it down and I asked her connect all of the notes on…