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The Blog has MOVED

 Have you been waiting ... and waiting ... and WAITING for a new Prone Oboe post?  Don't wait here anymore!  The blog has moved to  and will not be updated here on Blogger anymore.  Please come and check me out there!  I love you all - stay safe out there!  Jennet
Recent posts

Don't Wait For It

 Don’t wait for it. The lowest notes on the oboe are notoriously difficult to play. They don’t want to speak, they MIGHT splatter, they are SLOW to respond, they feel flat. And if your instrument is even slightly out of adjustment, they can be even more resistant - sometimes literally impossible. And some students WAIT for that low note to come before they go on, and THIS disrupts the rhythm, the tempo, the flow of the piece, and the musical line they are trying to create.  It distracts the listeners, it throws the ensemble off.  The pianist has to lurch to catch them, the conductor has to stop and yell.   One missed note, or one note that doesn’t quite speak - THAT doesn’t ruin your communication. But the distraction and disruption for both you and your listener that happens when YOU acknowledge the problem, when YOU make us all wait patiently for the response of a low C - that’s when you lose us. I think every low note has three possibilities within it. 1. It can “ghost”, or fail to

The AIR is the Sound

It's never wrong to go back to basics. I was working with some college freshmen and we were playing two-bar phrases. I talked about arcing the air over the barline. I talked about singing. I talked about how the tongue is just the consonant of your speech, not the punctuation. I talked about D articulation as opposed to T.  I have a LOT of different words I can use for any given concept, and I pulled all of them out. I drew the phrase on my whiteboard, I explained how the LINE is longer than the SLUR, and how the BARLINE is not a STOP.  Still, though, this ONE articulation brought the whole thing to a standstill, every time. So the piece moved measure by measure and not phrase by phrase. They were frustrated and I was too.  And I finally realized that the thing I wasn't saying was this -   if the AIR is moving consistently through the oboe, THAT'S what is making the sound .  Within that, every instant that your tongue is touching the reed is an instant that sound is not hap

How Do You WISH You Could Describe Your Reeds?

In Reed Club last Monday, we took a moment before we started scraping to set some intentions.  We each said one word - an adjective to describe what we WANTED our reeds to be.  An aspirational adjective. Efficient was a word that came up, and Consistent . Dark and Mysterious . Mellow . Predictable .  Trustworthy .  Honest .  BIGGER . Reed affirmations actually felt helpful - both in the moment and in the results we found as we worked.  I don't know why that surprises me - I set intentions at the beginning of the year, at the beginning of the month, at the beginning of a run, in the morning before I work.  I love a good affirmation.  I love WORDS.  But I'd sort of forgotten about the possibility of applying one to the mundane work of reed-making.   You don't have to know exactly how to GET to that result.  But having clarity in your mind about what that result is?  Helps you to stop going down unhelpful rabbit holes.  Reminds you to seek something beyond competent, beyond

Micro Rests

 For oboists, endurance is a huge problem.  We can play an endlessly long phrase, because of the way the instrument is constructed, but we can really only do that a few times in a row before our embouchure starts to get fatigued.  We develop a buildup of air that feels exhausting to hold onto, and the thought of sustaining that kind of energy over  an entire page of music, much less a 45 minute recital program, is intimidating.    There's almost always a lesson, a week or two before a jury or a recital, where my student comes in and says, "I just can't DO this! I can play every detail in my music, but I can't put the whole thing together!  My mouth comes right off the oboe when I try - I'm going to fall apart in front of the audience, and it's going to be terrible!"  Look, I'm putting this on my students now - but there's a moment a week or so before MY performances that feels exactly the same! I have not outgrown this moment of panic. And at that

On the generosity of Instagram practice accounts

Classical musicians are trained to make it perfect. To make all the notes correct, to make it sound like the CD, to do it the way everyone else has done it. The only way to shine is to be BETTER - which means cleaner, more in tune, more perfect. We DO NOT SHIP until it’s perfect, which is why so many people struggle with performance anxiety and stage fright. Live is scary because you can’t control how perfect it is. But here’s what the kids are doing, over on Instagram. They are making “practice accounts” and sharing their work in progress. They are sharing snippets of pieces, little technical etudes, minute-long snatches of what is happening. They are sharing the messy middle. The first magic in this is that the process of recording yourself, listening to what you’re doing, making judgements for yourself about what is good ENOUGH to share, trying again to make the snippet REPRESENT where you are in the journey - that PROCESS is making you better. The second magic is that seeing your

Choose the YES

Special moments come at the least expected times. This video , the one I circulate periodically whenever Facebook reminds me of it, was literally just a gig. I didn’t know Sullivan when he reached out to me to play because he needed the video for some application or other.  I didn’t even ask what it was for.  I only had a day or two to prepare the music and I was annoyed that it was so hard and annoyed at myself for accepting the gig and annoyed as I drove up to the church he had booked which proved to be basically unheated. I love what I do, but some gigs ARE an annoyance.  Holiday pops runouts leap to mind here. Endless drives through the snow for ungratifyingly formulaic performances of insipid music.  My annoyance level going in to this was about the same. But it turned out to be marvelous fun!  Once I got going, the challenge turned out to be the BEST kind of challenge, the thing that is difficult but totally attainable if you bring your A game and your focus.  That’s the ki