We all have doubts along the way, and I've certainly had my fair share. I remember some lessons with Peter when we would just talk for an hour. After one particularly stressful time when I'd admitted I wasn't sure if this is what I wanted out of life, he called me at home (that night or the next morning) and said, "I've been thinking about what you said, and I've thought of other careers you might try: how about real estate?"...not what you want to hear when you're thinking about quitting. He hadn't meant it as a discouragement to playing, but as an discouragement of my negative thoughts (read: drama queen thoughts?) of "BUT I'M NO GOOD AT ANYTHING ELSE IN LIFE!" And I sometimes wonder if I'm an oboist only because I didn't have the confidence to quit! Well, now that that negative thought is written down, I must say, I don't believe that anymore.
Studying for this primary exam has kick-started something within me. I've always been a procrastinator (my parents probably recall many all-nighters starting in Jr. High), and I've never thought of myself as a self-motivator. I've always been extremely interested in learning, but I wasn't a good student. I have hundreds of pages in journal after journal, writing down what valuable advise I'd learned in my lesson. This advice, as we all know from the art of teaching as an oral tradition, has been passed on to my students, and of course used in my own playing, but I would promptly forget where I'd heard it from. (Don't worry, Peter, David, Keith, Bob: I didn't tell them "I came up with this on my own!")
It was in researching a potential topic for this exam that I forced myself to sift through these journals, articles and more. Amy asked me to start thinking of teaching styles, influences of past teachers and their influences. I realized, oh. I don't know what Ray Still's teaching style is, or John Mack's, or deLancie's, Bloom's, Tabuteau's... I started my own research tree (there are always articles about so-and-so studying with such-and-such, but I wanted to learn it myself), and it is near impossible to get everyone in. Of course, I'm nowhere close to its conclusion (and doubt I ever will be), but what have struck me over the past few weeks are the connections from my playing and teaching styles to those of the great oboists of legendary stature. This is not my attempt to sound "connected" to Tabuteau or Gillet, but the fact is, I realized that I am! And this realization, and however far-removed I may be, has fueled a fire within me. I feel completely awed to be part of such a line and not really have known it. I feel privileged to play such an amazing instrument, and reading these journal entries in my own hand, I want to practice!
April 30, 2001: "A break-through lesson! I understood (lightbulb) and actually played a concept Peter has been stressing since the beginning of the year..." Journal entries like this make me wonder why I occasionally thought, "what's the point of writing this test on Friday? I know nothing." Yes, it may have been the drama queen within me rearing her ugly head. I'd been thinking of how much I didn't know. Every new item I'd read would lead me to something else, and I was starting to feel as though "the more I learn, the less I know." It's still a scary test, but I'm coming to terms with the fact that I don't know everything, and that's ok! Nobody knows all the answers. It's the thirst for more that is exciting. Friday will come and go, and though I'll probably have five anxiety attacks between now and then, I'll survive. I'll come home and practice. I can't wait to be an oboist.