Saturday, January 13, 2007

Oboe resources on the web

I'm giving an oboe clinic at the Iowa Bandmaster's Association convention in May, so I've been getting some ideas together for a concise presentation that covers as much as possible. I don't know if it will say it on my blurb, but here's what I gave them as my lecture sneak-a-peek:

I have an oboe player in my band…now what?
Tips for success from the band director to the young oboist

Jillian Camwell, clinician
IBA Convention
May 10–12, 2007

This clinic will be divided into six sections, some being more involved (explanations) than others (hand-outs).

1) What they didn’t teach you in Woodwind Tech (or you forgot)—how to start beginners successfully
-Common fingering mistakes in band methods
-Using air efficiently

2) Success vs. stress—the infamous oboe reed and quick tips for selection
-Dos and Don’ts
-Appendix—oboe reed suppliers

3) Forty trumpet players and no oboists—switching students over from other instruments
-Easier transitions
-Tips for the student on how to play “catch-up”

4) Your pick of the litter—physical and other characteristics to look for in a potential oboist

5) The judge said she was like a “jewel in the rough”—tone improvement
-Appendix—embouchure exercises (explanation)
-Appendix—long tone exercises (explanation)
-Appendix—a correct oboe warm-up (explanation)

6) I can’t be bothered with this lecture; just give me a website to look at.
-Appendix—helpful oboe resources on the web

I've given lectures like this before but not to this extent. I'm very excited! Today I started to add to my lists, when I came upon the difficult (to teach) technique: vibrato. I've surveyed colleagues before on how they teach vibrato, and I'd received mixed answers. One of the suggestions was "no matter what, do not teach the pulse technique." Hmmm. That's what I'd been teaching until then, so I wondered if I should rethink that approach. In experimenting with different ways of producing vibrato (and many people are adament that there is only one right way), I think that the "pulse" technique can work, as long as the student realizes that this is not the way they will be producing vibrato once it speeds up. I was taught to pulse rhythmically, with a quarter note=60 on the metronome, increasing to eighth notes, then to triplets, then to sixteenth notes. This increase doesn't happen right away, and sometimes the first couple of lessons won't move beyond eighth notes. The aim is for the vibrato to move from the abdomen (where it 1) easier to pulse, 2) more audible, and 3) too harsh/forced sounding) to "someplace higher", beit the chest or throat. The visual was a spinning airstream that "migrates north." There are admittedly many problems with this technique, the most obvious of which being this vague physical designation.

So is there a definitive answer?

There was a great article in a recent "Double Reed", giving an excellent explanation of vibrato. (If someone reminds of the author's name, I'll add it here...otherwise I'll eventually get around to looking it up myself!) Does anyone have any suggestions for online resources of vibrato production? I know about Martin Schuring's site, but not really any others.

It gets tough when band teachers want to direct their students to answers on the web. There are just so many wrong directions that students can take. Oftentimes they don't know how to sort out the treasures from the trash. The best solution is a (good) private teacher, but since the band directors always want web resources, I'm just trying to do some of the sorting for them. (Of course, some people have done a lot of this sorting already!) :)


Pattyoboe said...

Did you see Sara Bloom's article in the IDRS journal?

Vibrato is one of those things I have a horrible time teaching, because it just came naturally. I'm one, though, who doesn't quite believe it's all from the abdomen. I really like what Jay Light had to say about vibrato. (Do you have his little book? Handy stuff!)

Then there was that very technical article in the IDRS:

... in case you want that. :-)

Pattyoboe said...

Well ... those URLS don't wrap around properly. Hmm. Hope they worked for you. (Do they send you an email of posts?)

I can try html ... don't know if they work, though (if they don't, I really apologize for this comment ... and if you can delete it feel free!)

1st link

2nd link

Jillian said...

Thanks, Patty--both links worked. I'd read both those articles before. I remember going through the pulsing to learn vibrato, but I don't remember when it actually clicked. It came pretty easily for me, too, especially when my teacher and I started singing more in my lessons. To clarify, I don't think it's all from the abdomen! It was how I was originally taught though.