Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 1: 10 minutes...

...or was it 5? With a fussy baby plopped onto the futon next to my oboe case, here is what I accomplished today:

Soaked 2 reeds. Tooted on 2 reeds, quietly as not to upset the baby. Baby liked the soft peeping of Reed #1. Reed #2 was not easy to peep quietly. I thought of the two summers I spent with National Youth Orchestra of Canada, making reeds late at night. Practice time was over at 8pm (or was it 10pm?), so I couldn't really test my reeds. In email conversations with my teacher at the time, Peter Cooper, he told me this was actually a good thing in my reed making struggles. If I could scrape my reeds enough so I could peep effortlessly (quietly), I'd probably scraped enough. That was my biggest problem with reed-making. So...reed #2 today didn't pass the toot test. Maybe I should test all my reeds with a sleeping baby in the next room! :)

Next step: Oboe! Another reminder of my student days. I can't remember if it was David Sussman or Peter Cooper that told me, "If your reed isn't working and your instrument isn't working, then how do you know whether or not YOU'RE working?" I've repeated this phrase countless times to my own students over the years. Don't show up to your lesson with an oboe that's out of repair and reeds that don't work! You can waste so much time and energy trying to diagnose what's happening with air, embouchure, etc. if your equipment is not functioning as it should. (*Editor's note: Peter wrote me an email and pointed out that the quote was from Gladys Elliot. He's very good at remembering who said what, unlike me.) Back to today... I "peep" high C...mainly because Bryton (almost 3 months old) seems to like the reed peep, and I didn't want to blast out some Berio right off the bat. (Who am I kidding?) Playing octaves with little-to-no change in my embouchure, low C is tough, C2 is saggy, C3 is really sharp. Reed issue? Oboe issue? Soft warm-up to a couple Bach excerpts on my stand (from the last time I played a few months ago)...D2 (half-hole) slur to G1 is near-impossible. Soft attacks on G are also problematic. First thought: My oboe is out-of-whack. ARGH! This is confirmed by pressing the keys down harder, helping G and lower notes to come out a bit easier. I continued to play through the Bach aria on my stand, simply because I didn't want to play scales and I don't have anything specific to work on at the moment. Bach is good for your soul anyway.

The baby had had enough beautiful (ha) music after I'd finished the aria (but I'd like to go back to this--would be good on so many levels), so I packed it all away for the day. So, I guess my next (and really first) step needs to include taking an inventory of my reeds, possibly working on some (blech), and sitting down with Sawacki to make some crucial adjustments to my instrument. Need to get my equipment working before I can focus on getting myself working again.

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