Friday, April 29, 2005

The latest and greatest

Another 10 days of craziness and then I can settle into what should be one of the best summers in my adult life. Sure I'll still be working, but I won't have any other activity but music to worry about. Oh, and I do have to get back to the gym; I've got another 20 or so to lose.

I called Rufi the other day. He's my clarinetist friend. When I first started on sax back in 1996 he was the first person I played a duet with. He turned out to be the first person I played a duet with as an oboist too (I keep forgetting if I ever wrote about Debut #1). Ever since I've known him he's been talking about wanting to get back into Classical music and starting an ensemble. Well now that I am playing oboe I've been calling him regularly to try to light the fire once again. This week his flame is burning bright. It turns out that he's drafting up a proposal to start a neighborhood orchestra (in Washington Heights, the upper Manhattan neighborhood I grew up in)! Everything is in its very earliest stages but at least now things look like they're moving. I don't want to start getting too excited about this yet because I don't want to be disappointed if it doesn't happen. But I will do what I can to help him bring this to life.

In the meantime he told me that we should start getting together, probably on Saturdays, to play some duets. So I was looking to order some arrangements for oboe and clarinet. The next day he calls me back to tell me that he bumped into an old friend who happens to be a bassoonist! Luckily I hadn't placed the order yet and I added some trio arrangements to the mix. The bassoonist will join us on some Saturdays but not all.

So it looks like I've found the perfect place to play for now. He's one of my oldest music friends so he will be patient as I will have a lot to learn. At the same time he has good ears and will be honest with me about how I'm doing. The duets and trios will help me a LOT so that if and when the orchestra does form I might be ready to tackle some of the music. Weeeeeeeeeeeeee!

I have news that I want to share but am still waiting to get a call from a vendor. Hopefully today will be the day.

Practice has been going better this week now that I can focus on the things I need to work on (instead of trying to fix that piece for the wedding). My reed is close to death though, but it's still playing. I have a backup one that sounds kind of nice but is leaky so I have to keep fussing with fishkin on it. 10 more days and I can work on reeds again. I did start one last weekend but it already looks like it probably won't amount to much. A slice of cane came off one of the sides as I was trying to tie it and left a little gap. So I had to tie it funny to try to seal it and I don't think it worked. Oh well. I'll finish scraping it anyway for practice.

Last night I worked exclusively on the Telemann piece. For some reason I can't play as long as I had been playing before. According to this book I'm reading it might be that I had been biting before and so my lips didn't tire as easily since the jaw was too active in my embouchure. But if anything I'm feeling like NOW is when I'm biting and that I wasn't biting before. Not sure what's going on there. But I am trying to pay close attention to the position of the reed on my lips. Hopefully I'm doing it better now than before. I'll ask my teacher this week. I think my lesson will be tomorrow.

Anyway so I think I'm starting to get an idea of how to better practice repertoire. It's hard to resist the temptation to go over the parts that you already play ok; It's a nice feeling to play the stuff you know. But last night I focused solely on the middle of the first movement which has been giving me a hard time. I need to practice more scales in F minor because for some reason the fingerings are confusing me. I think it's because they're really different from sax. I'm ok with the E-flat (even though you hit the lower key and C is the higher one). A-flat, B-flat, and D-flat are causing me to fumble. D-flat requires you to press down a ton of keys, plus the lovely half-hole. On the sax, D-flat is a single key pressed down with the middle finger. C natural requires more fingers than B natural. I was getting used to that now, but in this piece the B is B-flat which has more fingers than C. A-flat is just a pain because of my twisted pinky. That pinky is used both for the A-flat or for the left handed E-flat and F. The middle of the movement tends to stay within that little range of notes that is confusing me so I was making a lot of mistakes there. But now I am glad that I am working on this piece because it gives me an opportunity to work on all of that. On the other parts that I do better, I am trying to pay closer attention to phrasing.

I'm not used to that style of practicing so it was a little frustrating at first. Because you're dealing just with the problem areas. So by the end of my session I put the play along CD in the radio. The set includes a slow tempo version too. The last time I tried this I couldn't play almost any of it. So I wasn't expecting things to be much better. But to my surprise I was actually able to play along with some of it! When I couldn't keep up I tried to get back in as soon as possible. It was hilarious. I sounded awful but I was able to see that I have indeed improved. Maybe in another month I'll be able to play along for the entire first movement at the slow tempo. The second movement I play along at regular speed since it's Largo. The third movement is crazy!! Too . . . much . . . staccato . . . But I am able to play some of the arpeggios as well as the bars with eight notes (as opposed to sixteenth notes). Oh and I played the ending too. Ta-da!

Tonight will probably be some long tones, scales, and more Telemann. Ok time to go to work.

Oh wait, I forgot to talk about the dream I had last night. I dreamt that I was at some music school downtown. I think it was supposed to be Boy's Harbor, but it didn't really look like it. While there I was hanging out with a woodwind teacher who reminded me of my sax teacher, but it wasn't him either. At one point he says that he's going to start the rehearsal so I start taking out my oboe. Other students started walking in to the rehearsal (which was in a very small room). This girl came in with a really funky looking instrument that was like a large, brass snail. She said it was a bassoon! Both the teacher and I said "That's not a bassoon." But she kept insisting that it was a new type of bassoon. Some sax company invented it. Made of brass but would sound like bassoon. We didn't believe her but once she blew on it, it did indeed sound a lot like a bassoon. So now I'm getting excited that I will be playing soon except that my reeds are all breaking in my hands as I try to put them in the instrument. The teacher hands me a clarinet reed and tells me to use that one instead but I know that it won't work and I start to panic a bit. At that point a girl walks in with a sitar. And a few other people are starting to take out other "world" instruments. I woke up at that point. Kind of disappointed that I didn't get to hear what this strange ensemble sounded like. Oh well. Isn't that a funky dream?

Monday, April 25, 2005

The deed is done (Debut #2)

The deed is done. My group played at our friend's wedding, a program which included my hubby and I playing "Gymnopedie No. 1".

In hindsight I most probably jumped the gun on that one and should have just played a recorded version. I hope I didn't give my beloved oboe a bad rep. I didn't figure out how to prepare the piece until the very end and by then it was too late. I don't think we did any major damage to the wedding though. My fellow choir members did not pick up the mistakes that were made and all said that the sound of the piece was nice.

The first section came out a bit sloppy because I got nervous about the things I knew weren't clean. So I'm sure I tensed up and made it worse. My high A was a bit flat the first time. And I didn't pay as much attention to dynamics as I should have been. But the half hole notes (C# and D) came out decently clean. As did all the big slurred intervals going down to the low F# and E. The second section came out a lot better. My phrasing was better. My husband did skip a measure near the end which made for an interesting melodic line from my part. Oh and we played it quite a bit faster than the marked tempo of 66. I wasn't able to keep up with the long notes and long phrases at the slower tempo. So rather than have my notes break or me pass out we sped it up a bit. I know, I know. That was bad. But I knew that no one there had heard the piece. Satie must be rolling in his grave.

It was a good learning experience. And now the trauma of playing in our church for the first time is over and done with. It can only get better from here on.

I really need to work on my breathing. That hurt me more than anything. If I didn't have to worry about whether I'd make it to the next breathing spot I could have paid more attention to making it sound pretty. For now I'll continue working on the Telemann but I am going to spend a lot more time on long tones and intervals/scales again.

Friday, April 22, 2005


"Oboe" in Spanish is spelled the same way and pronounced only slightly different than in English. The "e" at the end is enunciated (short vowel sound) so that it sounds something like "o-boe-eh". The accent goes on the second syllable.

My parents decided that this word is too difficult and have coined a new term for my instrument. They call it the "fututo" which is pronounced something like "foo-too-toe" with the accent on the second syllable. Don't ask me how that's easier. And don't ask them who made up the word. They both claim it!

Since I've started playing I've been trying to teach them things about the instrument, the orchestra, and the repertoire in hopes that some day they will be able to sit through a live concert. Hopefully featuring me as 9th oboist.

A conversation from a couple of months ago. Translated from Spanish/Spanglish:

Hilda: Look Dad, I'm learning to play the oboe.
Dad: Is that a clarinet?
Mom: (Eyes me suspiciously.) Another instrument?
Hilda: Well, yes. But it's sort of related to the saxophone.
Mom: Will you sound like a ship horn again?
Dad: Where's the mouthpiece?
Hilda: Uh, it doesn't have a mouthpiece. (Goes into a lecture about double reeds. Tells them how you have to keep the reed wet or else. Mentions how even the pros get nervous while they wait around and will lick their reeds unconsciously.)
Mom: That sounds hard.
Dad: Do you have to look like you're dying while you play?
Hilda: (Goes into another lecture about the embouchure and breathing.)

I've been practicing at their house on Wednesdays after class (Mom makes dinner for us that day) and on Sundays after church (because by the time I get home it's kind of late). So they've heard it all. The first few weeks of playing a very out of tune octave. Reed squeaks. The young duck. The bagpipe. And more recently, something that vaguely resembles a real musical oboe sound. They don't always understand the things that I'm into but they see my enthusiam and I think both of them are earnestly trying to appreciate my new endeavor.

So earlier this week we get a call in the late evening. I had just finished practicing and was putting the instruments away (my normal one and the trial ones).

Mom: They're playing the fututo on TV!
Dad: (yelling in the background) It's on WNYW.
JC: (turning to me) What channel is that for us here in Westchester?
Me: I don't know! Hurry! Find it! Oboes!
(We finally tune in and find the Berlin Philharmonic is playing some Beethoven overtures.)
Me: Cool! Oboes!
JC: Cool! Bassoons!
(I give JC the evil eye.)
Mom: We can recognize the fututo now!
Dad: Yeah we saw their funny faces! And I even caught one licking his reed like you said.

Haha! Aren't they too cute?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

My new friend

Yep that's me. And yes, that's Joe Robinson! You gotta love New York. You can bump into some really interesting people. This picture was taken on Sunday at the recital I attended at Manhattan School of Music. It was a studio recital of all his students from MSM. I was invited by Michelle who I met when she put her oboe up on eBay.

Five students played that night. All were on oboe except for Michelle who played English Horn. The pieces played were:

Concerto in F Major - Franz Krommer
Sonata No. 1 - Handel
Sonata for English Horn and Piano - Hindemith
Six Metamorphoses after Ovie - Britten
Sonata in C, Op. 71, No. 3 - Francois Devienne

I really enjoyed listening to all the wonderful players and interesting music. Everyone was really great! They all had great sound, technique, and expression.

I also bumped into one of the girls who played English Horn at the Columbia University concert earlier this month. Turns out she's a grad student at MSM which means that Columbia has to recruit some of its oboists from outside. She was very optimistic about my being able to find a niche there once I get my "chops" down. That would be absolutely dreamy!

After the recital they had a mini reception and that's where I got introduced to Joe. He's really funny and nice. I had read an interview of him a while back and he was just as funny in person. We talked about him possibly putting up some of his reed making stuff on eBay. We were trying to convince him that he'd get tons for it. I wonder if he's going to play much at all now. I didn't want to ask. But I did wish him well. And he in turn wished me well in my oboe pursuit. I'll take that as a blessing. Woohoo! Maybe I captured some oboe greatness via osmosis. I can only hope. :-)

Oh gosh, I think I'm regressing back to my groupie days. LOL!

Which reminds me . . back to Gibbs Free energy . . .

Monday, April 18, 2005

I'd rather be playing

So it's almost midnight here and I'm trying desperately to get excited about electrochemistry. Why I never knew how sexy galvanic cells are! Ummm . . . not!!
I'd rather be playing, damn it. Why oh why can't I just play all day?

This day job search is going to get more and more interesting. By the way, I registered for the Fall semester today. As a full-time student. What am I getting myself into? *gulp*

Again, I'd rather be playing. What keeps me going is that I know I'll have more time for my oboe in just three short weeks. I can't wait!

Busy weekend

Ugh, I've spent the entire weekend running around and unfortunately was unable to practice much.

My second trial oboe (from McFarland's) just arrived today. I played on my first trial one (from Oboeworks) a bit this weekend. The feel is definitely different from my resonite Fox. I'll write more about them later on this week.

I have a Chemistry test on Wednesday so practice time will continue to be scarce until then.

The reed I got from my teacher came unwound! I had put it inside the trial horn and had a hard time taking it out. I think somehow in that process I loosened the string which was kind of loose to begin with. I rewound it on Saturday night. It's really hard to do that once the cane is already scrapped. I had to be so careful to not break it and to make it the same length. Hopefully I will get a chance to play with it sometime tonight or tomorrow.

I went to an oboe recital last night. I will tell you all about it once my picture arrives via email.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Darn little half hole

I had my lesson today instead of tomorrow because I'm meeting a friend tomorrow (my friend from CA will be in town).

The lesson was 30 minutes today. I asked my teacher if he could make me a reed because I really didn't want to be dealing with my dying reed near the end of my school semester. Also I have two oboes coming in for trial and I wanted to test them on a decent reed. My teacher gave me one of his that is really nice compared to WR2. The sound on it is decent and it responds well in all registers. My intonation on this reed is the best it has been. I need to learn how to make my own reeds like that! I am going to use his as a sample when I start making reeds again soon. Did I already talk about the reed I tried making this weekend? I kind of killed its heart trying to elongate the tip. Doh!

So I played the first and second movements of the Telemann concerto at the lesson. There's been definite improvement over last week's sight reading of it. But my D's and E-flat's came out messy due to my missing the half hole sometimes. I've been ordered to focus on cleaning that up. I know how to do it correctly but I think that in the process of trying to get through a piece I forget or get lazy and start cheating or something. I consciously worked on it during my practice today to try to instill the feel of it in me. Crossing that break was a pain on the sax too from what I remember.

I felt a little bad after my lesson because of the messy playing but after I got home and practiced a bit I felt better. I went back to my Gekkeler book to some exercises involving the D break and forked F. It was nice to practice from there because now I remember how just a few months ago I was struggling with those exercises and couldn't even get to the end of a line without needing a break. I was able to play the beginning exercises cleanly and quicker.

That's what's so cool about music. If you put in your dues you get results and at the same time there is always a new challenge.

Day Jobs

Lately I've been thinking a lot about the plight of all those top level musicians who don't end up getting their coveted high profile gig. What do they go on to do? Do all of them stay involved in music through teaching or other means. Do some leave music altogether? I can only imagine the feelings of frustration they have to deal with. Imagine being good enough to play anywhere but not being able to play anywhere. Does their drive eventually go away? Every once in a while I find myself daydreaming about hitting a jackpot and being able to just play all day long and wondering how far I'd get under those circumstances. It makes me a little sad that I'll never know what my true potential was. But imagine if you were already THAT good yet still were unable to get the job you wanted. I worry and wonder about what they all do. It's all so terribly sad.

And I thought I had problems! Every day that passes I am more and more convinced that the timing of the oboe coming into my life was actually ok. The late start allowed me to focus on school. It is my hope that some day I will find a suitable career that lends me the freedom to play what I like and as much as I like. I will always play for the joy of it. Slowly I'm getting rid of all that regret at not having started as a kid.

That still leaves me with having to find a day job. One that I actually like as opposed to my current one. One that gives me the TIME I need to pursue being a great amateur musician. Oh, and the money to pay my mortgage. The oboe came at the perfect time because I've long been stalling at a career crossroads. For nearly a decade I've been struggling to determine what I should do with my life. I was close to committing myself to something that may not have had a happy ending for me. While I do love science I think I may have felt trapped if I had let it overtake my life. Now that I've gotten involved in music again I've been shaken up. There is NO way that I could be happy without it in my life. One hour of bad electric bass playing a week is not enough. I need to be studying my instrument actively and playing with others regularly. I'm estimating that I would need somewhere between 10 and 20 hours a week for music ideally.

At first this seemed to make my decision harder since a lot of the career options I was looking at were 60+ hours a week. But now I feel that I'm actually thinking more clearly than ever. I was fooling myself by thinking that I could be happy with that type of career. I need to compromise. My priorities are finally clear to me and they will be vital in my decision making. I know what's important in my life and I will always keep that in perspective from now on.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Hello fellow practicing pact-ers!

I just found Waterfall's blog through Terminal Degree's.

I want to offer a hearty welcome to anyone who happens to come to this blog through the practicing pact.

YAY! I might actually get more hits now. I'll do my best to keep you all abreast on all my oboe stuff. :-) I wish you all the best with your practicing. Let's make some beautiful music!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Great finding

I found the perfect piece for my husband and I to play together: Satie's Gymnopedie No. 1! He's more of a Jazz/Latin pianist so he's been unwilling to commit to learning the accompaniment for something like the Schumann Romances. Which is ok since those are still a reach for me anyway. But the Gymnopedie is perfect. The piano part is just chords. And the melody is slow and simple. I can definitely play that. I just need to work on sound and the feeling of it.

And I actually really like that piece! Must have been those public service announcements it was used for in the late 70's/early 80's.

Want to know something scary? If we manage to get it sounding nice enough AND if I ever hear back about those Lorées I'm supposed to take out on trial, we might actually play it at the wedding my church group is playing on the 23rd. That's assuming I make/buy/beg for/mug for/pray for a good reed by then.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

I suck at Ebay!

Ok so I was all set to win that oboe from eBay last night. The auction was over at 12:36 this morning. At around midnight someone bid 3k which was the reserve. I told myself that I'd go up to $3200. A few minutes later I make $3100 my max. I had the highest bid at that point. I then started freaking about someone outbidding me at the last minute. So I go back in to make $3200 my new max. By the time it goes through $3200 has become my new bid (someone else had bid $3150). Now there are only a few minutes left and I'm refreshing constantly. 50 seconds left. 40 seconds left . . . 10 seconds left. OH NO!! Big red X on my screen "You have been outbid". By the time this even registers and before I can even think whether I'd be willing to go up to $3300, the auction is over. I'm thwarted by Carole1984. *cry*

Well at least now I've learned some eBay skills. And I get to try out some newish horns from McFarland's and Oboeworks. "All's well that ends well."

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Happy 4th month!

I've been playing oboe for four months now. Weee!

Friday, April 08, 2005

Conversations with my teacher

I had a lot to say but now I'm a little tired. This may come out a bit convoluted.

I had a nice, long class tonight. I was able to talk with my teacher about most of the things that were bugging me this last week.

Thankfully my reed, which had been acting up, starting behaving last night and was decent tonight.

We talked a lot tonight but I did get to play the Telemann concerto in F minor. In its entirety. It wasn't pretty but I made it all the way to the end. I had been feeling kind of bad, like I hadn't improved in a few weeks. But after mangling through the piece I realized I have. Also my teacher reminded me of the stuff I was playing just a month ago and that helped me feel better.

Here are some of the things we talked about:

* I am going to bid on the oboe I saw earlier this week. What I realized, and my teacher confirmed, is that no matter how much I spend on an instrument right now I will want to upgrade it later on for something else. Who knows what my taste will be like in some years when I am playing better? So if I have to upgrade anyway later on then I may as well go for this instrument which is in good condition and at a good price. So wish me luck on the auction.
* I get to work on the Telemann now and can put Ferling aside for a bit. He didn't say that I could put it away altogether but I should focus on Telemann instead.
* Pati was right. I've probably been practicing too long. Sounds weird, right? But anyway tonight I played enough that I was starting to get tired and I admitted to my teacher that I tend to play even beyond that point. I was told to break up my sessions. I have to give all those muscles time to get stronger.
* The best development is that it's ok for me to spend more time on repertoire. I tend to always want to do things the hard way and was approaching music the same way. Unless I was doing long tones or scales I was feeling that I was wasting my time. I didn't want to allow myself the enjoyment of playing actual music. It was like I was punishing myself for being a beginner. I wouldn't let myself play any pieces until I went through my "technical" regimen. I think I took it a bit too far and have now been given permission to play more music! HURRAH! Now I understand why my teacher hasn't been recommending any method books to me beyond the Gekeler and Ferling. He feels that the things that I wish to learn are all found in the literature and I should just start exploring that. Want to play long tones? Play some nice slow movements. Want to practice some articulation? The Telemann concerto has a lot of stuff going on with that. One of the things that had been bothering me was that I was feeling like I was making a lot more sound but not a lot more music. My teacher agreed that I need to work on phrasing and said the only way to do that is by playing real music, not exercises from a book. So I think I am going to give myself a break for the coming weeks since I will be stressed with the end of the semester anyway. I am going to allow more time for repertoire every day. Once my phrasing catches up a bit then I will go back to a stricter regimen. By that time school will be done (for now), I'll have time to make reeds again, and I will have broken into the oboe I *should* be getting tomorrow.
* I think he found my practice plan and sample sessions more amusing than anything else. But seriously he agreed with the things I said and we chatted a bit about scale practice. As I already mentioned I was probably going for too long in one sitting before. I think he's starting to see the depths of my oboe obsession. Mwahahah! When I was leaving I was talking about how I spend most of my day at work surfing the web for oboe stuff. So he said that now all I need is a place to play while at work. I admitted to considering playing in the parking lot but that it's usually too cold. So he says "It's warming up now, you know". Haha, it was pretty funny. He said it wouldn't surprise him at all if I found a way to play during work and I wouldn't be the first musician to do so. Yay, I'm a musician again!

All in all, a good night.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

This past week

It's been a busy week for me but let me try to recap some of what went on.

Last Saturday I went to Julliard's bookstore in search for some music. I figured they probably wouldn't have much in terms of oboe method books but I did find a copy of the Intermediate Rubank. I got that and a "music minus one" set for oboe which has Telemann's "Concerto in F minor", Handel's "Concerto No. 8 in B-flat major", and Vivaldi's "Concerto No. 9 in D minor". Oh I also picked up David Dubal's "The Essential Canon of Classical Music". Interesting read so far.
So far the only thing I can play at tempo from the minus one collection is the Siciliana from the Handel concerto. I even learned my first trill (C to D)! It was so exciting to play with that minus one CD. At around measure 26 there's this crescendo that the orchestra participates in too and I got all flushed and happy about them accompanying me. :-p I'm supposed to be working on the Telemann but it's still a little hard for me. F minor is a pain because of the E-flat/D-flat thing so I can't play it quickly enough. Yet.

Last Sunday we attended the Columbia University Orchestra's Spring concert. I had attended one of their early rehearsals this season and wanted to see how things worked out. I don't remember if I wrote about the rehearsal previously. It was so much fun! Only two oboists were there that night so I asked if I could sit in the third oboist seat for the rehearsal and they let me. I got to read along with the music and just observe and feel what it's like to be in an orchestra. It was my first such experience. I got to understand how the seating works and I got a better idea of the role the oboes play in the big picture. I was sitting right in front of a bassoonist which was fun since they were doing Rite of Spring. My, was the brass loud! And we have to sit directly in front of them. When all the trombones and tubas started playing forte the first time it scared the daylights out of me because I hadn't been expecting it. I looked back in awe and the bassoonist was giggling at me. It was wild but fun! Every time they came in I kept thinking "here comes the pain". Not that I didn't like them, they were awesome. It was just so loud sometimes!

I realized that in some pieces the oboes don't play all that frequently. I never got bored though, there was so much music going on all around me.

So for this concert they played "Khovantschina, Introduction Act 1" by Mussorgsky, "The Enchanted Lake, Op. 62" by Liadov, "Russian Easter Overture, Op. 36" by Rimsky-Korsakov, and Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring". My husband liked the first half but he wasn't crazy about the Stravinsky. I had warned him it might sound weird to him. He just wasn't expecting it. He likes the bassoon and was all into the intro but we all know it gets pretty funky from there on. I didn't quite appreciate it my first time either, but I really enjoyed it this time. The orchestra was massive. They had 3 oboes and 2 English horns! 8 French horns and 2 tubas! I counted almost 90 musicians. All in all, we had a great time at the concert.

On Monday another used Loree went up on eBay. This one is in the NYC area. So I wrote to the person to arrange a meeting so that I could try out the instrument. The seller is a student at Manhattan School of Music and is taught by none other than Joe Robinson. Wow! I was a bit shy about playing in front of her but she was very sweet and helpful. I came out of there pretty sure that I wanted the oboe. It's in great condition. But now it turns out that we're getting back from money from Uncle Sam that we anticipated. So I've been told (by the hubby) that I can spend more on my oboe. Now I'm wrestling with possibly getting something only a few years old. Decisions, decisions.

Ok things between Ferling and me are not going very well. So I had been looking for some other stuff to use. The Rubank that I bought on Saturday has some decent technical exercises. And it has that great trill chart. But it still wasn't quite what I was looking for (though I will continue to use it). I found some of the Barret method online (on so I printed the first ten of the his forty progressive studies. They have very helpful commentaries at the end which describe the things that the novice player should watch out for. I was glad to see that some of the things I was struggling with are indeed things considered difficult.

I think that my problem is that I'm feeling like I have no direction. I want to do whatever it is that I need to be doing to become the best I can be at this point in time. Because I've been doing SO much research online I think I'm now overwhelmed with all the information I've gotten. Tips on tone production, breathing, reed making, how to play staccato, subdivision, trills, turns, scales, arpeggios, the list goes on and on. What exactly should I be focusing on? I'm going to have to bring this up tomorrow at lesson because I don't want my improvement to stop.

I've been trying to create a practice plan that will help me focus my time. This is what I've come up with so far. The stuff with asterisks would be required at each session and the other stuff would be done as time permits during longer sessions. The time values are approximate lengths of time. I was trying to work out sessions of various lengths. Though I know that it really should be more about getting it until it's right. But at this point in time with a full-time job and school, I HAVE to schedule my practice.

1* - Do one scale VERY slowly just to warm up the instrument. 3 min
2* - Long Tones - this includes breathing exercises for endurance and the various combinations of crescendo/decrescendo. 5-10 min
3 - Embouchure training - I still need to define this section but I've read things on how you're supposed to do exercises with the reed only, trying to form several pitches by bringing the reed in and out of your mouth. 3 min
4 - Tonguing exercises - This also needs more definition, but I am not too worried about it just yet. 4 min
5* - Scales - I think there are two phases of this. The first is simply getting familiar with all the scales. So that if someone says "play C# harmonic minor" I know what to do. Once all scales have become familiar I'd enter phase 2 which is where I'd work on speed, intonation, and various articulations a bit more. I'd also do the scales in various ways like in thirds. 15-30 min
6 - Rhythmic reading. I feel that my biggest weakness as a musician is my sight reading, in particular anything requiring subdivisions or that is syncopated. So I think I need to set aside some time just to practice this. 5 min.
7* - Technical exercises for troublespots. These I'm hoping to get from method books but maybe I should start making up my own. Practice things like high note fingerings, certain intervals, other awkward fingerings, trills, etc. 10-20 min
8* - Etudes. One or two challenging pieces from a method book. 15 - 20 min
9* - Solo work. Have a piece that I am working on. 15 - 30 min
10 - Orchestral excerpts or duets for fun.
11 - Sight reading for practice.

Ok I think that was it for now. If anyone actually reads this blog and has suggestions for my study time they would be greatly appreciated!

Oh forgot one thing. I want to add a list of stuff I've listened to this week:
Berlioz - Roman Carnival Overture
Vaughan Williams - Oboe Concerto
Mendelssohn - Hebrides Overture, Op. 26 Fingal's Cave

Look! No Mozart, Brahms, Debussy, or Ravel on the list. I'm expanding my horizons haha!