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!

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