Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Cane 2, Hilda 0

I'm not a happy camper right now. I set time aside today to work on reeds. Some of that time I could have used to practice instead but I wanted to make sure I moved a reed along enough so that I'd have something to show at my next lesson.

I had previously tied a blank. Since I knew that one had a leak I decided to tie another blank tonight before doing any scraping. I tried the new tying method and actually came up with a leak-less blank. Things were looking good. I start scraping on the leaky blank figuring that even if it never sounds I could at least practice scraping. At one point as I'm struggling to thin out the tip I hear a crack. Sure enough, my reed had cracked down the middle. I must have squeezed it hard or perhaps I needed to wet it more. Undeterred, I start working on the other reed. The one that was supposed to turn out well. Twenty minutes later I hear yet another crack. Somehow I managed to make the same mistakes twice in less than an hour. I decided to call it a day at that point.

I've always felt that I'm willing to do anything to become an oboist and I mean it. But my reed situation is starting to get to me. I've been playing on the same reed for over a month. It was never a great reed, just decent. I don't know how much longer it's going to last and I still don't have anything else to play on. The reed my teacher gave me I managed to unwind by pulling it out wrong from my new instrument (which has a tighter fit). None of the 10 or so other commercial reeds I have work at all. I need to become reed independent ASAP. I can't keep counting on anyone but myself to do this. Yet I feel quite lost in terms of the reed making process. My teacher and I have spent a total of maybe 3 hours (over several sessions) going over reed stuff. I feel like I only have a very general overview. I have several books which have given me some ideas but I'm still missing a lot of links. Way too many to be able to craft a working reed on my own. Or even a close to working reed. Not having a reliable reed is holding me back I think. For the last month I've been unable to practice notes above high D because this reed tends to close. My low notes are not responding as reliably anymore either. Some articulations are not as sharp. I just wish I could have an all-day reed making jam session. I feel that I need some kind of formal training like that. I want someone to watch what I am doing and correct my mistakes and for me to watch them do it. Maybe I'd just like to feel that I am not the only one going through this.

And so this whole little ordeal of course makes me think about bigger questions in my life. Things I don't really want to deal with just yet. My issue with reed making is not the minutiae of it. It's time. I usually only have 1-2 hours a day for music and I'd love to maximize my play time. Tonight I spent over 2 hours on my fruitless reed making. So theoretically some days I won't be able to play at all in order to accommodate reed making. Just thinking about that is stressful. This is why I keep thinking I need over 20 hours a week ideally for music. And this is how I run into problems in trying to carve a medical career that would allow me that. It has dawned on my that I am trying to make my hobby my profession and my profession my hobby. I want to give music all the time it needs and then work during the remaining hours. Deep down I know that if I got the chance to live my life over again 1000 times I'd choose (at age 5) to be a musician 1000 times. But I need to get back to reality.

I love music, but I don't think it's what I'm best at. Is it due to a lack of natural talent or to having started too late? I may never really know. But I think I am better at school. Even if it stresses me out too. I can understand stuff and get A's. But I can't make a reed that works or play the Handel Sonata beautifully.

Yet. I must keep telling myself, yet.

Sorry this is such a bummer post. I just wanted to get this out of my system before I went to bed. I will probably read this tomorrow and feel I was rambling. Tomorrow I will wake up in a better mood and be ready to deal with the cane again. I feel better already.

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