Thursday, May 19, 2005

Nice day so far

Last night I had a long lesson because we had some time to make up. I think it went pretty well. I played the first movement of the Handel Sonata for my teacher. He said I need to practice the trills more which is not surprising since I only put them in there on Monday. I have a subconscious aversion to trills I think. I must admit that I have faint memories of listening to Baroque oboe in the past (way before I got into oboe) and not enjoying it because of what I found to be excessive ornamentation and an overly perky sound. Well now that I'm playing oboe (and a lot of Baroque pieces) I need to become friends with the trills. They are not my enemies. They are not there to make the music sound uptight. They are there to lend beauty to the melody, not take away or distract from it as my teacher said yesterday. I have to start getting used to them because, well, oboists trill. And I want to be an oboist darn it.

I played through the Allegro movement and it's not as hard as it looks. Then again I was playing it very slowly. But now that I played it through once I am not as scared of it and will start studying it as well as the slow movement that follows. Hehe, I just got a flashback of when I couldn't play a line of music without getting tired. Now I can play an entire page of stuff. YAY!

The rest of the lesson we spent on reeds. I told him about my lovely reed night and showed them my two cracked reeds. He suggested I finish scraping them for practice and then scrap them to make new ones. I showed him that older reed I had scrapped and he didn't think it was completely dead. He scraped it and clipped the tip a few times and eventually it tuned up. The sound is a bit muffled on it but it might actually be usable for scales at home or something. He also adjusted that commercial reed which was sort of ok. I think I might switch to that reed now and keep the one I had been using as a backup.

I think I need to start thinking about my sound more. I do still feel that my embouchure is not yet mature but it's starting to settle and feel more comfortable. I just need to remember to keep my lower lip in. My sound needs to be more "covered" and less "spread". It may have something to do with breathing too because the other day I tried doing something I read in the "Essays for Oboist" book, where they talk about trying to channel the air from the top of your mouth, sort of over the reed and into it, instead of from the bottom up into the reed. I don't know how to explain it well from memory. But anyway when I think of that and support the air well the sound feels better. I might record myself again one of these days to hear what's going on.

I keep reading in books about an open throat but last night my teacher said I need to think of closed vowels like ee or uu because otherwise I get the spread out sound especially in the higher register. Hmm. I need to look into all this more.

The scale practicing is definitely paying off already because my fingers felt a lot more comfortable last night and I was more confident about the fingering in general. I think I am starting to get rid of that silly fan thing on the right hand.

Tonight I meet up with Rufi the clarinetist and the bassoonist, I think his name is William, might be showing up too. I can't wait! I'm a little nervous because I'm switching reeds but I played on the newly adjusted one last night after I got home from my lesson. It's quite a bit louder than the reed I was on which was actually too soft.

I keep seeing mention about "take a friend to the symphony" month on other blogs. Maybe I need to try that with my friends, even if it doesn't take place until end of the Summer. I don't know which of my recent purchases put me on a Classical music mailing list but suddenly I am getting a ton of info on local concerts. I'm actually happy about that because I want to start going to more stuff. But in a way it's kind of sad. I can tell they put so much effort into all these brochures and stuff to try to entice people to go. How sad that they had to do all this. How sad that people today don't appreciate this phenomenal music. My teacher and I talked about the state of things again last night and it's depressing. In a matter of 50 years we've managed to push aside centuries of art. Think of how many years it took artisans to develop our instruments and think of all the generations of great composers. Does anyone care anymore?

Anyway, I plan to support the arts as best as I can on no income next year. The NY Philharmonic has this new thing now: court side seating (for the Mostly Mozart events). I'm so there!! It was by being able to hear the orchestra from that vantage point that I got inspired to play last year and as you see it has changed my life. These seats are actually cheaper than the Orchestra seats which I was a bit confused about. Are they uncomfortable or is that due to acoustical reasons? Regardless those are the ones I'm going to get. There are 3-4 shows I really want to see but I may only be able to get into two. I am definitely going to get tickets for Ravel's Mother Goose Suite. They will also play Mozart's Paris Symphony and a Flute and Harp Concerto as well as Ravel's Piano Concerto in G. Mozart's 40th (my favorite) is on the program a different night but I may have to skip it this time. The other concert I might try to catch is later in August and features Beethoven's Pastoral symphony, Mozart's Violin Concerto in D, and Mendelssohn's "Fingal's Cave". The latter I heard on the radio the other day and really liked. I wonder if I can drag any of my buddies to those. Hmmmm.


patty said...

Ooooh ... Mother Goose Suite is one of my FAVES! I'm jealous, Hilda!

When you hear the Paris symphony do listen for the one run in the last movement; it's a run that is played by various instruments and the first oboe gets it once; it was one that really irked the principal oboist I worked with years ago ... she was a fabulous player, but that solo was her nemesis.

The Ravel Piano Concerto has a marvelous English horn solo in the second movement. (Maybe you know this already?) I always loved playing it back when I was the English horn player in a symphony. I do miss that solo!

Glad to hear that you enjoyed your lesson! And yes, trills ARE our friends ... they can be a pain too, though and sometimes they are used more frequently than I like. I always tell my students to use them as Christmas ornaments; you might put ornaments on your tree, but you DO still want to see that tree! ;-)

Wish you lived around here; I'd love to hear you play!

dulciana said...

I used to have a teacher who told me that my trills at the piano sounded constipated. Since then, I've been working to achieve diarrhea trills. Sorry for the graphic humor, but you might as well laugh, eh?

Hilda said...

Hey Patty! So much wonderful music, so little time (and money). After I speak to my friends this weekend to see if any of them are willing to go with me I will book my tickets. I can't wait. If we lived nearby you'd be my teacher. :-) You could help me out with my sound among other things. I really need to work on that. How long does it take to develop a good sound? I'm sure it's one of those things you always work on, but how long until it starts to sound like the nice oboe sound? I shouldn't be freaking at 5 months, right?

Dulciana, that was too funny!! Now I'm going to think of that every time I'm playing a trill. HAHA!

patty said...

Yep, sound takes a good long time for most!

I'm sure your teacher tells you this, but just in case ... you can play around with timbre with changing where your tongue is, and the shape of the inside of your mouth. I keep my tongue low in my mouth to get a really nice sound. But reeds, oboe, inside of the mouth -- all of this makes for tone. Hang in there. I know you'll get to where you want to be!

As to teaching you ... I sure wish I could! Having a student with such passion would be a great joy!