December was usually a busy month at work as all the client teams were involved in year-end processing. In spite of all the work I had, I remembering running out of work early on this day last year. I *had* to get to Greenwich before 6 and the weather was a bit crazy that day. A few weeks before this I had decided I would try out an oboe and had finally found a place that had one. My oboe was waiting for me at Greenwich Music so long as I got there by 6.
I did get there on time and so I drove the rest of the way home with an old Selmer oboe (and two store bought reeds) as my passenger(s). I had downloaded a little "how to play the oboe" book from the Fox website and it was what helped me take those first steps.
I played three notes that day: B, A, and G, all of which were horrendously out of tune and all of which sounded like a cross between a bagpipe, a kazoo, and a goose. I was undeterred, however, and with those three notes I began a wonderful new journey.
When I told my friends I was thinking of playing oboe most of them warned me of all the hardships that lay ahead. Because of the dire warnings, I had very low expectations. I figured it would be years before I could even play scales. And maybe 10-20 years to play in an orchestral setting. It's a wonder I took up the instrument at all, me being as impatient as I am. But for whatever reason it passed the trial and since December 9, 2004 there has not been a day that I have not at least thought about the oboe.
So today I've been playing oboe for a year and I'm happy to report that things are going much better than I initially expected. Though I only played 3 notes that first day within a month I was playing almost two octaves. I was able to start on scales within months, not years. I still need to work on even-ing out the sound of my scales (oboes have some notes that can sound pretty funky if you're not careful) but as of right now they are pretty much in tune and decently clean. I've been practicing scales with up to 4 flats or sharps. With the help of my new teacher, I've learned a lot about reed making (though I'm not completely independent yet) and have been working hard on correcting my embouchure. My sound has definitely progressed to something more oboe-like. Every once in a while I'll be playing something and it actually sounds nice. That's the best feeling in the world!
I've already started playing with some friends who play other woodwinds and I no longer think it will take 10-20 years to play in a community orchestra. Maybe just 5. I should also mention that I eventually bought my very own Lorée oboe.
I am pumped because though the going has felt slow on a day to day basis I see now that I have advanced pretty nicely this year.
For the coming year these are my goals:
* To finally nail the correct embouchure consistently.
* To practice more consistently and for longer periods of time. I averaged an hour a day every day this year but I know that I can do way better. There were probably only 20 days or so during the entire year where I didn't practice at all. I want that total to be less than 10 for next year. Also I want to bring up my practice time to two hours a day minimum.
* To work on all scales: adding the ones with 5-7 accidentals, working more on minor scales, and doing arpeggios. I need to work on an even tone in all registers and on consistent intonation. I also need to work on speeding things up.
* To work on dynamics and articulation.
* To start working on some of the easy pieces from the standard oboe repertoire.
* To get close to being independent with reed making (hopefully my teacher will only need to make minor adjustments to the reed I bring in).
* To attend a Summer chamber music festival (I'm applying to applehill).
* To perform with my friends (as a duo, trio, or quartet) at small functions.
* I may even audition for the Wind Ensemble next September depending on how I am sounding by then. They only have 1 oboe right now!
So there you have it. A recap of my first year as an oboist. I am even more passionate about it than when I first started and an ever thankful for finally finding my life's love.