Friday, December 09, 2005

Oboe anniversary

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.


patty said...

Congratulations! You've gone far beyond what my first year students have done.

You are missing one goal: Move to California so you can visit me and take lessons! :-)

(NOT saying your current teacher isn't the best, though!)

Hilda said...

Thanks so much Patty :-)

I would love to be in sunny CA right now and I'm sure I'd be just as happy with you as my teacher!

Hey, I do mean to visit the San Fransisco area next year (sometime in June maybe) and I will definitely try to work it out so that we can meet for a lesson.

dulciana said...

Keeping your goals foremost in mind is indeed an important part of the process. Sounds like you've done amazingly well in just one year!! Congratulations!

patty said...

Oh if you come out here you simply HAVE to come down to my neck 'o the woods. I'm only a 50 minute drive from San Francisco.

Or ... who knows? ... maybe I'll be doing a job there and we can meet in SF.

Anyway, we'll figure something out, I'm sure!

I could hardly see charging you for a lesson, though. I offer up a lesson free of charge. :-)

oceanskies79 said...

Congratulations. You have made significant milestones in your oboe-playing just within a year. Good going, and keep it up. Cheering you along.

Hilda said...


Thanks so much, Dulciana and PeiYun! Your words of support mean a lot to me.

And Patty, oh my, your offer has left me astounded. I'll have to make it up to you somehow. :-)

Anonymous said...

Hey Patty,

I am a bit curious, what are "normal" first years usually playing about now?

Inquiring minds want to know. :)

Good luck with the nutcrackers,
and I'm so glad this blog is back, makes me realize I'm not the only adult beginner in the world... *sigh*

Hilda said...

Hey there! You're not alone! I definitely know what it feels like to feel as though you're the only adult beginner in the world. I'd love to chat or email about it. Drop me a line at Hope to hear about your own adventures.

solitudex said...

Oh, congratulations on finding your way into music. I dare say that it will be the most rewarding and satisfying choice ever! =)