Sunday, January 08, 2006

High A

Been running around a lot but I've still managed to play both yesterday and today. Yesterday I didn't get home until 11:30 PM and that's when I ended up practicing. My neighbors must love me!

Today I practiced before leaving for my friend's house. I got another hour plus in. Oh, and I also discovered that I have been doing something wrong all along. I had been trying to finger high A using BOTH the side octave and the regular octave key. I remember this coming up with my first teacher and I could swear that he said it was ok to use both. But maybe he meant either, not both at the same time. Anyway, my high A's have ALWAYS given me a hard time. Not just pitch wise. They always sounded completely wild. Airy, raspy, gurgly, you name it. It never sounded like a normal oboe note. No wonder!!

Wow, if I can get that note to speak normally from now on it will be a whole new chapter for me. It hadn't really come up in my lessons with my new teacher because I rarely play in the higher register with her. We've been focusing on fixing my embouchure and sound and usually stay in the low register. At home when I'd play music for fun I would always avoid the note.

I read up in 4 different books that the A is normally fingered with the side octave key only but can also be fingered with the regular one. All of the books said you should never use both at the same time. I hope I haven't damaged the mechanism somehow by doing this. I really need to take it in for a re-adjustment anyway. I have a feeling something is not right up there because the A doesn't really speak with the side octave key, only with the regular one.

I feel so silly now!


patty said...

Hilda, some books actually DO say you can use both keys. When you are on the bottom octave key and then press the side, the side octave "takes over" so to speak. At least with the oboes we have here. (Or most of them.) I wonder if your oboe is out of adjustment.

That being said, I never let my students get away with this! I want them to understand which notes take the side octave and which take the bottom, so that when they aren't coming from the bottom octave key they don't make the unnecessary movement to the it. I'm a stickler on this!

By the way, I was watching the Les Mis video we have before I began my run this past summer, and the oboist playing the "sewer solo" doesn't use the half hole for oboe middle D (hmmm ... or was it middle C#? Now I'll have to watch it again!). I don't know if that has something to do with the oboes they have there (they use something called the thumb plate system) or just something that particular player does.

Anyway, do work on dumping the bottom octave key for high A. And no, you can't do either ... it really is supposed to be side octave!

Happy Oboing to You!

Hilda said...

Thanks much, Patty! This is great information. Now that you said that I think that's what my teacher had said, that the side octave one is supposed to take over. I don't think that's happening correctly on my oboe though. I will have to take it in for re-adjustment for sure then.

I've been putting it off but I think I'll call the service person today!

Have a great (rest of the) weekend!

Anonymous said...

My high A is doing the same thing and I was googling and found this. Please post if the adjustment worked or if it is a tone hole issue.