Sunday, January 22, 2006

Lessons learned

I realized that using just the date as my title is redundant since the editor already dates the entries. So I guess I'll try to come up with something creative again. Oh, the pressure!

I had my lesson today and overall I'd say it went quite well. My last few had not been entirely good. I felt as though I was frustrating my teacher. I tend to regress during my music lessons and act like an adolescent. I can't help it. It's like I'm watching myself do it but can't stop it. Maybe subconsciously I am acting that way to make up for having missed out on the whole music experience as a child. That would be pretty pathetic. Today I resisted the temptation to do anything childish like whine, make excuses, be overly nervous and jittery, etc.

Today there were only two minor incidents. Both because I used the word "weird" to describe something about my playing which I didn't like. She wanted me to be very specific (e.g. What about my high E's was I not satisfied with? They used to have a closed, muted sound.)

As usual we go over reed stuff first. I won't bore folks with reed details but I'll mention that I've been too heavy handed with the knife. So she went over a modified grasp using only three fingers that will force me to have a lighter touch. I didn't really have a reed to show today because I killed the one I was working on (tore the tip).

Next we worked on the reed alone exercise and then scales. She was excited that I had indeed made progress with my embouchure. I was so relieved. If I had had to hear her tell me one more time that I need to commit to the new embouchure I think I would have cried. It's been lots of months of hard work to try to change my embouchure so I am so happy that it's finally showing. And sounding - my tone quality definitely has changed for the better as I've adopted a more circular embouchure. She said that it seems that now I am just putting the finishing touches on it. WOOT!

In terms of my scales and etudes she noted improved intonation on all of them and said that I don't have any technical issues, that what I need to work on now is "line". I must pay more attention to the air and dynamics and phrasing issues now that I am getting a better hang of the basics. I knew that was coming because I was feeling that my playing was not quite as musical as it should be, what surprised me was the comment about not having technical issues. I've had this notion since childhood that technique is the difficult part of music. I'd listen or watch pianist play difficult pieces and what would amaze me was the physical aspect of it. How can they move their fingers so quickly? How do they always hit the right note? But as I got more and more involved in the musical world it always seemed that the professionals would never count technique as the hard thing, they'd say that expression is harder and more important. I always found this odd or counter-intuitive for some reason. I guess since I've always looked for precision and "perfection" in the things I do, I was sort of thinking that same in terms of music. When I played the sax the only exercise my first teacher would give me was scales. Every week he wanted to hear them faster and more precise. I think I have translated that to my oboe studies. Obviously I've had a lot of sound production issues since the oboe is a whole different beast, but I *have* been focusing a lot on technical things because I was still thinking that it is what divides the beginners from the more advanced students. But now I see that technique is not everything. What good is perfect technique if your playing is lifeless and doesn't say anything? Very interesting thing to think about. I definitely need to dwell on it some more.

I am not sure why she made the technique comment since I still feel so inadequate. A lot of my intervals are not exactly in tune or are messy. My scales are not always even. Maybe my fingers look funny as I play. But I guess what she means is that compared to everything else, all that should be the least of my worries. Perhaps, after all, some of the sax playing HAS been useful to me in my switch to the oboe. Weird. (Oops, there's that word again. I think it had officially become my most overused word.)

I'll still focus on technique because you can't play beautifully without it. But I *will* start thinking more about the other things. Those things I was taking for granted but which I see now are the TRUE measures of "goodness" (hehe, not sure I will refer to my playing as "greatness" any time soon).

At the end of the lesson she assured me that if I stay focused how I've been that I will conquer all the basics and that then we can work on my repertoire and playing lots of music. She even said that playing with others is in the horizon. It sounded like I can think about being in smallish groups some time this year!! YAY!!! Maybe I *will* audition for the Wind Ensemble in the fall. *does a little dance*

Well, I am off to write out a schedule for myself for the next few months. Things are going to get really crazy really fast for me and I have to ensure that I will still have at least an hour for my oboe. Hopefully when the semester is over I can finally go up to two.


oceanskies79 said...

Technique is one thing, being able to enjoy the music yourself and to invite others to enjoy it is perhaps another thing that makes music-making more fulfilling?

oceanskies79 said...

Cheers to your better tone!