So I had my lesson last night at my teacher's apartment. It was my first time going there since we had always met either at the school where she teaches or more recently at a practice room at my school. For some reason that made me nervous as did the fact that I hadn't practiced as regularly as I would have liked since our last lesson. Oh, and I also managed to crack one of the three reeds I had been working on!
We ended up spending most of our time on reeds which is fine since I was in my reed slump of 2005. Turns out that one of the reeds I worked on had a tip that was almost too thin (compared to the overly thick heart I left behind it). Woohoo! An almost too thin tip is sort of an improvement since I never got close to taking off enough from the tip before. That was the reed that had a decent sound but was flat. She was able to balance it out by scraping the heart down some and clipping the tip (she also had to bring the tip back somewhat). The other reed was, as usual, not finished enough. I also bought one of her reeds so tonight I should have at least three decent sounding reeds. Let's see what happens.
I was dismayed when she confirmed that I was *STILL* reverting to a bit of a smiley embouchure. In fact I was doing all sorts of funny things with my mouth. I think that now I am so aware and nervous about doing it right that I move my mouth into like 100 different positions before I even make a sound. Every time that she forced me to just set the position once and play immediately I would actually do it right. The less worked up I got about it, the better it was. UGH. Point is that I can now form a correct embouchure. Now I have to build up my chops so that it stays correct. And I need to R-E-L-A-X.
The other problem (ok maybe I should call it "area of improvement") was air speed. This is a new one. Well, not new in the sense that it wasn't around but new because we hadn't gotten around to that one yet. So I guess that's progress too. Eventually I calmed down enough to form a decent embouchure but then I was getting some weak sounding notes. I thought it was something with my fingers but my teacher pointed out that it was lazy air (and she was right). I had been having trouble with E and F up in the middle and the high A. It dawned on me that the air problem was more broad. For instance, some times when I play real music (as opposed to exercises) I get a feeling that I am sounding "unmusical". Perhaps this stems from my air deficiency. There was a bar in the piece I played last night that never came out how I wanted. It had a register change which I think I usually backed off from so that it always sounded insecure. When I played it with "warm, beautiful" air as my teacher suggested it finally came out how I had been feeling it. She suggested I work on some of the intervals that were giving me a hard time. I am going to try to work those types of technical exercises into my embouchure regimen somehow. The only way that my lessons will progress is if I commit to getting these basics down.
I just realized that I am so afraid of never blossoming into that player I want to become that I may be sabotaging my efforts! Like I think in my head "I am always going to suck. I am going to play this wrong" and then I do and then I say "See, I suck". I am trying to deprogram myself from that mentality lest it become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I *know* I can do this if I just let what's inside come through (and remain focused and disciplined). The only way that I will get to where I want to be is by diligent practice. Nothing else. I need to just stop with all the silly mind games already.
I think my teacher picked up on my funky mood last night because when I got home today she had emailed me about the lesson and she happened to mention that she wished we had had more time to actually play. It's so funny because last night after my lesson I kept daydreaming about the day when I'd go in and play beautiful music for an hour. She wants me to send her a daily email about my oboe activities/questions so that I can get help from her in between our lessons. I think she sensed that I tend to talk talk talk during lessons because she's the only other oboist I know in real life. So hopefully if I can get things out during our emails then we'll have more time to play during lessons. Sounds good to me! Plus now I will be accountable for my practicing every day. *gulp*
Maybe I will copy my emails to her into the blog for a while because I'd like to keep a record of them. Even before she suggested this I was thinking of keeping a daily account of my oboe activities anyway. This will force me to do it.
Hope everyone is having good practice sessions/rehearsals!