Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Scales can be your friend

I'm pleased to say that practicing is going much betters these days. I have fallen into a nice little groove after being in a plateau for a while. What helped was making my practices more structured (T's suggestion). It started with trying to work on scales more consistenly. She assigns me a scale for the week to work on in major and all three minor forms. I then decided to keep track of my tempi on paper every several days. Then I decided to make my long tone notes be the ones of the major triad of my weekly scale. My long tone/scale work up takes at least 30 minutes (I make sure I play the scale satisfactorily at least 3 times) and by then I am nice and ready for music. Or on days where time is limited I at least get a GOOD warmup in.

By breaking up my big goal of becoming a good oboist into something more tangible (getting my scales faster) I've been able to feel much better about my practice time. I feel more productive and I can see my improvement. And yes, I can hear it too. My scales are becoming more even and my intonation is improving. My fingers feel more agile. I even think that my sound is slightly better.

Previously when a reed died on me I knew I had a week of bad practices ahead of me as I tried to adjust to a new reed. With this new warmup it now takes only an hour or so to break in a new reed as opposed to days. It's much easier to tolerate a hard reed when you're doing scales than when you're rushing to play real music.

Who would have thought that scales could be so friendly? I will never avoid them again!

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