Saturday, September 09, 2006

High C

Wow, so much has gone on since I last updated. I went through another dark period with my instrument. All of a sudden it seemed that I was losing some of the things I already had some control of like sound, intonation, and breathing. I made the mistake of recording myself during one of those bad days and I got very discouraged. I almost made a post asking whether the world truly needs another bad oboist. For a few days I almost seriously considered quitting. It was such a horrible feeling. I was tempted to write about my negative thoughts just in case that had a cathartic effect, but I didn't like the idea of those ugly words being here forever. Deep down I knew it would pass and I didn't want to make them more "real" by recording them here.

This bad stretch, like all the others before it, came after a prolonged period of not having a lesson. When I finally went into see J she summed up my troubles in one word: biting. I should have known that's why I was playing consistently sharp and with a weird, pinched sound. This is why it's so important to have someone who coaches you regularly. I knew I was doing something wrong, but even though the symptoms were clear I didn't know how to go about fixing things. And to top it off my reeds weren't helping. It was a difficult lesson because we had to go back to doing a lot of long tones and octaves and they sounded horrible. But by the third day or so my intonation and sound were back and I couldn't be happier.

While all this was going on my audition date (TODAY!) was drawing nearer and I was not spending as much time as I wanted to on my Marcello piece. Things got back on track only about 10 days ago and I had a LONG way to go. I ended up seeing T twice in the last week and since by then I was sounding normal again (which isn't great yet, but is ok) she helped me with my interpretation of the piece. We worked on articulation, dynamics, breathing, and vibrato. For warm-up she had me do some slow C scales since I've been slacking on my regular scale studies. At first I wasn't blowing enough air and my pitch and sound in the upper register were sagging. With her watching and giving suggestions I eventually managed to play my very best C scale ever. When I got to the top C I could actually feel that the note was vibrating and singing. It was my prettiest high C ever! I never realized that when you're doing everything right you can feel that the sound is beautiful, not just hear it. Now that I know what that cantabile sound feels like I am working on trying to get it to come out more often. I haven't gotten it to work up there again, but it does happen occasionally with middle D, E, and F. Every once in a while my high A can do it, but most of the things that note is still my worst sounding of them all.

My audition is at 2:30 today. I can get through the entire piece now without passing out. Part of the problem is that I am not playing it at the marked tempo yet and there are two longish phrases that I tend to run out of breath in. But if I try to play it quickly enough to negate the breathing problem, I tend to play messy. So for the last few days I've worked on finding a balance. I've also had to wean off my metronome and the tuner. That was a lot harder than I expected. Especially the metronome. I find myself doubting my timing while I'm playing. When I played it for T and she acted like a judge she said it was actually good as was my intonation. What she wanted me to pay more attention to was blowing through my phrases more and dynamics. I am going to practice maybe just 30 minutes today before I go in to make sure that my reed is ok.

I have to sight read at this audition too but did not practice for that at all. Let's just hope they don't give me anything beyond my ability.

*gulp* So that's it for now. Next time I post I will be done with my first "official" audition.
Now the piece sounds halfway decent.

1 comment:

oceanskies79 said...

Cheers for a good high C. I heard that it is a challenge to play the higher registers of the oboe?