Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Hi!! I'm still here wading my way through Oboeland. In just a few short months I will have been playing for 2 years. I can hardly believe it. It's become such a big part of my life that I have a hard time remembering myself before it. If even today I sometimes feel aimless, how in the world was I managing before? When I had no real passion in life? Poor little me.

That all being said, for a few weeks it was looking as though things were going downhill. Thankfully I've managed to work myself out of the funk. At least for now. If there's one thing I've learned in playing this instrument (and I'm sure this applies to all others) is that the path will have many ups and downs, regardless of how far along the path you are. The trick, especially as an adult student, is to make sure you progress as much as you can during upswings so that you don't lose too much on the downswings.

After I started this job I was no longer able to keep weekly lessons with T. I am now working in the suburb where I live at which makes it harder to get into the City for things. J is even further away and I haven't seen in over a month now. Having two teachers has been mostly good but sometimes it can get complicated. Especially since I haven't found the right way to tell J about T. I think she wouldn't mind, but I don't want her to think that I've been seeing her less solely because of T. It's really been logistics more than anything. We had no place to meet at over the summer other than her place which is far from me. Then there's the whole reed issue. Their styles are somewhat different so I have to make them differently for each teacher. I am trying to see which ones work out the best for me, but have no definitive answer yet. Oh then there's also the question of what to play. J has me studying Corelli and T assigned me Marcello. I haven't touched the Corelli in weeks because it was the Marcello that I prepared for that audition. Now I am meeting J this weekend and I need to brush up on it. The good thing is that since the Marcello is more challenging, I am finding that the Corelli feels a lot easier.

Am I doing something wrong here in terms of the teacher thing? I am feeling some guilt about it because I am technically lying by omission. I guess I'm afraid of hurting fer feelings. What would you advise? I think I am going to have to mention something at this upcoming lesson. The main reason being that T and I have worked on vibrato quite a lot already and I was supposed to be learning it with J at my next lesson.

I mentioned last time (I think) that my high A has finally started to work for me. For whatever reason that was the note I was having the most trouble with on all accounts. I've always felt clumsy fingering it. The sound tended to be almost hollow sounding and kind of dead. And the intonation was consistently flat. One day while working on Marcello and paying a lot of attention to my breathing and support, I noticed that the A was coming out a lot better. The most striking thing was that it had acquired an unmistakably "singing" quality. In one swoop it went from being my worst note to (sometimes) being my best. The first time it happened it really caught me by surprise. I couldn't believe the sound had come from me. Even the feel of it was different from what it had been. It felt rich like creamy milk chocolate. It was such a gratifying feeling! Of course it tends to only happen when I am doing everything right: when I am paying attention to not bite, to keep my throat open, to support well, and to focus my airstream. I think this may have been what remotivated me. All along I've feared that I would never get to a point where I would sound like a "real" oboe. Having a note sound really beautiful like that made me hope that it could indeed happen. I kept working on it and was able to get a nice tone from other notes too every once in a while. I am not sure if all this is somehow related to the vibrato studies. I think they too have helped me focus on my breathing and phrasing.

At the end of my last lesson T gave me a little summary of how the lesson went (she realized that I really appreciate and need specific feedback). The thing that most struck me was when she said that the "pretty sound" has been coming out more and more often. BINGO! I really loved the term because I had been experiencing the phenomenon for a few days or weeks at home and didn't know quite how to explain. All I knew was that things were changing and that my sound seemed more consistent. I guess it's starting to mature. Weee! I don't want to get my hopes up too far or too quickly, but I am definitely excited about this. I don't know why I want this so badly, I just know that it would make me immensely happy to be able to make my instrument sound consistently beautiful. How did this happen? I would have never guessed that this would become my most heartfelt goal in life. *giggle*

And the other question is what would I then do once I get to that point? I underestimated how difficult it would be to find a suitable ensemble in this area. Sure there are lots of groups, but there are also tons of profesionally trained musicians. Groups are either superbly good or completely crappy. And the whole play-at-church thing is not working. In what, if any, denominations is chamber style music played as part of the service? Apparently my Church is trying to get back into Gregorian Chant. And the other ones around town are playing stuff that's more pop or jazz.

Anyway, I just wanted to write about PrettySound. I am sure that my oboe is thinking "Thank GOD that this girl is finally sounding better!" When I first got Luna I still sounded like absolute crap. A year later I was starting to sound better but a few seconds of PrettySound would only occur every few weeks or days. I think that now PrettySound usually pays a visit at least once per practice session. Hurrah! Oh, dear PrettySound, I love you! Please come back soon. And I hope that some day you come to stay forever. :-)


Pattyoboe said...

Yes, your teacher might be hurt to know you are studying with someone else. Yes, I might be hurt too.

But I might not.

I would definitely be hurt if a student didn't tell me and I found out via the grapevine.

I think a male teacher would actually have more trouble than we women, but perhaps that's my sexism speaking! And some teachers are VERY territorial, so it helps if you know how your teachers think.

If the oboe world out your way is anything like here we all find out about nearly everything one way or another. (A university student of mine went to TWO of my colleagues to try and get lessons; both told me. She was upset that I made her learn scales. Sigh.)

So just do the telling. If you explain it as you have here it's certainly understandable. It also might help the teachers, because you can say "She says this and you say this and I'd like to know why you like it a different way." Well, say it more nicely and all .... :-)

Just my 2 cents.

Jennifer Grucza said...

Hmm, I'm feeling a little uncomfortable even thinking of taking a trial lesson or two with a different teacher than I used to study with (and don't even take lessons from anymore because I got too busy). I think if you're going to continue with two teachers, it's best that they both know about it as soon as possible, even though it could be a difficult conversation.

Brendon said...

I had the same gut reacton as Patty upon reading this entry... the classical music world is small, and the oboe one even smaller. Regardless of the identity or profile of your teachers, unless you know for a fact that telling them what's up will result in you not getting the lessons you need, I'd get the conversation started ASAP. No matter how awkward the conversation, it'll be a lot easier if you start it than if they do. :)

Also, I think if you explain your situation of your time and needs, they may understand. But regardless- especially if both of them are expecting your full efforts on certain rep or concepts, I think you'll be doing yourself a huge disservice by not telling them where you stand.

Also: reeds. I don't know where you are in your development, but if you DO decide you have a way you like making them, and it's getting you where you need to be, I don't think there's any shame in saying so to either one. (Patty or others can feel free to correct me on this, and I don't know how that whole area is going for you- 2 years isn't long, i know.)

Finally: depending on the reactions you get, you may find that it would be worth picking one teacher, or seing that one on your reduced schedule (every other week) and just seeking additional help on ocassion so that you can stay focused on one curriculum, but get the "need-help-now!!" local assistance when you need it.

Just my thoughts. Keep us posted!