Thursday, February 22, 2007

2 good lessons

Still here in oboe student land . . . and I think I've finally turned another corner. I realize now, in hindsight, that I've been frustrated over that lesson I had late December. You know, the one that turned into a psychotherapy session about why I've been holding on to the wrong embouchure and why I feel a need to do it that way. I'm just an old ex-saxophonist with bad habits is all I think it is. As a result I've been beating myself up and punishing myself by not focusing on my Marcello.

I've gone back and forth about whether it's best to put off all music until I perfect the embouchure or whether one is better served by learning through the music. I think the latter is best as long as you have someone who is guiding you well. You don't want to be at one end of the spectrum where you're doing only music, and reach pieces at that. But the other end of the spectrum where you do only long tones most of the time isn't that much better because most students will end up getting frustrated and discouraged way before they reap the rewards of that. As with most things there exists a happy medium. I've already tried cutting back to mostly long tones several times but the moment I start playing many notes, the corners tend to creep back up. This tells me that in order to really master this I am going to have to figure out a way to do this while playing. I believe the answer is probably through playing the music at a slow enough tempo where I still have control.

While at church yesterday it dawned on me that one of the difficult things about being an adult student is concentration. I remembered a time where I would sit at church and concentrate completely on the service and on prayer. It was that peaceful feeling that drew me to church in the first place. Yesterday instead of being fully alert I had an inner dialogue going on about pure BS. It's as though you can't stop for a single second. If I were to somehow channel the past and concentrate like before, I would probably get a LOT more out of my practice sessions.

In spite of all this, my past two lessons with T have been quite productive. I am doing a lot less of the nervous talking and more playing. The main thing that I need to work on is breathing and how I am using my air. I am sounding very mechanical and boring on the 3rd mvt of the Marcello because I am stopping the air flow between each of the staccato notes. I am having a difficult time combining all the aspects of playing in a seamless way. If I focus on articulation, I forget to breathe well. If I focus on air, I tend to start biting. If I focus on dynamics, my fingering gets messy.

I am coming to peace with all these challenges. The oboe is not supposed to be easy anyway. I think (HOPE) that all of these things are normal hurdles. And that as long as I keep at it, I will slowly make progress.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Need to find my path again

Hi everyone! I hope that the new year is treating you well.

Though I haven't been writing as much as I'd like I do think about my blog on nearly a daily basis. I spend time thinking of posts that I would like to post, but never seem to get around to actually typing them. *sigh*

I'm afraid that things have been going slowly for me and Luna the past month. That's part of why I've been reluctant to post. I wish I could be saying that I can play the Schumann Romances now, but alas, I am still working on my Marcello. None of it is really ready yet, but I have recently started working on the third movement at half speed. By the way, what is the average amount of time that people spend on any given piece?

This past month has been my absolute worse in terms of practicing. I have been struggling majorly to practice every day. I never had this problem before. Yeah, I did procrastinate but I'd eventually get it done. Now I am taking off way more days than I'd like to. I fear that other things are distracting me from my oboe studies. Hopefully I can get back on track soon. I've had two decent practices in a row last night and tonight. If I can manage to do a few more consecutively then perhaps I can fall back into my previous rhythm.

I think that part of my problem is that I am still unhappy about my embouchure and sound production. Try as I may I can be consistent about it. My corners tend to creep up when I'm tired or too concentrated on difficult music. A part of me doesn't want to allow me to play anything fun until I GET the embouchure. Another part of me feels this is unreasonable and feels that I should continue to play music and have faith that eventually all the pieces will start to fall together. Isn't that how kids learn anyway? No child would play an instrument if they were only allowed to do long tones and slow scales for YEARS until the embouchure was perfected. Am I right or wrong about this?

I guess it's just frustrating because I am pretty sure that my sound has taking a few steps back while other aspects of my playing improved somewhat. It's tough to take a hit in the sound department since that is the whole reason I am playing this instrument. I am trying to re-commit myself to my practice because only through that will my sound get back on track. And once that happens I can give all of myself to practicing my music. Right now my Marcello feels like a guilty pleasure and I think I am holding back and purposely not studying as well as I could/should.

Any thoughts?