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.


Jill Cathey said...

Hi, I was just reading your blog and I really feel your frustration...I have played about 30 years and teach and play in a tiny community now. I think most of us get frustrated with something about our playing, but you have to "meet the music where you are". My teacher used to say that, and it is so true, you play because you love to make music, not because you want to play long tones! Long tones and scales are great, and use them to help you make music but keep your eye on the ball - making the music is where it's at!

Sometimes I write little notes to myself (you might write 'corners" or draw a little box or something to remind yourself every phrase or so). But then just enjoy playing - one thing I find really fun is to play along with a cd (hopefully at not too insane of a tempo). You can certainly find recordings of the Marcello; another FAB resource is the "Complete Masterworks" series for oboe (and all other instruments, but who cares about them). They are complete parts for orchestral pieces (oboe 1, 2 and EH) on CD so you print out the parts you want, then if you have recordings you can play with them. Most have 90-100 different pieces (I think there are 7 cds available now) and best of all each cd is only around $20 (check around the web, but they have them at Forrests and MMI)

Good luck getting out of your funk, REWARD yourself for every half hour of long tones!!!

Pattyoboe said...

Hang in there, Hilda. You know you love music. You know you love oboe. That means that you'll definitely be frustrated at times. That's kind of the way it goes.

I can only suggest to "let it be" ... in that we all have our good cycles and our rough cycles. Having been in the biz now for over 30 years I've FINALLY managed to accept the fact that there will be times when my inner voice just says "Give it up, your rotten!" and I can just laugh at it.

Anyway, you are in my thoughts! :-)

Hilda said...

Hi Jill! Thanks for your words of encouragement. I think I will definitely look into getting the masterworks series. I had been putting it off because I didn't think I quite deserved it yet but it may just be the thing to help pull me out of the slump.

Patty, I think you must be reading my mind! Just last night I thought exactly that: "Just give it up already, Hilda. You stink and you're never going to be good!" It was such a depressing thought that I went right to bed. Thankfully, I woke up in a better mood and listened to some good music on my short drive to work.