Monday, March 19, 2007

to reed or not to reed

So far all three teachers that I've interacted with have insisted that making reeds is an essential part of becoming an oboist. I never thought to question this until recently when I found myself giving up precious practice time for scraping. As I sat there struggling with my never-quite-sharp-enough knives, I started to wonder whether this was really so pertinent to my musical development. I should also mention that one of my readers planted the seed in me when she revealed that she buys her reeds yet is still a successful oboist.

All this has become more pertinent as I have been contemplating medical school more seriously lately. I am determined to make this work and to continue my oboe studies, but I am well aware that there are only so many hours in a day. While I do think it's possible to find time to play, time to make reeds is only going to become scarser and scarser. This threw me into a panic because I feared it would mean the end of my oboist dreams. But now I have hope that even if I never become a master reed maker I could nevertheless become a good oboist.

So two weeks ago I tried talking to my teacher about this. It's not that I want to give up on reeds entirely, I just feel that I need to go on hiatus until I'm done with the MCAT (so that I don't have to sacrifice playing time to scrape again). Unfortunately, she didn't entirely agree with my plan. She feels that I need to learn how to make reeds first and then at that point I can decide whether or not I will pursue it ongoing or move on to ready-made reeds. I see her point but I am just feeling quite stressed right now and I don't think that this is conducive to reed making anyway.

Patty suggested that next time I tell her instead of ask her about the hiatus. I think I will try that once I get back from my vacation. Since I decided against taking my oboe on the cruise it's going to take me a while to get back into shape and in a way it will be like a new beginning.

By the way, I'm going on the Norweigan Spirit cruise leaving from NYC this Saturday. I'll be back in April and will hopefully chronicle my adventures in getting back into shape :-p I'm trying to convince my husband to buy me that thing where you can dictate and the computer types things out for you. This may help solve my blog blues.

Have a wonderful rest of the month! *hugs*


Anonymous said...

Yay! Enjoy that cruise! Eat, drink, be merry and forget everything for awhile! Even your post sounds stressed and I'm sure you need a BIG BREAK. I'm jealous- never been on a cruise!

Pattyoboe said...

Whoa ... don't you think you should take your oboe AND an oboe instructor? I know just the person .... She won't make you work on reeds, either. ;-)

Yeah, I'm pretty darn jealous.

Jill Cathey said...

Have a great and restful time on your cruise, I'm sure things will be clearer when you return.

When I had my son I decided I could either play oboe OR make reeds, not both (good decision). I found a wonderful reedmaker in town who took a standing order, and it was the best time of my oboe career! Such a relief to sit down and have great reeds in the case, and just be able to practice. Of course, finding the great reedmaker is the trick - have you seen this site (my guy isn't taking more people, and he isn't listed)- worth checking out:

I have since started making my own reeds again, but it is very liberating to know I have a good source "just in case"!

Making reeds certainly gives you more control over your playing, and it's cheaper, but this is a great option for some of us (BTW, I play in a semi-pro orchestra and lots of freelancing, actually couldn't play more if I wanted to!)