After that one good lesson about a month ago where my teacher told me she wanted me to start learning the Mozart, I've had two not so great lessons.
In fact, I am starting to worry that my lesson habits are starting to get ingrained. I know that part of it is nerves. I think I get a bit starstruck around great oboists and add that to my already high level of anxiety, it makes for a bad situation. Then there is the negative inner dialogue. We ended up spending quite a bit of time addressing this during the last two lessons. I really don't want these lessons to become therapy sessions again, so I have to put an end to this behavior ASAP. Once my MCAT is over (13 more days!! *gulp*) I hope to read some of the books I have on this.
The other issue that is coming up and driving me nuts is my breathing. Remember how I am on beta blockers because my heart beats too fast? I have often wondered if there is a respiratory element to my mystery ailment. My husband and I have both noticed that I seem to hold my breath a lot and that when I do breathe I breathe extremely shallowly. So I am coming into this picture with yet another disadvantage. My teacher feels that this, more than anything, is what is keeping my playing from being where it could be right now. She doesn't think it's my not-always-consistent embouchure, my messy fingers, or anything else. She feels that my improper use of air is the number one weak area at this point. I need to take in a lot more air, a lot more often, and then once I do I need to use it better, to make it warmer and faster and to play through my phrases. I think she's probably right about this because when I hear recordings of myself I realize that certain elements are ok, but that that my playing sounds disjointed. My phrasing is cut off because I interrupt the air stream when I shouldn't.
I guess I should be happy that even though my embouchure is STILL not perfect and that my fingers are messy, that I can still play. But then again, this whole breathing thing is so basic that I am having an extremely difficult time retraining myself.
With my test coming up, I think my aim is just to practice every day, perhaps for only 30 minutes. Rather than focus on the music I am playing I am going to try to focus on my two problem areas. For one week I will play whatever (scales, long tones, random music) and focus only on eliminating negative inner dialogue. I will only allow myself to critique my playing at designated times during the practice. I will also try to allow myself to think of what is going well more often. Perhaps that will help my brain reinforce the good things. Because what's happening at lessons is that I will be playing mostly ok, my teacher notices something that is off, then when I play the phrase again I focus so much on the wrong area that the other good things disappear. This is happening pretty consistently and we're both worried about that. I have to find a way to stop the mind games. Once I get rid of (or at least tone down) the "I suck" voices, I will then focus on breathing. Hopefully taking good breaths will become natural at some point and then once I learn to have all that air inside I can figure out how to best use it.
The good news is that it wasn't all bad. My teacher was really excited about my sound during my scales. By the way, she has me playing them as sixteenth notes now and I have to try to play them as fast as possible. Some of them I am playing at quarter note = 100, which is twice as fast as I was playing them a few months ago when I was doing eighths at that same speed. I guess that's progress. Especially since I am intimidated by fast playing.
Among the crappy parts, some parts of the Marcello (we're back to the 1st mvt) actually sounded really good. She was happy about how much it has improved since I started it. That made me happy :-)
I may not be able to post again until after my test. Please pray that I do well because I REALLY don't want to have to retake this and am desperately looking forward to the summer and to being able to devote myself to my oboe as much as I want to.