Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Back to the Shed

I didn't get out of work until after 6 today. The schedule was busy yet we were running quite smoothly despite the "lead" doctor having an in-office upper lid bleph scheduled during the afternoon. But for some reason everything stalled near the end of the day. Maybe we all got tired. Or maybe it was all the darn phone calls coming in. Anyways, at least the weather got better and when I got home I opened the windows and played with the cats for a bit while thinking about wanting to practice. I quickly lost steam as I realized that I was hungry and started preparing dinner.

At 9 o'clock I forced myself to practice. Why does it always have to feel like you're overcoming tremendous inertia in order to start practicing? And the funny thing is that after a few minutes I am always fine and I get into playing. *shrug*

I focused on a few things today:

My recent "breakthrough": I may not have spent as much time playing during those last few MCAT weeks, but I did still think about my oboe a lot. I spent some more time on trying to figure out why I am struggling so much with my embouchure and with taking good breaths (or any at all). After observing several professional oboist (I went to two amazing concerts this weekend!) I saw that they all keep their reeds on the bottom lip when breathing. I've gone over this before with all three of my teachers and they've all said it doesn't particularly matter, but I really am convinced that it is part of my problem. I've been keeping my reed on the top lip and what ends up happening is that I have to reinvent my embouchure each time I breathe. The whole "smiley" thing is coming more from the upper lips. I think that since the reed was up there I was naturally breathing upwards towards it, making my mouth turn back into a smile each time. I reasoned that by putting the reed on the lower lip, the less my mouth will have to readjust each time I take a breath. The theory sounded really good to me because it explained another major issues I am having: reluctance to take breaths. I must have developed this hesitancy as a response to my ever-changing embouchure. "If I don't open my mouth to breathe, my embouchure stays set for longer". I am not sure if I am explaining myself well, but hopefully you all get the picture. Putting my theory into practice turned out to be harder than I expected because my old habit was pretty deeply engrained. But my early efforts are promising. Keeping the reed on the lower lip definitely helps me focus everything downward, preventing the smiley somewhat. With time, I hope this leads to significant improvement in my playing.

I started working on my scales again. Oh the pain! I couldn't find my practice sheet for my C scales so I had to figure out my tempi all over again. She wants me to do sixteeth notes on each beat and wants me to get the C major to about 108 (the tempo of the Mozart). I managed to get to 100 before it broke down (my ring fingers start to lose control). F major didn't go as well. I forgot how hard that high E fingering is for my twisted pinkies. I resisted the urge to get really upset about this because I already went through that whole phase of feeling depressed/handicapped about high fingerings. It will get easier eventually!

The last thing I did was practice those first few bars of the Mozart at 80. I can't get all 16 counts of that high C in there yet though. Holy moly. Will I ever have enough endurance to play that?? I think this is exactly why she assigned it to me. I have no idea if we're really going to get through the entire thing, but just the beginning of the 1st mvt is forcing me to deal with a lot of my improvement areas.

All in all, a decent practice session in the end. Let's hope for several more before my lesson on Saturday!


Patty said...

I DO think that keeping the reed on the lower lip rather than upper matters, Hilda. A lot. After hearing about keeping it on the upper lip I tried it and I really can't even do that.

Happy Oboing!

Benesesso said...

Just found your blog-very interesting.

Have you heard "La Montanara" by Andre Rieu? The 2 women playing clarinets are great.

Wonder how much better it would sound with an oboe?