25. April 2007 · Comments Off · Categories: imported, Ramble

I will be talking about and playing the oboe and English horn for a university orchestration class tomorrow. The instructor requested that I “play an easy orchestral excerpt, a hard one, a scale, and student pieces/arrangements” to which I responded … well … anything can be difficult, really!

It’s all about context, you know?

I talked to a class last year at a different school, and I was fairly surprised at what the students didn’t know. I forget that they don’t eat, drink and breathe oboe. (Silly students!) Many aren’t aware that we have to make our reeds. So I give them our whole sob story. I talk about the rebellious reed and the testy instrument. I talk about low notes and pianissimo. I talk about unison oboes. I talk about response and the “donkey” (that sound we get when we first get a higher note before the one we actually want!). I talk to them about high notes … and how much lovelier they can sound on flute. ;-) I talk to them about why musicians who play shiny metal instruments wear lots of jewelry and are cute while we carry razor blades, knives, and are lucky to find a pair of matching shoes.

Well, okay … I don’t say that last part … um … well, not exactly.

Last year I ended my little schtick with “Be nice to us,” and gave them my sad little oboe smile.

Being nice to the oboist is of utmost importance. Every composer should know that.

I won’t tell you what I’m going to play yet … stay tuned for that. But I will tell you I’m looking forward to doing this. I become a bit of a comedian when I talk to classes about what I do. (What can be better than to laugh about this instrument that can make us crazy, don’t you think?) And I LOVE telling them what not make us oboists do!

Whether they follow my requests or not is another story.

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