So, I said I was going to write about ego, competition, jealousy … all the fun stuff that comes with this biz. So I guess I’ll give this a go tonight. But let me warn you; I’m still feeling spaced out due to my very low iron, my brain is a bit muddled, and I’m probably not going to get this clearly down in one fell swoop.

Still, it’s great fun to write “one fell swoop” AND I’ll get to at least begin my thoughts about all of this. But do be warned: this is all about me and my fears, foibles and fickle behavior. It’s not about the music world in general. (But if you can relate, do tell!)

I tell people I am not competitive. This is because I don’t “do” auditions. But I am coming to the realization that I’m actually just lazy and fearful, yet I really am competitive. Because I compare myself to others. Far too often.

I frequently hear other oboists and English hornists. I hear them when I’m working. I hear them at concerts I attend. I hear them on recordings. I hear them and I usually compare myself to whomever I’m hearing at the moment. I’m frequently thinking I’m not as good (I do the insecure thing really well). But sometimes I think, “Well, I’m not as good as X, but I know I play better than Y.”

As if that matters!

So then I get down on myself. And the ego, it suffers. Who cares if I’m as better, as good, or worse than someone else? I suspect only I care. So I would love to dump the whole comparison thing. But so far that hasn’t happened. I’m not sure how to do it, to be honest.

And ego … well … that’s another thing too. In order to sit on stage or in the pit and play with musicality, strength, all that jazz, I guess I have to have an ego. And yet I fear my ego will get too large, so I tend to put myself down. Besides, better that I put myself down first, before someone else does, yes? So this lovely false humility or self deprecation thing … it is partly genuine and partly a game. And I usually can’t tell which is which. Silly me.

Now see, I told you this wasn’t going to be clear and easy to follow. Did you believe me? Hope so!

I think I’m very good. I think I’m rotten. I don’t care that someone is miles better than I. I am envious of said person. I am not competitive. I compare myself constantly to others.

I’m not a mess or anything … am I?

Ah well. I’m not sure where I’m going with this, other than to say, “Aren’t I silly?”

I guess I’ll leave it at that.


  1. But really, do you know any (successful) oboists who don’t also have pretty substantial egos?

    It’s just not an introvert’s instrument.

  2. Well, I’m an introvert. One can have an ego and be an introvert. Of that I’m sure.

    I’m actually considered an ‘extreme introvert’ whenever I test on things like that. (Which is why I’m mainly a hermit when I’m not at work … even going out for a short time and I’m fried.)

    Oh. Wait. I just re-read what you wrote. Duh. You said “successful oboists”. Heh. Never mind! I’m just a “B” player.

  3. Patty Patty Patty… tsk tsk tsk. You’re one of the most humble people, which certainly is one of the reasons why so many people are drawn to you and your blog. While I admire your humbleness, I also worry about your self esteem sometimes! You’re a great player! Why do you insist on constantly tearing yourself down?

  4. Ah, but you see, Cooper, there are the TWO voices! The one that sings “you’re no good” and the other that sings “your great!” Of course the former then sings “liar!” … :-)

    Don’t worry about me. I’m a jumble of ego and humility. I think it’s called egmility or something! Or maybe humego. ;-)