I received an email yesterday from a former student. The person had attended a Beauty and the Beast performance and had wondered if I’d be playing. BUT … the oboe “didn’t sound like you”. Seeing my name in the program the student decided I must have played English horn.

Well, I played both, of course.

Now how to interpret that?

Either I sounded so bad on oboe the student couldn’t believe it was me, or the oboe sounded better than the student thinks I sound …?

I, of course, go with the former.

It’s sort of like a person saying, “Hey, I thought you were in front of me at the mall yesterday, only the person was too fat to be you!” … and you were at the mall. You know?

Yes, I tend to take things in the negative. I’m an oboist, after all!

But anyway, it was a weird email to get, and I did write back to say, “Hmmm. What does that mean?” or some such thing.

2 Comments

  1. “Either I sounded so bad on oboe the student couldn’t believe it was me, or the oboe sounded better than the student thinks I sound …?”

    That is the obvious interpretation, but I actually did not think either, initially. I was thinking that the student was able to (or at least thought he/she was able to) distinguish you by the *way* you play, your style, as opposed to how good or bad the playing was. My immediate follow-up reaction was, “No way!!”

    Are you able to distinguish a person’s playing that way? And not that your eyes are closed and the person is playing right in front of you. Like let’s say that there are two oboe players (with whom you are very familiar) playing in the pit. You don’t know which is playing which part, but the lead has all the solos. Both players are good. Would you be able to tell which player was playing lead?

  2. Sometimes I can tell who is playing, sometimes not. There are certain ways of expression that can give a person away, certain ways one might attack a note, and, of course, differences in timbre. But I’m not able to do that all the time … just sometimes.

    And I do always take things as negatively as I can. It’s my OboeNature™

    ;-)