I just received another phone call asking about oboe lessons for her child. The woman said I lived “very far” from here when she heard where I teach. I asked her where she was located. Answer? Saratoga.

Unless she’s talking about Saratoga, New York, she is probably less than 10 miles from my home.

Ah well. My studio is pretty darn full anyway, but I just crack up when someone says I’m too far away and they live so close.


  1. I find this to be an interesting perspective, myself, but then again, I can drive myself places. My concerns were about finding an excellent teacher willing to take on a decrepit beginner within a reasonable distance (hoping I wouldn’t have to drive to UCSC – probably would’ve been a deal-breaker :).

    But then, I have the perspective to appreciate the importance of good instruction from the beginning (it’s so much easier to learn things right the first time – I’m guessing at least 90% of the regular readers of this blog will understand that). Unlearning is, what, at least 50% harder, usually much more (if it can even be successfully accomplished)? There was no way I was going to just rent an oboe from the local music shop and start noodling. Saxophone, maybe, and no real worries picking up any brass instrument (although had I intended to pursue any such seriously I’d’ve sought instruction), but double-reeds? Honestly? That’s what, a pre-emptive fail?

  2. Well gee, Tim, you made me happy. Not that you have decided I’m excellent or anything … but at least you thought I’d be! I’ll hang on to that! 🙂

    I can’t tell you how difficult it is to get students to break habits. I’m especially distressed when I get university students who aren’t using left F, and hang on to the bottom octave any time they go to any high note. It’s incredibly hard to dump bad habits. It’s easy to learn good ones if one starts them at the beginning. (Of course I say this having not learned left F until my own college years! I STILL fight the forked F habit. Sigh.)

  3. Didn’t the last lesson request like this come from someone from Saratoga, too?

    It must be a strange, out-of-the-way place.


  4. Shucks, if I make you sound too good, you’ll likely feel obliged to limit your efforts to students with potential (and my lesson isn’t until tomorrow ;).

  5. Yep, it was Saratoga then as well, Cameron. The funny thing is that, to this person who grew up in this area, Saratoga was all the wealthy people lived! I realize that’s not entirely true … but it was the case for anyone who went to my school, it seems. (I was at a high school that had both Saratoga and San Jose kids.)

    Ah well. I just cracked up. Again.

    Nothing new ….

  6. AND … if you make me sound too good, I’ll get an even bigger head. And I already have a difficult time finding a hat to fit.

    (Really, I DO have a very large head. Figures, eh?)

  7. When I was in 10th grade, I drove to Boston for a lesson every two weeks(all I could afford). It was plain to me that I wasn’t going to get a decent teacher outside of the city, and that if you wanted to be serious about the oboe, you had to study with a real professional. It was a 30 mile drive and I was totally intimidated by this guy. maybe, you can tell who’s serious these days by who’s willing to put themselves out.

  8. I didn’t get my driver’s license until right before college, so my parents drove me to my lessons. For a while it was a 45 minute drive. Later “only” a 30 minute drive. And they drove my brother to bassoon lessons, which were 50 miles away. They didn’t think twice; you had to find a teacher that was good!

    It does weed out some students, I’m sure, that wouldn’t necessarily be as serious. Mostly, though, I think it weeds out parents.