There are some habits I have to get students to break when they come from other teachers. Maybe I’m crazy; maybe these things aren’t a big issue to some of you, but here are some of my pet peeves:

Order of F: regular fingering, then left, and finally forked. Sure, it makes sense to choose forked before left in some instances, but I think it’s best for students to get used to the left F first. Really.

I’m getting quite weary of students using the E flat key with forked F. Does this not annoy anyone else out there? If the oboe the student is using an oboe without the F resonance key I say just deal for now; if they continue with oboe they’ll most certainly get a better oboe soon, and breaking the E flat key habit is a problem. (I speak from my own experience!)

In addition, I really prefer that students learn to get off the bottom octave key when they move to the side. Sure, they don’t have to, but I can’t tell you how many students seem to think they have to hit both keys in order to play the notes above G#. This means that if they are moving from a lower note to a bottom octave key note, they add both octave keys; this involves unnecessary movement. Once a student understands just when they need the bottom octave and when they need the side then they can hang on to the bottom one if they are playing something so fast that it’s the best thing to do. (I don’t find the need to do this at all, actually.)

Finally … no sliding! Teach left E flat. Don’t let them slide. Pretty please? 🙂

Feel free to disagree with me … leave a comment and let me know! And add to these as well. I’d like to hear what pet peeves you have!

22. June 2009 · 3 comments · Categories: Links, Ramble

Here is a blog entry about summer music camps.

I do recommend summer music camps to students. I went to one with Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra in 1973 and I think that was the first time it really hit me that music is what I wanted to do forever. Some of the people who attended that music camp are in orchestras I now play in professionally. Funny how that works.

Gee, I think it would be fun to go to a summer music camp now!

22. June 2009 · Comments Off on Take Note · Categories: Links, Ramble

Jessica Duchen’s blog has moved. She used to be hosted on blogspot (you can still see her there, with the latest post being the “I’ve moved” one). She has moved here.

Just a little FYI for those of you who follow such things. And I do hope you check out my right sidebar with all those music links. I do think I should clean things up a bit on this site, giving special attention to those links (I’m sure some are close to inactive …?), but thinking and doing are two very different things. I won’t even say “Stay Tuned for a Site Cleaning” because who knows when or if I’ll ever get to it.

But do “Stay Tuned”. Being out of tune is just crummy. 😉

22. June 2009 · 4 comments · Categories: Links, Ramble

Lesson for young conductors (and old ones too): yes, we know when you screw up. Apologize and move on. We don’t like it when you screw up. But we despise your trying to pretend you didn’t.

-Robert Levine

You can read it here, and see the context as well that way.

But oh how true!

One common little “trick” that conductors do when they make a mistake in rehearsal is to quickly stop and correct something that we are doing. This happened fairly recently; the conductor had not caught the meter change, and conducted a 3/4 in 4/4 or some such thing. He quickly stopped and asked us to change something else. We knew he stopped because he made the meter mistake. He knew too. Why not just say, “Oops!” and move on? Instead, he tried to cover it up. That causes me — and I’m sure many of my colleagues— to snicker (silently), get annoyed, and lower the conductor approval meter down a notch or two. If this sort of thing happens in concert and we begin to get glares from a conductor, it lowers it even more.

It is admirable to admit a mistake. Heck, I do it all the time. That’s why I have so many admirers.

Um. Okay. Maybe not. But it is the right thing to do. And I don’t think less of a conductor if he or she is willing to admit a mistake, but I might when they try to cover up their mistakes. And I definitely think even less of them when they blame us. Surprise, surprise.

22. June 2009 · Comments Off on TQOD · Categories: TQOD

I had a dream I was a world famous Oboist, so I went out and got an oboe and tried to learn. Sometimes dreams are just dreams.