Beginner oboe is not sensual. It sounds like a duck — a pissed-off, monotonous duck. I had no patience for it. Kim fared better; oboe requires stubbornness, a dogged determination to stick to plans, and Kim radiated moralism and discipline, from her face-yanking ponytail to her sensibly sneakered feet. She liked to watch me in class and point out when my behaviour fell short of community standards: “Just because you’ve helped yourself doesn’t mean you can’t help others.” She wrote stories for English class about bad children who watched TV and ate junk food instead of doing their homework; I think this was literally the worst thing she could imagine. She also had almost no musical sense, which I think helps when you’re trying to teach yourself beginner oboe.

Hmmm. I was sort of a moralistic kiddo too (still am, actually). Maybe that’s why I’m a good oboist? 🙂

I really liked reading this. Check out the whole thing!

And, for the record, I do not own a bag that says, “Music is my bag” … and if I did it would be because a student gave one to me as a gift. (Students do give me such sweet gifts on occasion, and sometimes they are these “musical” gifts. If one did give me a musical bag, I would bravely use it, in honor of the student. Honest!)


  1. I think because of this reason, all of my fellow oboists are crazy and have no lives. But when they do have something interesting in their lives(like falling in love with someone), they don’t care about their oboes anymore(and I have to keep telling them not to stare at the people they like every 30 seconds during band). Just something I’ve observed…

    Beginner oboes do sound like ducks(just like me one year ago), but if you really like your instrument and spend time with it, you practice to “try” to create a better tone and have better techniques, so you can enjoy playing some decent music (like Vaughan Williams oboe concerto)!

  2. I have to say, while I liked the post you linked to, I HATED the article that inspired it. It seemed catty and snide, if not outright mean. But maybe I’m taking it more seriously than it’s meant?

    I don’t know…I am one of those people, and so are many of the people I know. We have music bumper stickers and bags, and oboe-related comics in the reed room, and we sing Happy Birthday in harmony in masterclass. And say “horn” and “chops.” I took AP classes in high school and didn’t have good dress sense then. These things don’t make me a better musician, but they definitely don’t make me a worse one.

    Though there were parts, like the closing meditation on the familiarity with an instrument, that I thought were really beautiful.

  3. A friend of mine said she nearly cried after reading the article, Rachel. It really didn’t bug me; it’s just one person’s take.

    But I don’t care for the music puns like “Music is my Bag” on a bag … just doesn’t appeal to me. And I hate bumper stickers, period. You will *never* (and I mean that!) find a bumper sticker on a car of mine! 🙂

    As to stereotypes, well, I get a kick out of ’em actually. I love to laugh at myself, though. 😉

  4. Hey, Patty –

    If I buy you a bag that say’s “MUSIC IS MY BAG” will you Really bravely use it?

  5. Yes, Bob, I will. AND I will tell everyone who gave it to me, too. 🙂

  6. I think the solution is to all have bags that say “Music is my bag! But only because someone gave me the bag, and I want to make them happy!”


    I do like bumper stickers, though. At least the clingy kind that are easily removable.

  7. Ah, maybe if the bumper sticker was removable … I didn’t even know they made those!

    And YES to that bag!

  8. Pingback: I Want It … Would I Wear It? at oboeinsight