I was away for five weeks. Five. Full. Weeks. I didn’t have an oboe. I carried a reed with me just in case I managed to get to an oboe dealer on our travels, but that didn’t happen. (Turns out the companies I would have liked to have visited leave France during the month of August.) Still, shouldn’t carrying my reed with me help?

Um. Perhaps not!

We arrived home late Monday night, a week ago today. We were jet lagged, of course, and that makes getting the oboe out even more challenging, but Tuesday I had no choice but to make noise.

Yes. Noise.

That’s all I could ask!

The truth is, it wasn’t as bad as I feared, but of course it wasn’t great. I think the trick is to just pull the darn thing out, use a reed I know worked prior to the trip, and accept that it won’t feel great and certainly won’t sound great.

I think another important thing to remember is that I can’t try to baby things. I can’t try to control quite as much as I’d like. AND I realized was that vibrato was NOT my friend!

So here is my suggestion to getting back to oboe:

Just play.
Accept that you aren’t going to be happy with things to begin with.
Don’t attempt to control TOO much at first. Let it happen.
Skip vibrato … mostly it sounds like “old lady vibrato” if you use it, or it hides imperfections. Or both. Mostly likely both.
Check with your tuner. (Unless you have better pitch than I do.)
Find a reed that isn’t too resistant to begin with and work your way up to better reeds. (The first reed I used is now a garbage reed … far too easy!)
Don’t try to play for too long, but come back to the instrument a number of times and build up time as you go along. That embouchure is “rusty” but it does come back fairly quickly.
Scales.
Long Tones.

Finally I highly recommend that one starts teaching private students as soon as possible (if you are a teacher … duh!). When I teach I play. (I’m assuming all teachers do that … hope so, anyway!) I think it really helps to play with students. I am also honest with my students and that’s sort of fun.

“I haven’t played this for five weeks since we were on our long trip!”
“But why do you sound so good already?”

I love that … ;-)

Other recommendations? Have at it!

I have been a professional musician since 1975. I just want you to know. Perhaps I’ll pursue that botany degree now, though. I do love me some botany!

A recent ad that Wells Fargo put out there was, shall we say, a wee bit unfortunate. Or more than a wee bit. Sadly I have had parents who would agree: the arts are merely dreams and avocations and ways to get into the college of their child’s their choice. I have even had parents who will not allow their children to play their oboe once they get into college. Sigh.

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Okay, Wells Fargo has since apologized for their unfortunate ad. And I believe in forgiveness. I also know they have been generous in giving to the arts and I thank them for that!

Wells Fargo is deeply committed to the arts, and we offer our sincere apology for the initial ads … they were intended to celebrate the aspirations of all young people and fell short of that goal … We are making changes to the campaign’s creative that better reflect our company’s core value of embracing diversity and inclusion, and our support of the arts.

So there you go. Over ‘n out.

Ukuthula; South African Traditional
Cape Town Youth Choir

Ukuthula – Peace
Kulumhlaba we zono – In this (broken) world of trouble
Igazi like Jesu lin yenyez’ – The blood of Jesus flowed (so that you could have:)

Ukuthula – Peace
Usindiso – Redemption
Ukubonga – Praise
Ukutholwa – Faith
Ukunqoba – Victory
Induduzo – Comfort

Henry Purcell: Hear My Prayer, O Lord
University of Oregon Chamber Choir; Sharon J. Paul, Director