15. May 2008 · Comments Off on Job Hazards · Categories: Ramble

T. writes of the risk of playing oboe.

HEAD: I have headaches, but I’ve never attributed them to playing because I rarely get them when playing oboe.

EYES: My eyes are bad, and have always been bad, but I’ve never been told they look like they are bad due to my oboe playing. (Does my doctor know about the hazards, I wonder?)

EARS: Let’s see … I’m guessing I have a bit of hearing loss, but I still hear the “mosquito phone” at the “50 and under” level, so I’m feeling pretty good about that. I haven’t had my ears tested since … well … maybe since I was in elementary school. I wonder.

THUMB/HANDS: My hands feel good most of the time, and I have whopping huge muscle between my thumb and index finger of my right hand that takes most of the weight just fine. (Really! I haven’t seen a muscle like this on any of my colleagues … I guess I’m just “buff”. Between my thumb and index finger. Of my right hand. That’s it.)

TEETH: My teeth hurt if I play a lot, and my dentist suggested braces a few years back because he thought I looked bad (he forced me to look at myself and really made me feel awful about how I looked), but I refused the braces. I really am not up for braces and I’m not vain enough to bother. I’m also fearful of what they might do to my playing. And I don’t want to spend the money.

RESPIRATORY ISSUES: I’ve had pneumonia three times in my life, but I haven’t had it recently. I feel pretty good when it comes to breathing … I feel as if playing oboe helps that.

OTHER COMPLAINTS?: Well, I’ve started using a lumbar support and I have a “cush tush” chair pad now. But have helped with my sore back and rear end. All the sitting we do, on usually rotten chairs, can really get to a person.

But T., you didn’t write about mental health. About how crazy we go over reeds. Over the fear of failure. The humiliation we sometime face. Nerves that can eat us alive. All that fun stuff!

And I continue to wonder, too, about the cane we use. I’ve known of so many reed players (single as well as double) who have had cancer. Far too many. Could it be something that’s in our cane? Does our cane get sprayed with something? Insecticides? Anything? Where does it grow and how clean is the area? (One oboe maker told me I’d really rather not see where cane is grown! He said I might not want to play any more.) Maybe it’s just coincidence that so many reed players have had cancer, but I do wonder. (All the ones I’ve known are non-smokers.)

And then there are the joys too. Those great job rewards! I’m guessing lots of jobs bring people joy, but I sure do read a lot of complaining from people in other professions. While I ramble on a lot about rotten reeds and other negative issues, I wouldn’t want to give this job up. There are too many wonderful things about it! 🙂

Shoot, even the benefit of whining is there. 😉

(Anyone immediately get “Someone in a Tree” in you head?)

Paul Polivnick is the conductor in this 1989 video. (There are more videos, as this is only the first part … just look at YouTube for them.) Earl Wild (another musician who has been here in San Jose—several times, if I’m remembering correctly) is the soloist.

Just playing around on YouTube, looking for anyone I’ve worked with. Maybe I’ll start a little library of these artists. Kind of like my little connection to people much more important than yours truly. Just because.

… and one of my favorite musicals: