22. July 2008 · 2 comments · Categories: Ramble

… is where was Chloe Veltman playing? And with whom?

I hate to make rash generalizations, but if oboists are characterized as a neurotic bunch, I’m beginning to think that the American players are to blame. In the UK, the average oboe player — myself included — is ready to play within about minute. We plonk ourselves down in our seats, stick a reed in our mouths to get it going, put our horns together and get on with it. End of story.

But in this country, it seems to take oboists at least a quarter of an hour to get going. The players over here are forever mucking about with their reeds, soaking them in little pots of water, fussing with the key work on their horns, etc etc etc. It’s a wonder that they ever get their acts together in time to give the customary first ‘A’ that’s needed to tune the rest of the orchestra.

Yesterday’s oboists were among the most extreme I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing with. The one to my right spent 20 minutes just selecting a suitable reed. Meanwhile, the one to my left had the most elaborate set-up I’ve ever seen in all my years of playing. This included a three-pronged instrument stand on which to place his oboe and cor anglais, an artillery-sized reed case, the most intricate-looking music stand I’ve ever sat next to (and he set it up with the sort of form normally reserved for army privates putting together a rifle), a full-sized strip lighting system for attachment to his music stand, and an enormous electronic tuner/metronome. And let’s not forget his custom-made mini “shelf” featuring a velvet cushion on which to place reeds and a special hole for a water pot — which the player proceeded to attach to his stand with industrial precision.

This country of course boasts amazing oboists. But I wonder if Amis’ negative feelings towards this segment of the musical population might stem from negative experiences he had with American players?

I read it here.

I very well might know the two oboists Ms. Veltman played with … and of course I can’t help but wonder if they know she wrote about them! Too darn funny. (I have an inkling about the guy, but of course can’t say for sure!)

Yeah, I suppose we worry a lot about reeds. Maybe it’s due to the style of reed we play on. I wonder. I do try, though, not to be all that crazy at a concert. I prefer to keep my wacky reed woes at home. I do use a tray, though. I hate having to put things down on the floor, and I like to have my swab and paper (for water in keys) readily available, along with my tuner. I guess they don’t do that elsewhere? (I’ve not playing in other countries.)

Ah well. We are fun to make fun of, aren’t we? Heck, I do it all the time! (I attempt to only mock myself; it’s safer that way.) 😉

And now I guess I’ll have to read the Kingsley Amis book too, eh?


  1. It’s funny when you see truth in other people’s “ridiculous” descriptions.

    I mean, it’s not like there’s not a reason. 🙂

  2. Heh. Yeah.

    The thing is, I know I’m just really wacky. I could either cry about it or laugh.

    I choose the latter. Most of the time! 😉

    I’m really goofy when it comes to my music tray which attaches to my stand. I suppose I’m a bit OCD: I have to set things up a certain way, and if something is crooked it has to be straightened. I always just assume this control issue is due to how little control we have over things like, say, REEDS.

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