Does playing a brass instrument improve a double reed instrument?

Hmmm. I’m guessing the double reed instrument remains the same, no matter what.

Ya think? 😉

Asking my teacher how he was producing the sound I was striving so hard to emulate and having him respond, “I don’t KNOW! It should just sound like THIS!” led me to eventually figure out (1) that he didn’t like being asked to overanalyze his technique and (2) that he wanted me to figure things out on my own through trial-and-error and by using my ears.

-Susan Laney Spector

I’ve always enjoyed Susan’s posts … check this one out. She’s also a baseball fan (A Mets fan, to be exact; I’ll let it slide since she DOES live on that end of the country), and she’s an oboist in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. (Not too shabby, eh?!)

I think I’ve mentioned this before: I had a student come to me a while back who really wanted me to spell out how to play a rather famous solo from a ballet work. She didn’t want me to just help her play it … she wanted to be told exactly what to do. I don’t teach that way. I know that expression comes easily for me, and that it doesn’t work that way for some, but to give her such an exact way of playing didn’t work with the way I teach. She quit after two lessons. I felt a bit bad about it, but maybe she has found a teacher out there who could give her what she wanted. I do hope so!

12. April 2010 · Comments Off on Congratulations, Jennifer Higdon! · Categories: Congratulations!, Videos

Composer Jennifer Higdon has won the Pulitzer Prize for music for her Violin Concerto, making her one of the few women to have won the country’s top classical music prize.


I corresponded with Ms. Higdon after I had blogged about her Concerto for Orchestra that SSV performed. She contacted me and was so gracious, kindly dealing with my little comment about how my part went lower than my instrument played, explaining the issue. She even sent me a copy of her wonderful oboe concerto. I’d love to hear that done somewhere in my locale!

(Please note: I wasn’t grumping about the note. I assumed it was an error about the octave or something, and I do hope people know I honestly don’t mean to be harsh here. Recently I’ve been mis-interpreted by several people. Sometimes I wonder if they are reading me with their tone of voice, rather than mine. If I was to be mean and catty, I’d probably do it somewhere that wouldn’t be seen by so many. I’m too darn wimpy to be publicly mean the majority of the time.)

Here are three videos with Hilary Hahn interviewing Jennifer Higdon.

12. April 2010 · Comments Off on TQOD · Categories: TQOD

Sad, but a well played oboe is one of the prettiest sounds to me. Add a piano and my heart will melt.

12. April 2010 · 2 comments · Categories: Oboe, Videos

(and thanks, Ben Opie!)

Sigh … reading the oboist’s bio:”In addition to oboe, Colin also plays clarinet, english horn, violin, 5-string banjo, acoustic/electric bass, piano, saxophone, flute, guitar and harmonica.”

And later: “Outside of music, Colin also works as a dancer, actor, stuntman, singer, choreographer, acrobat and martial-artist. Most recently, Colin had the honour of playing the devil fiddler in the flying blue canoe for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Opening Ceremonies.”

Um. Okay then. I’m appropriately humbled.

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!)

12. April 2010 · Comments Off on SO TRUE! · Categories: Other People's Words

Thank you, Jennet Ingle, for this:

The Unfussy Oboist does not spend her whole rehearsal period on reeds, though – she plays on the reed du jour and makes it work. So I was busy before and after rehearsal trying to make the right sound but I forced myself to not switch reeds or scrape and fuss during the piece. In the end, the reed I went in with was not the reed of a lifetime, but all the audience needs to know is that it works – no one is interested in how much work I have to do inside my mouth to make the effect happen, and my colleagues aren’t interested in that either.

Yes. I really appreciate all that Jennet has to say in this post, and I hope I can apply it to my own professional life. Great post! 🙂