I sometimes talk to my students about the different way musicians play. We talk about different reeds, different embouchures, and we also talk about movement. It seems that we in the US tend to move less than musicians from other countries. In some US orchestras the oboists don’t even seem to budge. I’ve seen videos of orchestras from Europe and all the musicians are moving, and not in any uniform sort of way sometimes. When I explain the differences to my students I show them how stilted we can sometimes look, and how wildly other players move. They laugh at both. Being completely still can look rather odd, especially when we are playing something extremely expressive. Moving around can be a bit crazy too. I suspect they don’t quite believe me when I attempt to demonstrate just how much someone might move around (probably because I don’t sound very good when I do that). I’m a bit of a mover — I’m certainly not completely still. I used to move even more, but I think I’ve toned it down. It could be because I do so much second oboe playing in symphony; I don’t care to move as much or more than the principal, as that seems inappropriate.

I’ve just located an enjoyable video with an oboist who moves quite a lot. Maybe now my students will believe me! (And he sounds great, if you ask me.)


  1. My boyfriend makes fun of me (and all oboists) for moving around :p I don’t move as much as the guy in the video, but I do move. It’s an automatic thing, I can only stop it if I really concentrate, and then I can’t concentrate on the right techniques anymore. So I just move :p

    He plays piano and trombone, and always sits really still… But he has to learn to play more expressively, so maybe that will involve moving? Than I can get back on him :p

    And not really relevant at all, but I love the cellist’s hair.

  2. Have you ever seen an American orchestra? SO much less movement. It’s really interesting to see the differences. Some say Americans play unexpressively. I always wonder if it’s because of what people are seeing.

  3. I did see the LA philharmonic at the Vienna film festival (even the film festivals over there are about classical music, really cool) about a week and a half a go, and now I think about it, they really didn’t move much! The only thing I noticed was how the first oboist would blink on every note and make really weird faces :p

  4. I find it very distracting when an oboist moves a lot. As a first chair player I have sometimes had to ask a 2nd player to stop moving so much. I think the worst is actually bobbing in time to the music. That is just wrong.