31. July 2018 · 4 comments · Categories: Ramble

I just read an article about the possibility that certain instruments will disappear from youth orchestras, due to the lack of popularity. They “now risk becoming extinct.” The header reads “Big beasts of the orchestra could become extinct in ago of YouTube, arts chief warns.”

And what, you wonder, are these “big beasts?”

I’d think double bass, tuba, timpani, harp, contra-bassoon … you know, the ones parents regret having their kids study because hauling them around requires a car that can carry them.

Is that what you’d think as well?

But if you then read the article it says this:

The sheer physical size of the instruments, the complications of the reeds, and the expense of lessons has led to these instruments being sidelined”, he explained.

So here is the actual list:

… the days of the oboe, bassoon, french horn and tuba could be numbered, an arts chief has warned, as interest from the younger generations has dwindled to such a low that the instruments now risk becoming extinct.

Okay. Got it. Oboe is a beast. I’ll agree to that! And yes, reeds … the major hassle of the oboe and bassoon. But the headline had made me think the instruments HAD to be large. Gotta love those headline writers!

But honestly, I don’t see instruments becoming “extinct”. Needed desperately, sure. But orchestras will continue to use them unless we start omitting them from compositions. Hm. Beethoven symphonies without the oboe solos. Sure, why not?

In addition, I hardly think YouTube can be blamed for the demise of these instruments should they becoming less popular. But maybe that’s just me. I think it’s a silly excuse.

Okay … nit picking over ‘n out.

I did find it interesting that these instruments are difficult to come by in the UK. My oboe teaching colleagues that I recommend in the Bay Area and I have had to turn down students, we get so many.

Why, you wonder?

I have more than a sneaking suspicion it is still that parents think oboe is that magic “key to college entrance.” That would make sense: the UK probably don’t NEED the “key to college entrance” like our kids need here. I yearn for the day when all my students tell me they are taking oboe because they simply love the sound of the oboe! It could happen. Maybe.