16. August 2021 · Comments Off on One Minute Oboe Lessons · Categories: Oboe, Teaching, Videos

Dr. Aaron Hill, a fabulous oboist and instructor, has a new series! Check it out. I highly recommend his videos. (If you recall he also did Ferling Fridays!)

23. June 2021 · Comments Off on It’s Not Just El Sistema · Categories: Teaching

From Arts Journal:

Sexual Abuse In El Sistema, Long Rumored, Is Now Being Brought To Light

A Facebook post in late April from an alumna of Venezuela’s famous system of free musical education “has since sparked a collective portrait of teenage girls in El Sistema being systematically groomed by older male teachers, with coercive innuendos and propositions as everyday occurrences.” Said one former student of her oboe teacher, “His methods rested on an uplifting discourse of art, passion and intellect. According to him, I had to let myself be carried away by sexual desire in order to achieve a full sound.” – The Washington Post

The stories from El Sistema get even worse: some female students have been impregnated by conductors or teachers.

But it’s not just El Sistema …

I’ve never had an abusive oboe instructor. I’m grateful. All have been respectful and kind. But others have, and things I have read are horrifying. Students need to be careful. Parents need to watch over their kids. And teachers who are abusive need to be reported, need to be fired, and, in my opinion, arrested.

But it seems not all are.

So this is just a reminder that there is abuse in the music teaching business. Stay safe!

18. June 2021 · 2 comments · Categories: Teaching

I’m excited! Next week I will begin teaching students in my home studio again. The last time I did that was in March 2020. What a long time it’s been. I will continue to teach via Zoom for students who are unable to get vaccinated, but in person lessons are SO much better. I have a feeling I’ll be doing some instrument adjustments at these first lessons, and I’m certain I’ll be doing reed adjustments as well.

So here we go … time to get back to the way lessons are meant to be!

11. June 2021 · 2 comments · Categories: Teaching

So many of my students are now vaccinated, and are two weeks or less closer to being able to come back into the studio. I’m so delighted to start scheduling in-person lessons. I’m still quite willing to teach online lessons, which have been a wonderful thing for the past fourteen months, and will continue to teach any students who are more comfortable doing Zoom lessons — some just because they don’t feel safe due to Covid-19 (some are unable to get vaccinated and even while I am fully vaccinated they simply aren’t comfortable here), and others who are far enough away they prefer Zoom. But to SEE students, to HEAR them live and in person, and to (finally!) get to WORK on their instruments and reeds will be absolutely fabulous.

At this point it looks like I’ll begin to teach them here in my studio beginning the week of June 20, and I will continue to teach Wednesday through Saturday.

I can’t wait!

11. June 2021 · Comments Off on Books Aren’t Always Right! · Categories: Teaching

How important is your private oboe teacher?

VERY.

When I get students who have studied primarily from lesson books (Rubank, Gekeler and the like) I nearly always have to correct fingerings. Those books have been out for eons and they’ve never been corrected! They don’t know about left F, for one thing. But there are other issues as well. In addition, some band directors continue to insist on using the E flat key when a student plays forked F.

Get a private teacher. And get one who is actually an oboist!

Trust me on this.

09. February 2021 · Comments Off on Teaching · Categories: CovidTimes, Teaching

I went completely to Zoom teaching on March 13, 2020, with a few students starting online lessons even before that. It was a rocky start, just as it was for all other music instructors who had yet to move to online teaching. I had actually done a few FaceTime lessons in the past, because I had a couple of students who went to boarding school, but it was so infrequent and we just ignored the sound issues. But moving to ALL online lessons issues (sound, frozen screens, glitches in time) became rather painful. At this point we’ve learned how to make things work, and I do believe Zoom has improved much at their end as well.

Sound is so much better. Most of us use headphones of some sort (I have only a few students who continue to resist that for some reason). I have to remind some to turn “original sound” back on, but most now remember that prior to the start of their lessons. Lighting can sometimes be an issue (back lighting is a no-no!), and I frequently have to ask students to move their devices in a way that allows me to see their heads AND then hands. (Again, a few STILL resist doing that and I can’t see the right hand at all … why they fight this is beyond me!)

BUT … here’s what I really wanted to write about … I’m so very grateful to the students who have stuck with me. I lost three, but everyone else has stayed, and I even gained two new students. This has been good for my heart, and of course good for my finances. While colleagues have gone on unemployment I’ve avoided that.

It’s also caused me to teach differently and to see and hear things in a new way. I think my teaching has improved because of it, believe it or not.

We are all living in difficult times, but when I think of the kids my heart hurts for them. I try, because of that, to keep things a bit lighter. I know I’m considered strict by many (a former adult student told a colleague “She’s good, but she’s very strict!” Not something that bothered me since I AM strict!), but for now I’m relaxing a bit. These students need to learn, and they need to work, but I also need to cut them some slack. So I do.

I have no clue when I will have students in my house again. I will only accept Covid-vaccinated students. I will only teach live and in person when I have also been vaccinated. Things are moving along, and some are now getting those vaccinations, but I’m not in an age group that is allowed the vaccine yet, so I am somewhat patiently waiting. I do wonder how it will feel to have someone other than Dan in this house with me. It’s been close to a year now with just the two of us.

29. June 2020 · Comments Off on Fun … and Very Well Played · Categories: Can't Stop the Music!, CovidTimes, Teaching · Tags: ,

Brava to Bernice Lee for doing both parts of the Ferling! It’s so clever how she looks as if she is looking at the “other” player (herself) when of course no one would be there in real time. I’m not sure how she made that image at the end!

Ferling – Duo Concertante for 2 Oboes, Op. 13 (Rondo)

Duets are something I really miss while teaching online. I’ve suggested to students that they record one part and play along with that, but it’s not like the two of us playing together (I nearly always ended a lesson with a duet). I’m starting to ponder how to teach here. The other day I walked by a house when I saw a guitar student get out of her car, carrying her guitar, a chair, and a stand. I thought, “Oh dear … NO MASK? And she has a lesson?!” Well, as it turned out, she set up on the porch at the house. The teacher was inside the house, with the door opened (but she had a screen door closed). Hm. Perhaps I can do something like that if students are up for it. I’m still not willing to handle instruments or reeds, but at least we could play duets!

08. June 2020 · 2 comments · Categories: Teaching

I have now taught my students online for a few months. There are positives and negatives to online teaching, but it is definitely better than no lessons at all!

The negatives are obvious: I am not in the same room with students. I can’t adjust their reeds and I can’t fix their oboes. I can’t see everything clearly sometimes, and oh the sound … it can be awful! But not always. Sometimes the sound is just fine. It depends upon the student’s setup and I suspect it also depends upon the time of day (if too many people are online I think it glitches more). Teaching online takes me more time for preparation, and I have learned that I must have 15 minutes between each student so I can send the latest student the assignment sheet, charge my AirPods, get up, move around, and just regroup. Honestly, online teaching is incredibly taxing, and if I felt it was fair I’d actually charge more for them. But I won’t.

The positives? Well, first of all, I get to see my students! I miss them when I don’t get to teach them. I think it encourages the students to continue to practice. (Some, in fact, are practicing more than usual!) Some seem more comfortable, and I wonder if being home just makes them relax a bit. One student even managed to teach himself to make reeds!

I have yet to have any new students ask for lessons. I have decided I’d be willing to try and teach new students if they’ve already been playing. I am not able to take beginners, as it is so very important to try their oboes and we really need to be “hands on” for their starting lessons.

Interested in studying with me? Need oboe lessons? Feel free to leave a comment here with your contact info, or email me.

While I am so very thankful all but one of my students is continuing with lessons during this stressful time, I am finding teaching via Facetime or Google Hangout to be so much more tiring that having students here in my studio. I have put breaks between each student (from 5 minutes to my preferred 15) just so I can breathe, walk a bit, and get books ready for the next student. Even with that break I am utterly exhausted after only three students. I don’t know how colleagues who do this all day deal with it. They sure have my admiration!

If I could, I would charge more for online lessons, due to how grueling they are. But of course I won’t: my students have stuck with me and I can’t punish them by making the fee higher, despite it being more work for me. (And I’ve lost thousands due to symphony and opera being over for now.)

So it goes … and I’m hoping I’ll adjust and things will get easier as time goes by, because I think we are going to be doing this much longer than we all hope.

28. November 2018 · Comments Off on Sparkwork! · Categories: Teaching

I played classical music in my early training, but I was a bad, undisciplined student, so I would dread my teacher coming over. He gave me “Alley Cat,” which had syncopation with it, and finally I was like, “I’m going to sit here and play until I know how to do that.” He gave me a couple of other things, “Deep Purple,” by Peter De Rose, and “Stairway to the Stars,” by Matty Malneck and Frank Signorelli, and those chords did something to me.

—Jeff Goldblum

I read it here.

This quote reminds me that finding something to trigger a student’s interest is so important. Feeding them the music I like isn’t necessarily the ticket. Yes, they need to learn standard oboe repertoire, but if I can find something that piques their interest that may well get them to practice more and, eventually, move to things I think are vital for an oboist’s repertoire list.

I had one student who was quite accomplished but didn’t seem to have a spark I wished he could have. One day I pulled out some Scott Joplin arranged for two oboes. BAM! That did it. We pulled those out frequently. He could sight-read them quite well (he said, “I don’t count it so much as I feel the rhythms”), and doing those duets became quite a joy for both of us.

I’m writing this as much for myself as for others: recently a few of my students aren’t practicing. Perhaps I need to find a “sparkwork” for them.