What if the oboe was easy?
I speak about this constantly. We spent a lot of time last week in my first Invincible Oboist class talking about strategies to keep our air low, conversational, easy, so we don’t have to get so worked up, so red-faced, so out of breath playing. I talked about using “conversational air” and taking a metaphorical step back from the oboe so that YOU can create the music instead of fighting with the instrument.
But easy is different from bland.
Working less hard provides you the OPPORTUNITY and the SPACE to make more choices. If you want to surge, to really carry a phrase across multiple bars, to put all of that pressure and energy and passion back in, you have ROOM to do that because you aren’t already exhausted, oxygen starved, and right up against the resistance of the oboe. If you want to come down to a tiny, intimate pp, you have space to do that too – using more support and less air. Keeping yourself comfortably maintained, as both a human body and a musician, gives you room to add or subtract energy for artistic and dramatic effect.
This maps onto life, too. I get bored and cranky when I’m fully on vacation for too long. I am not at my optimum capacity when I’m working EVERY MINUTE and filling in all the cracks with reed-making and emails. I LIKE to be on the busy side of the spectrum, but neither extreme is good for me, and probably not for you either, right?
I’ve been consciously finding my way toward balance this year – working hard but limiting the times and the days that I teach, creating intentional space for creativity and solitude. If I stay in the energetic MIDDLE, I have plenty of surge capacity and it’s not too hard to make space for rest if I need more.
What is your optimal mode? How are you finding balance in your playing and in your life? Is it allowed to be EASY?