Prone Oboe


What is WORK?

I know the pandemic isn’t actually over. But the performing work is hitting my inbox all the time now, and I’m having to make decisions. I don’t want my NOW to look exactly like my THEN. Lots of people are rethinking their relationship to work these days. I was just reading about the number of…

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Glorified Long Tones

Last week I had the pleasure of hearing a student who SIMPLIFIED her air, her embouchure, and her approach, trusted the oboe, and let an entire slow movement gently unspool for me. It was beautiful, it was expressive, it was effortless. It was a testament to the power of getting out of your own way….

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Taking Control of My Attention

I practiced yesterday with some actual quality for the first time in a long time. The magic? I plugged my phone in elsewhere.  My phone is full of apps to help me practice better. I have a tuner/metronome app I deeply love (Tunable), a nifty snippet-recorder (Clipza), and of course my basic voice and video…

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Reeds for a Rainy Day

I’ve been on vacation for the past two weeks – away from home but not away from my reed business.  (That’s a decision I’ll rethink for next year, but I do love the ability to keep my hands busy and serve people while I’m on the road.) We traveled from Indiana to Texas and back…

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Five Thoughts on Returning to the Stage

I’ve had FOUR orchestra concerts now, in our new transitioning-to-post-pandemic world. We are so lucky, here in South Bend, to have management and a board that are forward thinking and prioritize our safety and the safety of our audience while also being inclined to ACTION.  I’m really proud of us.  In some ways returning to the orchestra is like…

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Taking Up Space

I’m thinking about the instinct we have to avoid taking up space, especially, though not exclusively, as women.  I was in a zoom group coaching session recently and found myself apologizing, trying to leave the hot seat, BEFORE my needs were met. I had another question – but Oh, am I taking too much time? I…

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Reed Drift

This topic comes out of a conversation we’ve been having in Reed Club lately. Last week was my THIRD orchestra concert since the South Bend Symphony started back up post-pandemic, and over the course of 13 months playing only at home, my reeds have DRIFTED. Can you relate? It is normal for your embouchure, your…

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Zooming Back to Work

Zoom has been a necessary evil this year – but emoting through it has been an obstacle that turned into an opportunity. It’s liberated my playing, and I invite you to let it liberate yours!

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The Element of Surprise

I’m working with an adult oboist who can play beautifully but tends to melt down as soon as anything at all doesn’t go her way. And because it’s the OBOE, it’s not uncommon for things to not go her way, and so she’s gotten herself into this absolute ball of anxiety around the instrument and…

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Coming in Last

I came in dead last in a 5K race once. It was probably 20 years ago, I was living in Chicago, and my friend Paul and I were running buddies. We had done a few local races the previous summer, and were a little stir crazy in the winter. We heard that the Heartland Cafe…

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The Magic of a PLAN

My student’s issue is that she loses her focus during long pieces and stops being able to play well. She starts out great and then her mind wanders and then her air stops, or her fingers fall apart, and then her brain freezes up and she spirals straight into self-loathing. She brought a new piece…

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The Dirty Truth

One year ago this week is the last time I was on stage in the “old normal.” I played a Wednesday night rehearsal for a Saturday concert, and on Thursday morning I found out that the rest of the week was canceled. And here’s the dirty truth – I was kind of giddy about it!…

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Why Do We Practice?

Why do we practice? While I am actually practicing, I don’t always enjoy it that much. Like running, I prefer HAVING practiced to practicing. Many days, in my practice, nothing much happens. I do my warmups, I tackle a movement or two of a piece I’m working on, and at the end of my time…

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Use Your Things

I like my things to look lived in. There’s a certain joy in cracking open a brand new book that no one has read before – but what a pleasure to return to a book that is an old friend and to see the dog-ears from where I paused before, to see the teardrops on…

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Put WORDS On It!

I came in from my run this morning, and said, out loud, to Steve, “You know? The ONLY thing I hate about winter running is how cold my hands and wrists get.” I have a pair of gloves that live in the pockets of my running jacket. They are thinly knit, quite threadbare, and SHORT…

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On FLOW

Have you seen Soul? That new Pixar movie? We watched it a couple of weeks ago – and then again last week, because it’s just that great!  I’ve never seen the FLOW state animated so beautifully, and I recognized it right away from my own experience. It’s that feeling when you are lost in the music and…

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Look for the Lulls

I discovered something about myself during this lockdown. I discovered that I can practice after 4pm. I’m a morning person. I’m fresh in the morning, I feel smart in the morning, and I like to exercise and practice and get my creative work done before the day gets away from me. But. This should be…

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Gratitude

My Long Tone Meditation today is on Gratitude.  Feel free to join me in playing a note after each statement.If you don’t have any long tones to play – if you’re not even an oboist – you could still breathe with me.  I feel like we might all need this right now.  Let’s start with a…

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Maybe Believe the Science

I had a session recently with a very intelligent, very self-aware guy, an oboist who largely has his act together. He challenges me and my teaching in a way I enjoy. Our topic was connecting over the break into the third octave of the oboe, but it rapidly became clear that something else was going…

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What Do You Do in a Bad Gig?

What can you do when you’re stuck in the crappy groups? I was on a call with a client the other day.  She was discouraged because she was finally able to go back to work in an orchestra – but the gig was lousy.  She’d been working so hard over lockdown, she had such great…

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Harder Isn’t Better

Harder doesn’t mean better. It is not the case that 12-year-olds need a certain EASY kind of reed, that high-schoolers should step up to MEDIUM, that adults all play on MEDIUM HARD or HARD.  You don’t just step up progressively according to your age, or your level – Rubank Intermediate Book reeds are not necessarily…

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What if it was EASY?

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…

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Don’t Wait For It

Don’t wait for it. The lowest notes on the oboe are notoriously difficult to play. They don’t want to speak, they MIGHT splatter, they are SLOW to respond, they feel flat. And if your instrument is even slightly out of adjustment, they can be even more resistant – sometimes literally impossible. And some students WAIT…

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The AIR is the Sound

It’s never wrong to go back to basics. I was working with some college freshmen and we were playing two-bar phrases. I talked about arcing the air over the barline. I talked about singing. I talked about how the tongue is just the consonant of your speech, not the punctuation. I talked about D articulation…

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How Do You WISH You Could Describe Your Reeds?

In Reed Club last Monday, we took a moment before we started scraping to set some intentions.  We each said one word – an adjective to describe what we WANTED our reeds to be.  An aspirational adjective. Efficient was a word that came up, and Consistent. Dark and Mysterious. Mellow. Predictable. Trustworthy.  Honest.  BIGGER. Reed affirmations actually…

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