Prone Oboe


Oboes and Cars

I was working with an oboe student who was struggling on her back-up oboe. Nothing wrong with the instrument, it was fine, but all oboes have their quirks, and their little ergonomic differences, and my oboist couldn’t quite get her fingers to line up and things were glitching and she was frustrated.  You know that…

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Practice Filters

I was talking with my FLOW group about our upcoming recital. Most of my participants have their pieces in pretty good shape, with a month to go. This is fantastic! But there’s a difference between having your piece in pretty good shape and being performance-ready. We talked about play-throughs, and how running the piece multiple…

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Reedmaking Fear and Anxiety

This week on the blog, I want to continue reacting to the anonymous oboist who sent me an email about emotional hurdles to reedmaking.  She specifically cited fear of failure as a barrier to entry – saying “my attempts this time will not be any better than past attempts, and that it would be better…

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Reedmaking Guilt and Shame

I got an email recently. I loved your recent video about Ugly Fixes, in which you mentioned oboists experiencing social anxiety about how our reeds look. I have definitely experienced the social and emotional element of reed-making. I’m hoping you can address in more detail some of the other emotional hurdles that often act as…

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Leadership

What is leadership?  Recently in rehearsal I made a mistake. Slightly miscounted an entrance, and instead of coming in with the clarinet I left him hanging for a bar before I fixed it and joined in.  I glanced back over my shoulder at him with a grinning apology – it was early morning for everyone…

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On Balance

When you have a portfolio career like mine and like so many of my podcast guests, it can be hard to keep your life in balance. There’s always something else you could be doing. You could always be practicing more, creating content or designing a new offer or making more reeds for the insatiable demands of your business (that…

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Good Enough

We had a plumber come into our last house. He pointed out all of the things that were problematic, jury-rigged, leaking.  I cringed, seeing dollar signs dancing around his head, and asked, dreading the answer, what it would take to actually fix all of the problems and bring the thing up to code.   He paused,…

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The Work is Never Wasted

I heard a colleague complaining about having practiced music which was later cut from the concert. What a waste of time, she griped! Something about that attitude rubbed me the wrong way. Why complain about time spent on your instrument improving ANYTHING? Even if the specific notes in question aren’t being performed, surely the act…

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The Slashes are the POINT

I was working on my bio for an upcoming podcast interview and realized just how many sentences and paragraphs it takes to describe what I do. My father could identify his career in just a few words, my mother as well.  For a long time, I understood that the way to be a grownup was…

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Dance With the Voices

Last week in my Oboe Flow class, Dr. Andrew Parker was talking with us about performance nerves and he put it so well. He said, “Your approach needs to be two-pronged – you have to notice and dance with the Voice, and you have to do the work to prove it wrong.”  Such a simple rubric,…

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Authenticity or Integrity

In my Flow class recently we played a game around the tones and timbres of the oboe. Each of us played a scale and asked the others to identify it. You win if the other person can’t identify your scale, they win if they can. This game is possible not because all oboists have perfect…

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When in Doubt, Play Beautifully

What does it mean to Play Beautifully? That’s what one of my FLOW oboists asked in our group this week.  My teacher, Richard Killmer, used it as a mantra – “When in doubt, play beautifully.”  I think that’s a great saying. I have it as a decal on my wall, and I think about it a lot, and use…

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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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