Prone Oboe


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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Micro Rests

For oboists, endurance is a huge problem.  We can play an endlessly long phrase, because of the way the instrument is constructed, but we can really only do that a few times in a row before our embouchure starts to get fatigued.  We develop a buildup of air that feels exhausting to hold onto, and…

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On the generosity of Instagram practice accounts

Classical musicians are trained to make it perfect. To make all the notes correct, to make it sound like the CD, to do it the way everyone else has done it. The only way to shine is to be BETTER – which means cleaner, more in tune, more perfect. We DO NOT SHIP until it’s…

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Choose the YES

Special moments come at the least expected times.This video, the one I circulate periodically whenever Facebook reminds me of it, was literally just a gig. I didn’t know Sullivan when he reached out to me to play because he needed the video for some application or other.  I didn’t even ask what it was for. …

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Coffee? COMMUNICATE.

Thesis: Communication is important. Letting the other person know your CONTEXT is a part of that. Scene: We’re walking the doggo, so I can’t step into the co-op with Steve.  We’re all wearing masks, which as you know makes communication a little bit more fraught. “I’m going to grab some coffee – what can I…

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COMMUNICATING Through the Mask

I was just trying to pick up my kid’s prescription at the pharmacy. No, it’s INGLE.  EYE ENN GEE ELLL EEEE.   Between the mask covering half my face and the plexiglass barrier, I was almost reduced to charades as I tried to communicate a simple order.   And we’ve all discovered this lately, I’m…

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When to Cheat

I got an email from an oboist a while ago, back before COVID.  After thanking me for the reeds I had sent, and complimenting the warm tone they had, they asked a question about the VERY FAST technical passages in the Polovetsian Dances. “There is a section of the piece where it is conducted in…

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You are the Music

You ARE the music. YOU are the music. It’s not the oboe. It’s YOU. Too many oboists live RIGHT up against the resistance of the oboe, blowing straight into the instrument and waging war against it DIRECTLY.  Using their mouths to try to compensate for the intonation or clenching their fingers to hold extra tight,…

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Make More Reeds

I recently met with a former student who proudly described THE reed she was working on to me.  She’d gotten it to a point where it made a beep, but it didn’t really play on the oboe yet, but i IT HADN’T CRACKED!  I celebrated with her – but I limited my glee.  One slightly…

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