It’s been a rough few weeks. For no good reason, really – I’ve just been feeling left-over as the season comes to an end, and a little tired of the oboe, and the driving, and the meetings. I drag myself to my practice room and force the excerpts, and the reed-making, and retreat as soon as I can justify it. Nothing feels particularly great, and both of my oboes have cracks that need attention that I haven’t had time to give them. I’ve been running, but as a respite from playing and not as a project in itself – my fitness is not where it should be at this point in the spring and I’m not doing any real training. Things came to a head recently when I warmed up carefully and mindfully, played my scales and and etude, and turned right around and left the room. Nothing was going to make me stay there any longer. I played my concert that night – and then left the oboe in its case.
I think this is a natural part of the cycle. I hit this wall over and over again in my life, and it seems reasonable. After a long stretch of hard work, I need a little downtime – even if it’s not a vacation per se, or even a long break from the oboe, I need to step back a little. So, in the past few days I’ve taken some time off. I’ve worked in my yard, taken long walks with my family, and pounded through some crossword puzzles. We went to the state park yesterday and rented clunky bikes for an hour and had a blast just pedaling around in the woods. I gave myself permission to stop practicing for a couple of days, and decided to run a 10K instead of a half-marathon two weeks from now. I turned down a high-quality, high-paying gig (that I should be at right now) with a lot of driving for a slow weekend and a previously-accepted church job nearby. I just needed that.
And it’s worked. This morning (after a long walk and a playground outing) I came back to the oboe with my guns a-blazin’. I felt great, and liked my reed, and played through all the material for my little Bach gig tomorrow. I powered through about half of the excerpts on my audition list, and everything felt looser, easier, better. More musical and less strained. I am happy with my work again, and ready to tackle my new projects.
So now I’ll enjoy traveling for my audition next week, and I’ll enjoy starting the preparation for my Oboe Reed Boot Camp, my IDRS performance, and my Cultural Center Recital. If I’d kept pushing through the weekend, I don’t think I’d be as comfortable as I am now. Sometimes you just need a tiny break.