Reflecting upon another school year gone by.

April 28, 2011

I’m finishing up my first year of my DMA and had a good discussion with Martin regarding my achievements and goals. To wrap it up:

1. My tonal concept has become better. I’ve developed a dark, resonant, full sound that Martin described being “quite beautiful”. This is a major achievement, as when I first came to Martin, we were constantly working to get me to sound more covered, more resonant, and something modern. I originated with a kind of “old school Philly” sound, but am now sounding more of a modern oboist I suppose.

2. I’ve chipped away at the fear factor. I’m less afraid of the things that I view as being “difficult” and am more willing to tackle the hard stuff. Not that I’m not intimidated easily, but it’s getting better.

3. Technique is becoming more solid. Part of my technique problems was out of fear, but I really just needed to do a lot of woodshedding. Gillet Studies certainly will make you do that. Daphnis and Chloe Suite 2 made me really look at some tension issues that I wasn’t aware of in my fingers that was holding me back.

4. Reeds have arrived! Martin tried my reeds on Tuesday and let me know that my reeds need no further changes, and that they’re as good as they can be. After scraping thousands of reeds each year, I’m glad it only took me until now!

Things that need to get better

1. That stupid tongue. As long as I have a tongue made out of lead, I will never be able to get La Scala up to tempo. It still needs to get lighter, and faster. Martin told me that I’m simply not pushing my limits, and instead of practicing up to a tempo that I can neatly maintain, I should continue to push the speed a good two or three clicks beyond what I can comfortably maintain.

2. Technique. Who DOESN’T need more technique? This year two or three of the students in our studio played Pasculli pieces on their recitals. One played the Silvestrini Etude duets with Martin. Wasn’t I just talking about a fear factor thing?

3. Concentration. I’m not sure how to practice this or improve on it, but I still have problems counting rests in orchestra, keeping focused for long periods of time, etc. And it’s embarrassing. Maybe I need ADHD meds?

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One Response to “Reflecting upon another school year gone by.”

  1. Hey Cooper,
    Listen, first off, I cannot pretend to offer you any authoritative advice: your experience, expertise and commitment to the instrument overshadow anything of my own. But what you mention about concentration strikes a resonant chord here.

    I REALLY don’t recommend medications unless you get several doctors prescription… and even that, rule out any alternate motive (e.g. drug companies fund medicine in North-America!).

    I too have concentration problems: one of the things that got me to quit music. I still have concentration issues today, and working as a software engineer provides a milieu where it can be beneficial rather than suffer from it. BUT that doesn’t mean they can’t be overcome in music. It’s all about learning to deal with it. In concert, I found “the zone” did wonders, as long as I concentrated on the character of the piece and not “hey, I’m getting it right!”: devote yourself to the music’s soul, not the art/practice, if you get my drift.

    Best of luck and knock their socks off at the IDRS!

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