Back to the grind… back in Loreeland™

June 9, 2011

Well, I’m starting to get back into the daily routine. I gouged, shaped, tied, and started scraping down some 80 reeds, and am getting back into playing shape. I’ve played very little since last Thursday’s masterclass, but I’m feeling the itch to start playing again, so I started today.

After the masterclass, I’ve been keenly evaluating my playing, and thinking about minute details that I did not pay attention to previously.

  • How did I tongue that note?
  • How long was its duration?
  • How was the vibrato on that note? How would a violinist vibrate that note?
  • Was the inflection on that note up or down? How would a string player bow that?
  • Is it a weak note or a strong note? Is it coming or going?
  • Is the finger completely relaxed?

The questions never stop, but I suppose this is the next progression of detail I need to consider in order to bring my playing up to the next level.

I’m back on my old Loree. My Howarth Cocobolo XL is shipped off to Jason Onks to do some major repairs, such as cleaning up some cracks, getting some keys replated, general cleaning and padwork. I knew it needed a lot of work, but this is the first time I have been able to be without the instrument. Coming back to Loree always feels like a “coming home” to me, as I always re-discover subtleties that I don’t feel with other instruments. With a good reed (and I am aware that that is a big stipulation,) there’s a responsiveness, flexibility, and color that I simply never get with any instrument. The differences in color I can play from the quietest of whispers to the loudest of louds is unique to Lorees, specifically old lorees, and I always feel like I’m rediscovering familiar lands I once knew. It’s like one of those awesome dreams where you discover a new room in your house, or you discover a new attic or basement in your home. Ever have one of those dreams?

Tonight I had a woodwind quintet meeting with some friends who just get together to play for fun, and I love playing that Loree in a smaller group like a quintet where I don’t feel like I need a big projecting sound. I can hide, and expand, cover and “gun it”. I usually tell people that my Howarth XL is like a big heavy Cadillac which has all of the power and luxury, but my old Loree is like a little Miata that can weave in and out.

I’m taking this time to come back to the basics, and am working on Gillet #4. I spent an hour and a half just working on the last mordent triplet section at the very end, which gives me all sorts of problems, namely because my technique with forked F is so bad. Throughout practically my entire career, I had teachers tell me never to use forked F under penalty of death or my right middle finger chopped off, (which of course I need it for other purposes than oboe :P). This became such an obsession that I literally lost all use of forked F and could not use it. Several times this year I needed it, but it wasn’t an option, such as the beginning of the year audition on Pictures at an Exhibition. I got through Gillet studies 1 and 2 okay with left hand F, but then #3 is specifically for the use of forked F, and that was a game changer. Perhaps the primary technical concern of mine in that G minor concerto was the forked F 16th note runs in the 2nd movement. Since then, I’m determined to regain control of my right middle finger. So now is the time…

The picture below was taken by my friend Anne Krabill, who convinced me that it would be “fun” playing 3rd oboe in the double reed ensemble on the final day of the conference. I thought I’d be honking out low G’s and F’s. Well, that quickly went out the window as we were bumped up to first oboe and played this ridiculous reduction of the final movement of Gounod’s Petite symphony. Pop out an occasional high E? No problem! An F# here? Why not! What’s a high G among friends anyhow?

Anne, what have you gotten me into now?

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3 Responses to “Back to the grind… back in Loreeland™”

  1. Caitlin said

    cadillac vs miata- awesome!

  2. Anne Krabill said

    Haha, Cooper! That was fun. And I LOVE those dreams about finding extra rooms in the house. I used to watch a soap opera while I made reeds. I got to know the “houses” of the characters pretty well, as I watched them go from the living room to the kitchen. Imagine my surprise one Thanksgiving when there was suddenly a dining room in between. Did they think we would not notice that it was a new room which then magically disappeared after the holiday?

    About forked F – I use it often. Sometimes there is no other way that makes sense. And I do sometimes practice to be able to do it well. Not sure if I have succeeded!

    • cooperwrightreeds said

      Yeah, there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s a good fingering, particularly with new instruments where the forked F sounds quite acceptable. It’s now a matter of just re-learning it.

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