Monday, June 18, 2007

Lesson 7

Good lesson today! I'm improving! Kyoko will be leaving for the Colorado Music Festival, so I won't have another lesson till August. We crammed a lot of material in - long tones, little etudes from the method book, a teensy bit of repertoire, reed adjustments. One of my favorite moments was when she connected for me the anatomy/physiology of wind production with the physics of the oboe - and explained the greater breath support needed to counter the loss of wind velocity for notes played further down the length of the instrument. The doctor in me thought, This, I get!

She gave me one of her reeds as a summer gift, and it's the best one I have so far. And she gave me homework: Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring. I'm going to have to work on my breathing for that one! One of my other favorite moments of the lesson was at the end, when, after talking about Bach for a bit, we started humming Sleepers Awake together and couldn't bring ourselves to stop. Bach has a way of reeling you in...

I've figured out why, for me, oboe is harder than piano. I need to recruit more of me to play the oboe - lungs, abdominal muscles, and oropharyngeal muscles in addition to arms and hands. When I hit a key on a piano, a sound is guaranteed; not so on the oboe. And notes on the piano keyboard are spatially arranged in ascending/descending order, logically. On the oboe there's definitely more jumping around that's not always intuitive. On the plus side, with the oboe we only have to worry about one note at a time...but I think it's harder to make that note sound "just right."

I've listened to more oboe music now and have come to the conclusion that pieces written specifically for the oboe are often less appealing than oboe parts written within larger orchestral works. That said, I have to admit I can't seem to go a day without hearing at least the first movement of Vaughan Williams' Concerto for Oboe and Strings, the second movement of Saint-Saens' Sonata for Oboe and Piano, and little snippets of Albinoni's and Marcello's concertos. I've also found some shorter works by Henri Sauget and Fernando Sor that I really like.

Yesterday my daughter had a piano recital and did beautifully. I don't know how she can be so relaxed about them. That's probably WHY she does well. I have been plagued by terrible stage fright in more than one area of my life and I've already told my oboe teacher I can't possibly EVER do a recital. At most maybe I'll play at church someday. Maybe. Years from now.


At work my colleagues and I take turns providing anesthesia for patients undergoing elecroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Today it was my turn. It's not like it is on One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest; it's a pity that it's such a demonized procedure. For some people it's literally the difference between life and death. Again I face the marvels and mysteries of the human brain and its workings during my day-to-day tasks at work...and participate in both altering and protecting it. This is always in the back of my mind during ECT's, which are some of the shortest procedures for which we provide anesthesia: the fact that the psychiatrist and I really have to take care of our patient's brain and concentrate every effort on helping it heal. And of course I'm also preoccupied with the airway, the cardiovascular system, the musculoskeletal responses...

Found this on Panda Bear's blog, and it made my day: "I’ve seen an Emergency Medicine Chief resident and a Medicine chief resident both fail to get an airway which the anesthesia junior resident put in while still half-asleep." At last! Someone who gets what our expertise consists of! Someday I'm going to have to vent about how little people seem to understand my specialty - even other doctors. Right now, though, this little anesthesioboist is bushed. Lights out.


MarlaQuack said...

Nice blog.

T. said...

Thanks! I'm glad you stopped by! I checked out your sites too - their great!

Elaine Fine said...

During your teacher's absence, try to track down Stevens Hewitt's Oboe Method. It is full of fantastic sayings and a lot of information that is inspiring and useful. I learned about it from an oboist friend from high school (her teacher studied with Hewitt), and I have often given copies of it to non-oboe-playing musicians who have really enjoyed it.

Hilda said...

Hey there! Best wishes for your summer practicing. It's always hard for me when I have to go a long time without a lesson. I am still learning too, but if you have any questions about anything please send me an email.

I too LOVE the Saint-Saens and Vaughn Williams concertos. Those and the Marcello are among the few of which I like all movements. I agree with you that while a lot of our solo repertoire is great, some of the most beautiful oboe lines are part of larger orchestral works.