It has been a bit of a tough time adjusting to working full time while still trying to keep up some kind of practice regimen. I tend to fall into a downward spiral of guilt culminating in late night internet manga and netflix binges. 

I forget, repeatedly, that the best way to restart the desire to play music is to listen to music. I've been lucky enough to get to see not one, but two operas this past month, and tonight had the treat of possibly the most wind-centric concert I've ever attended. Definitely feeling much more motivated...

Of course, a large part of my recent slump has been instrument related. I convinced myself for months and months that I was just stuck in the worst reed slump of my life (for real, I haven't felt like I liked my tone in over 4 months now). So I just kept slugging away at it, after all, I don't want to be that  person that blames their reeds for everything, so I need to FIX IT. 

Then my English horn bell cracked, possibly due to temperature in the room I was playing, or possibly the incredibly dry air caused by heating in this cold weather, who knows, but it was obvious enough for me to get it fixed. $500 later I realized it had a host of other, dryness related, problems. Meanwhile in my oboe practice I'm suddenly feeling like even the most vibrant reeds I can make won't give me any sort low range. This has NEVER been a problem with my oboe, there have been some weirdnesses with the higher range, but never a problem in the low range. Suddenly I felt like a begginner again, hoping that the low notes would come out.

Even still, I thought it was me, I was just becoming a horrible oboist because I haven't been practicing as much or as long lately. Clearly I'm losing EVERYTHING I ever learned.

Luckily for me, my cork finally shrunk enough that the joints were rocking back and forth when I was playing, so I took it in when I picked up the EH. Same host of problems, plus some rust and pads in need of replacement. Not all the work was done, but at least now it's playable again.

What's the moral, kids? It's probably you, but even so, check everything else FIRST. And forget about blame and self worth, just take your instrument in for a checkup any time you feel like things aren't going well. Worst case scenario nothing's wrong and you get to spend a little more time strategizing your reed making or practice approach. Best case it's a tiny repair and you feel and sound amazing afterwards.