March 28, 2023
Reminder to order your reed making materials as soon as you can so that you, too, can make the "perfect reed" for that glorious tone that you want :)
- Practice long tones
- Practice sounding as good as you can on both good reeds AND bad reeds so you can sound great no matter what your reeds are doing
- Accept that you will have to adjust the tuning on some notes on your oboe with your embouchure and air - the notes and their tendencies will vary from oboe to oboe, so get to know your instrument well, and be prepared to experiment on a new instrument.
- Don't spend all your practice time chasing after tone. Work on rhythm, tuning, dynamics first, then worry about tone. People will forgive different tones, but not rhythm, tuning, or dynamic errors.
- The best cure for nervousness is preparedness. You are very responsible in this regard
- It's worthwhile to record yourself a few weeks out from a performance - but it's important to do it with decent equipment so that you actually hear what you sound like - always place microphones/devices at least 1 or 2 meters away from yourself because that is where you'll hear what you're sounding like to the audience/conductor/other orchestra members.
- Doing a full run through of a piece as a mini-performance for me in a lesson can also be good to practice not stopping everytime you feel like something can be better. Performances are rarely perfect, but if they're musical, the audience will enjoy them, and you can too :)
Jan 17, 2023
+ 2 reeds today - try to go back and forth between them so that you can play on either in rehearsal/performance, and then you can choose a favorite the day of.
Good work on the band piece. Remember to play with accents and dynamics!
Let's plan to work on Slavonic dance next week.
December 6, 2022
- If you're playing one piece in a show with multiple people/acts, always have your instrument ready to go before the show starts. Soak your reed, play a small warm up, and then dip the reed in the water and don't blow it out. Put it in your reed case, swab your oboe and clean your pads of any water. This way you can play at a moment's notice if the order changes.
- Always play a few notes on your instrument before performing live. Audiences don't care, and you'll sound better if you're comfortable and know your reed is working
- Worst case scenario, you somehow get caught with a dry reed and are asked to perform: BRING YOUR REED WATER OUT ON STAGE, and put your reed on it while you arrange your music, move your stand. by the time you are finished setting everything up, your reed will be ready to go. Play a few notes, ask the pianist to play an A so you can tune to it, and you're good to go.
- bring your swab up on stage with you. If you have rests in a piece, you can swab in an emergency.
- I sent you a bunch of options for tools and toolkits! Excited to start working on this with you.
Oct 18, 2022
Nice reading on Inevitable conflict! I've included the High Eb fingering below.
Let's work on Swan lake next lesson, and I'll work on the second oboe part for inevitable conflict. We'll work on it on Nov 1st and I'll bring you some more reeds.
Sept 20, 2022
Woo! Composing session! Notes I took for you:
- Guy from Genshin Impact who lives on a mountain and is made of chalk
- after some experimentation decided that
- Oboe didn't suit him
- Minor keys didn't suite him
- New location based on Egypt and parts of Asia
- Kept D minor key
- Melody below: Try to fix it so you like it and/or add a response
Aug 29, 2022
Great work on Walking Tune! To prepare it for the recording next week:
- print it out (you'll need to have a paper copy on a stand in front of you for the audition video)
- practice 2 - 4 bar sections and really, really exaggerate the dynamic contrasts
- Pay super careful attention to the articulation - recording yourself on your phone or another device and playing it back while reading the music can help you spot any problems
- make sure your piano is a step above your pianissimo so that you can decrescendo effectively.
- play along with this video for fun if you like: https://youtu.be/A83XlqXpLCo
- Any time you want to, you can take a break! You learn very fast, and practice hard, but that doesn't mean you need to push yourself like crazy - pace yourself. Set limits on how long you let yourself work on something so you don't get upset about it. Maybe 10 min per piece tops if you're finding it really annoying, and then play something easy, or something you like better, or work on a technique you like
- Try coming up with your own melodies. Write them down and perform them! Make them easy to play if you want, or not!
- if you get really frustrated, take a day or two where you don't play the oboe AT ALL. then come back to it and play something fun.
- pick another popular song you'd like to do next - we don't have to work on it right away, but start thinking about it.
Corelli - Gigue
This is going a lot better than you think it is! It does not need to go 120 (lets aim for between 78 - 90).
- Find a pencil, then play through it at your slowest tempo (70) - when you make a mistake, make a light line above the part where you made a mistake and keep going
- Once you've gone through the whole piece once, and marked everything that you made a mistake on, only practice those bits, then, at the end of your patience/practice time, take a small break and play through one 4 bar section that has a problem area you worked on in it. It should go smoother. If it doesn't, play the problem bit slowly ONCE more, then put the oboe away and give yourself a treat of some sort!
August 2, 2022
Great work on the symphonic winds excerpt! From 72 to 144 in an hour :)
Some ideas for repertoire possibilities:
- Madeleine Dring "Italian dance"
- Jean Berger "Toadinha"
- G.F. Handel "Air and Rondo"
- Robert Schumann "Romances for oboe & piano" (a bit harder)
- Adrien Barthe "Couvre feu"
- A. Vivaldi Sonata in F major for oboe and piano
- Gaetano Donizetti - Oboe Sonata in F Major
- Alessandro Marcello Oboe concerto in D minor, S.Z799
- period instrument recording: https://youtu.be/5SEwxacGjL8
- modern instrument recording: https://youtu.be/5sNF25hZYbY
- another one: https://youtu.be/87xObdbnBCg (my current fav - special bonus, in the second movement you can see his embouchure starts to get tired and he relies almost entirely on air for tuning and dynamics)
- G.F. Handel Oboe Sonata (we could do the first movement)
- Any of the pieces from the Barret book "Forty Progressive Melodies"
- Quite a few pieces from Gekeler Method for oboe 1 or 2
- Jacques Murgier Capriccio
- R.K. Cole "Landscape for Laurie Lee"
July 18, 2022
A really good start on the Mozart concerto! As discussed, let's look at the excerpts for NYWO and plan to work on those instead.
Reminder: Our next 2 lessons are on Tuesdays so I will see you on July 26th and August 2nd online, and we can figure out when our next in person lesson will be after that.
July 11, 2022
Woo! Tchaikovsky is getting there, and Pulcinella sounds great! Your tone also sounds really good right off the bat, which tells me you've been practicing a lot - it's making a huge difference :)
When you are practicing, see if you can take 2 - 5 min to listen to the excerpt you want to work on - see if you can find out the oboist's name, or the orchestra name, and write it down - then write one thing you liked and disliked about the performance. Just listen to the parts you will be playing during this time, listen to the whole piece after you practice as a reward (if you want to, otherwise I suggest netflix, a walk, tasty treats or a nap as a reward ;) )
Tchaikovsky 4 Movement 2
- Practicing for fingers in an excerpt like this can get boring. Make it more interesting by practicing in different rhythms, for example, use a dotted 8th to a 16th, then a 16th to a dotted eighth like the following:
Tchaik 4 mv 3
Practice this with a metronome with the exercises we worked on (included in the July 4 post below).
- Make Sure you're hearing all the notes - if you can't hear them then it needs to go slower. practice the entire excerpt in different rhythms just like the Tchaikovsky to get the notes under your fingers.
- See if you can memorize it!
Mozart Oboe Concerto
- Try to work through the first 10 to 15 bars of the solo
- Take it slow, and use a metronome.
- Don't worry about the trill in the first bar yet.
July 4, 2022
Good work on Tchaik 4! Let's tackle the Mozart concerto and the fast second excerpt of Tchaik 4 next time.
Tchaikovsky 4 mvt 2 opening
- Warm up on Db major scale: do your long tone exercises with a tuner to make sure you're working on bringing the pitch of your forked F down
- Try to find the most comfortable and effective position for your hand when using the left Eb during your warm up. Practice going Dd-Eb-Db
- Practice 1 bar at a time
- Focus on air support (think of opening up as you go down to keep the air flowing)
- Dynamics - softer in the lower register, louder in as you move up
- Move the decrescendo in bar 19 to bar 20
- Print out your parts when you get a chance
Tchaik 4 mv 3 Scherzo
- Come in on the high A with ENERGY! Listen to a few recordings of different orchestras and note how the oboist seems to interrupt the strings!
- Practice the turn as follows:
- Also practice the rest of the excerpt substituting in the sixteenths instead of 32nds
- Don't play it faster than 72 -80 right now
June 20, 2022
Sounding good! Don't forget to finish the application process for TSYO this week so we can work on your excerpts next week.
To increase your stamina for oboe playing, use long tones as part of your warm up every day :)
- Pick a scale (any scale)
- Set your metronome to 60bpm
- Hold each scale tone for 4 or 8 beats each as you go up and down
- Keep your air steady and well supported - if you need more air, take a 1 beat break to breathe out and in
- Start at a nice mezzo-piano and crescendo as you go up the scale, decrescendo on the way down
- Alternately, using 8 or 10 beats per note:
- start each note soft as you can with good tone
- crescendo for half the beats to a forte
- decrescendo for the rest of the note
- transition to the next note and repeat.
- No vibrato during long tone exercises. Do that separately.
Gekeler Book Two
- page 3 #2 - good work on this. Remember to observe all crescendos, decrescendos and articulation marks in studies
May 2, 2022
Great job on the study in G minor! Next week we'll start working on the 2 oboe arrangement of "A sweet smile" from Genshin Impact.
Gekeler book 1 Page 21
#3 Dancla - Andante
- Go through and try to mark in all the spots where you need your left F
- Work on the second from the last line first (lots of chromaticism)
- Don't put the rallentando in yet - play steadily between 60 - 72 to the quarter note
A Sweet Smile
- Link to pdf (you'll need to sign in with your gmail account to view & download) https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xbC0GsIXJnbgORUYDrkODJaxUqdjBo_U/view?usp=sharing
- What key is it in? :D expect to start playing that scale ;)
April 18, 2022
Good work on your vibrato! Always warm up with straight tone and be wary of adding too wide of vibrato, as it will sound too wild!
In person lesson next week. I will drop reeds off tomorrow between 6 - 630pm.
New World Symphony movement 4
- In long phrases like this it's important to keep your air moving through the phrase
- Repeated notes should sound different - in this case, the three E natural quarter notes should each get a little more intense as they lead into the downbeat E
- Practice playing the phrases with and without vibrato - make sure you can switch back and forth consciously
- Try going from vibrato into straight tone and then decrescendoing to terrace your dynamics
You should probably listen to the real thing ;) (those triplets go faaaast)
Embouchure & reeds
- While each reed is slightly different, and they do change as they age, it should still be possible to play on any decent reed with a simlar (if not exactly the same) embouchure
- Always try to play with as little reed in your mouth as possible - the reed is thinner towards the tip, and this gives you more control, and means you won't have to work as hard with your lip muscles
- The reed must be allowed to vibrate. If you find that you are exerting a lot of pressure with your lips try asking yourself why - are you trying to play quieter? Are you trying to bring the pitch up?
- Always try adding more air as your first solution to bringing the pitch up and getting a better sound
- If you're playing softly, the reed still needs to vibrate, so experiment with dropping your jaw with the "aah" sound and adding more air to keep the tone, while surrounding the reed with your lips to soften the sound - getting a good soft sound is something we all work hard at, so don't be discouraged!
- Play with as little lip pressure as you can while still sealing around the reed and getting a good sound
- Remind yourself that the shape of your mouth should be as though you said "though" and then rolled your lips in just a tiny bit...or like you are blowing bubbles through a straw.
April 11, 2022
I will ship you a reed this week, and see you next week on Easter Monday unless I hear otherwise. I did leave you one on the in person lesson, but I do remember that it was a bit harder than was comfortable for you. Play on the reed that you are most comfortable on for your performance - and Good luck! You'll do great!
Warm up and embouchure
- Your warm up is your chance to work on tone
- You should play loudly during your warm up with as little embouchure as you can
- Ideally, you should feel that your lips seal around the reed, slightly rolled in as though holding a straw or saying the word "though"
- your embouchure must be firm without pressing down on the reed - think of keeping an "O" shape as much as possible
- Try slurring your scales when warming up, and keeping your air flowing through the whole scale with a crescendo to the top - your abdominal muscles should be firm and supporting your air as you play
- Talk to your teacher about moving away from the microphone - that's definitely not the place for the oboe
- Try to figure out where the oboe part lines up with the strings - bug the teacher about this, he should help you out - string parts are much harder on oboe than they are on stinged instruments, so you should be playing the oboe part.
- Send me pictures of the pieces you're playing so I can help you with them!
April 4, 2022
Great playing tonight after you woke up a little :)
Gekeler book 1 Page 21
Study in G minor
- This is sounding great, especially when you play it with dramatic dynamics!
- The running eighth notes can be a little detached, but keep the air support steady
- See if you can find the places where you go to and from half hole and practice them very slowly making sure your first finger is rocking or sliding not jumping
Gekeler page 23 #2
- Nice sight reading in this duet! See if you can put the dynamics in this week
- Mark all the places you need to use forked or left F. the standard way to mark forked F is with an X and for left F an L above the note
March 28. 2022
Nice sight reading today! Next week is in person, and we'll read through some duets!
- Page 21 Study in G minor
- Very good sight reading!
- This one is a good endurance test. Work on the harder note transitions (anywhere you make little fingering mistakes), then take a 5 min break and see if you can play through the whole thing
- Make sure your half hole finger is sliding or rocking off/on the half hole and not jumping. Try to notice when it jumps so that you can correct it
- Mark in all the spots where you need to use left or forked F
I'm looking at these on musecore right now - I'm going to try to put something together that is a little less piano solo-y for you.
- Genshin: A sweet smile
- Genshin: Rite of Battle (maybe we'll do a duet)
March 14, 2022
Good work on the high notes in your band music! Lets try to find some solo stuff for you to start on again outside of band music soon, though!
Speed and half hole/awkward fingerings
- A lot of times when fingerings are awkward or we're making mistakes, it's tempting to get frustrated and try to push it faster - this generally doesn't work unless you've figured out why the fingering isn't working
- Whenever you are having problems, try to slow the passage down and then isolate the note group that is giving you trouble - I tend to always try to bring it back to 2 notes, then just play those notes until it's smooth, then move on to 3 and so on (we've done this in lessons, so you should recognize this)
I've noticed that your first finger in your left hand jumps up to the half hole sometimes - see if you can spend some time each practice session just paying attention to that finger in a part of your music where you go from half hole D to any other note - isolate it and make sure that your finger is moving the smallest amount necessary to cover and uncover the half hole.
Jan 10, 2022
Oboe assembly! Some tips to keep from odd noises and damage to the mechanism:
- attach the bell and lower body together first
- make sure the joining mechanism is not forced up by your hand resting on the keys - you should hold the oboe so you only exert pressure on the wooden parts, not the keys
- pay close attention as you rotate the bell to make sure the top part glides smoothly over the bottom part and does not catch - if you catch it and keep turning you can bend the keys
- make sure the joints are pressed firmly together (no gap between them)
- after the bell, carefully align the top joint and the lower body section so that you can press it straight down - be careful again that the joining parts are aligned as you push down, and do not catch as you press down
- if you have to rotate slightly for proper alignment, do so gently and again, avoid putting pressure on the key mechanisms as they are easily bent
Your tone is sounding really lovely! Always start with a scale or exercise you know well and get your air support engaged, because as soon as you do it will sound so much better!
- D major - sounding good with the alternate fingerings see how fast you can get 1 octave this week
- F major - see if you can get the three note pattern we worked on faster
Genshin Impact main theme
- Work on the fingerings that are difficult for you (high C# and D, maybe a few other spots)
- Write in some dynamics - I'll listen next week and see if I can tell what you wrote
Nov 22, 2021
Hope you get more sleep soon!
- don't let your lips 'blow out' or go loose when you play - this will cause the pitch to be wildly unpredictable and typically flat
- remember to roll your lips in as though you are sucking in through a straw, then keep an even pressure on the reed so that no air escapes
- Concentrate on starting the reed with the same air pressure you normally play with - keep the pitch steady by keeping your air pressure steady
- If you're having a hard time, take a little break then try again on long notes to keep the pitch steady
- Stay on Eb major for now, and play it as a warm up with all the notes tongued
- make sure that the notes are steady pitch-wise (they don't go up and down in pitch)
- Keep your air steady and take a breath/break when you need it rather than playing notes sharp or having your embouchure give out on you
- Use a metronome between 40 - 50 beats per minute and clap out the rhythm or write the bigger beats in the bar if you're not sure
- Break it up into 1 line at a time and see how rhythmic you can get it to be.
Dec 13, 2021
Good luck on your concert!
Next lesson is in person and we will experiment to see if we can get your hand position to work better for you.
Nov 15, 2021
Good job working on Eb major and your left F fingering this week.
Reeds, embouchure, and tuning
- The reeds I gave you last week are quite good, but more vibrant than you are used to - allow yourself to play loudly when you are working on figuring out the fingerings/rhythm, and then worry about the dynamics after this (but don't wait too long)
- You must apply enough pressure around the reed with your lips to prevent air escaping
- To practice dynamics play any scale and hold each note for 8 or even 16 beats!
- start mf and crescendo for 4 (or 8) beats
- on the same note, decrescendo for 4 (or 8 beats)
- move to the next note of the scale and repeat
- When you are crescendo-ing you are:
- blowing faster air (and more of it)
- dropping your jaw to keep the pitch steady and in tune
- micro-rolling the reed out to keep the pitch from going sharp
- When you are decrescendo-ing you are:
- still supporting a steady stream of air
- restricting the width of the airflow by applying more pressure on the edges of the reed with your lips (gradually)
- micro-rolling in the reed as you decrease the air pressure towards the softest end to prevent the note going sharp
Eb major - going well, try to practice the 3 note pattern this week and see how fast you can get it
Gekeler book 2 #2
Try to work through the whole exersize and see if you can put in dynamics - practice the high C by playing it as loudly as you can, make sure it's in tune, then try to keep it in tune while micro-rolling in the lips a little and micro dropping your jaw - play around and see if you can make it sound beautiful (or at least pretty!)
James Bond piece
Write in your beats and clap through it before trying to play it. Once you can clap the rhythm you'll be able to figure out the rest pretty easily :)
Nov 8, 2021
When you're playing, try to sit centred on your chair and don't lean on things - this is so you don't hurt yourself or get muscle cramps! :)
- Eb Major (Bb, Eb, Ab)
- Use the Left F key and practice it slowly
- check your tuning while playing slowly
- play all your scales at a mezzo forte right now and try to get a nice tone by keeping your airstream and embouchure steady
Key signature 'tricks'
- To remember the order of:
- Flats: Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles' Father
- Sharps: Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle
- To figure out which major scale goes with a flat key signature, the name of the scale is one flat backwards from the last flat in the key signature, so if there are BEAD in the key signature, the major scale would be Ab major
- To figure out which major scale goes with a sharp key signature, go up a semitone from the last sharp in the key signature.
Nov 1, 2021
~~Lesson credit for this lesson as reeds not working~~
Will see you next week in person!
October 25, 2021
Back again! Sorry for the pause in web updates!
Genshin Impact "Edge of the Prairie" by Yu-Peng Chen
- Score: https://musescore.com/user/2470811/scores/6639619
- Youtube vid: https://youtu.be/UIam8zl4af8?t=3203
Great work on the phrasing today. See if you can either write in the transposition for yourself (up P5 to F major key signature), or memorize it so that you're not guessing what the notes are working on the rhythm and fingerings all at once!
Gymnopédie No. 1 - by Eric Satie
- Score: https://musescore.com/user/2470811/scores/6639619
- Youtube vid: https://youtu.be/S-Xm7s9eGxU
Band Music (from last lesson)
- practice F major (Bb) starting on low F, up to C two lines above the staff, back down to low C4 and back up to F in:
- quarter notes
- eighth notes
- triplet eighths
- 5-tuplet sixteenths!
June 9, 2021
Sounding better on your reeds this week - I would recommend always soaking both reeds up as temperature and humidity can change their characteristics.
Please remind your mom to let me know when your break dates will be and think about whether you will want an extra reed or two for that period, or if the reeds you have are fine.
- The longer you soak a reed the more open it will get
- Longer soaking will also make reeds flatter pitch wise if taken to extremes
- There is an upwards maximum to this, sometimes reeds will just close up as the cane wears out through use
- Each reed should last for about 30 hours of playing
- If you find your reeds are wearing out faster than this, it may be because you are applying too much lip pressure due to insufficient air support
- support your airstream with your abdominal muscles
- try going "Ha! Ha! Ha!" sharply and loudly with your hand on your stomach - you should feel it go in as you expel the air
- you want to have a 'neutral' comfortable place where you are supporting the airstream but neither running out of air or collecting too much 'old' air
- to keep yourself in the neutral zone, plan where to breathe out and where to breathe in
Gekeler book 2 page 3 #2
The second half really improved as we worked on it today! Don't be discouraged by small improvements, they definitely add up faster than you think
- Work on the second half:
- practice going between troublesome notes i.e. C to C# in quarters, eighths, triplet 8ths, 16ths, 5tuplets, 6tuplets, 7?tuplets!
- Try to work with a metronome - often when we tap our feet or move a body part in what we think is a regular pattern we are fooling ourselves and it is not even :)
- After working on trouble spots, take a break of 5 - 10 min then return and see if you can play through the whole second section without stopping - don't start it too fast!
- If you have time work on the first half in the same way.
If you have time, read through Gekeler Book 1 #3 page 15 and #3 page 39 for forked F practice
- F Major (as shown above)
- D major - work on the C# to D and C# to B transitions slowly and try to figure out the most comfortable position for your hand - don't work on this for more than 5 min at a time, and DEFINITELY stop if you start to feel pain of any sort
June 2, 2021
I will have a listen to the links you send me this week and try to find some music for them! Feel free to send me more this week, and I’ll listen to as many as possible. I’ll also send you some of my favorite oboe music at or around your level and you can let me know if you’re interested in any of the pieces and get you the music.
Reeds are tricky. They change with humidity, temperature and sometimes it feels like randomly, but they are what we have to make a sound on so it is always important to try to make the most beautiful sound you can on the reed you have at the moment. I’ll ask your mom if she wants to get you started adjusting reeds as that may eventually help you fix your own reeds, but be aware that it’s not a quick skill to learn, and it will be harder to learn remotely.
Being randomly tired right now is pretty normal; we’re in the middle of a global pandemic and just the daily precautions we have to take (like wearing masks or learning remotely) are super tiring. Be kind to yourself and take breaks when you need them!
May 26, 2021
You sound great on the new reeds! Make sure you’re always supporting with your abdominal or core muscles while you play so that the airstream is constant. Think of doing crescendos to increase your airflow as you change notes. Watch the video from May 19th and see if it helps you think about breathing in a new way!
Gekeler book 1
- last page
- chromatic scale: practice this in groups of 4 notes
- go up 4 notes then back down
- look up the fingerings if you are unsure, don’t guess ;)
- page 13 #4
- Try to get this so that you are not guessing on the next notes
- add some dynamics that you lik in with a pencil
Gekeler book 2 #2
- mark places where you need to use forked F with an x above the notes
- practice going between Eb and forked F
May 19, 2021
Don't forget to check this site for music and reminders about what we're working on this week :) I usually update by the latest the next day!
Written on the Sky
- Talk with your friends and decide who wants which pieces of the melody (write down bar number ranges i.e. bar 1 - 4 oboe gets the melody, bar 12 through 20 piano takes a nice solo etc)
- Decide where you're going to breathe in the parts you're taking
Gekeler book 2 #2
- try to mark in where you need to use forked (moving from D or Eb to F or vice versa) and see if you can get the forked fingering to sound as nice as possible
- Work on the second half after the repeat sign to the end for fingerings
- dont worry about the turn 2 bars from the end right now
- try to keep your shoulders relaxed when breathing - they can move but shouldn't jump up when you breathe
- I think the video below is a really good explanation of why picking places to breathe out and then another place to breathe in can work - see if you can practice the exercises she suggests!
May 12, 2021
Good job soldiering through on so little sleep! Try to get some rest this week, and maybe spend some time talking to your friends about how much of the melody they want for Written on the Sky. I've transposed the original piano score here for you to download, and I suggest you print it out and use 3 different colour highlighters to select the portions each of you want to play. Make sure that you switch off the melodies at a point where a phrase naturally ends (so play through it on oboe or piano to get an idea, or listen to a recording). If you can get the parts you each want selected, we can work on assigning the harmonic bits in part of your lesson next week, and I can generate parts for each of you.
Gekeler Book 2 Page 3 #2
- Try to figure out where the phrases in this are as you learn the notes
- mark the beginnings/endings of phrases lightly with pencil and we'll see if we agree :)
- Identify any areas that are tricky, and put a small star or other mark next to them
- each time you work on it, start by playing just the starred bars once or twice, then the whole piece
May 5, 2021
I will talk to your mom about picking up another couple reeds, and maybe mention to her or your dad that your instrument might benefit from some professional maintenance to fix that key and maybe a few other problems that might be making it harder for you to play.
Gekeler Book 2 page 3 #1
nice work on the turn - if you can, see if you can set a metronome to 80 or 84 and practice just the bar with the turn in it to make sure you're not making it too long
- even on the softer reed, see if you can make each note as nice sounding as possible
- Experiment with adding a little more air and using lighter tonguing while keeping your airstream steady
- think "Tha tha tha" or "dah dah dah" when tonguing instead of "ta ta ta" to see if that will give you a lighter tonguing sound
- Add faster air when you slur upwards and see if you can feel your abdominal muscles contract to add to the air support as you do so - they should be working hard!
- See if you can work on the parts of this that give you trouble, take a 5 minute break, then try to play all the way through start to finish (no repeats)
- The video you sent me has the oboe VERY HIGH. right up to a high E natural, which is quite challenging. The original has the melody an octave lower, and I think it would sound better there, but try both and see what you think
- If you can't find music written out for oboe, the piano score is free at IMSLP here
- do you have staff paper? You could write it out for yourself, and decide which parts to take if you like
May 2 Sneaky update
I made a quick backing track for Lily's theme for you last night. It's a bit rough around the edges but should make it a bit more fun to play - I included tracks with the click all the way through and with just an intro (quarter notes) and ones with and without the oboe line. Enjoy!
April 28, 2021
Good work on Lily's theme - start thinking about what you'd like to play next!
- Keep doing the breathing exercise - see if you can beat my time of 11 counts of breathing out at 60 beats per minute
- Use your abdominal muscles to keep the air flowing at the same speed, and try to push a little more air out at the end when you think yo have none left
- Here's google's online metronome you can use:https://www.google.com/search?q=metronome
- If you feel like certain notes are out of tune, you can also use this online tuner: https://theonlinemetronome.com/free-online-tuner-for-musicians.html
- You want the moving needle to point straight up in the center when you are in tune
- there's also this nifty drone that you can use to tune to: https://theonlinemetronome.com/free-online-keyboard-for-musicians.html
- After doing the breathing exercise, do long tones on a scale of your choice with 4 beats to each note for one octave and a breath before returning down the octave
- Practice using the tonguing to make sure the notes come out, particularly at the beginning
- keep your air flowing fast and support using your abdominal muscles the same way you used them in your breathing exercises
- crescendo by dropping your jaw a little and increasing the airflow as you go up
- decrescendo by keeping the air stream steady while narrowing your embouchure at the sides (make it slightly smaller)
- Transposed part here :D
Gekeler book 1 page 13 #1
- Practice the b section, especially the forked F to half hole D fingerings
- Spend maximum 5 minutes on this
- Don't worry about the forked F sounding a bit dull, that is just your instrument. Just try to make it as nice as you can and focus on remembering the fingering and moving smoothly between F and D
Gekeler book 2 page 3 #1
- See if you can remind yourself how this one goes, and if we can play through it next time we can move on to #2
- pay attention to where the slurs and tonguing is
April 21, 2021
Excellent sight reading & transposing today! Bravo!
- Don't forget to breathe in before you play!
- think about keeping your air stream fast and steady by using your abdominal muscles to support it
- Try doing your breathing exercises when you're not playing your oboe!
Gekeler book 1
- Page 13 #4 - good job on this one! See if you can get it smoother and a little faster this week
- play it slurred line by line
- make sure you support the higher notes with fast air to keep them from going flat
- add in tonguing after it is smooth slurred
- Page 13 #1
- Practice just the Forked F fingering, then go from forked F to half hole D and back
- Practice the lower forked F (no octave key) to low D
- See forked F fingering below
April 15, 2021
Too bad we didn't have as much time today - next time we have a time change I'll make sure to email both you and your mom so we don't get confused :) Next week is our regular day and time, Wednesday at 6pm.
Before you start playing put your reeds in to soak and do the breathing exercise 2 - 3 times
- Breathe in as much air as you can
- Breathe in a little more
- hold it for a few seconds
- Push the air out in a thin fast stream between your lips as though you are playing a very loud note on the oboe
- tighten your abdominal (stomach area) muscles to keep the air stream the same speed and volume as you empty your lungs of air
- Try to keep going as long as you can!
- when all the air is gone, contract your ab muscles and see if you can squeeze out a TINY BIT MORE
- BREATHE IN QUICKLY and deeply
Gekeler book 1
- Page 13 #4
- Make sure to remind yourself of the high A, B and C fingerings using the side/2nd octave key and G fingering using the first octave key before starting
- work on this as a warm up, and try to stop if you make a mistake - play the notes coming into the part where you made a mistake or hesitated, and then add more notes one at a time - repeat until it feels easy, then keep going
- Last page (page 48)
- Slowly work on the chromatic scale
- Use the fingering chart that came with the Gekeler books to look up the fingerings if you are unsure, and write them in a notebook somewhere you can reference easily
- Alternately, this website is pretty reliable for oboe fingerings: https://www.wfg.woodwind.org/oboe/
You've really come far on this piece - the rhythm is good and you're confident with all the fingerings. Now it's time to make it more fluid by really concentrating on air support and lighter tonguing to allow the lines to sound a bit more musical.
- Practice going from low F# to D
- Practice going from low D to low B
- Keep your embouchure in the shape it needs to be to play a nice resonant low D while you play the F#
- Slur slowly at first, then add in light quick tonguing while maintaining a steady air flow by supporting with your abdominal muscles like in the breathing exercise
- concentrate on keeping your embouchure set as though for the lower notes and keeping your air stream going as you interrupt it lightly with your tongue between notes
New Piece: Lily's Theme
This is a super atmospheric piece - we'll need to make you some sort of backing track for it!
- Oboe part here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/q3ilfp2uq7spxd7/Lily%27s%20theme.pdf?dl=0
- I've left it in the key I found it in this time....can you tell me what key it's in?
- If you don't want to play it in this key (and I won't blame you) we're going to play the fun game of transposition (don't worry, I'll help) think about what key you would like to transpose it to, and what interval all the notes will have to move to get there :D
April 7, 2021
Glad you like the one new reed - if the other one doesn't behave itself don't worry about it, but do save it and any other reeds that are not working anymore, as well as the little cases, to go back with your mom the next time I have reeds for you as I can re-use the bottom part after sterilizing it.
Sounding so good! When you focus on it the rhythm is very solid - just remind yourself to keep the beat going in your head especially when you're not playing with the backing track.
Gekeler book 1 page 13 #4
- remind yourself of the correct fingering for A, B and C above the staff (fingerings one post down, just scroll down!) before starting
- You will need good air support with the new reed - take a big breath in before starting and as needed while you play. if you find you're feeling out of breath a lot mark in places to breathe - sometimes I even write "breathe out" and "Breathe in" in different places!
- Start slow, make sure you can play without guessing fingerings for the notes
Looks like a lot of people have actually written out Lily's theme, so I'll have a look for a good version this week and have it for you probably for next lesson!
March 31, 2021
Yes! Rhythm is really improving in drivers license! Keep working on it, but also remember to take time to think about whether you like the sound you're producing (beyond just if it is in tune - is it a beautiful sound? Can you make it nicer? What are you physically changing to make it sound nicer?)
Gekeler Book 1 page 13 # 4
- practice the transitions between the notes that use the 1st octave key (on the back of the oboe with your thumb) and the 2nd or 'side' octave key - E natural to A, D to B etc.
- Make sure you are using the correct fingering for the C 2 ledger lines above the staff (shown below with other 2nd octave note reminders)
- play slowly first concentrating on playing the right fingerings with a nice full sound
- Remember to take a big breath in before playing and sit or stand tall so that you can use your full lung capacity!
- Play the low notes first, out of time, getting a good big sound, then start to work on the rhythm
- Work on the rhythm and note quality first for at least 5 minutes, then treat yourself by playing it with the backing track.
- See how far you can get without stopping with the backing track
March 24, 2021
Try to play on the harder reed for your warm ups - play as far out on the tip as you can and still get a good sound. This reed will be harder to play but will also give you a nicer tone. With oboe it's a balance between having a strong (resistant) enough reed that we have a nice tone, and making the reed responsive enough that we don't get over tired while playing - strengthening the embouchure by playing on harder reeds will help you get a nicer tone as you learn to control them.
Good work playing with the backing track! In your practice, try to do what we did - work on the rhythm, then try to play through just the section you worked on with the backing track. If you get confused, listen to the backing track while following along with your part to hear where you should be with your rhythm. Try singing your part!
Gekeler book 2
#1 - Barret melody
If you have time, see if you can work on this - when you have trouble with the downward slurs or the higher notes - separate the 2 or 3 notes that are giving you a hard time and play them back and forth until the transitions between them feel easy, then add more notes one or two at a time.
March 17, 2021
Sorry about the internet problems - I'll try to figure out what is going on before next week so you don't have to suffer through my terrible typos again!
Your tone and tonguing were much better in the last section of Driver's License after you started going for a larger sound and played (in your words) more in the middle of the reed - try to remember what this felt like and play the low notes with this same feeling and lots of air support in all your pieces.
Gekeler Method book 2
Page 8 #1
Before starting, remind yourself of the fingering for high C, F# and F natural
- Work on the section after the double bar
- When you have a problem, try to isolate 2 to 3 notes first, then add a note one at a time as it gets easier
- Work on the turn in the second to last line - slowly at first, then faster
- Work on the F# grace note bar
- start to put in the dynamics
Nice work on the last low section! Your tone and confidence in this piece has really improved! See if you can remind yourself how the beginning section goes and we'll try to work on it with the backing track next week!
March 10, 2021
This week, focus on fast light tonguing
- Think "dah" or "Thu" and try to just interrupt the flow of air, rather than stopping it, almost not touching the reed.
- Once you feel like it's as light and fast as you can get it (on one note), try using this tonguing between slower moving notes (still on the same note for now, but move back to quarter notes or half notes with very light tonguing between them)
Also work on your low notes early in the practice session - they'll be harder and harder as your embouchure (face muscles/lip muscles) gets tired. Experiment with dropping your jaw and adding air pressure to make them sound as nice as possible - once you get a sound you like, mentally take note of how it felt physically, and what you changed to get there - this will be a constant in your oboe playing, I still do it!
If something is really frustrating you, either move on to something else, or put the oboe away and come back to it later! A lot of times if we think about it away from the oboe it helps more than angrily squeaking away.
Piece: Driver's license
- work on going between C# - D - C# - B in the low octave and in the higher octave (using the half hole) before starting
- try to use the lighter tonguing when you think about it
- Play along with the backing track - it's okay if you get lost, but try to figure out how to get back in when you do without stopping it.
- Try to find another device with speakers you could play it on so you don't have to hear it through the computer speakers (it'll be nicer, and louder), or alternately it might be better if you wear headphones - find out what works best for you to listen and play at the same time
March 3, 2021
Good work on your lighter tonguing this week! Remember to keep your air flowing and just lightly use your tongue to quickly interrupt the sound
Oboe maintenance stuff
Make sure you are 'swabbing' (cleaning out using the pull through cloth that came with the oboe) the oboe after each practice session. If you get a gurgling sound it usually means there is water stuck in one of the keyholes - sometimes just swabbing will get it out, but you should also have cigarette paper (without the sticky part) or tissue paper (the gift wrap kind, not the nose blowing kind) to stick under the key to absorb the water. The oboist below gives a pretty good description (and has a better camera angle than I do!)
Gekeler book 2, page 3
This piece is from the Barret Method book, and while it's pretty simple looking, it will sneakily make you work on hard oboe technique, so take it slow, make sure you have the right fingerings for the notes - practice looking up some you already know in the fingering chart that comes with the Gekeler books so you'll be able to reference them when you aren't sure too.
- Try to learn the notes for this piece for next time, and start working on the dynamics if you have time
We're almost at the end!! See if you can play to the end, and then see how far you can make it from the beginning. Once you've learned the notes this should be easier, but it's still a long piece, so don't get discouraged if you can't make it through all at once right away.
January 27, 2021
Your tone sounds really good this week! Focus on keeping the air flow constant to make phrases flow together better.
D Major (F# and C#) - play really slowly this week (use as a long tone exercise similar to what we did with C major) making sure you come off the half hole key for D and C# and back on it for all other notes.
Gekeler Book 1
- Page 6 - Use these simple exercises for warm ups this week. Take 2 - 3 and focus on playing really in tune, with a big sound (play mezzo forte to forte)
- Page 13 #2
- Carefully practice in two bar sections
- start slow and make sure to slur and tongue as written
- Gradually move the tempo up until you make a mistake, then move it back down so that you can play it without mistakes
- Try to get this exercise as fast as possible with no mistakes (don't try to go faster if you make a mistake)
- Take the first two bars and double all the values of the notes (you can write this out on paper, no need for note values - just lengths)
- 16ths will become 8ths, 8ths will become quarters, quarters will become half notes etc.
- Mark in the quarter note positions in each bar and lightly write in where the 16ths are using the following method
- If you get frustrated with the rhythm, listen to the song again and then try playing through it. Notice the repeated piano accompaniment and how the vocals always start just a tiny bit (a sixteenth) after
February 24, 2021
Nice work on Drivers license today! Try to work on getting your tonguing lighter and faster while keeping your air stream steady.
Warm up suggestions
- Give yourself 5 to 10 minutes to warm up on the oboe and work on technique and tuning away from any pieces we might be working on
- Use the simple long tone exercises in Gekeler book 1 on pages 4 - 7 and try to listen for tuning while keeping your air going - when in doubt, add faster air, and listen to see if it sounds better
- If something really sounds or feels weird - check your oboe physically - is it aligned correctly? are any of the keys not working?
- If you can, try playing a note or two on the piano and matching it on the oboe - you can hold down the pedal to sustain while doing this so that you can properly hold your oboe
- once you have worked out the notes and rhythms for each section, try to think about how you can make it musical
- you can listen to recordings and try to recreate their interpretation, or you can make up your own
- Listen to yourself when you play a section that you are confident playing - do you like how it sounds? Could you make it sound better?
February 17, 2021
Good work playing on hard reeds! These reeds I would perform on so they take a little more work to play - make sure you're playing towards the tip of the reed and blowing lots of fast air to keep them vibrating.
This week - work on your tonguing on the first 8 bars - try to use the "Tah" sound to make the attack cleaner, and pay attention to when it sounds good - how did it feel? Try to make it feel that way again!
Take some time to clap out the rhythm - you're very advanced in your counting abilities, so don't get discouraged - you picked a tough to count peice! If you can clap the first 4 bars of this piece the rest is easy-peasy!
I'll listen to the exercises from the Gekeler books next week too, so have a peak at them for a warm up when you play :)
I sent your mom a copy of the piano part, but you can also download it from here
January 20, 2021
Good work on your embouchure this week - I can really hear the difference. Continue to work on the long tones and tonguing exercises this week, focusing on lighter/quicker tonguing so that there is less space between the notes and they start cleaner.
To think about:
- What piece would you like to play next? Two options mentioned so far, but feel free to come up with others if you want!
- What can you do to remind yourself to have good posture (sit or stand tall, with open chest and head balanced on your spine, and bring the oboe to you)
Possible new piece:
- The Wellerman (sheet music downloadable here)
- Driver's license
January 13, 2021
Yay new reeds! A few guidelines for getting the most out of your reeds:
- start each playing time by reviewing how your embouchure is formed:
- stick out the tongue to bring the reed into your mouth
- surround the reed with your lips as though it is a paper straw
- keep the lip pressure as light as you can while still making sure that they seal around the reed
- if you overblow and the reed growls at you or the note goes up an octave:
- stop, reform your embouchure, and consciously use a steady airstream to attempt the note again
- use less forceful air/less pressure
- observe if taking air pressure away makes the note sound better
- you may need to add some pressure at the edges of your lips/corners to bring the pitch up
- balance the lip pressure and the air pressure until the note sounds good to you - you have a good ear - trust yourself!
- keep track of the physical changes you make to adjust the sound (or timbre), pitch and volume of each note while you do your warm ups so that you can repeat them if you have an issue while playing your piece
Warm up Practice:
Spend maybe 5 to 10 minutes on warm up practice where you work on the technical bits. Then go play your piece or something you want to play. Come back to the technical exercises if you have a problem in your piece, or make up your own if it's a new problem!
Choose 2 or 3 of the following to work on (you don't have to do all of these EACH time you play!
- from half hole D to E with the first octave key (thumb) for the E but not the D or C
- Make sure you are using the 1 and 1 fingering for this C (C5)
- C - D - E - D - C making sure to rotate your first finger off the half hole on the D and back on for the C and E
- LONG TONE Exercise! This is the party trick exercise:
- take a metronome set to 60 beats per minute (here's a free online one) or use the second hand on an analog clock
- play your C major scale starting on low C (C4) with each note getting 4 beats
- See how long you can go without breathing!
- TIP: Control your airspeed to go longer
- Tonguing exercise:
- Your description of tonguing is perfect - always think of pulling the tongue away from the reed - the shorter the time the tongue touches the reed the better it will sound
- Some people think of using sounds like "tah tah tah" or "Teh teh teh" for repeated tonguing - use them if they help you
- Play repeated quarter notes on the C major scale you can start at G and go down then up, or start at the bottom and go up
- make sure each note sounds nice and doesn't growl or go up the octave
- if you get frustrated move on to something else
- Starting at the bottom:
- Starting at G, and then doing the exercise above:
Are you bored yet?
- Practice this in short sections, and go back and forth between playing 2 bar sections all tongued and all slurred (not tongued)
- When you find the notes are not coming out well, stop for a second and try a smaller section - take 2 notes and go back and forth between them and make sure they both sound good, then add a third note
- Remember to think "Ahhh" when going down to lower notes, and think about aiming a little under pitch or lower than they actually are
- If you get frustrated go do something else :) and come back to it later
December 30, 2020
Good work fighting with your flat reed! Don't try different fingerings to get it in tune - just practice your C major fingerings and the tuning will become easier when my reeds arrive (although you will still have to work at it, it will be possible to play in tune!)
For your embouchure:
- stick your tongue out to bring the reed into your mouth, then form your lips around it as though it were a paper straw - and seal in a circular shape around the reed
- Try to keep your cheeks from puffing out by thinking about making the sound "Ahh" inside your mouth
- from half hole D to E with the first octave key
- C - D - E - D - C making sure to rotate your first finger off the half hole on the D and back on for the C and E
- See if you can read through some more of Wallows 'Are you bored yet'
- work on the fingerings and make sure you're not guessing
- Don't worry too much about the tuning until the new reeds arrive
Helpful Fingering charts:
A Second octave key
Note that you can hold the first octave key down at the same time or not (the second octave key automatically closes the first octave, so it doesn't make a difference)
Half Hole D
E first octave key
December 23, 2002
Very nice to meet you - sorry that we seemed to be having some connection problems. If possible see if you can set up close to the wifi router or use an ethernet connection for next lesson.
Good job learning C major fingerings so fast - for this week concentrate on seeing if you can keep playing without your embouchure getting tired and with steady air so the pitch doesn't go up and down too much within each note.
- remember to sit or stand up straight and bring the oboe to you - don't fold forward to the oboe
- place the reed on the lower lip and roll the lip inwards slightly to cover your teeth
- surround the reed with your lips as though you are going to whistle, except that the lips are rolled in, not out.
- keep the lips sealed around the reed - think about making a circle with your lips
- C major scale up and down 4 beats on each note - see how many notes you can go without taking a breath! Make sure to breathe out and in when you do stop, then start again
- Practice the pattern we played: (don't worry about the low B, unless you want to see if you can figure out the fingering - I'll give you a hint, it involves the low C fingering plus one of the left hand pinky keys)
- Also practice starting and stopping notes using your tongue
- Start with the tongue on the reed and your air ready (breathe in)
- release the tongue and blow into the reed with a steady stream of air
- Stop the air and touch the reed with the tongue to stop the note - see if you can stop it without the pitch going down or up.
- Some fun oboe music to listen to:
January 6, 2021
Short notice cancellation - will allow lesson to be rescheduled.
Two more lessons scheduled including rescheduled lesson:
Jan 13 and 20th. See you next week at 6pm!