TLDR: I bought a new oboe and I'm really happy!

January 7, 2020
Since I moved to Toronto, I've felt like I was sometimes at war with my oboe. I questioned if I could make reeds, play music, play the oboe well enough to even continue, let alone improve. And yet I kept playing, kept accepting more opportunities to play, forced my reeds to squeeze themselves into pitch, because I love playing the oboe...but I wasn't loving it.

I was hating myself after each performance, even when things went acceptably, because I felt it shouldn't be this painful just to play in tune, never mind musically. I wanted to do so much more than I was able to do with the music.

The only time I felt like I could be musical was when I switched to english horn.

I brought my instrument in for crack after crack, sometimes I would have a brief moment of joy when it played well in a rehearsal, but the next day it would be hard to get the low notes out, or none of my reeds would sound, or none of my reeds had any tone and sounded like kazoos. Resistant, blatty, stubborn kazoos!

In a convergence of oboist vs ice injuries, I ended up playing 1st oboe in Stravinsky's Pulcinella suite and Debussy's Petite Suite and playing in a run of Don Giovanni. My oboe cracked sneakily but very uncomfortably through a tone hole the week before a spate of performances. I felt like I was going to lose my mind and my stress/tense practicing/playing got so bad I gave myself a shoulder injury that made it nearly impossible to play without a neck strap.

In desperation I called Jim to ask him if he would lend me an oboe to play over the weekend - preferably a lined one (I was NOT going to crack a loaner oboe) I was honest about the fact that I wasn't strictly speaking looking to buy, but was up the creek without a paddle and knew he had some used oboes that would be in better adjustment than L&M's. Amazingly, he not only agreed to lend me an oboe, he lent me SEVERAL oboes; a lined yamaha, a loree Royal with a plastic top joint, and a Howarth that I really, really wanted to like.

After making it through my performances, but feeling intensely weird on the new oboes (having only played one oboe for 10+ years will do that) I decided I would buy a new oboe after all - a LINED oboe! Long story slightly shorter, I tried in vain to fall in love with any brand other than the yamaha, but despite the keywork feeling strange, it stayed with me no matter what other oboes I tried, and I ended up buying "Hammy the Yammy" as he has now been affectionately named.

It took some time to feel comfortable on the new oboe, and initially I would go back and forth between the Loree and the Yamaha, but once I stopped, I didn't look back. My reeds have stabilized, coming out consistently and in tune, I've started to be able to just play again, and have been feeling tentatively relieved. I feel as though I've come out of a long, dark winter, and maybe things will grow again.


Oboe Inspiration

July 24, 2019
I've been feeling a bit defeated about the oboe lately. My Lorée has had crack catastrophe after crack catastrophe, and I'm starting to feel like it might be the end of it's useful life - every time I start to play intensely on it there's a sneaky lack of suction, and although I'm much faster at spotting it these days, it's still wreaking havoc on my reed making. I'm certainly glad I made the somewhat impulsive decision to buy the lined Yamaha, as it has saved me several times, but switching...
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February 22, 2019
Finally bought a humidifier so I can stop boiling water all the time. As a west coast oboist, I was clearly not prepared for Ontario humidity levels (or lack thereof in the winter)!

So far:

- Lorée oboe cracks by posts, between trill keys, around old pin
- Lorée english horn bell crack (twice - once at the Thunder Bay audition, and again recently)
- Yamaha Lined oboe bell crack!!!!! :(

I feel cursed. Luckily I have a very good technician in Alessandro Garcia, so I now have both the Lorée instru...
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November 16, 2018
It seems the fate of oboists to be haunted by cracks. I'm gradually getting better at checking the instrument before assuming that I have just turned into a terrible oboist who can't tune to save her life...but I definitely failed this time. I believe my oboe has been cracking since October, when I foolishly played for around 10 minutes in an unheated practice space before realizing how cold it was (I had just come in from outside, and felt warm).

All the symptoms were there:
  • my low notes felt ...

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Halloween Etc.

October 25, 2018

Somehow I have a rehearsal or concert every day from October 30th to November 4th, and only single day breaks after that until the 17th of November. No trick or treating for me I guess. The first rehearsal and sitzprobe for Oklahoma have passed...I think it will be a fun run, but I forgot how cramped pits (or in this case, loft) are for musicals. Gah. 

The singers are lovely, and I wish I could watch them! I need to go to more musicals that I'm not playing in!

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February 22, 2015
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...
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Check the dates FIRST!

November 17, 2014
I've recently moved to Toronto, which was huge. I sold all my stuff that I could possibly part with and shipped the rest via greyhound. That was June, I think. It's what, November, now? and I'm only just getting my feet under me again. It's been super hard keeping practicing, to the point where if I pick up the oboe at all it's a success.

However! I'm finally feeling like I can breathe again, and needed a way to get my practice routine back - and viola! (not an actual viola...that'd be...cruel...
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Reed Purgatory

November 29, 2013
Oh, but my reeds are Terrible this month. I have been spending wayyy more time on them with wayyy less impressive results. The more I work the worse they sound and the worse I feel. It's a sneaky hate spiral of Oboe proportions.

There is, at least, two common problems:

-that awful shrieking in the high notes
- horrid flat and kazoo-like tendencies.

Must run now. Will brainstorm solutions/troubleshoot later.

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November 2, 2013
OperaFeHk is gearing up to do a show on November 30th again. I'm both terrified and excited (and mildly alarmed that I've become rather used to this particular mix of emotions).

The amount of fiddly details involved in pulling this show together each year always astounds me - I never meant to become involved with (what has really become) an opera company. You'd think the name would have alerted me to Grimey's plans, but I can be a little dense sometimes.

Singers. Actors. SINGERS WHO ARE ALSO AC...
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Who needs goals??

August 15, 2013
You know how they tell you to set goals in highschool? In university? At work? You know how you always rolled your eyes and thought 'I don't need to set goals, I work hard, I know what I want and I'm self motivated'?

Yeah. We were wrong. Lazy brain loves fooling us into not getting things done, that's for sure. I mean, yes, I work hard, and yes, to a certain extent I've always got some internal idea of what I want but...

Well, to be honest, lately I've struggled with having a reason to get into...
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