Monday, April 5, 2010

New Beginnings

Just got back from Spring Break. As a long-time student and now professor, I'm lucky that Spring Break didn't end by the time I was 22 at the end of undergraduate studies. It's a yearly gift of TIME, rest and renewal. While much of the break was spent removing wallpaper and painting our house, it was also a time of reflection about music and the oboe. I didn't practice for a few days. I'm not proud of the fact, but I'm also not apologetic. I don't NEED the oboe and the routine of practice to define who I am and I do seek out time to NOT practice and enjoy other things (cycling, kayaking, reading, etc... after the wallpaper was gone!).

Each time that I begin again after a break is a new beginning. My embouchure muscles have atrophied a bit and my practice sessions are drastically reduced when I start again. But this shortened practice time also impels me to think about the real essence of what is needed to play the oboe:

1. A good embouchure
2. AIR---used WELL
3. A limitless creative mind.

#3 was in constant use over break :) but the first two were not. So, when I returned to practicing, I went back to the basics and used my time to focus on air and embouchure awareness: how much reed was in my mouth? How little reed is actually needed to be inside the lips to produce a warm, stable sound? How was my air being used? Was I supporting well, with good use and not "holding" the air with unnecessary tension? All of the guidance from former teachers came back, bringing a renewed awareness to what I'm doing.

Each practice session got a little longer, and these basic ideas helped to sort of hit a "restart" button on my playing. In a day or two my usual endurance will be back, but my playing will be far beyond where I was before the break.

Breaks are GOOD. :)

Oboe and out,