Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My Oboe Confession

I am a mom. It is what I do day in and day out. I cook, clean, launder clothes, bathe children, play, play, and more play, and then clean some more. These are my responsibilities to see to every day. It's not always pleasant, in fact it can be downright unpleasant a lot of the time. But I love my kids. I love being with them every day and feel blessed to be able to do so. Because of them, I do love my job!

However, I think we all have a little side note attached somewhere inside of us. Something we love to spend our time doing, and secretly covet more time to be able to do this other thing. Mine happens to be my oboe. I've loved it since before I could play it. It brings me a satisfaction that nothing else brings. Having our three children all close together, though, has meant a lot of oboe sacrifice in the past 5 years. It's been tough. Rewarding, but very tough.

Before we moved over a year ago, I really took for granted all the playing I was still able to do. I was very casual about my practicing, because I was finding performing opportunities around every corner, and thought to myself "I don't have TIME to practice..." so I did what was needed to hold my abilities and perform what was needed well. I was performing lots, not improving lots. Then we moved.

It was a sad day to leave all those contacts, all those performing opportunities, all those established contacts that I could count on every Christmas and Easter calling me up. Sad doesn't even describe it. Devastating. I felt it would be too hard to network in a new place with a new baby and get anywhere. Okay, yes it would be hard, until I told myself I could do it.

It took me a year of courage building to finally overcome my hesitations and pessimistic outlook. I practiced here and there last year because it was all I had, there were no gigs, no concerts, no rehearsals. Just me. But I started practicing more regularly as the year progressed. I learned new pieces, I learned old pieces again, me and the oboe got reacquainted after a very lonely year. And then I jumped. I closed my eyes and jumped out into the wide open, knowing full well that it was time to have courage and confidence that I could do it. I scheduled myself a lesson with Bob Stephenson, oboist of near 30 years with the Utah Symphony, and my ASU oboe professor's good friend and colleague.

WHEW! It was so much fun! Call me crazy, but I love to be told HOW and WHAT'S. He didn't say to me "that was the most perfect I have ever heard that played" or "you are just amazing"... I think I would have called him crazy. Instead, he gave comments of "this NEEDS more vibrato here" and "your technique is quite sloppy on that run, lets think about the patterns and fix this" It made me laugh at the number of comments that lined right up with all the things I've been frustrated with in my own playing over the past several months. And I loved hearing ideas, and solutions. Hooray for solutions! I miss having regular lessons with people who have perfected this crazy thing. I am not yet where I want to be musically. In fact I was fantasizing the other day over getting a Masters degree (all in due time...) and so today was great. I really enjoyed Bob's teaching. He is a quick and expressive teacher. I do hope that he saw all the hope deep down under my countless flaws and weaknesses. I'm not a quitter. I may not be the best oboist in the world, but I am determined in my lifetime to become the best oboist I can be.

Long story short: preparing for this lesson today has taught me a lot. It has taught me that I DO have time to practice, without sacrificing too much time with my children. I CAN improve, and I CAN go out in the world with confidence that I am a good musician. I'm not great yet, but I learned that I think I can get there. It's amazing what giving up TV watching, and game playing and computer time will do. All sorts of time appeared when I really wanted it to! I needed it to, because I have found I need this. I need music, because it is part of me.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


F.un around every corner
A.lways finding reasons to smile
M.aking memories
I.ce cream and egg nog professionals
Y.ule Tide greetings from the Simpers 2010
Happy New Year!