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Social Distancing Practice Ideas

Updated: Jul 17, 2021


Since we are in an indefinite period of social isolation, this is a golden opportunity to hone your skills, sharpen your proverbial musical sword. This is a scary and uncertain time but I have found comfort in controlling the aspects of my life I can control. I can most definitely control how I spend my practice sessions. Here are some suggestions for maximizing your practice sessions. Stay tuned for another post on maximizing your reedmaking time!

1. Hunker down on long tones *WITH A TUNER*

  • Don't ignore the “ugly notes” (I’m looking at you, 3rd space C). Instead, FOCUS on them. Can you make that 3rd space C sound as luscious and full bodied as half hole D?


  • You know that link to those YouTube cello drones you were meaning to click on but never did? Now is the time, DO IT!

  • Seriously, I find it is a kind of meditation and is one of the best ways to refine your listening skills.

3. Play ALL the scales!

  • Not only will you improve your technique, you will definitely improve your music theory

  • If you’re like me and crave variety, try adding some less familiar scales to your routine.

  • Start by practicing ALL THREE forms of minor scales: natural, harmonic, melodic.

  • Play them in 3rds. This is harder than it looks. Trust me, I’m a doctor.

  • Then try your hand at major and minor pentatonic scales. Use this as an opportunity to make sure you can play even quintuplet rhythms.

  • If you’re looking for even more of a challenge and variety try practicing fully and half diminished 7th arpeggios, dominant 7th arpeggios, blues scales, modes, etc. The possibilities go on. Do not blame a blasé attitude about scales on a lack of variety.


  • Take the opportunity to listen, REALLY listen to recordings of great oboists. Ask yourself:

  • What makes them great?

  • What are their strengths?

  • How would you describe their sound? Their phrasing?

  • Listen to other great musicians, singers, violinists, etc.

  • It can be so easy to get wrapped up in the challenges of the oboe that we forget why we chose this instrument in the first place: to express ourselves through music. Listening to great musicians who play instruments other than our own helps remind us of our WHY and helps transcend the challenges of the instrument.

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