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?
2. SLOW SCALES WITH A DRONE
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.