Thursday, December 7, 2017

Don't Make OBOE REEDS in a Bubble!

As I say time and time again, making oboe reeds is often an experiment, and changing one variable at a time will provide you with a cheap education and useful clues to improve your reedmaking results.

Even though it is important you change only one variable at a time, always keep your EYE on the bigger picture and be thinking, analyzing and scheming about other ways to solve your problem.

In other words, while you have one "experiment" going (like trying a new shape to see if it helps bring down your pitch a little bit), use your detective skills to view the same problem from a different perspective and work to solve it in a less technical way.

I suppose you could just try one equipment experiment after another and hope to solve things that way, but I always like the "detective on overdrive" approach and leave no stone unturned when searching for a solution. I do my best to get out of my "oboe bubble" and try to reevaluate everything I am doing with fresh eyes.

For example, let's take the ever-popular issue of playing sharp. You know, the problem that seems like it just came out of nowhere.

First, REALLY think back and remember when you started to notice that your pitch was high. Was there a weather change, or anything really obvious like that?

Ask yourself some other questions.....

When was the last time you bought a knife? How old is your oboe? Is your oboe sealing well?

There are so many little things that can contribute to a larger problem like playing sharp. Luckily, most of the little things are relatively easy to solve.

So while you are trying a new shaper tip, spend some time playing around with how much oboe reed you put in your mouth while you are practicing. What happens to the pitch now? Or compare the pitch of your best friend's brand new oboe to yours.

Even though I still stand by my philosophy of changing only one variable at a time when making oboe reeds, you can still learn a lot of other things in the midst of your one "experiment." Making oboe reeds in a bubble and believing that problems are caused by only ONE factor is a foolproof recipe for oboe reed frustration.

Even if the shaper tip does end up helping your pitch problem, there are lots of other things that YOU can do to improve it as well.

Making oboe reeds really is an ART. If it was as simple as x + y = z = great oboe reed, then ANYBODY could do it. If solving a pitch problem was as easy as just making 74mm reeds, then NO ONE would ever play sharp.

But that just isn't true. Playing the oboe and making good reeds is always a combination of a whole host of factors working together.

It is very similar to being a good healer. If someone comes to you with an earache, you don't (in my opinion) just prescribe drugs for them. You look at the whole person and see what their life is like and how everything in it is working together (or not). It is really the same with making oboe reeds.

There is rarely one easy fix or answer when you take into account everything that an oboist is, and everything his/her reeds are.

Get out of your reedmaking bubble and make sure you get a good view of the larger picture - how everything is working together.

Your oboe reeds and your playing will reap the rewards.

    By Maryn Leister
      Oboist and entrepreneur Maryn Leister helps beginner, intermediate and professional oboists become happier oboe players.
      She is the owner of the oboe learning company MKL Reeds and publisher of the Reed Report and Oboe Success Tips Newsletters. Each newsletter is full of straightforward tips on becoming a better oboe player and on taking control of your oboe reeds.

      Get your free subscription to the Reed Report newsletter and start your own journey towards a more rewarding oboe future right away. Sign-Up now and get your FREE Oboe Reed Tips!
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