Oh, Oh, Oboe

For 52 weeks I have left readers with the happy thought of me tootling away on the oboe. You might recall Oboe 004, or Oboe 050. But now the truth must out: that has not been the case at all.

Having purchased my oboe in January last year, on our family vacation, I began 2015 with music lessons in Boroque Recorder and Oboe on alternate weeks. The practice regime was rigorous, with both instruments requiring their daily dose of scales, arpeggios and pieces to prepare for the next lesson. A dozen or so scales and lively passages of Vivaldi for the recorder; and a Cmaj scale plus the calm beauty of a Sati Gymnopedae for the oboe.  Progress on the oboe was slow indeed, but I was creeping forward.

Oboe, Music and Life
from Illustrated Lessons of Oboe, Music and Life – Oshri Hakak

To play the Oboe had been a great dream, truly a lifelong dream. It is the most beautiful sound in the world; a haunting oboe solo on the radio will always stop me in my tracks. When I was still driving I would occasionally have to pull over to the side of the road just to listen.  I had previously played clarinet and flute, taken a few lessons, but mostly just jammed along in church bands by ear. This, however, was turning out to be something very different indeed!

A great friend of mine is a musician par excellence, and when I told him that I had purchased an oboe he looked at me in disbelief.  “But you do know, don’t you”, he said, “that the Oboe is an ill wind that nobody blows good”.

The Oboe requires a ridiculous amount of pressure to support the reed.  To create a note you have to hold the reed very firmly in an embouchure that sets your jaw muscles alight after about 3 minutes, and then blow through a tiny tube about a quarter the diameter of a drinking straw. After half an hour of practice (which technically, I admit, may never have actually happened …) I found I could barely speak. This was doing me no good.

Total surrender was inevitable before the summer was ended, and with a heavy heart I put the Oboe up for sale. It was purchased by a School Orchestra, which was a satisfying home to send it to. Having awoken to the cold, hard light of day I then had to look in the mirror and ask myself without flinching: What in the world had possessed a passable middle aged recorder player to take on the most demanding wind instrument in the orchestra?

The answer, when it dawned on me, was simply this: The Pool.

and The Story of The Pool I shall tell next week…..


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  1. Pingback: The Story of The Pool | Rejoice!

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