Oboe Summer Goals

Oboe Summer Goals

Not going to a festival or studying privately, but want to up your musical game between the summer months?  What can you do on your own to improve your playing?  Grab a tuner, metronome, and one of these methods!  Challenge yourself with my picks for the top oboe method books for practice and self-teaching:

Barret Oboe Method- These progressive etudes have an opera aria influence, and chiefly are used for studying musicality.  Valuable technique studies are also included in this method.  There is a version edited by Martin Schuring, which is much easier to read; it is missing some prose discussing oboe basics, including breathing and articulation.

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4 Reasons Music is Good for Your Health

music-for-health

Whether you’re the person behind the instrument or you’re listening to it through your earbuds, science supports the long-believed fact that music is good for more than the soul. A good song has the ability to add fun to even the most mundane workout and creating that song can relieve stress and improve cognitive function. Here are five clear health reasons you should make music a part of your everyday life.

Listening to Music Motivates You to Exercise

After determining that people tended to choose the least strenuous cadence while walking or running, researchers studied the effect music could have on altering that cadence. The study found that, by using the correct type of music, exercisers could trick the brain into overcoming that automatic cadence and work harder. There’s even an app for that. With Cruise Control: Run, runners can challenge themselves by picking up the pace using their own playlists. Whether someone uses an app or just runs a favorite playlist, listening to music makes working out more fun, which is a motivator in itself.
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5 Ways Musicians Can Use Social Media

Social Media Tips for Musicians

As musicians are honing their musical talents in an effort to win audiences, social media is increasingly drawing attention away. Today’s tech-savvy consumers are growing accustomed to receiving entertainment in short, free bursts, rather than enjoying an hour or more of a performance at a concert hall or auditorium.

To reach today’s audiences, it’s important musicians at all levels learn to leverage the internet to spread information. Whether it’s sharing information about how your orchestra is progressing or getting the word out about an upcoming event, sites like Facebook and Twitter can be a great, free way to accomplish your goals. Here are a few ways musicians can harness the power of social media.

Sponsor a Contest

One way to get the word out about your music is to host a contest. Offer a reward in exchange for a like or share. This will help build your audience at the outset so that you’ll have readers whenever you post content or news.

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Expert Performance Tips for Amateur Musicians

Performance Tips for Musicians

Many musicians begin playing because of a love for the art itself. When it’s just a musician and an instrument, performing can be a euphoric experience. But stepping on a stage with an audience of any size can alter the musician-instrument bond, leaving musicians terrified and unsure of themselves.

For a musician who is new to the experience of performing, there are a few expert tips that can help them learn to enjoy the experience. While these tips may not completely allay the stage fright that is natural for anyone, a musician can learn to perform despite any fears.

Everyone is Scared

While professional performers may make standing on a stage look like it’s second nature, the truth is that everyone gets stage fright. Even some of the most accomplished performers of our time have admitted to grappling with it, especially at first. Recognizing this is the first step to learning to overcome it.

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Reeds and Weather

objuliepaul-reedThe weather in Minneapolis took an upward turn overnight last night. Our temperatures are now in double digits above zero for the first time in weeks! With a dramatic change in weather you might find a change in your reeds.

I don't know if anyone has come to any scientific conclusions on how reeds react to different weather changes, but for most of us we just know that when the weather shifts, so will our reeds. We just don't always know how they'll change. There are some things you can do to even out the bumps though. These tips might also help you when you travel to a slightly different climate or altitude than your home. Your Mileage May Vary.

Try soaking up your reeds briefly, then just putting them away. Give them a chance to adjust to the new weather pattern without stressing them by playing. You'll find they've acclimated to the new conditions the next day.

Long term, you can spend more days in the reed making process. I find that a reed that has some time to settle as a blank before beginning the finishing process, and given frequent but short playing sessions for the first week after finishing, will usually be more stable over weather changes (and last longer) than reeds made and finished in just a few short sessions. For single reed players, this translates to a gradual break-in process for new reeds out of the box.

For more tips, visit the Tips and Resources section of our blog.

Brass Wire in Bassoon Reeds

Brass wire is one of the crucial components of a bassoon reed. Its placement and how it's put on the cane have a profound effect on the way the finished reed plays. We offer several gauges of wire, and depending on many factors, you may actually want to try a mix of different gauges. You don't need much wire for any single reed, so even a 2oz. spool can provide enough wire for dozens of bassoon reeds.

1/4 lb will make many bassoon reeds

The gauge for brass wire for bassoon reeds will typically be between 21 and 24 AWG. The higher AWG (American Wire Gauge) number the thinner the wire. Thinner wire will take up less space on the reed and theoretically allow freer vibrations of the reed, especially when used at the first wire position. If, for your reed design, the wire is too thin, it may not support the cane enough, and it can more easily break if you need the wire to be tighter. Heavier gauge wire will be more supportive, but may dampen the vibrations of the blades, especially on the first wire position.

Some reed makers I have spoken with will use all the same gauge wire (I personally use 22 for everything), while others will use thinner wire for the first wire closest to the blade, while using heavier wire for the third and/or second wire. Feel free to experiment and see if you find enough of a difference to use different gauges!

As for where to put the wires, there is no consensus in the reed making community on where the wires should go. The wire placement is largely a component of the reed shape, as the wires create the support structure for the fulcrum of the reed that helps keep the tip open.

Once you've made your reed, adjusting the wires can be a simple way to alter the playing characteristics of the reed.

Happy reed making!

Your Oboe and Winter- What you need to know

Fox335oboeAs most oboists know, the winter months can be grueling on our reeds and instruments - especially for those of us who live in cold, dry regions.  While there is no real 'preventative' measure to keep a wood oboe from cracking, there are things you can do to help significantly reduce the risk. Remember that wood instruments, just like anything wood (furniture, etc) are very susceptible to changes in ambient temperature, humidity, etc, and it's best to know how to help regulate these things in order to keep your instruments (and reeds!) happy through the winter!

First and foremost - never blow warm air into a cold instrument!  While this seems obvious, it should always be reiterated.  With hectic schedules and running from classes to rehearsals, gigs, and the like - there may seem like we don't have time to warm up the oboe before playing, but it is a crucial part of instrument care.  Always make the time, even if you have to miss the first few notes of the rehearsal or your second oboist has to give the tuning note.  The main culprit behind cracking is taking a cold instrument from its case and forcing warm, moist air through it.  This stresses the wood and does not give it sufficient time to acclimate to the room temperature.  The moisture then is able to get into the wood from the inside of the bore and force its way through the grains and cause a variety of cracks ranging from surface cracks to major cracks which require pins and tone-hole inserts.  The best way to warm-up the instrument is to hold it between your hands or place the joints underneath your arms. Anything you can do to bring the wood of the instrument up to an acceptable temperature to play.  During the winter months if you have to ship an instrument anywhere for repairs or especially instrument trials -  allow the instrument(s) to sit, cases open, in a warm room for at least 24 hours before attempting to play them.  Allow the instruments to reach the temperature of the room before playing them.
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Bassoon Care series: Swabs and caring for wood

In the next coming weeks I'll be offering some basic care tips for bassoonists. Following some basic care procedures can greatly enhance the look of your instrument and improve the performance of your bassoon between regular visits to your repair technician.

Swabbing your instrument after every playing session (or within a longer playing session) is the single most important thing you can do to keep your instrument in good playing condition. Excess moisture in the instrument while being stored can lead to water problems while playing, damaged pads, and extensive damage to the wood. Swabbing your instrument isn't a difficult task, but it has to be done properly to ensure the process is doing what it's supposed to do, and doesn't result in inadvertent damage.

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