Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Have I mentioned that I play oboe?

Excuse this, it's very late and I should be in bed. Alas, I will forget what I want to say if I don't write it now, and history tells me that if I write a draft, it will stay a draft forever and never get posted.


My band, a community concert band, did a concert this evening. We played with three local high school bands, each band playing two pieces for each other, and then everybody getting together and playing one final piece for the twelve people left in the audience. I wasn't particularly in love with the pieces we played, but that's neither here nor there.

There were no other oboes in any of the high school bands. I've noticed a gradual decline in the number of oboists in these things, but this was the first time I was all by myself. Our bassoonist was solo, as well. I'm sure it's not solely due to my wish to drive all competition from my band (I may be mean to other oboists, but these high school students would only have to deal with me once a year, and I might even be able to be nice to them, if I know it's just one evening a year).

Aside: How I became an oboist. I started playing clarinet in grade four or five. There were only a few instruments to choose from in that first band -- clarinet, flute, trumpet, trombone, maybe drums. Then we got to junior high, and all of a sudden, playing better music just didn't work with our limited instrumentation. What can you do with 17 clarinets? So the music teacher took the good new clarinetists and gave them interesting things, like oboes, horns, and tubas. After a couple of months, the talented clarinetist decided she hated to suck, and wanted back on clarinet. So they offered the oboe to me.

And I did suck, for quite a while. But I kept playing, and now I'm not that bad. I can make reeds. I can play in tune.

It would seem that for some reason, they don't do that anymore. So, grade nine music students, dare to suck! Take up oboe! Negotiate a bonus mark for being a team player!

Just a suggestion.


ChiaLynn said...

My husband picked up oboe in high school - he had intended to play sax, and then he looked at the sheer number of saxophonists he'd have to beat out for first chair, and realized that if he played oboe, he'd be first chair by default. His teacher was thrilled, since she was an oboe player herself.

Simon said...

Oboist - now there is a word to use out of context.

There speaks a boy who was given the Rolf Harris Stylophone by a frustrated music teacher.

At the time, this seemed a huge leap for somebody who was normally only entrusted with the triangle and piece of packing foam with which to play it. Yet, there I was entrusted with something that, in the hands of my peers at least, would play a tune.

Suddenly, the spotlight of fame was upon me (OK, so it was a very small, very weak spotlight, but to me it was akin to playing the Royal Albert Hall).

Taking a deep breath, I picked up the little black pen and started to play.

At this point, readers will split into two, very distinct groups.
One will be the optimists, who will be picturing an acne ridden youth reducing the entire class to tears with a moving rendition of David Bowie's Space Oddity.

Sadly it is the other group, who are picturing me in the next lesson clutching the triangle and a stick of foam, who have the correct picture.

Robyn said...

I guess what I'm afraid of is, in band we play a lot of music intended for high school students probably. And if no high schools have oboe players, increasingly I will play dumbed-down parts, or take the flute part down the octave. And that would suck.

I hope this is a local phenomenon.