artful etude practice

Hello dear ones, Welcome to Oboe Brilliance, the Monday blogs which celebrate and nurture the art of life long oboe playing for all oboists - teachers, students, pros and amateurs alike.

For maximum benefit and enjoyment of oboe playing, it is necessary that when practicing etudes, the door to the heart is open and the soul is expressed. Otherwise, one practices etudes like a robot, and practices playing with the heart in a box or kept on the shelf. Not necessary or advisable! Fortunately, it is very easy and doable to practice expression with every note - regardless what one is playing - if done so consciously! This can and should be cultivated as a habit if one wishes to make music or simply always enjoy being a musician.

Long tones, scales and etudes can all be played with the decision to play in an expressive manner. For example, an instrumentalist can decide to play a scale - or etude with an expression of determination, playfulness, or mischievously, mysteriously, peacefully, dolce and so on.

It is helpful to repeat etudes, scales etc. playing them in a variety of expressions. It is even possible and quite fun to alternate back and forth between expressions with phrase changes as if there are two characters having a conversation. 

Advice: If an etude or scale is frustrating, play it with a heroic, victorious, or determined manner.
If an etude is full of slurs, legato, long tones - then play it with mystery, ambition or deception, beguilingly, dreamily, etc. - as you deem fit.

Enjoy - and feel free to return to etudes from the past and discover how many different ways you can express emotion while reviewing and refreshing yourself or students with the mechanical skills the etudes provide to foster.

It really helps to approach etude work with a spirit of playing a game and embracing a challenge. In addition to the experiencing the joy and fulfillment of accomplishment, etude work can also be a great stress reliever. Embracing challenging practice (especially if one keeps a set time to practice) offers a break from thinking about other cares or concerns while providing great benefit of exercising the skills to cope with challenges. Win win. 

Practice develops patience, and discipline on numerous levels.
Practice over time develops skills so one can sit with one's oboe (or instrument) and play ones heart out to water ones soul after or during a long day.

Developing the skill of playing an instrument is like cultivating the garden within, and wherever you are, you have that music in you and the ability to play your instrument as if sitting in a beautiful shady spot in the garden on a hot hot day.

Musically yours,
Kathryn Potter

P.S. (SKYPE lessons to study teaching/practicing techniques and the music I've composed are available by appointment.)