Creating Practice Space

Dear Ones, Hello and welcome to Oboe Brilliance blogs, devoted to the art of life long oboe playing enjoyment for all oboists - students, professionals, retired professionals, teachers, amateurs and the curious.

Creating space to practice guilt free and with considerations to all in hearing range is as important as having a good instrument to play.  Creating space to practice is an art form for all oboists. There are both personal and social considerations. This blog focuses on the social.

Sound travels UP ...

Sound travels and so do oboists!

It helps to know what your options are in advance as to where and when you can practice - or for that matter, squeak and crow your reeds - without annoying, waking up or frightening others! 

How does sound travel in lodgings? What are the quiet times of the buildings and/or are there young, old, infirm, or special needs people to consider with timing your practice? (Special needs people can also include a nursewith a the night shift, for example...)

If you're booking a hotelor renting a room in a dormitory or an apartment, see if you can get a corner room on the top floor. If possible, without unnerving people, know the schedules of others for practice purposes.

Communal practice spaces: If one isn't already established - set up a practice schedule agreement for practice rooms. It is often helpful to have a low decibel wing in music buildings. Its always nice to be near them. Be mindful of who practices what near you.

Extra options: if you live with others and usually practice at home, it helps sometimes to have an alternative location. The term "wood shedding" comes from the old wood shed outside of the house where musicians would go to practice when they wanted privacy - usually when practicing new works or difficult techniques. Additional practice spaces might include a room or office in a business, church during off hours, office building somewhere, or annex building for storage. Remember - sound travels up.

If you just practice at home, but you might have company or someone is sick and needs a lot of rest, it helps to have a plan B - do you have any friends with an office space that you could use when they aren't in the office at such times for example, or a friend who will let you practice in their kitchen or wherever while they are at work?

Pillows, carpets, curtains, egg cartons, foam, book shelves with books and of course sound proofing tiles all absorb sound. While these kill reverb and nice big sounds, they can make a space a private haven for consistent or emergency practice times. Table cloths and blankets can work miracles in a pinch or can transform a room just enough to make it possible when someone else needs to rest. 

At home, it's SO nice to have either your own music room, or at least a room that is designated for you to practice at least sometimes of the day or evening. Encourage others to respect your sacred practice time. My great grandmother used to have a sign on her door that said, "genius at work" !!!

If you know the schedules of the others in your shared living space - then you can choose to practice the more difficult practice sessions when they are out of the house so you can enjoy greater freedom to - for example - master that top octave!! ... or play that lick for 100 times without driving others insane.

If you have a pets - consider their hearing. The oboe is so rich in overtones and puppies have sensitive hearing. Sometimes pets will want to sing along or echo or will want to go somewhere else. Cats are easy - just designate a closet shelf with a nice pillow they can sleep on and keep the door cracked.  Dogs like to go under tables with cushions and table cloths or outside if you don't want them to sing along.

Happy practicing!
Best,
Kathryn