Saturday, October 06, 2007

Taking dorkyness to an even higher level

Well, so upon reflection, thats probably not true.

I think I hit my peak of loserdom when I joined the band at my work. I'm a scientist, and I work with a bunch of scientists. So being in the band at a science place is like, the height of dork. But in the band at work I have been playing saxophone. Of the three instruments that I own and thus could play now without having to go out and rent (flute, alto sax and oboe), the flute and sax are the easiest to pick up again after a 10 year hiatus (and actually, I played in the CWRU jazz band for my first year of grad school, so it was slightly more recently that my sax had gotten some action).

Oboe is a very challenging instrument to sound good on at the beginning. All new oboe players sound like dying ducks. I was thinking that all oboe players, despite the fact that they used to be very good, would sound like dying ducks after not touching their oboes since their last concert of college 10 years ago. So, even though it was really my primary instrument, I was terrified to try it again. I think even more so because it was my best one: what a shock to go from sounding pretty good to sounding like a dying duck! Better to just keep the good memories of how it used to be.

But then someone in my work band joined the Durham Community Concert Band. He totally talked me into joining. And, of course, what community band is looking for a saxophone player or a flute player? None of them. Both of those are a dime a dozen. So it was settled: I was going to play oboe.

Holy crap.

I never learned how to make reeds to any level that I could actually use them and sound good (long story why not, but suffice it to say that I am a freak among oboe players to not know how to make my own reeds). In college I used to use the other oboe players reeds when she didn't like them anymore. She always said she was amazed that I could sound so good playing on such crap :)

So anyhow, I had to buy some reeds first. I did this over the internet. Woo!

Then I had to make friends with my oboe again. I busted it out about a week before my first practice with the band. Not good. Although, to be fair, not as bad as I thought it would be.

First rehearsal. It is 2 hours long. My embochure is so shot that I cannot keep my mouth on the reed for more than 15 minutes. This is going to be a nightmare.

Second rehearsal. Much better! I can keep my mouth on the reed for much longer. An hour!

Now it has been 6 or 7 practices, so I am feeling much better about things. Our first concert is coming up on the 27th AND I have a solo. Small, but still. OMG. And I'm happy to say that I sound okay. I mean, nowhere near where I used to be, but I don't sound like a beginner.

7 comments:

smurphy said...

That's awesome! I absolutely LOVE the oboe. It's basically the best sounding instrument in the world (rival: the trumpet). But you're right...it must be played well or not at all!

Emily said...

Yeah, you are a dork. :)

Keith said...

Not being musical at al, I have questions:
1. What do you mean "make reeds", it seems like something you would just buy.
2. Itn't that the part you put your mouth on? Does that meen that the other girl slobered on a reed for like 6 months and then gave it to you? cus thats icky.

Owen said...

1. Seriously, you like, start with a piece of cane and split it and whittle it and scrape it, tie it to a metal tube thingie and make it into a reed. Its crazy. You can buy them though, they're just not as good because you didn't make it to your exact specifications.

2. Heeeee. Yes. Thats exactly what that means :) I dipped it in ethanol first!

patientgrl said...

My friend is in that band! Kelly...she plays the clarinet I think. She said she met you.

Owen said...

No way. She has dark hair? I realize that doesn't narrow it down much, but I only have talked to a few clarinet players. Okay, one. And she worked at Duke.

peppersnaps said...

Hey, good for you! That's awesome. Its great to pick up an instrument again after some time. I wish I had a weekly reason to play my piano.

How was the concert? Ah, you have probably blogged about it so I will keep reading...