Karen (estherchaya) wrote,

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Steve asked me a question in one of my recent entries. Since my comment was too long for a comment, and I'm too lazy to edit it, here's my answer:

Question from slitterst:
I probably knew this at some point, but why did you choose the flute, and then why did you swap to the oboe?

Answer from Me!
oh that's easy. I didn't choose the flute. My mother did. I wanted to play violin, like my best friend, but my mother was afraid of having to keep buying bigger instruments (half size, 3/4 size, full size, etc.). So I wanted to play the piano, but we didn't have a piano, plus it's not portable. So I wanted to play the clarinet and my soon-to-be-orthodontist said no. So flute it was. And, as it happened, I turned out to be a pretty decent flutist. Not amazing, but good.

I had always been enchanted with oboes...for as long as I remember knowing about them. In high school, as you may recall, I experimented with all the woodwinds at some point or another (except bassoon...my fingers aren't long enough for bassoon). I played clarinet in the clarinet choir my sophomore year, and even gave clarinet lessons to elementary school kids for a while. I also taught recorder, though I confess to never being a particularly good recorder player. I started experimenting with the oboe my sophomore or junior year of high school. My Junior year, I borrowed one from Mrs. Wagner and even played a piece or two with one of the concert bands. The summer between Jr. & Sr. year, I went to Spain with the Maryland Youth Symphony Orchestra playing piccolo (admittedly, this goes hand-in-hand with flute), and the same summer I went to France with the Lion's Club Marching Band playing Alto Sax (fingerings are the same as flute). It was fun to play sax in a Marching band! Most of all, I loved the oboe. And going into my Sr. Year Mrs. Wagner asked if I would play the oboe in Wind Ensemble. I declined for a couple of reasons. First, I knew that I would be auditioning for schools partway through my Sr. Year, and the two embouchures of the two instruments are too different. Playing oboe would have meant losing skill on the flute, but I couldn't guarantee I'd be a good enough oboe player in such a short period to get into any music programs. The second reason is that you might recall that I suffered from tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists at that point and I was seeing an Orthopedist and Physical Therapist for much of high school. My Orthopedist (a specialist with musicians...he actually speaks often at the National Flute Association conventions) said no. According to him, the oboe weighs 1.2 ounces more than the flute, and therefore would cause too much stress on my wrists.

So off I went to college. I did still play the oboe occasionally in concert bands in high school, but I had basically abandoned the idea of playing the oboe and left for college with flute in hand (or, in car, as the case may be). While I had a very good professor (Samuel Baron), I realized that I wasn't going to cut it as a flutist. I was doing well and learning a lot, but I spent far too much time in pain. My focus quickly changed to history and analysis and I became less worried about being an outstanding flutist. I still wanted to succeed, of course, but I wasn't looking at a performance career after I graduated. So I was talking to my piano teacher (a harpshichord grad student from New Zealand) and mentioned my frustration and my love for the oboe and how I secretly wished I'd just given it a try. She put me in touch with the oboe grad student, and I decided to give it a try. That summer, I rented an oboe from Chuck Levin's, and took oboe lessons from Lee Lachman (you may remember him, I'm not sure...he does woodwind repair...not sure if he worked on other instruments. My guess is that properly cared for brass instruments need less work than woodwinds). Then I spent a semester taking lessons from the grad student only, and then also from the professor the following semester and the year after that.

And a miracle happened! While I wasn't pain free, the carpal tunnel syndrome got a zillion times better. Sure, an oboe weighs more, but it's in a much less convoluted position than the flute. I still wasn't going to be a great performer, well, ever, but at least I could practice more than an hour or two a day (as long as my lips held out...sheesh that was brutal muscle training!). Then, of course, I fell and sprained my wrist. If I hadn't already done so much damage to my wrists by that point, I probably would have been fine after a week or two. But I spent a year not being able to even hold a pencil. So I couldn't finish the performance requirements to finish my degree, so I left, got my degree in Jewish History, went to law school, left law school, got a job in computer security, married Seth, got a new job, got a new house, got a new kid and here we are today! :-D
Tags: misc, music

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