After not blogging for what has seemed like an eternity, here I am... I am alive, and back to writing about oboe. I have to admit that it is due to you, the reader that I am here writing again. I have received quite a few comments this week asking for help, tips, and tricks from past posts, so here I am! One of the hot topics: Oboe cracking. Yea, there is such a horrible thing as "cracking season" and we are right in the middle of it. Winter brings colder temps and DRY air, the biggest enemies of oboists worldwide. I have owned a total of 4 oboes in my 17+ years of playing the oboe. Three lorees, and my current oboe, a Kingwood Yamaha 841 oboe. All of my loree oboes cracked, a couple of them quite badly, and multiple times.
My current oboe has a plastic liner in the topjoint and I have had it for just over a year, no cracks yet. It is still a little early to do an oboe happy dance about it, but I DO live in Las Vegas where I have performed outside in 100+ degrees with it. So, I think it is at least a little safe to say: this oboe is a TANK!
So that all being said, here are some tips on oboe maintenance specifically geared toward cracking from the QUEEN oboe-cracker:
1. Swab, swab, SWAB! Not just at the end of a playing session but any time you have a break in playing. Cotton swabs are the best because unlike silk ones, they really absorb moisture and get it all out of the instrument.
2. Warm your oboe up with your hands before playing. If it is even a little bit cooler than body temperature, it is going to be a shock to the oboe when you start blowing hot air into it, causing the wood to expand very quickly.
3. Wood oboes need to have their bore oiled with sweet almond oil between 2-4 times per year. I am a professional oboist and I live in Las Vegas, so in this dry climate I actually got into the habit of oiling once a month. An oboe professional or the double reed dealer that your purchased the oboe from will be able to do this for you.
4. Never let the oboe go through drastic changes in temperature. I carry my instruments with me all types of places as opposed to leaving them in a hot car. I would rather drag my oboe with me through whole foods than have it crack and be ruined later!!!!! Also watch out not to keep it close to air vents in the house that are cranking hot or cold air.
5. If your oboe cracks, don't freak (this is the toughest part!) Put it away immediately. DO NOT PLAY IT. Consider this an oboe emergency, and your first priority is getting it into the shop whether that is down the street or across the country. I know, believe me, this is easier said than done... but it has to be. No matter how many rehearsals, concerts, etc. you have lined up, you need to put your horn down to save it from further damage!
Since it has been forever since I last blogged, I will give you some updates on ME without taking up too much time and boring you.
1. I am pregnant! Our baby boy Noah is due July 2. This is our first baby, and we are super excited. He kicks me a lot, and has already been to many concerts (gigs that I have played :)
2. I got a new oboe in January 2012. It is a Yamaha 841 Kingwood oboe with the lined topjoint. It is hands down my favorite oboe that I have every owned. I love to play it, and I think it sounds (and looks) beautiful.
3. I am teaching 20 oboe students right now in ages ranging from 11-adult and skill from beginning through college. I love all of you guys, and am so happy to be the one to guide you through your "oboe journey", you make me proud every week!
4. I am playing A TON! Ever since the opening of The Smith Center, I have been a busy lady playing everything from Mary Poppins, to Nutcracker, to Opera, to backing superstars! I LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!
5. I never planned this one: I sell a TON of oboe and English horn reeds every week. I even have customers in California and Michigan! Most of my customers are locals here in Las Vegas and my students, but it is great to be able to use this most unusual and highly specific set of skills to help people and supplement my income!
That's pretty much it for now, Hi to everyone out there, and I will be posting again soon! :)