Fear and the Oboe

“Fear has a smell, as love does.”

-Margaret Atwood-

I think the appropriate adaptation of this quote for oboists is “fear has a sound.”

It does not matter how much you practice or how good or bad you think your reed is. Fear is obvious, and it is a sound that has no place in music.

My very wise teacher had a saying along the same lines that I will never forget:

“Fear is not an appropriate color.”

It is a bizarre thing, because someone can play very well and still play fearfully. And someone else can play less well, missing notes here or there or whatever but be full of confidence.

Strive to remove any fear from your playing. If you detect any, ask yourself where it is coming from. Sometimes we just need to acknowledge it and move on instead of acting like everything is OK.

I remember my first solo recital after I had graduated and left school. I was a “professional,” but I didn’t feel like it. I had a really hard time being on my own at first because I realized it was all up to me, and that was very scary.

Luckily, I recorded the recital and literally could hear my own fear. It was then that I decided it was going to be confidence or bust from now on, because it just wasn’t worth it any other way.

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