My Three Pillars of Practice: Improvement, Maintenance, and Discovery
Principal Oboe of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. Associate Professor at University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
In the quest to refine my musical craft, I have categorized my practice into three distinct realms: improvement, maintenance, and discovery. Improvement is the crucible of progress, an ongoing journey of unraveling long-ignored nuances and addressing ingrained habits. It demands patience, often revealing itself slowly like peeling layers. Recording serves as a crucial mirror, guiding me objectively through the intricate passages of pieces such as La Scala Di Seta. The pitfalls of E-G and F-A intervals become apparent, and a strategic use of a drone emerges as an ally in mapping the melodic landscape. As I navigate these challenges, each note becomes a puzzle piece, emphasizing the importance of patience and persistence on the path to mastery.
Maintenance stands as the silent custodian of proficiency, guarding against neglect and celebrating strengths. Recognizing what I do well is an essential aspect of this practice. My trusted ally, tone, demands perpetual nurturing, requiring dedicated sessions of long tones, scales, and a ritualistic dance of foundational exercises. Time management becomes paramount, introducing a timer into practice sessions to ensure efficient distribution. The harmonious routine of intervals, articulations, and scales becomes an insurance policy against the entropy of musical skills. In the preparation for auditions, maintaining a strong foundation proves crucial, preventing unexpected hurdles from emerging and ensuring consistency across a diverse repertoire.
The ceaseless quest for the unknown defines the beating heart of my practice—discovery. Beyond technical prowess lies the soul of music, and the oboe serves as my chosen voice to bridge the gap between self-expression and the instrument. La Scala Di Seta, once a formidable adversary, now yields its secrets through the strategic use of metronomes, drones, and scales. Structure becomes a linchpin in this ever-evolving workshop, providing focus amid the chaos of a demanding schedule. The metamorphosis from student to seasoned musician is marked not by inherent talent but by the discovery of efficient practice. As a professional, execution becomes my currency, and the practice room transforms into a sanctuary echoing with the perpetual promise of new revelations.
Practice, the trifecta of Improvement, Maintenance, and Discovery, serves as my compass in this musical odyssey. In the symphony of refining skills, the cycle perpetuates—an unending melody. The journey unfolds not as a sprint but as a marathon, with an open mind beckoning exploration. Practice, our chosen art form, resembles a symphony where each note is a brushstroke, and the canvas, our musical destiny.