November 30, 2018

Oboe in the mist

I used to play oboe in high school. I was never super good, but I enjoyed playing. Our band director was an oboist and her expectations for me were a lot more than what I was going to ever do. Band class was fun but my first love was writing. Practice at home for 30-60 hours every day? Not happening. 

I always wanted to go back to playing oboe, and a few years ago I found one for sale at a steal of a price at $450. It was a reconditioned Selmer student model. You know, the that in order to play a low B you have to use your knees to cover the hole in the bell. 

Selmer 1492B Student Oboe

No, seriously. You had to use your knees. Releasing the low note made a “mwha” tone around the note because you could never be precise with it. 

Any way, I soon found myself thoroughly frustrated with it. I couldn’t stand it. If you don’t want to play something, you aren’t going to. I put it away, carried it with me through many moves, and finally decided to try it again. Oof. Yeah, no, that was not happening. Mwha!

What I wanted was an oboe that was not going to break the bank. Oboes are amazingly expensive. You can pay as much as you want for one. If you don’t know enough, you can easily spend money on something that won’t meet your expectations. 

Lots of research and YouTube videos about choosing an oboe later, I found a retailer called Kessler and Sons that had a full conservatory oboe for an astounding price.  (In other words, it had the keys that closed that low B instead of using your knees.) While there were not many reviews available for the oboe, I called the shop and spoke to one of the owners, who was a double reed player. I was impressed with the care and consideration they gave the oboes that have their brand on it. 

So, this past July when I was in Las Vegas helping my sister, my parents and I stopped by Kessler and Sons. And I bought an oboe. 

Once the oboe arrived, I started playing almost every day. Three weeks after the oboe arrived, I auditioned for the Really  Terrible Orchestra of the Triangle, aka RTOOT. You have to audition to make sure you don’t play too well, otherwise you’ll be asked to use a different instrument. They have standards, after all.

I made my audition and have been playing with them every Sunday. It’s the best thing non-horse thing I’ve done in a long time. 

And I love playing. 

Kessler Oboe, image from their web site
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