Welcome, oboist, to your 2021 yearly assessment hosted by Studio Jeanine Krause. Follow this link to start your own accountability worksheet.
Please set aside 15-30 minutes to answer these questions in as much detail as possible. This form is particularly useful for professionals and advanced players (please leave yourself plenty of time to be detailed). My students and I make use of this tool to foster life-long intense musical expression. By filling out this form, you are giving me permission to contact you via email in mid-Summer 2021. At this point you will have the opportunity to review what you wrote, celebrate your wins and effectively choose which areas and skills you’d like to address next.
Your answers are kept in confidence, locked away in my archive. If you choose to engage me in as a teacher, coach or reed maker, I may review your responses in order to provide you with best quality instruction, tailored to your individual needs and goals. Otherwise this form is mainly an opportunity for you to reflect, plan and hold yourself accountable. Feel free to contact me if I can be of assistance.
You will find my 2021 personal assessment published below. I encourage you to fill out your own assessment first before reading mine.
Here is the link once more.
2021 Yearly State of Musicianship for Oboists Achieving Intense Musical Expression
30. January 2021
Instrument(s) Check all that apply
As an oboist, how would you best describe yourself?
Are you actively rehearsing or performing as a soloist or in an ensemble? How large is the ensemble and what instrumentation? What literature are you playing? How much time do you invest (weekly, monthly, daily, sporadic). How frequently are you giving concerts.
I am actively rehearsing and performing as a soloist and in ensembles. Under the current semi-lockdown circumstances in my area in Germany (Hessen), I am able to perform the cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach and Georg Philip Telemann in the framework of regular Sunday Cantata Church Services in a number of protestant churches in the Rhein-Main area. This means high quality literature using oboes, oboe d’amore and oboe da caccia. In addition, I am teaching on Zoom and with carefully regulated presence-lessons in my studio and rehearsing regularly with my small ensemble, the Sprightly Companions. I practice and make reeds daily (trying to take 1-2 days off per week.)
When did you last work with an admired role model? When was your last oboe lesson, master class or coaching session?
I got to work with 5 great oboists as part of the Oboe Reed Masters Series in 2020. Andrew Angus, Adam Shapiro, Stephen Hammer, David Werner and Jennet Ingle. I also attended an online event in which Priscilla Herreid talked about improvisation.
Please assess your current skill level and describe your musicianship in the following categories. A careful, honest description will allow you to reassess at a later date (6 months, 12 months, 5 years) to celebrate your wins and hone in on the most important areas for improvement.
Technical Skill: fast passages, articulation, reliability in extremes such as very high or very low registers, fff and ppp
I feel very competent in learning difficult passage work. Over the years I have picked up some great maintenance practices which allow me to power up to the difficult stuff in a predictable amount of time. I don’t always feel particularly comfortable with my very fast and sustained tonguing. This could use some work. I am feeling much more fit with high notes (thanks to Jennet Ingle for some great exercises!) but still find myself needing to refer to fingering charts to jog my memory.
Corona regulations have meant large distances from colleagues and in ensemble work. This has forced me to become much more self-reliant in terms of maintaining and trusting myself and colleagues with tempi. I still feel I have a lot to learn in making nuanced use of the space between larger beats. There is a whole dimension out there that I can see but can’t get into reliably yet!
Sound quality and production
I feel this area is a great strength of mine. I can maintain this when I am diligent with reed making and with my long-tone exercise.
Breathing and wind management
Generally, I am quite satisfied in this area. Even for very challenging movements, I have a good system in place which gives me a lot of freedom to serve the needs of my body first and then serve the musical expression I want from the line. I am reading a book called “Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art” which contains information I would like to integrate into my playing and use with my students.
Ensemble Experience: listening and response skills. leading and following, entrance preparation
I have had fewer opportunities to follow in this past year and fewer to lead. I think I am especially competent at following while nevertheless maintaining my own personal and musical integrity. I would like to have more opportunities to lead. I think the key will be developing an even more nuanced grasp of intrinsic rhythm and being willing to be very clear in my intention in phrasing.
Management of difficult emotions* as in rehearsal or concert situations * i.e. stage fright, anxiety, excitement
For health reasons that have nothing to do with performing, my doctor strongly urged me to take regular low-dose beta blockers. In addition, I have been enjoying especially stable sleeping patterns (otherwise a life-long issue for me). I was skeptical with the beta blockers because I was afraid I would lose emotional involvement in performing, which is very important to me. Trusting my doc who has taken good care of me for many years, I agreed to try. To my great joy, the good sleep and the beta blockers mean that I am excited and engaged but not anxious in performing situations. I feel MORE connected to the emotional side of myself because my body is not responding with familiar symptoms of anxiety which can be mildly to extremely distracting in the middle of a concert. Hurray!
Describe your current fitness level or the state of your chops. (Strength, Balance, Stamina)
In spite of no concert opportunities, I have a mid-level fitness at this time. I feel confident that with one week’s notice, I can be up and running with a full scale level of concert-worthy fitness. With 2 weeks to a month, I could be up to solo performance level. This is thanks to a discipline of reed making and practice that I follow on a daily basis.
Currently, what is your greatest personal challenge with regard to your oboe playing and musicianship?
Having successfully overcome a nasty bout of dejection at the loss of so many concerts and performance opportunities, I now feel that my biggest challenge is an intrinsic sense of layered rhythmic understanding. I know from listening to some jazz greats, some of my favorite tango masters (like Pugliese) and a few select colleagues, that there is another dimension out there that I would like to step into. This has to do with a reliable rhythmic foundation and the ability to work within this, knowing there is no need to be literal because I trust the ensemble and myself. There is a whole universe between the beats, so to say. I want to gain the freedom to maneuver expressively in this realm.
In what ways have you attempted to master this challenge?
I have made the observation that there is more out there than what I am currently doing. I have looked for artists whose work I’d like to absorb and begun imitating them.
Did your attempts work? If not, why not?
I think I’m on the right path but I haven’t been truly successful yet. I can sometimes imitate someone blindly or fall into a grove established by a colleague. What I am missing thus far is the commitment to really step up to the challenge and go about learning and integrating it more systematically.
What is it important to you to master this challenge?
Firstly, my own development. At this point, I feel like I can recognize this level of rhythmic nuance and step into it when someone else establishes it. I want to be reliably create it. Secondly, I know it will allow me to lead better. Thirdly, if I master it, I know I will be able to teach it and pass the skill along.
How will you know that you have mastered this challenge? What will you be able to do when it is mastered?
I’ll know I have it because I will feel the “grove” and be more independently able to step into it and create it. The possibilities will open up to me and I’ll be able to make choices in the moment when the music is going. When I have mastered it, I will be in a new dimension of expression and I will be so strongly representing the grove, that others will fall in step.
Describe in detail how it will feel to play (as you practice, in rehearsal and on stage) once you have mastered this challenge.
It will feel awesome. I will be floating and working with the universe and I’ll be able to delight others and hold their attention and touch their souls. I will feel empowered and competent and expressive. I will be able to lead students and colleagues into this realm.
Is there anything you would like to add?
Thank you for taking time. You will receive a copy of your answers via email which you may keep on file. I will contact you in mid-Summer 2021 so that you can review your assessment from today and use it to celebrate your progress and hone in on areas where you would like to hone further skills. I occasionally write emails with interesting information for oboists and reed makers. You can sign up for my email list on my website.