As I was enjoying a conversation with the wonderful Jeanine Krause we naturally also talked about her work as a musician and oboist.
It’s a conversation that taught me to look for essential skills when doing one’s work.
The oboe is one of the wind instruments, making air an essential “ingredient” to playing it.
It makes her ability to continue breathing without interruption and to leverage the amount of air she is using a basic skill set needed to perform.
In addition, in her work, the act of breathing is constantly under pressure. While performing she needs to continue breathing without interruption while keeping it under control. Her breathing needs to be steady. Anything else will be heard by her audience. It’s more audible than a missed or wrong note. It makes it important to learn techniques to always keep going and breathe.
Another point is, that playing the oboe, requires high attention to what I would call air management. Playing the oboe requires less air than most wind instruments, but at the same time, it requires more pressure to push the air through the small size of the reed opening. The player needs to figure out how much air she needs to be able to play a phrase. She needs to learn to only take in that amount of air. Otherwise, she’ll have too much stale air left over from her breathing. It creates a need to get rid of that stale air which is difficult as oboists have only very little time available to do so.
It’s a quite complex exercise in resource management.
One that makes me curious about other areas of work. What are the skills and resources you need to pay attention to, to be able to do the work?
Playing beautifully depends on a skill that can easily be overlooked as it seems to be an ability that is simply present and natural.
But actually, it is one that requires very special attention. It requires the oboist to be able to adapt the behavior that feels comfortable or natural to the one needed to play the instrument as they are different.
What makes such skills universal, is that it’s an ability that goes hand in hand with the ability to accept emotions without letting them take over.