I’ve had a pretty busy few weeks pottering about as multi-instrumentalist… Most notably spent sitting in the pit for a production of The Addams Family. Ideal for Halloween, I think you’ll agree!
My part (Reed 1) was for piccolo, flute, clarinet and alto saxophone. I also had the pleasure of sitting with a friend of mine (also called Emily, who also plays woodwind instruments… it’s all very confusing) who was playing Reed 2. Her part was flute, clarinet, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone and bass clarinet. So 9 instruments between 2 Emilys.
There’s really nothing like the joy of being surrounded by so many instruments. You have to be switched on when you only have a few bars rest to change from one to the next. It really challenges the brain, lips and fingers… And you get a huge sense of satisfaction from being able to play so many different styles of music in such a short space of time.
I highly recommend picking up a second instrument if you are already fairly confident on another. Especially because most musical theatre pits aren’t big enough for one player per instrument. Every musical director is delighted when they meet a multi-instrumentalist, so if you want the gigs, prepare to be flexible!
However, do be careful to watch your embouchure if you’re planning to pick up multiple woodwind instruments. You don’t want to pick up a saxophone for the first time, only to find you can no longer play your oboe a few weeks later! The trick to it is to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.
The Cimarosa Oboe Concerto has been one of my favourite pieces on the oboe syllabus for a long time. Whenever ABRSM change the syllabus, I think at least one movement always appears somewhere on the list. At the moment, the first two movements are sitting on the A list for Grade 7.
Mvt 1 – Introduzione
The first movement, Introduzione (that’s ‘Introduction’ to you and me!), is a really beautiful slow movement. Watch out for the cadenza (the ad lib) in bar 9 – it’s quite tricky to hit that low note! Also, look out for your tuning when the theme returns an octave higher! It’s easy to go sharp when you’re playing high notes! (I’m not saying I’m perfect… I’m really not… But it’s good to be able to identify your own weaknesses!)
Mvt 2 – Allegro
Then there’s the wonderful Allegro. The trick to this movement is to keep those fast moving passages as steady as possible – don’t try to go too fast! My teacher made me practise this movement many years ago until I could play it by memory – this is actually a really useful tip as you don’t have to worry about reading all those dots. Instead, try to learn the sequences and finger patterns, and it makes it much easier to play. When you’re practising, it sometimes help to mix up the rhythms or articulation a bit (ie. play them as dotted rhythms, or change the articulation to slur two, tongue two), in order to make this process a bit more fun! The other thing to look out for is making sure your tonguing matches the speed of your fingers – easier said than done!
I hope you enjoy my video of the Cimarosa Oboe Concerto. And keep an eye out for my lovely ginger cat, Plato!
If you like this one and you want to learn the Cimarosa Oboe Concerto too, please click on the image of the music to get hold of the sheet music:
Easy Tiger features in List B of the Grade 2 oboe syllabus. You’ll need to pick between this one and Dragonfly.
I’ve heard it played faster, but I prefer to keep the tempo down on this piece. Try to make your performance sound jazzy by making a real effort to ‘swing’ your quavers – that means making the first one of the pair a bit longer than the second one. (Normally they would be the same length). As I always say, work hard at the dynamics and don’t be afraid to put lots of air through your oboe at the end of the piece to give a great lasting impression!
One of the things I really love about the internet is that I posted my video of Easy Tiger on my Twitter profile, and Pam Wedgwood actually saw it and enjoyed it! How about this for a personal career highlight?!
(For those of you who don’t know, when I’m not busy making music videos, I am a charity fundraiser)
Anyway, here’s the video. Pam Wedgwood likes it, and I hope you do too!
Easy Tiger is one of many fantastic pieces in Really Easy Jazzin’ About for Oboe. Quite a few of the pieces have featured in the ABRSM syllabus over the years, so it’s a good investment if you don’t already have a copy.