I went on a road trip with my dad this weekend to visit CCM (Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music) and to take a lesson with the professor there, Mark Ostoich.
I really loved it. The lesson went well (my reed was on its best behavior, and I played Paladilhe's Solo de Concert and got some good tips), and I have a better idea of what he's looking for in his auditions. Phrasing, stage presence, and etudes.
The buildings are amazing. Three music buildings, including 89 practice rooms and something like 5 recital halls/concert halls/stages.
I met 6 or so other oboists, and chatted with them for a while in their lovely reed room.
So I liked the facilities, and the people, and the atmosphere, and the playing opportunities, and the professor. (I kind of think I'll feel this way about any of the schools I'm applying to, given that they all have "real" music departments, but I liked CCM an awful lot.) Now all I have to do is get in. It's Super Practice Time.
Today was actually a good start to Super Practicing. I'm slowly working my way through the latest Gillet etude, and I think I've finally cracked the 16th-note octave jumping section. I did some work on the Paladilhe and also Fantasie Pastorale, and starting figuring out what's going on in the Mozart Concerto. The problem with that piece is that one, I have a lot of trouble with Mozart and two, I know it better than I can play it right now, but I'm playing it slow right now and working on phrasing. My oboe reeds are continuing to behave wonderfully (knock on wood).
My English horn reeds are not working as well. They're kind of thin and reedy sounding, and either tend to the uncontrollable side or to the 'can't play louder than mp' side. I really need to learn how to make English horn reeds, but for now I just need to go ahead and order some more from Stuart Dunkel. (The best English horn reeds I have ever played, and very consistent.)
For orchestra, we have a full woodwind sectional, led by our conductor, this week. It should be, um, interesting, since we're working on Daphnis and Chloe. I find myself almost wishing that I were playing oboe on that piece instead of English horn. Or that my hands were bigger. If only the keys were closer together, I think that I would be a lot further along in being able to play the runs up to speed.
My grad school applications are coming along slowly but surely. I've already done CCM's, save for sending my transcript and my personal statement, and I've started all of the others. I have to say, as stressful as auditions are (going to be), personal statements are truly evil. When people ask me over winter break about this semester, I will say that I learned that while I have a personality, it is the same as everybody else's. As my roommate puts it, "we are not unique individuals. Personal statements create mass existential crisis."
I tried to upload a few pictures of the CCM campus and ran into problems, but you can see (more than you'd want to) some here.