WHAT DID YOU SAY YOU PLAY?
JENNIFER PAULL writes about
her love affair with the Oboe d'Amore
I remember so well the first time I was really aware that I was listening
to an oboe. I grew up in Liverpool in the North of England, a place in which
you didn't need a sharpened reed knife to cut the regional accent. My parents
sent me to a private school hoping that I would sound a little less provincial.
We used to have a sort of physical education programme indoors to the
good old BBC Radio. Each week, there would be a different instrument being
played 'live' with the piano, and we had to exercise with the music. I still
remember that the programme was called 'Music and Movement'. It was an utter
bore and (aged eight) I loathed it. Then, one day, it was the turn of the
oboe and piano to play together. I was totally riveted and knew without
a shadow of doubt that what I wanted to do in life, was play it. That wish
was going to take me eight long years to fulfil, but at least my attending
that starchy school hadn't been totally in vain.
I had been playing the piano for a few years, and dashed home full of
the news that I wanted to play the oboe. My joyful tidings fell upon a most
marked absence of enthusiasm. Neither of my parents really knew what the
oboe was, but they did know that nice young ladies could continue playing
the piano and concentrate on their elocution.
Looking back on this now, I realise that that moment was the start of
my call to arms. I seem to have been fighting a campaign ever since. Subtle
hints got me nowhere and when, three years later, I went to a performance
of The Messiah, I knew that my battle strategy was going to have
to be stepped up by a few notches. I tried everything to get an oboe. My
parents were not going to buy one, my school didn't possess one and the
many ways and means of today did not exist in the post war Britain of the
fifties. My utter frustration and sadness at the prospect of wasted years
stretching before me were put down to my 'being difficult'.
Copyright © 18 January 2001
Jennifer Paull, Iowa, USA
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JENNIFER PAULL'S OVERVIEW OF THE OBOE
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