Have you been told that an open throat is the secret to a beautiful tone? Well it’s time to re-evaluate many of the oboe world’s long held beliefs. In my Oboemotions book there are several “myth busters.” I tackle myths about how we hold the oboe, how we articulate, and yes, I even tackle this myth of the open throat.
When taking on a pedagogic tradition, it’s important to try to understand why the teaching tradition exists. What about it has helped people to the extent that they have perpetuated the idea from one generation of players to the next? There almost always is a grain of truth to any of these beliefs. But do the benefits outweigh the harm these traditions may be causing?
So I also think it’s important to explain the ways the myth has been harmful. Sometimes the harm is actual physical harm—excess tension that may lead to injury. Other times the harm is conceptual. A long-held myth or a catchy metaphor that is not based on the reality of how our body works can become a stumbling block towards developing an exceptional technique. Many times when we feel like we “hit a brick wall” in the practice room, it is because of these misconceptions.
Have you ever found yourself in the practice room, feeling like you’re getting nowhere? Trying every technique you can think of for getting better, but nothing seems to work? At times like these, you should look at some of your most fundamental beliefs about playing: how you sit, how you hold the instrument, how you take in air…all are worth exploring and experimenting with if you want to improve.
So in the accompanying video, I explain why I think this oboe “secret” about playing with an open throat does more harm than good. I also encourage you to use a new vocabulary for talking about the role of the throat when playing any double reed instrument. Spread the word!