Progressive Études: In Adoration of the Earth

Dear Ones,

In Adoration of the Earth, is the first book I published back in 2010, before it was picked up by ARMIANE, then Fortin-Armiane. It was first used in my music studio by me and my students before adopted and used in other oboe studios in the world. It it a collection of progressive études which I composed for my music students to provide both technical and artistic support for their journey as musicians.

These études are also suitable for solo recital pieces or encore pieces.

It is a quickly progressing set of 12 études and covers 20th century techniques not found in the common choices of etudes and methods for oboists. There is something for everyone. Some are in minor mode.

The book as a whole can be played cover to cover in about 20 or so minutes as a complete warm up for accomplished oboists. I think of it as a “sun salutation” for oboists in that it covers all the basics including modern techniques and as an efficient way to stay in shape and playing “dust free” as an oboist in under 30 minutes.

I wrote these etudes in a way so the new techniques learned are all easily and musically assimilated into playing skills as the foundation of technique and artistry are being built.

1/4 tones, modes, rows, chromatic, non tonal, starting in one pitch center and shifting into a parallel or suggested other pitch center and not returning….. multi-phonics, and full register artistry are among the tool box building qualities this book provides.

Each étude is a sonic portrait of an animal and each artist performing the étude is invited to imagine him or herself as the animal and experiencing life as that animal - seeing through the eyes of, hearing through the ears of that animal as they perform. (Likewise, within the 100 Flower Series, artists are encouraged to imagine life AS the individual flower.)

As humans, we are accustomed to objectifying reality as out there - away from us, but we are all apart of this one massive masterpiece of creation planet earth which is but a drop in the great mysterious creation at large - and within.

We are all part of one glorious pas de deux in life. Silence, sound, eternity and moment, drop and ocean all.

Have fun! I hope you’ll enjoy it as my students and I have too. May this book assist more and more oboists around the world.

SKYPE lessons are available for anyone who’d appreciate some coaching. Simply email me via the contact page to set up your appointment. Payment via the PayPal me link is secure.

Yours in service to the muse,
Kathryn J. Potter
Oct. 1, 2019

ILLUMINATIONS

Dear Ones,

Hello and welcome to MUSE ECHO. Muse Echo is about the music written or in progress. Today, I write a brief general overview - introduction - of the books available to date in the 100 Flower Series, then a bit more on the book Illuminations.

Years ago, when I was pining to have a garden of my own again and needed to lift myself up out of a depression, I decided to create an imaginary garden by composing sonic portraits of flowers.
I thought - I’ll compose 100 flower portraits! Only to discover that I didn’t even know of 100 different variety of flowers. So, I shouted out on face book to my oboe colleagues there - old, young, amateur, professional - world wide, and asked for help. I asked oboists to suggest flower varieties to compose for and I’d dedicate a flower to whom suggested in return - hence the numerous dedications to oboists throughout the series.

Originally I imagined ALL the flowers in one big book, like a big garden, but they are instead organized via required technique. Others - such as duets - will be organized for instrumentation. They are in each so far, organized alphabetically by flower and are designed to be MIXED AND MATCHED to form individual bouquets for recitals and any special occasion within the book itself as well as within other books.

Please note that the level of technique necessary doesn’t always reflect the past or present level of technical accomplishment for whom I dedicated the work.

I am grateful to Marie-Ange Fultier who determined the titles for all the books so far, in the 100 Flowers Series, except, A Dozen Roses.

Illuminations
Illuminations is a collection of 23 miniature portraits for advanced beginner and up
(If you were to only get one book - I’d suggest this one.) The entire books stays within the pitch ranges of low C to 2 ledger line C but mostly pretty confined within that to a simpler range. All pieces are in straight forward non changing meters. Works are in natural minor, modes, synthetic scales or 12 tone rows.
Embellishments are employed at times, sprinkled throughout some pieces.
Please note that I composed all of these flowers for my own enjoyment, my students enjoyment and of course for whom I dedicated the flower. These flowers are appropriate for ALL AGES and skill levels.

I suggest this book for everyone. They are great for sight reading and warm ups for advanced players, as well as encore pieces or just something to play in between meaty repertoire practice. This book is like a box of a variety of bon bons.

Simply put, all I did was imagine the flower, meditate upon what it is like for that flower to exist, and compose a sonic portrait based on what I imagined it like to be that flower.

The entire book is for solo melodic oboe playing, Can be enjoyed by other C instruments.

Illuminations
I) ANGEL FLOWER
for Ambrogio Gentili
quarter note = 80
2/4 meter, a natural minor, binary form, mostly half notes and grace notes
portrait. Pitch range second line G to first ledger line A Gentle, elegant, simple, mysterious
II) A SPRIG OF LILY OF THE VALLEY
for Dominique Enon
quartet note = 92, 4/4 , meter, lots of embellishments.
to be played joyfully
pitch range first space F to double ledger line C.
4/4 meter, floral, rich in embellishments
III) AZALEAS
all quartet note = 100
3 flowers in 3/4 meter in different key signatures and in different modes
1- violet
2- blanc
3- Rose
Theme with very slight variation within each three.
IV) BEGONIA
dotted quartet = 60
3/8, chromatic
low D to top line F
V) BLUEBELLS
quartet note = 82
2/4 meter, C Lydian start to A Dorian conclusion landing however with the zest of Lydian feeling that’s earth. embellishments
VI) BUTTERCUP - excellent for early beginners
quarter note = 92
2/4 meter Bb and Ab in key signature
pentatonic F, G, Ab, Bb, C.
This piece has been the favorite of most of my students. Very accessible. Very easy. Straight forward and comforting.
VII) CALLA LILY
for Karin Grammel
in 3/4 waltz A minor
VIII) CAMELIA
for Rossana Lonza
easy 3/4 waltz A is tonic
IX) CHERRY BLOSSOMS
for Suho Ha
quarter note = 82
tenderly
4/4 meter, Bb and Ab in key signature. range is third line B to octave above.
X) COSMOS
Quarter note = 120
semplice
4/4 meter, some chromatics, feels wholesome, octave pattern aids feeling confident and summery. (Accidentals apply for the entire measure regardless of octave. )
XI) DAHLIA
quarter note = 120
4/4 meter, chromatic, joyful, straight forward rhythmic pattern repeated.
XII) FORGET ME NOT
for Tankica Miteva
quarter note = 80
2/4 meter
lots of wind sculpting of repeated rhythmic patterns with good dynamic contrast
here drama meets simplicity and tenderness
XIII) HEARTS A POPPIN’
quarter = 92 4/8 meter
Simple, chromatic, repeated rhythmic pattern
XIV) INDIAN PAINT BRUSH
6/8 meter, low D to the D above with some chromatics
balance of articulation
XV) JOHNNNY JUMP UP
for Sarha Loos
Allegro 3/8 row
XVI) LILIES
for Enrico Calcagni
7 Lilies in 4/4 meter, theme with slight variations in different modes.
sweetly and gently
XVII) LITTLE MORNING GLORY
joyfully, vivace
3/8 e natural minor
XVIII) MADONNA LILY
for Emilia Mili
piano dolce
XIX) MAGNOLIA
for Myself and also to women who are mothers - a celebration of motherhood which I associate with the Magnolia tree. This is the longest work in the book. Works beautifully on the oboe d’amore played as written - not transposed.
quarter = 92 espressivo
4/4 meter
B minor
XX) PITCHER PLANT
dotted quarter = 82
3/8 meter, chromatic, leap full octaves
XXI) TIGER LILY
for Kristin Leitterman
3/4 Waltz, playful and elegant
Can be performed with any interpretation of how to or not to repeat depending on the occasion.
XXII) VIOLET
for Anna Beaver
who was a former oboe student
quarter note = 92
3/8 meter, merrily, cute 12 tone row
XXIII) WHITE VIOLET
for Eva Drolc
freely in 3/8
p - ppp articulate, delicate 12 tone row

SKYPE lessons are available to anyone who’d appreciate them.
Just contact me to schedule.

I hope you’ll enjoy these little flower portraits!

In service to the muse,
K.J.P.






Musical Meditation and Warm Up

Dear Instrumentalists,

I love this and am eager to share. In my quest to “swim deeper” in a more integrated way of being a musician, this is very helpful. Excellent with students.

1) Imagine (as richly as possible) the sound of a note in its fullest expression/exoerience
2) Play the note (hold it out)
3) Imagine it again
4) hum the note, then slur into an AH singing that note
5) imagine the note
6) play it again
7) Sing in solfége and add hand signals preferably - if you can and wish
7) write the note down

repeat with two notes … repeat with patterns….
Stick with just one or two notes and play around with dynamics and tone color, expression

Build as you can and wish - no hurry - the priority is full experience

How do you feel and what can you notice about the note? How does humming and or singing influence how well you can play and experience, express the note?

Adjust patter of practice and note patterns to suit yourself as you wish.

In service to the muse,
K.J.P.
August 20, 2019

Love in multiple facets

Dear Guests,

So many oboists, myself included, strive for perfection in our art. Why not!?! We care so deeply about our every aspect of reed making, playing, and understanding of the music itself. It is easy to “get out the magnifying glass and study the bark on the trees in the forest” We’ve heard the expression, don’t loose the the forest for the trees …. well, in being a perfectionist, it’s also easy to loose the trees for the minutia in the trees themselves! That’s OK and great to get absorbed in the nitty gritty, so long as it serves the overall expression - SONG if you will, of the forest itself.

What do I mean by this? Well, back to the philosophy I embrace, that there is only one subject, LOVE, let’s say that music is the voice of LOVE, in all it’s profoundly complicated and delicious spices and flavors, however shallow or deep, dark or sparkling the water in the ocean of love in the musical voice. In other words, yes, every wave is comprised of drops and micro organisms, but don’t loose the wave for that, or the ocean itself in the fascination of perfecting the details within the music of the ocean.

As a composer, all the details matter in the portrait of the flavor of love I am writing.
When I compose a sonic portrait of a tiny, small work of a solo oboe flower, for example, I take it very seriously. Every note, placement of the note and where it relates in the relationship of beat in the measure, has importance and meaning to me and the more these detailed brush strokes are observed, the more clarity in elegant nuance to the beauty of the portrait of the flower can be heard and expressed, AND also, HOWEVER it’s all a mute point if there is sight lost to the flower itself! (I will blog more about the flowers again in this new generation of blogs - for instance a ROSE to me symbolizes patience and cultivation of elegance)

Consider phrasing, all notes belong in a phrase (assuming there is a phrase) All notes in a phrase are a part of the phrase itself and are like how all letters are parts of words and those words are members of a sentence. (or line of poetry… I know, there is no end)

I find it helpful to think of written music like a language. Notes in a measure are like a word, measures in a phrase are like a words in a sentence, sentences in a movement are like a chapter in a great story. YES, it is both important to pronounce the letters of words correctly, to articulate the consonances, and be mindful of rests and timing…..so the words can be heard and understood, but it is all in service to the story.
What is the GIST of this story and how does this word enhance and contribute to the meaning of THIS gist - how does this ingredient make this meal delicious? Every ingredient has a flavor, and every flavor relates to other flavors, in terms of how it colors or enhances, blends with…dosage is important. It helps to know the difference between the main ingredients, spices, and textures.

Lois Wann would often have me remove all excess notes and have me just play the skeleton of the phrase. What are the stable notes (nouns) of resolution and what are the action - stressful notes - (verbs) of motion in the scale. For example there is a big difference between tonic and leading tone in purpose of a phrase or arpeggio or in a measure. How the downbeat is played or felt is a far cry from the upbeat of the last beat - and so on….. A grace note using the 2nd note of the scale is not the skeleton and is different than a dominant note of a scale on the 3rd beat in a 4.4 bar … Here is the skeleton body of the phrase, then we would gradually add the passing tones and filler notes, ornaments etc. This requires some idea of theory. It helps to know what you’re doing and what is what. Is this note a part of the skeleton of the phrase ( a main ingredient) like chicken in a chicken dish or is this curry in curry chicken (I’d think of that as the 3rd degree of the scale - consider how a third degree of the scale influences the emotional flavor)

Of course as a composer, I want to hear my work performed correctly with understanding the details and the story and how the details serve the story. Hmmm, I will have to write more blogs about this. Everything in written music - if written consciously - has a function. What color is this in the landscape? Is this a shadow, ray of light?

Imagine a painted portrait of someone. I think the objects, colors, facets of the face and details of what is ever around the person all somehow give meaning and support the purpose or gist of the portrait. What do the objects in a portrait say about the person? What is the person and what are the supporting objects in the environment? What says or expresses what?

With some creative thinking - we can liberate our learning and recreation via metaphor and analogy in service to our art, What was the composer thinking? Why this note, or rhythm, or place in the measure…..???? Why not?

I maintain that the more a person understands theory - which is like grammar and vocabulary using the language analogy - or ingredients using the cooking analogy, or color and shadow, objects and subjects using the painting portrait analogy, and can pronounce and understand the words and nuances of inflection, timing and so forth to articulate i.e. TELL the story, relate the point, the flavor, the portrait of love behind the story itself best, providing the understand of minutia doesn’t eclipse the overall expression.

In future blogs in the heading MUSE ECHO - I will go into this thinking.
For playing works of other composers, like Handel or Telemann for instance, I’ve found this thinking - and the great teachings of Lois, extremely helpful. Know your bones, muscles, embellishments and so forth in service to the overall work itself.

YUM have fun.
In service to the music!
K.J.P.
August 8th, 2019

smoothness fostered and maintained

Dear Oboists,

As part of mechanical oboe maintenance, my oboe maker recommends that I oil my oboe every 4 to 8 weeks, so I do.

First I thoroughly dust the entire oboe, especially all the precious key work, with a little clean soft paint brush, then I use the synthetic key oil I bought from them which has a needle nose for application, and apply a tiny drop of oil everywhere appropriate in the key work to do so.

Next, I play building scales for over half an hour to ensure that the oil works its way thoroughly into the key work. I might add, that reviewing trill keys and practicing trilling at this time is important as well, so those rarely used keys get attended to as well.

Practicing the building scales in both directions, one octave, two, maybe three octaves is of course a magnificent way of practicing smoothness in playing as well as smoothness of key work!

No oboist ever taught me building scales - scales a plenty to be certain - but the building scale practice, I imported from my piano training.

For those of you who may be wondering how to play a building scale - or wondering what I mean by that, here is the pattern using scale degree numbers instead of note names.

1212121212321232123212321234321234321234321234321234543212345432123454321234543212345654321 etc. reverse 8787878787678767876787678765678765678765678765678 etc

I play them slurred, tongued, in patterns,….with dynamic work - you name it.
I’ve found building scale work essential and liberating for my playing.

Advice, breath as needed but only right before beginning a new round of the pattern.
Practice PERFECT form: posture, breathing, embouchure, intonation, direction, focus and diaphragmatic support - all crucial to improve all aspects of playing, while doing this.

Hope this helps, or serves as a friendly reminder.
Best wishes to you and your technical prowess to liberate your artistry and enhance a fulfilling relationship of life long music making!
K.J.P.
August 6, 2019

The Secret to BLOOMING

Dear Ones,

This is about increasing love consciousness and increasing our perception of beauty and being beauty. How do we celebrate love and beauty?

I believe the ultimate purpose of art is to increase love consciousness. I believe the ultimate purpose of humanity is to increase love consciousness. I believe each way we love is like a petal of a flower. Each petal symbolizes a way in which we love. Blooming is being an artist. In some way(s) we are all artists. Isn’t life art? Are we all not a part of creation?

Continuing the philosophy we and all organic life are eternal love incarnate, eternal love embodied - made manifest and eternal love is in us, living in eternity albeit in a mortal coil, when ever we love, when ever we increase love consciousness, we are blooming. Although we are all part of the one life, we uniquely embody a new flavor - as a variation of a theme - of the kind of organism we manifest. (No two snowflakes are alike, or fingerprints…etc.)

Our mortal coil may in fact or may just seem to exist/manifest for a temporary period of linear time, but that itself exists in eternity. While we are scooting, swimming, drifting, floating, back paddling, driving ahead or what not, down the river of linear reality or perception, and we love, we increase love consciousness in that eternal river. Even if love is the only thing that is, it can still be increased via adoration, recognition, appreciation, and deep awe of the mystery.

In the 100 Flower Series, I love and adore and meditate upon the unique beauty of the flower I’m portraying with the language of written sound. When I create those sounds with the oboe, it’s a type of prayer, dance, adoration, reveling in the mystery of life. I believe every flower, every petal matters and is beautiful. I celebrate the frail and powerful and mystical nature of each flower. I consider my 100 Flower Series of music sacred music. Composing is a religion with a language and without dogma. The only rule is to increase love consciousness. It’s about love. Create and share out of love.

Love like a flower with many petals, we bloom. Each petal representing a way in which you love, adore,
”kiss the ground”, pray - what ever you want to call it…. appreciate and celebrate life…or the mystery.
What are your petals? How do you love? How do you increase love consciousness?

Here are some possibilities for your consideration to potentially strengthen your recognition:

What ever inspires you?

Life, you might say? - OK, what about it? What turns you on to especially enjoying life? Fragrance? - then bloom by making new fragrances. Music? Then bloom by playing an instrument and maybe even composing. Delicious food? Then bloom by being a chef. A great story? Write or narrate or act or dance or read ….. sell books …. host book groups….Traveling… experiencing the joy of movement and/or great health? “The world is your oyster!”

There are many ways to kiss the ground - as the mystical poet RUMI once wrote.

What inspires you to fall to your knees and kiss the ground? You might find that is what holds the key to your blooming.

What opens the door in your heart to the eternity of the cosmos? What turns your head away from blindness? What “smell” can’t you ignore which reminds you that you live in a mystical and mysterious universe?

Imagine you knew for certain you had but one week left to live in your present carnation and you could do or accomplish anything without limitation. What would you do? There lies the way in which you can bloom - give back - or there reveals your illness in which you need to heal. You might also discover that which blinds you and distracts you to the treasure of deep love. That desire might be the key to your prison, but not the key to your garden. If you think deeply and look deeply you may discover the key to the sanctuary - not prison.

What takes you deeper into the mystery? What has made your life worth living - not just temporarily bare able? What takes your love of life DEEPER and HIGHER and RICHER and for “more real”.

Here is an example for me. I love to paint. I love to play with color, feel the paint move at the end of the brush onto canvas board, relate colors, mix colors…. play with perception. In and of itself, painting is such a great joy - regardless of the outcome of the painting - although greater joy when there is something I want to see again or share or is enjoyed by others. Painting helps me feel alive and I am alive and loose track of time when I paint. THEN there are side effects to painting of noticing SO MUCH MORE BEAUTY around me in life. Painting opens my eyes and my heart and my mind. Painting is for me A KEY to deeper love. Painting is a SPOKE on the wheel of life like a straight highway to the center of being - ETERNAL LOVE.

I may enjoy many things - but there are more gears into the cosmos driving me into love when I paint.

For your convenience, a list of possibilities of your petals:

listening
being a friend
volunteering
healing arts : creating greater integrity, function and balance within systems organic and or made
mechanical arts: “ “ systems imagined and made - dancing, machine design, games
building arts making things and structures - buildings, instruments, environments
architectural arts: composing, writing, building design, any form of design which begins in the imagination and requires a blue print, recipe or form of some kind to manifest off the page
transportation arts: goods, stuff, people, to other people, places, things and locations and/or helping the structures required to do that work.
earth art: landscaping, gardening, sculpture, homes
beautification: you name it - people, places, things, environments
nurturing arts: taking care of, nursing, helping
protection: protecting the earth, people, places, life, destroying that which harms the vitality of balance, blocking imposition to rights, creating balance with conscious use of will in a loving way, translating, scribe, preserving, restoration
alchemy: art of reformation, transformation, reclamation, rebuilding, renewal, recycling, alchemy, creating altered states of consciousness
loving arts: art of adoration, appreciation, worship, celebrating, glorification, remembering
teaching: the art of liberation and becoming via knowing thyself and helping others learn to learn and become themselves, understanding feeling and recognizing love
strategy: cause and effect of manipulation and possibilities
nurturing: hospitality, healing, parenting, teaching, helping others thrive , gardening
hunting: finding, exploring, research, bringing forth, discovering, sharing, shopping, presenting
shamanism: communicating- “dancing” - between worlds and among realities consciously and simultaneously, healing, creating

The list goes on and is endless. Clearly, interlinking like all life. Like all things - it’s complicated. The motivation and purpose conscious and unconscious behind the activity influences the effect - joy or sorrow.

To be more simple, to just love adore and bask in the presence of another - life a grandparent with a newborn - is pure love consciousness increasing. So, loving life around us like a grandparent - is a very successful way to increase love consciousness - to love a because a being exists - and feeling the joy that brings. The joy of life itself.

I believe we are all artists. We bloom through our artistry, we cannot help but expose some of our petals.
I believe we can increase our joy by appreciating how all organic life is love manifest and develop our adoration of the creation in part and total.
I believe our purpose in life is what we are always doing - being a part of creation - being who we are especially since no one else can do that for us, better to do that consciously than unconsciously and in a way that creates and inspires more joy than agony. Even those who seem lost and don’t know what his/her life purpose is can find it by looking for clues…what are you always doing ultimately regardless of what you are doing? Are you healing, destroying, nurturing, teaching, creating …. what? How can you better apply that to your life and the greater good?

Enjoy the journey.
Bloom beautifully,
K.J.P.
August 5, 2019




MEDITATION blog # 1 and the 5 step focus

Dear Ones,

Based on personal experience and observation, I believe that meditating helps individuals THRIVE.

Therefor, I’m devoting a blog series on MEDITATING techniques I have used in my teaching practice as a way to GIVE forward. So - please feel free to share these blogs and employ for yourself.

I began meditating in 1972 and I began teaching meditation in 1992 as a part of private music lessons.
In 1993 when I opened a private music school location, I did a private study for a full year regarding the effects of students who did and didn’t meditate. I randomly selected (wrote names down and pulled out of a hat) 50% of my students to regularly meditate at the start of each lesson. Reason being, 5 to 10 minutes out of a private 45 or 60 minute lesson is a lot of time, and out of concern and respect to the time and money of my employers, I thought it ethical to do this test study to justify all that time spent in what was usually a once a week music lesson.

I learned this:

100% of students who DID meditate at the beginning of each lesson:
1) learned more than those who didn’t
2) retained more “ “
3) connected better with music emotionally and intellectually ““
(thereby having a more fulfilling experience)
4) had a better connection with me ““
5) remained a private student longer ““
6) continued longer with their private relationship with music ““
7) had better concentration during their lessons ““

What is certain is that they clearly made more progress and advancement in their ability to play their instrument than those who did not. They clearly went further in their books, skills, musicality and capabilities as an instrumentalist even though a chunk of lesson time was spent meditating and not focusing on playing the instrument.

As a result of this test, I made meditation at the start of most music lessons, a ritual. (With oboe students - while the reed soaked and while the top joint of the oboe got warm nestled under the armpit!)

There have only been a handful of students in which I did not, start lessons with meditation simply because it seemed like it was too weird for them, and it would have put them too far out of their comfort zone. Since emotional comfort and safety and security is paramount in the art of private tutoring, I didn’t insist, out of respect for their emotional health based on their personal relationship with life. Even so with those students, they benefited with a few deep breaths, improved posture, firmly getting their feet connected to the ground, making eye contact and using long tones, or relaxed breathing and observing a moment of silence FIRST - as an essential “substitute” to a formal meditation

There is no “one size fits all” in the art of teaching …. especially, in music.

Interesting to point out, now, YEARS and even decades even, I have heard back from a few students who have told me that learning meditation from me (especially the 5 step focus) was one of the most valuable things they’ve learned influencing their quality of LIFE and wellness.

Speaking for myself, my life quality is increased through meditation regarding :

CONCENTRATION
EMOTION CONNECTION
PERFORMANCE
LISTENING

Simply put, here is the outline for the 5 step focus:
Step 1: focus your attention on breathing (just observe) and practice excellent meditation posture *
Step 2: continue step one and add to your awareness/concentration ALL you can hear
Step 3: continue step 2 and now, deliberately breathe fuller, deeper and slower. Also, notice what you can smell as you inhale. Sweep mind from head to toe and relax any tension you may notice.
Step 4: continue step 3 with some sort of greater awareness
^
Step 5: continue step 4, put your fingers together (pinky to pinky, thumb to thumb and so on), and open your eyes adding sight to your awareness WITHOUT ALLOWING SIGHT TO ECLIPSE YOUR OTHER SENSES

There is an art to this meditation and it’s important to observe excellent posture to avoid injury - especially eye strain! Please note: Details to excellent posture can make or break the efficacy of this meditation.

* excellent posture includes the following observations
1) establishing a strong connection with the ground - some call this GROUNDING
Since my students were sitting in a chair for their music lesson, I’d say, pretend your feet and seat are attached with velcroe to the chair and floor. Pretend the weight of your body is a rock and is securely and solidly resting on the chair.
2) elevate rib cage and comfortably elongate the spine, stretching top of spine at base of head up
3) gently and slightly lower the chin
4) relax muscles around eyes, cheeks, and belly button
5) relax tongue and throat, put tip of tongue touching and resting behind upper teeth
6) note specific hand positions - individually led - palms up resting on lap with thumb and selected other fingertip touching a good habit
7) eyes fully or partially closed - FREE OF EYE MUSCLE TENSION - make sure eyebrows are not furrowed!

^ examples include - special awareness to quality of air in room such as humidity, temperature, vibe even, acoustics - all helpful for oboists, also, could be greater awareness to nuances of physical changes from inhaling to exhaling, or greater awareness to qualities of what one hears…. it’s nice to allow this step to be flexible to change up and keep fresh the meditation and still maintain consistency of steps


It’s important that a student or one meditating feels emotionally safe and meditating at the beginning of a lesson creates a safe haven for intellectual and emotional artistic exploration.

Each step of the 5 step focus can last as long as you choose. For a normal music lesson, I simply approximated ONE minute per step, with very advanced students - 30” a step was sufficient.

The IDEAL is to life perpetually in the state of the 5th step - albeit with hands free.

There is a 6th step for those interested.
Step 6: continue step 5 and ask yourself “WHO is listening through these ears, WHO is seeing through these eyes….” I’d only recommend step 6 for adults or philosophical teenagers ready for an intellectual challenge and even then - with careful discretion. So, if this doesn’t appeal to you - forget it.

Last but not least:

Once this meditation has become a habit - one can simply put fingertips together, get soles of feet connected with the ground and/or seat, take a deep breath eyes closed, then deep breath eyes open and by conditioning experience a strong sense of presence regaining that usual state of the onset of step 5.

EXTREMELY useful to do this before performing, teaching, writing, public speaking, taking a test, studying, being interviewed - etc. !!!

Feel free to email me questions for free and/or schedule a SKYPE session or phone call for personalized instruction. $ 1 per minute by prepaid appointment via PayPal. 10 minute minimum for meditation coaching. Minors must be accompanied by a legal guardian.

More blogs to come on this subject.

Thank you and all the best,
K.J.P.
August 4, 2019



one note - humility and significance

Dear Ones,

Each beat, each breath, each step, each day, week, month, season, year, decade, stitch in the knitted blanket of life, petal of a flower, tooth in a smile, flower in a garden, person in a parade, NOTE in a piece, instrument in a symphony, cloud in the sky, star in the cosmos, word in a sentence, sentence in a story, matters and makes a difference and influences all else.

Each of us may only be one drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of human life, but each snowflake makes an avalanche. Each beautifully completely unique snowflake with whatever lifespan it has, and however it becomes a part of its next part of life, matters.

”The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’m thinking of how a leaf, falls to the earth, becomes soil, becomes rock, become soil, become food, becomes wings…

one note, one symphony

Each note in each symphony has a beginning, middle and end and is a part of something bigger and is all it is in itself and is created by so many other ingredients.

One note missed or changed in a piece changes the entire piece.
An entire story’s meaning can be changed with one word being changed.

Think of it!!!
I’m thinking of a painting - one color changes the pallet.

Each of us may be just individual drops of water in the ocean of life - but we can still do our best to shine.
May you relish the drop. May your drop matter. May the tree you are in the forest of life, be very well.

May each note be played in gratitude and with love.
To the muse!
K.J.P.
August 3, 2019

Wherever you are

Dear Ones,

Wherever you are, there is love.
Wherever YOU are, there is love.

Let your love shine in your heart.
Let your love shine through your eyes.
Let your love pour through your finger tips onto all you touch.
Let you love spill through your feet with every step.
Let your love pour out of your lungs with every breath.

We are made of eternal love wanting to be recognized.
We are star dust spinning.

Remember, wherever you are there is love.
Wherever YOU are, there is love.

KJP
July 5,2019

# 3 New beginnings with priorities, goals, memories and insight

Like many people, I spin a lot of plates and have a number of passionate interests. But for the one plate I spin in the moment, there are several that do not have my undivided attention. (If only I could tie reeds and practice long tones at the same time !!) However conscious or unconscious - I am making a sacrifice. Furthermore, I find that I can experience pressure or tension about the plates that I am not spinning - will they fall if I don’t spin them NOW!?! How can I get it all done? This stress isn’t beneficial to my health or quality of performance to the plate I spin in the here and now! How can I live organically, in the moment, be open to spontaneity and not fear dropping any plates? The stress of this takes away from quality practice or involvement in anything.

My answer to this right now is to reassess my priorities, set reasonable, achievable goals based on a loving, big picture way and make a cupboard of confidence for my plates I’m not spinning in the moment and get clear on sacrifice and order of importance! To factor in flexibility, prioritizing and having an A and B schedule routine which I can fall back on but not be a prisoner to, is really helpful. I like to take one month at a time and the older I get I’m learning one DAY at a time is essential for me to not be too rigid and more open to the spirit of guidance and free of any self imposed prisons. How can I have a sound structure/routine that is flexible enough to be spontaneous enough?

I think of my priorities: achieving my life’s purpose
1) Being a more loving person and teaching that via the arts is my primary goal. Therefor all other goals AND DECISIONS of how I spend my time and energy, must support - not detract from that.
2) Optimal health - in an integrated way - body/mind, emotional body/physical body connection etc.
Goal 2 supports priority #1 and therefore all decisions and goals must support this goal.
3) Present goals: overhauling my oboe playing for optimal technical elegance and artistic height.
Goal 3, supports my life purpose.

By being clear on my goals and priorities, I need fewer rules or complicated road maps. I can move forward knowing this is the destination and any new goal or decision I make is in support of this ultimate destination. As long as the goal is based on a priority - the integrity of the goal and purpose - can be honored when change of behavior or habit or form is required.

I’ve been doing a lot of gardening lately and as it is my habit and joy to think/learn in metaphors, I’ve been thinking about how I can apply garden knowledge to my current situation in goal setting to best achieve my purpose.

Now that I am 54 - and overhauling my oboe playing - the rules and habits and routines of the past don’t necessarily apply nor should I follow them as I need to distinguish which to keep, ditch, change…..etc….

If a routine is like having a set schedule to water the shade garden, being 54 and in my current situation is like realizing, the tree that once kept my shade garden shady, isn’t there anymore, it’s fallen, and now what was once a sunny garden, is in the shade by the tree that has grown in these past 45 years of playing the oboe. The teachings, rules of routines of watering, and sunning and pruning and blooming - are all subject to change with what the NEEDS are at the time to achieve the ultimate PURPOSE!

Politics, teaching methods, teachers, friends, partners - etc. are wise to bare this in mind and keep in the heart center. Further along requires adaptability and embracing the wisdom of hindsight and discernment. Adapting I find requires reassessment of priorities, level headed evaluation, asking new questions and trying new approaches.

This morning I started a new approach to my warm up practice and it’s liberating.

Morning OBOE practice June 1, 2010:

As it’s the first of the month I carefully dusted one of my oboes with a clean paint brush and oiled the mechanism.

Needing to be hyper vigilant of my physical well being - ideal posture and physical wellness, breathing, embouchure, as well as needing to move the fingers to help oil get into the mechanism of the oboe key-work, I:
* knelt with knees 6 inches apart and hips resting, situated evenly over feet with the front of the feet down on the mat
* relaxed the muscles in my face and around my belly button, elongated my neck up and chin slightly down breathed deeply in and played series of trills of varying lengths, speeds, dynamics - whole and half steps

all the while paying deep attention to the physical quality of focus, pressure, relaxation, of my muscles - as the oboe is an extension of my physical body as the oboe reed is my adopted vocal chords and extension of my windpipe

my priorities and interest today where in hyper vigilance and attention to keeping open and relaxed where necessary - avoiding undue tension in my jaw for example - keeping ideal posture and alignment and quality of overall form in the physical wind chamber with ideal diaphragmatic support.

Furthermore: focus on hand placement and facility of finger moment during the trilling.
Keeping ideal placement of reed in mouth and embouchure - checked by following up trilling with tonguing patterns of repeated rapid tonguing per note, moved to the next note same # of times and back in the trill pattern

Adjusting posture when tension set in - moving to a cushion under hips within same posture, the later moving to a half lotus, then later to a standing position

All of my playing in session # 1 of the day was all free of the page.
While I was trilling, I was remembering the gorgeous butterflies I had seen recently at the Butterfly Conservatory in Arizona earlier this month. I would imitate wing movement in my trilling - holding notes, trilling faster and slower. After a good while of this, I then began improvising to different note relationships in melodic like patterns here and there in small intervals - keeping the rhythmic flexibility - of the trilling.

The emotional experience was open and pleasant.
I focused my air stream to the other side of the galaxy. I thought about the butterfly theory of how the fluttering wings of a butterfly in one place can influence the weather far away in another place.

What a mysterious world.

KJP
June 1, 2019






# 2 Opening up to deeper and deeper listening

Dear Ones,
Welcome to the Oboe Brilliance blog series: abyssopelagic refinement.

abyssopelagic
(adj.) like or pertaining to the depths of the sea

refinement
(noun)
6. a subtle point or distinction.
7. an improved, higher, or extreme form of something:
a refinement of the old system.

Today’s blog focuses on opening up to deeper and deeper listening which I feel is essential to the creative process and communing in life with greater sensitivity and consciousness. Developing deeper listening allows one to be more present, in tune with, one with and better at connecting.

I recall my very first encounter with my first dance teacher when I was about 2 1/2 or 3 years old in 1967 or ‘68. I was very excited to study ballet because it’s so beautiful. Arriving first, and early to class I asked my teacher “How do you dance?” She smiled, looked at me tenderly, knelt down to my height level and said it’s actually easy, all you do is turn your body into an ear and move how you feel. Try it - I’ll play some music. First, lie down and the floor and feel the vibrations with your entire body, then when I play it again, move how you feel as you hear it. So we did that and she cried (tears of amazement saying I am a dancer) and I felt complete joy throughout my entire being and have been madly in love with dance every since.

Isn’t life a dance? Isn’t life a pas de deux of what can appear as duality? Isn’t our body an entire ear?
As I recall the room and how I was during that first lesson, my mind open with no preconceived notions, alert to what I’d experience with a fresh mind, a blank slate with no walls buffering me from what I’d encounter. I could hear with my body and moved how the music felt. It was glorious. There are many currents within music, many frequencies.

Yesterday as I walked the labyrinth, I walked it differently to my pleasant surprise. My usual way to walk it - my now historical way - has been to hold a journal in my left hand and pen in my right hand and spend about 1/3 of my time maybe 1/2 of the time writing what I channel. Yesterday when I went to write, my pen was completely empty. Embracing the situation, I walked the labyrinth palms up, walking slowly, and listening with my entire body to the “music” there as I walked, noted how my body felt as I stepped, breathed, looked at this and that. I noticed how chakras felt, noticed energy of various trees, how my body and how the trees communicated like a duet. I felt an intensity, depth, breadth to the trees much more than what I feel with people. Their auras appeared to grow as I could see them more and more clearly as I listened deeper. I payed attention to how my breathing and body changed as I focused my attention on the blue sky and the thought occurred to me that I could employ this kind of deeper listening to when I played a certain note on the oboe - feel in deeper levels the affect of this note in the noticeable environment around me. With my body ear, and with the ethereal ear.

How does the physical sound influence the ethereal music?

How does the ethereal music influence the physical sound music?

How does my listening influence these? How does the listening influence me?

If this is a bit unusual for you to read or think about, imagine and think about how you are used to walking on the ground and feeling air around you. That’s normal. Now imaging how it feels to walk in water which gets deeper. The water influences your walking and your walking influences the water. There are physical differences as well as other differences including obvious changes - states of consciousness - and emotional differences. Now consider how there is a lot of water in air to begin with. Ethereal “music” has a different texture than water. A finer frequency. Just like water is in most things, ethereal frequencies are there as well.

If you don’t think you’re in touch with an ethereal level of feeling, it could be that you take it for granted - like going nose blind - trust the fragrance is there - and take a deep breath so to speak. Observe what you can. You’ll notice what you notice.

DANCE IN SILENCE
Move slowly like a dancer in silence. Keep it simple and observe what you can. Remember there is water there is moisture in the air - try to sense that and take it from there in a more subtle level. It helps to relax the muscles in the face and around your belly button. Through movement, listen to changes in energy like you’d notice changes in water by moving your hand through the water.

NOTICE BEFORE AND AFTER
Note the energy of the environment before performing or listening to a musical work - then note the energy of the environment right after the work ends.

Notice how the way you breathe does this to yourself and your environment - the way you think…

In closing, a translation of a Haiku poem by Basho

The temple bell stops.
But the sound keeps coming
out of the flowers.

Basho

to the dance
K.J.P.
May 31, 2019

# 1 introduction of new blog series

Dear Ones,
Welcome to the Oboe Brilliance blog series: abyssopelagic refinement.

abyssopelagic
(adj.) like or pertaining to the depths of the sea

refinement
(noun)
6. a subtle point or distinction.
7. an improved, higher, or extreme form of something:
a refinement of the old system.

Here you are free to read about
1) creative process
a: during this next chapter in my journey of a new phase of deeper creative exploration and process
b: simply explore these exercises yourself
2) my oboe playing overhaul to liberate my highest potential of artistry within technical elegance
a: read about my journey of re-teaching/overhauling my oboe playing
b: follow my processes as you wish for yourself

I am profoundly grateful to have and take the opportunity to do this and effervescently eager to take this journey and share it with you. You are welcome to join me.

All aboard!?!

K.J.P.
May 30, 2019





Crocus

CROCUS is the title of piece # IV in the book “Arc En Ciel” which is in the 100 Flowers Series. Arc En Ciel is for solo oboe for intermediate level - and up - oboists.

This blog offers insight into the work and playing tips.

INSIGHT:

I composed this work for an international SKYPE student named Irene Bariani, eager to embellish her repertoire of 21st century music and who shares like most, a love of flowers. I picked CROCUS for her as I recognize she has qualities of a Crocus which I admire.

The Crocus flower is really near and dear to my heart as it is the harbinger of Spring!
I love and am mystified by how this little delicate flower manages to burst through the frozen ground and reveal beautifully colored and tender petals.

I thought of the bulb under the frozen ground and the invincible character of these color flowers.
I love how they are so hardy and stand up to the harshest cold winds and even returning snow fall.

Amazing aren’t they!?!

PLAYING TIPS:

Make long phrases. If possible without compromising tone quality, use one breath without breaking the line from rest to rest.

Of course keeping in mind that oboists are truly free to play all 3rd line Bs - including multi-phonics - as simply a third line B, and are free to pick any multi-phonic fingering preferred, I invite oboists to try the following for what produces the best harmonically sounding interpretation given the theory and philosophy of the work - for what works best on my psyche, artistic interpretation, oboe and reeds….!

(Everyone must decide for oneself!)


1) Measures 5 and 7 playing tips:
first: play the first two beats of 3rd line B as an harmonic. To achieve this, finger low B natural with a half hole fingering. It sounds haunting, hidden - like an underground bulb!

next: for beats 3 and 4 in measure 5, I suggest fingering low D and raising both right and left hand middle fingers to produce best harmonic sounding multi-phonic

2) Measures 10 and 11 playing tips:
to produce what I suggest as the harmonically sounding best multi-phonic, finger F# and lift your A finger.

As with all multi-phonics with this piece please do your best to not blast it. Try to keep it covered sounding. If you feel it is simply too harsh for your emotional esthetics, then by all means, thoroughly and guilt free, enjoy a simple B, or a harmonic B for above mentioned measures.

Measure 19 however, I urge oboists to at least play this one. It represents the triumph of youth, of Spring, moving beyond the confines of rigid earth and reaching up and out towards the sky above. OH LET YOURSELF REJOICE AND SING SPRING HERE to the end of the work!!!

Enjoy and feel free to email questions.
Yours in the service of music,

Kathryn J. Potter
PS (Oboe Brilliance offers international SKYPE coaching sessions via prepaid, private appointment. $40, per 1/2 hour or $75 per hour. Oboe students under 18 must have a parent or legal guardian present for legal reasons during SKYPE sessions. Also, oboists of any age, level and nationality are invited to attend and possibly participate in my next master class hosted by OboeParis2020. March 7th, 2020. See home page for details.)





Look at the trees/Compassion

Dear Ones,

Sometime this year, a composition student unburdened her heart to me with a serious gripe. She felt upset at how a colleague “sold out” and compromised his artistic integrity for commercialism.

Everything she said made sense and I could empathize with her pain and from her perspective, which I can perceive the same way, everything she said made sense.

My response was to nod and express understanding to her point of view and empathy but then I added this.

“Now, have a seat and look out of this window and look at the trees. Notice how some go straight up to the light and most others twist around, sometimes towards the ground and in bizarre ways. They all do this as necessary in order to find the sunlight that individual bough, limb or branch needs based on where it emerged, influenced by the position of the other parts of the trees and its environment…..

It may be that it is the same with artists, and people. Therefor, it might be wise to entertain the possibility that what might be true for you and make perfect sense for you, might not be correct for someone else and vice versa.”

I believe thinking this way can free ourselves from negative judgement and help up as people, increase our ability to be loving people and create art that increases our ability to love.

The founding philosophy of Oboe Brilliance is that the ultimate purpose of art - and being an artist - is to increase our ability to love.

I believe the ultimate purpose of humanity is to increase our consciousness of love and our ability to love.


More on that in future blogs.
Thank you for reading.
Best wishes,

Kathryn
November 30, 2018