I’m engaged in a collaborative community of musicians. And I must admit that it is one of the greatest assets in my musical career.

My community has been built from gigs, summer festivals, teaching experiences, guest lectures and more. We are so lucky that the music world is a relatively small family. And with the growth of technology it is even easier to connect and share our ideas, building global communities.

As a musician I fear Arrivals. And I know I am not alone in this opinion. To me, Stagnation is one of the ultimate swear words.

Most musicians I know would agree: We don’t do this career to Get THE Job (ARRIVAL) and then Stop Developing Greater Art (STAGNATION). Lucky for me, my community has been instrumental in aiding My Growth keeping my artistic and pedagogical perspectives in Constant Motion helping me to maintain and support a dynamic living entity … my career.

Before posting a video, blog, or teaching a guest lecture I bounce ALL of my ideas off of family, friends, colleagues to get their ideas and share perspectives. It enables me to gain wisdom. I grow from my colleague’s pedagogy, find my voice, and structure my thoughts.

One of the finest educators in my musical community is my dad, Mike. Between us, we have a combined 60+ years of music education experience. So when we sit down to talk pedagogy, we block off a full afternoon.

Mike Oft
Mike Oft. Photo Courtesy of Toby Oft.

Prior to filming  the video for this week Mike and I sat down for an extensive 2 hour Skype Session. We traded ideas about articulations, air and building strategies for success in our students. The fruits of our 2+ hour discussion … I pared down to a short 5 minute YouTube video.

 Mike is not only my dad but he was also my first music teacher. Some kids throw the baseball around with their dad. In my family we played duets each evening, he on trombone and me on bassoon. Every night I was given my own space to create art and learn from the best.

 Because he was my first teacher many of our ideas have the same roots. But over the years we have both added minimal alterations to achieve greater and faster success for our students. It was fun to catch up and see that we are both still growing in our educational strategies.

And let me just take a moment to say how lucky I am that my dad views me as a colleague. In our discussions he was equally interested in my new found successes as I was in his.

In the video Articulations: Tonguing and Air I mention a statistic that 1/4 of the population is challenged to tongue effectively due to genetic predispositions. This fact was derived from grassroots research.

In our Skype Session Mike and I both noted that on average 3 out of 4 students will articulate without issue. But there was usually 1 out of 4 that was challenged, due to mother nature. We shared strategies to identify the challenged student and then shared creative solutions that we have field-tested throughout the years to build success with our students and their articulating skills.

If all this wasn’t enough… can you tell I got a little excited about this video?!?

  Later in the month I met with Principal Oboist of the Atlanta Ballet, Erica Howard for lunch. You might remember Erica from my insta or snapchat videos on oboe repair. She has been our guest at several JSU events.

During lunch I shared my experiences of correcting air pockets as they appear in an embouchure and the direct link to articulation. We both spent a good 5 minutes spitting air as a demonstration to one another, challenging my theory.

The Outcome: my thoughts and strategies held true in her experiences. Erica then offered a bit of wisdom that she uses to teach articulations. The fantastic article that I believe is great for all wind players can be found at the start of the Barret vol. 1 by Valarie Anderson.

The article is linked to a series of exercises helping students create a lift at the end of the phrase/note, avoiding the dreaded TOT Stinger Accent, a challenge many wind beginners or Marching Band students struggle with.

I’ve found Anderson’s exercises  to be brilliant pedagogical exercises for use in practice sessions, my own and my student’s. It reminded me of the exercises by Marcel Tabuteau. The exercises naturally lend themselves to a discussion of adding tone colors and dynamics to the  articulations. Perfect!

I feel lucky to be surrounded by so many thoughtful musician performer/educators. And although I share my experiences in public forums, it would be neglectful to not note that every post has hours of discussions with colleagues before I ever share the final product.

My YouTube Channel and Blog is Forever Evolving. It has been and always will be the place where I chart my growth, discoveries and plans.

A future goal for me would be to further develop my findings by researching genetic speech pathology and linguistics to greater understand the 1/4 genetically challenged students. I would love to know how this appears on a global scale based on region and dialect.

And now … this is the moment I ask you to Join My Musical Community. I would love to hear your ideas, perspectives and experiences on the articulations and speech that I am sharing in this weeks Blog and Video. Because speech is linked to dialect and linguistics please include your location in your comment. It will help guide my research.

Thanks for sharing in My Musical Adventures and being part of My Community.

Happy Articulating, Everybody!


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