I love when people laugh at my stories. I’d say it’s because it boosts my self-esteem, but (as I learned this past semester) for oboists, an ego is overrated (or, to use a more exact quote, “bullshit”). I’ll just say then that it makes me feel witty and clever after three-hour practice marathons.
In person, I seem to have comedic gold from school, rehearsals, what have you – and I love writing about funny things on here. But, if you ask me during a month-long writer’s block, I’ll maintain that no, I just don’t have anything to write about. Nothing. I think it takes the metaphorical equivalent of a cold bucket of water dropped on my head for me to realize that hey, there’s funny stuff happening and for some dumb reason I never open my eyes and actually notice it.
Anyway, long story short: I have ideas, guys. Ideas.
One Tuesday toward the end of the fall semester, I’d skipped music history for the first (and only) time for a lesson because, for one reason or another, I was unable to make any other time for a lesson that week. Toward the end of the lesson, Mr. Walters informed me that a girl from the Arts & Sciences Orchestra had emailed him saying her oboe had broken and asking if he could take a look at it and see if he could fix it. Then – since I’ve dabbled in repair and adjustment and am currently doing a winter term project on it, and have a fairly good grasp of the mechanics of the instrument – he had responded to her telling her to come in a little before noon so he could look at it. At this point, I was a little bemused because, with his major orchestra position or not, I knew he didn’t adjust his own instrument, and was generally cautious of touching the mechanics of instruments. He then said he had told her to come in at that time because he knew it would be the end of my lesson, so I would look at it.
Keep in mind, this is pre-Winter-Term, pre-lessons-at-Laubin-on-repair-and-maintenance, so this is more or less me getting pushed off the diving board into the deep end.
Thankfully, when the girl came in, it wasn’t a crack or anything too major in that respect – after inspecting the instrument, we came to the conclusion that the G-key was squeezed too tightly on the rod (this may or may not mean anything to you, and I apologize because I frankly have no idea how else to make this more apparent) by the surrounding keys, and needed to be sanded down a fraction of a millimeter to give it more room to move, and the spring could also stand for some strengthening.
Not a big deal. We could definitely work on this.
And then Mr. Walters says, “Okay, you take this to the reed room and fix it; I trust you with this more than me.”
Deep end: I really could have used some swimmies.
The next half hour or so was me pretending to have done this a hundred times, and carefully avoiding the fact that I was and am, in fact, a first-year, and I have never in my life sanded a key – ever. For the record, everything went fine, but I may or may not have panicked a few times during the process. (I also found two bottles of lighter fluid, a saw, and other mysterious things that I definitely do not want to know the practical purpose of in the reed room … but that’s a puzzle that I’m still figuring out.)
Mr. Walters has told me that he is intending to make me the “repair tsar” of the studio, and I’m more than a little excited about it: especially because, these next times around, I’m going to be confident that I can swim before I jump in.