Welcome to the SJSU oboe homepage. The purpose of this page is to provide my current students with access to the various handouts that I use in our lessons, and to share my recent recordings with you as a way to illustrate the concepts we are working on in lessons. Please make free use of the materials posted here, but remember that they are my property and you may not re-post them anywhere without my permission. Guests and non-students are also welcome, please check out our program and let me know if you have any questions (you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org). Thank you!
Any concerts or events related to the SJSU oboe studio will be posted here - check back again soon!
(All events take place in the School of Music's Concert Hall unless noted otherwise)
The music department has set aside room 251 as our reed room. All oboe majors currently enrolled in applied lessons may have a key to this room. The reed room has workspace and good lighting, plus the various tools you need to make your reeds. You may review the reed room's Rules for Use here online, and they are also posted in the room. Happy reed making!
Handouts related to reed making:
Rather than print my official bio here, I want to address a different question: how did I get here?
I began playing the oboe in the sixth grade, after several years of piano lessons. I started private lessons and also played in the band at my school. Outside of school, I played in the junior high and then the high school youth orchestras in my town. My first oboe teachers were Mike Curtis (6th-11th grade) and Annalisa Morton (12th grade), two teachers and freelance musicians in the western Oregon area where I grew up. They gave me a solid foundation on the oboe, and without their hard work I would not be the musician I am today. The high point of my musical experience before college was playing Copland's Quiet City as a soloist with my youth orchestra during my senior year of high school. I have since played that piece many times, but I will always remember my first experience with that wonderful music.
I went to college at the University of Idaho, where I majored in biology. At that time in my life I didn't think a career in music was a very good idea, but I didn't know what else I might want to do. I was interested in science and so I chose biology as a very general degree to get started. I auditioned at the music department also, because I wanted to keep playing in a band if I could. What a treat it was to discover the outstanding music program that U of I has. As a non major, I was still able to take oboe lessons, and I basically participated in the music department as if I were a music major (except for the classes, of course). I played in the wind ensemble and the orchestra, did a lot of chamber music, and also played tenor sax in the marching and concert bands. My oboe teacher at UI was Carol Padgham Albrecht, a fantastic oboist and mentor. She taught me many things that I still carry with me today: the importance of putting your own life experiences into your playing; how to construct a beautiful musical line; how to be thorough and methodical with reed making; how essential it is that a performer understand music history and music theory, and how to put that knowledge to work in expressive playing; the importance of listening to great recordings to build your sound concept (both oboists and others - I still give my own students her advice: to be a great oboist, listen to vocalists Ella Fitzgerald and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, and do what they do); the importance of good writing and grammar in your professional life; and finally, (possibly most-importantly), if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well. I could not have asked for a better undergraduate oboe experience, and I found it completely by accident! She is an amazing teacher and did so much to shape my development both musically and personally.
Although I considered it many times, I never did change my major to music - mainly because I was afraid of the freshman aural skills classes (quite ironic, now that I teach those same classes here at SJSU). I graduated with my biology degree in 1997 and moved home for a year to work, save money, and plan my next move. This was a very important time for me. I was working at Hewlett Packard as a lab technician testing the computer chips that go in printer ink cartridges, and I was looking into career options in science. I was also playing in the local community orchestra. I discovered two crucial things:
This situation was totally unacceptable to me. The oboe was too important to me to let myself play it badly. This led to a difficult choice - I could either quit the oboe entirely and focus on something else, or I could go "all in" and become a professional musician. The only thing I couldn't do was to stay where I was - playing badly with no prospect for improvement. After much thinking, I concluded that I didn't want to live my life without the oboe as a part of it, so I was left with no choice but to change paths and become an oboist. One of my former work supervisors gave me the best advice when I was trying to make this decision. She said, "I don't have that kind of musical ability myself, but if I did, I couldn't live with myself unless I at least tried to make a go of it."
That clinched it for me, so I went back to UI in the fall of 1998, this time as a music major. Since I had a bachelor's degree already, I didn't have to all of the core requirements again and I was able to complete the music coursework in two years. This time I was much more serious: I did the practicing I should have been doing all along, I got a key to my teacher's office and spent many late nights there after everyone else had gone home, making reeds and listening to her CD collection. Being a little older than the average freshman, I also took my theory and history classes very seriously. I found something incredible: I had been playing the oboe for years at this point, with only basic theory knowledge. Now, suddenly, I was learning about our harmonic language in much more detail, and I could actually see how this was translating to more musical playing on my instrument! Learning theory was making me a better player. I try to share this with my own music theory students now; many of them are too young to truly understand at the time, but I enjoy hearing from them later in their degree when they start to catch on, too.
I graduated from UI for the second time in 2000, and then went to the University of North Texas for my Master's in oboe performance. UNT has an amazing music program, so much bigger than anything I had experienced before. Also, being in a major metropolitan area there were many opportunities for private teaching and freelance playing - these played a big part in my musical development during this period. My teacher at UNT was Charles Veazey, a wonderful man who took everything that my previous teachers had done and gave me a great gift: he helped me find my own musical voice. His teaching style was to lead by example, and he demonstrated a reasoned, thoughtful approach to oboe playing that his students naturally wanted to emulate. He taught me that there is always a reason for everything in music - ask questions and never do something "just because" - you have to think about what you are trying to say to your listener and then do what is necessary to get your point across. He demonstrated this with a sweet, crisp tone and singing vibrato, and with humility and humor. His approach to reed making was so sensible that I could take everything I had learned before, add what he had to offer, and finally begin making great reeds on my own. He helped craft his students into their best versions of themselves, not mini versions of him. At his retirement concert in March of 2011, I heard his students from across all his years of teaching and I observed that while we all sound like him to a degree, we also all sound uniquely like ourselves.
Two years of study at UNT was not enough, so when I finished my Master's there in 2002 I immediately re-enrolled for my DMA. I continued my oboe studies, of course, and also had incredible instruction in music theory, pedagogy, performance practice, and the physiology of performance - something that has allowed me to use my training in science again. While working on my DMA I had the opportunity to teach oboe at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, and I played as Principal Oboe with the Abilene Philharmonic Orchestra for one season, in addition to a lot of other freelance playing work. I finished my coursework in 2005, when my wife and I moved to San Jose so that she could take the brass coordinator job here at SJSU; I started teaching here in January 2006. Because of the pressures of teaching and freelancing in the bay area, I did not finish my dissertation until August of 2011! I am very proud of the work I did at UNT, and I now try to transmit what all of my wonderful teachers have shared with me to my own students. When I observe myself teaching, I can see how each of my teachers has added to all of my own experiences to make me the musician I am today. This is what I truly enjoy in my own teaching - helping my students find their voice, and watching them create the musician they will be one day. Teaching has its challenges, but also its rewards, and teaching someone else is still the best way to figure things out for yourself. This is so important, that if you study with me for long, you will see that I make all education students become performers, and all performance students become teachers. A true musician needs to understand all aspects of their field.
Today I work here at SJSU as part of a diverse career in music. In addition to my university teaching, I also teach private oboe lessons to younger students, I sell oboe reeds all around North America, and I continue to work frequently as a freelance oboist here in the Bay area. I am a member of the Santa Cruz County Symphony (2nd oboe), and I perform on a freelance basis with many of the fine orchestras in this region: Symphony Silicon Valley, Opera San José, Ballet San José, the San José Chamber Orchestra, the Monterey Symphony, the Fremont Symphony, and a variety of other local groups. In popular entertainment, I have recently performed in the orchestras accompanying Mannheim Steamroller, Frank Sinatra, Jr., the Three Irish Tenors, and Il Divo. One of the things I love about the music profession is how diverse it is - I never have a chance to become bored with my work, because it is always changing!
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