Who’s Your Oboe?

My wife and I were at the symphony last weekend. As is customary, the concertmaster (the violinist who sits closest to the conductor) stood up and pointed to the oboist. The oboist then played an A note at 440 hertz, the worldwide tuning standard. The woodwinds matched the note, then the brass. Then the oboist cranked out another A and the strings tuned up. You’ve probably all heard an orchestra settle in just before the conductor walks out. Last weekend …

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One comment on “Who’s Your Oboe?

  1. Bob Braun on said:

    As my daughter is currently a high school oboist (and I a former band director), I was intrigued. I absolutely agree that the true standards (not the ones simply stated in the staff manual) are set by the role-modeling behavior (positive & negative) of key staff. But in looking for cues to those unwritten standards, new staff members will gravitate to those personalities in which they are most comfortable. So, I would suggest it may be a bit risky and less effective to place this responsibility on a single standard bearer.
    I would suggest a bit of a shift in the oboist metaphor! First of all, I believe first & foremost the camp oboist should be the director. Continuing the metaphor, the oboist should take a small group (perhaps the woodwinds!) and pre-tune together in a practice room prior to stepping on stage ~ in camp terms, the camp director meets and works with the key staff (admin team) to ensure they are all on board and buying into the written & implied standards before staff training commences. This is one area the ‘trickle-down’ theory actually works!
    Thanks for the great article Chris! Being a trombonist (the clown jester of the orchestra), I’d love to see what metaphor you’d have for our section!!

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