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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Some Words of Wisdom from Oboist Stevens Hewitt



Stevens Hewitt was a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the author of a unique oboe method. Below are some of his words of wisdom.  From the IDRS Journal Vol. 1 No. 2

For the teacher: God does not engage in theology. Do not destroy by reasonings the faith required to play.***

We do not know what Vivaldi's performances in the past sounded like. But, if he were in the hall, would he enjoy this one?***

Ask the teacher for information rather than advice.***

The teacher cannot teach the student something that he does not already know.***

As you study more, you do not rise above a large amount of lesser players. Only the fine players appear even better.***

Do you think you can pay attention to what is required? I doubt it.***

Playing with a metronome is like drawing a straight line with a ruler to fit the blueprint. You must be able to draw a straight line without the ruler.***

Every day you must raise the price of your notes.***

Travel the beaten path. You will have less company than you think. The smart explorer will take the super-highway until forced to hack through the underbrush ***

Do you analyze "if only", or, "next time"?***

Never take the audience back-stage.***

Your performance is not the answer (as in the "Hear and Die" school of playing). It is the question.***

For a musician money is time.***

All men are born in bondage and unequal. Practice is your only chance for freedom and equality.***

Unfortunately for you, I measure myself by what I plan to do, and you by what I hear.***

The notes will not fall off the page into the fingers . . .***

One does not eat exclusively, soup for a week, fish for a week, bread for a week. Practice everything.***

Strike while the iron is hot. If you relax in your progress, or the repetition of your effort before its particular object is obtained, all of your preceding toil will be entirely lost.***

Eat the meal, not the menu.***

Technique is a test of a musician's sincerity.***

The value of an exercise lies only in the manner of performing it.***

Memory of how it feels is your only method.***

The requirement in a teacher is only that he should possess what the student needs.***

The idea of learning is to enhance what you are, not to avoid what you are.***

Practicing is not what people think it is. It is not just something which, when it is operating, you can hear from the outside.***

Learning is an activity. Learning through words is a mirror activity.***

Green wood can be bent. When it is dry it is only straightened by fire.***

Your teacher is not what you think him to be. Think, therefore, of the music. It is something like you think it to be.***

If you still ask "Why did he give me this, and in this way, and can I fit this into my playing?" you did not understand what he gave you.***

The student looked up and saw the devil sitting near him. The student said "Why are you sitting there, making no trouble?" The demon raised his head sadly. "Since the teachers of music have graduated in such numbers there is nothing left for me to do."***

Music is actually too difficult for musicians. It should be left to the music critics, for whom no problem is too difficult.***

As to conductors: Conduct an orchestra as you would fry bananas for "Bananas Foster". (see publisher June Emerson's catalog for the recipe). The more you stir things up with a stick, the more of a mess you will make."


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