Don’t question the A your teacher gives you.

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4 Responses

  1. So funny you mention this. I always tuned before my lesson, yet my "A" was always off. I would correct, but didn't figure it out until I checked my Korg and discovered that I had inadvertently changed the setting to 443. Yes, my teacher's "A" is always correct!

  2. …but even if it's not correct! Just tune! As if every oboist gets it right on 440 every time? Being flexible with where you put your A is not necessarily a bad thing. Sure, go ahead hear 440 all day and night: I do. (which is why I have to bite my lip a whole lot when my adult beginners try and instruct me on the finer points of using a tuner) But when I went to the UK, it was definitely higher, and I just took what the oboe or violin gave me enthusiastically.

    I wrote this because I actually had to reprimand a middle aged guy because he stunk up the room with his attitude. Something about humoring me, even though he used his tuner outside. Sure, it's calibrated to 440, and it was reading 440…

    when you were 3 inches on top of the fingerboard. Let's see how in tune you are when you have a real bow grip and play between the bridge and fingerboard.

    Oh? You didn't know?

    Imagine that.

  3. I use a tuner when I tune an orchestra. We used to have to use a tuning fork "back in the day". Years ago I was tuning an orchestra and in front of an entire audience the concertmaster shook his head at me, implying I was out of tune. I nodded my head and held up the tuner. It was a rather unpleasant moment. (Fortunately he's not really much of a player and I never worked with him again.)

    Intonation is a pesky thing. We tune with a tuner, but of course pitch may "evolve" and while, as a principal oboist, I try to keep the pitch around a 440, if I'm the ONLY one there I'm wrong. Go figure!

    Little tidbit; San Francisco Symphony has "Please Note: We tune to an A-441" on their oboe audition info page. Cracked me up.

  4. For a short time, when my kids were new babies, I was primarily alone or with my mom (cello/violin duets) or with an organ or piano. When I returned to playing with larger groups, I was amazed at how much people have become almost obsessed with what the tuner "says". It seems that they forget to listen. I'm old fashioned, but if we are tuning to the oboe, the oboe could be playing A-5000 and that is the pitch I'm going to take for my tuning note. (Same thing for piano, etc.) And, I wouldn't argue with my teacher or conductor (unless I were correctly supplying the requested pitch, A-440,A-441 or any other.)

    I personally trust my tuning fork and ear more than my "tuner" which seems to be pretty flaky. (I bought it for the portable metronome feature anyway!)

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