Modeled on the brilliant approach first formulated by distinguished professor of music and master clarinetist Michele Gingras in Clarinet Secrets and More Clarinet Secrets (both available from Scarecrow Press), Music Secrets for the Advanced Musician: A Scarecrow Press Music Series is designed for instrumentalists, singers, conductors, composers, and other instructors and professionals seeking a quick set of pointers to improve their work as performers and producers of music. Easy to use and intended for the advanced musician, contributions to the Music Secrets series fill a niche for those who have moved beyond what beginners and intermediate practitioners need.
In Oboe Secrets: 75 Performance Strategies for the Advanced Oboist and English Horn Player, Jacqueline Leclair tackles the oboe’s reputation as an especially difficult instrument and illustrates how oboists and English horn players can overcome common challenges. Leclair draws on her experience as a performer and instructor, offering practical tips and sometimes revolutionary ideas for rethinking oboe pedagogy.
Leclair also looks at performance strategies in the areas of equipment maintenance and management, physical health, and performance technique. Her secrets focus on such matters as how to optimize practice sessions, build endurance, improve use of the body when playing, work with reeds, and apply extended techniques. Oboe Secrets provides oboists and English horn players a quick and efficient path to significant improvement—both technically and musically—in their playing. It is the perfect resource for advanced high school oboists, professional performers, music instructors, and avid amateur musicians.
Book Review in Double Reed News, The magazine of the British Double Reed Society
By Jonathan Small, Spring 2014
This volume, written by Canadian oboe soloist, chamber musician and Professor at McGill University, Jacqueline Leclair, is published in the USA and Canada by Scarecrow Press. It is the latest in the woodwind “Secrets” series commenced by Clarinet Secrets, written by Michele Cingras with the same publisher in 2006. This series sets forth a quick set of pointers to improve musicians' work as performers. Easy to use and intended for the advanced musician so the book states, these books 'fill a niche for those who have moved beyond what beginners and intermediate practitioners need'.
This excellent book does exactly what it says on the back cover. 75 pieces of advice are offered, none longer than a page or two at most. They are laid out very clearly in two to four short paragraphs each, comprising an explanatory introduction, followed by Technique (what to do), Note and Benefit (a summary, often only a sentence or so). The book falls into 9 chapters, entitled Practice Strategies, Tone & Rhythm, Reeds, Health & Strength and so on, concluding with English Horn Strategies and Advanced Techniques, which here includes circular breathing, double tonguing, flutter tonguing and glissandi.
In the Reeds chapter, Ms Leclair is naturally discussing techniques, dimensions, etc. from the point of view of North American reed design; but nevertheless I found these techniques most interesting and thought-provoking. Good tying-on, for instance, and a proper understanding of this, is vital to any sort of reed.
I would say that Oboe Secrets would be of use to oboists of almost any level beyond about grade 6 and, while not a book for young children, it is certainly a most useful resource. For the student or amateur it points the way to future development of playing, and better technique; it would be a most useful resource for teachers. For a professional such as myself I found it thought- provoking and very rewarding to read, encouraging us to re-evaluate what we do, how we do it and why. Learning from our peers is most important at any stage, and while Ms Leclair's suggestions might not always find 100% agreement from all readers, to think about what she suggests, and why, is a valuable exercise in itself.
Oboe Secrets clearly represents a great deal of work in assembling the ideas, describing things clearly and setting them out in a logical and highly readable way, with sensible use of illustrations. Many of the 'secrets' would be of use to players of other instruments too. Jacqueline Leclair has done a very fine piece of work for us all, and I highly commend it.
Oboe & English Horn Publications
These publications by Jacqueline Leclair provide detailed instructions for various oboe techniques, and many exercises for practicing them. Each is 2-3 pages, and can be requested via email. The materials you request will be mailed to you for the cost of production and shipping.
Circular Breathing — Double Tonguing — Flutter Tonguing
These three publications provide detailed explanations of the techniques, and very clear step-by-step instructions how to learn and/or teach the techniques. Order all three or separately.
Luciano Berio, Sequenza VIIa
Luciano Berio, "Sequenza VIIa (1969/2000) Supplementary Edition by Jacqueline Leclair" Universal Editions #31263