I see you over there...
working super hard to sound the best you can on your instrument
struggling through the endless frustration of reeds
all the while loving the fact that you are doing something DIFFERENT from what most other kids in band are doing...so different that most people out there don’t even know your instrument by name!
I mean, seriously: if we all had a dollar for every time someone said we were playing the clarinet or bassoon (or, according to my grandpa, the tuba), we could pay for alllll the reeds we’ll ever use through the end of time. Am I right or am I right??
"But how do you know all this about me, Dr. Ethington??
We haven't even met!"
I know this because I've experienced all of this and more!
If there’s one thing I hope my students know about me, it’s that I am human, too!
I didn’t just magically wake up one day having mastered the oboe. (I still haven't mastered it, in fact. If I ever run out of things to improve, I won't have a reason to practice!) I didn't know from the start that it was what I wanted to pursue professionally for the rest of my life. My experience with oboe has been quite a journey, one I never would have imagined when I first started oboe lessons in middle school!
Here are just a few examples of the ups and downs of my journey that might feel familiar to you!
#1. I cried on stage at my very first music recital when I was five years old.
I like to say that it was because I just didn’t have the right instrument in my hands yet! At my very first violin recital I got up on stage, looked out at the audience, and burst into nervous tears. Luckily, my Mom was there to rescue me.
#2. I played hooky on my very first day of summer band camp
as an incoming sixth grader.
I was so nervous about going to band camp that I pretended to feel sick so I could just stay home.
The next day, though, I decided it wouldn’t be so bad to go. In spite of all of my anxiety about the camp, my first day was an awesome experience! On the first day of camp when I was “sick,” I’d missed the “instrument petting zoo” where the new 6th graders tried out all of the band instruments. Because I’d missed the first day, I wasn’t able to try out every instrument, but luckily oboe was one I did have the chance to try.
I remember exactly where I was when I first made a sound on the oboe! The camp’s oboe teacher was so encouraging. She told me she thought was a natural, and that I had the potential to become a great oboist. She made me feel so special that I decided to take her advice and play oboe instead of clarinet (I’d thought FOR SURE I would play clarinet because that was what my sister had played in middle school band). I continued taking private lessons from this same amazing teacher for the next SEVEN YEARS--good thing I liked her! ;)
Little did I know how that decision to show up to band camp and try something new would affect the rest of my life! (The fact that I have no pictures of myself with my oboe before I went to college proves this!) I am forever grateful for my teacher, who saw potential in me and helped my shy 11-year-old self to have the confidence to try something new and work hard to excel at it. With her help, I was able to set and achieve some awesome goals like participating in four years of All-State, playing in a local youth orchestra, and winning a concerto competition at my high school in my senior year.
#3. I didn't always want to be a professional musician.
When I was a senior in high school, my parents and several trusted mentors encouraged me to pursue a college degree in music, but I wasn’t sure I had what it would take or if it was what I would want anyway. I LOVED music and the experiences I was able to have as an oboist, but I wasn’t sure I’d want to make a career out of it. Honestly, I was scared of how difficult it sounded. I convinced myself it would be more reasonable to pursue a more “practical” career. So, during my first semester of college, I started classes toward a major in communication disorders so that I could become a speech therapist. I also continued taking oboe lessons and playing in the college orchestra as a music minor. I thought I had the rest of my life planned out.
THEN it happened. I realized how much music meant to me!
As I participated in lessons and orchestra, I realized how many more opportunities would be available to me as a music major--and how much I wanted those opportunities! The music building started to feel like home. I didn’t want the peak of my musical experience to have been in high school. I wanted to keep going! With lots of encouragement from my teacher, I made plans to apply to the music program. That January, I auditioned for the oboe performance program and was thrilled to be accepted!
I was so blessed to have incredible teachers who guided me through bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in oboe performance. As a music student, I had some awesome opportunities to perform internationally, to learn from some of today’s best oboists in master classes and other settings, and to learn music that I never thought I would be capable of learning--to name a few!
Now, I’m still learning. But, thanks to 10 years of formal music training, I have a pretty good idea of how to learn so that I can continue to improve my playing and enjoy music for the rest of my life--and enjoy the opportunities that come my way as I keep working hard.
Performing with my oboe colleague in Vipiteno, Italy
On tour with the BYU Wind Symphony in Korea
Playing "Squid Party" at a school in Fukuoka, Japan
So if it's not clear yet, here's why I love being an oboe teacher:
I believe that every single person has the capacity to grow beyond what they’ve ever imagined. I love helping my students expand their vision of what’s possible. Even if none of my students go on to be professional oboists, I will have done what I set out to do if all of my students learn through oboe lessons that they are capable of doing whatever they set their minds to--so they might as well come up with some big, beautiful ideas.
...and what better way to explore beautiful ideas than through music?
In case you're wondering about my professional credentials, here you go!
Dr. Charlotte Ethington, oboist, is an active teacher and performer residing in the greater Phoenix area, where she enjoys a wide variety of musical opportunities.
Charlotte teaches oboe and chamber music at Chandler-Gilbert Community college. She maintains a vibrant private oboe studio for students throughout Arizona, and is also in high demand as an oboe instructor and clinician at schools throughout the Phoenix Metro Area.
Recent performance engagements have included collaborations with the Arizona Bach Festival, Arizona Cantilena Chorale, Arizona Opera, El Paso Symphony Orchestra, Musica Nova Orchestra, The Phoenix Symphony, Prescott POPS Symphony, Tucson Symphony Orchestra, and West Valley Symphony, among others.
Dr. Ethington completed her DMA in oboe performance at Arizona State University in 2020, under the expert tutelage of Professor Martin Schuring, for whom she served as a graduate teaching assistant. She also completed a MM in oboe performance at ASU in 2017, and a BM in oboe performance in 2015 at Brigham Young University, where she studied with Dr. Geralyn Giovannetti.