What's an oboe?
Oboes are part of the woodwind family, more specifically it is a double-reed. Double-reed players must make their own reed, or else buy one that someone else has made. The main barriers in the way of novice oboists are access to quality reeds and private lessons. The oboe is a peculiar instrument that is difficult to teach in a band setting, so oftentimes a band will not have an oboist, even if a student is willing and an instrument is available.
In her professional career Kelsey makes her own reeds, teaches private lessons, and freelances around town with churches, schools, and other local musicians. The summer before her freshman year of high school, however, she had no idea what an oboe was. Her older brother was performing with the marching band for a Memorial Day event, and afterwards the band director asked if she would be willing to switch from flute to oboe. She responded excitedly, "Sure! What's an oboe?" She continued to play flute and piccolo in marching band while playing oboe in concert band and later being invited to join the Long Bay Symphony Youth Orchestra.
Kelsey had been taking flute lessons from a jazz saxophonist who started her on oboe, but he quickly suggested she find a proper oboe teacher. She found Cindra Marshall and took lessons with her for a few years before switching to Jessica Miller for her senior year. Jessica took her to a masterclass at Converse College, where Kelsey was applying to college. While she decided on Wofford College for her education, she did sign up for oboe lessons at Converse with Dr. Kelly Vaneman. After graduating from Wofford in 2010 she went back to Converse to get a second undergraduate degree in music. She graduated in 2015, making nearly a decade spent taking lessons with Dr. Vaneman.
While in music school Kelsey began showing up at open mics in Spartanburg, learning how to improvise thanks to so many musicians who allowed her to play with them. In 2018 she started showing up in the woods at music festivals helping out, tending fires, and playing oboe in the trees with brilliant musicians.
The oboe has a wide range of styles, and Kelsey has been working diligently to train her ear to better blend into any and all situations she finds herself in. Want to add some extra flavor to your tunes? Get together with Kelsey in the studio and see what you can create together!
June 2, 2018
Oboe Rockstar: a Lawson Faculty Recital
Photo courtesy of Mark Olencki
Socastee High School Graduation photo from 2006.