STAPLES OF YOUR ORCHESTRA : Sarah Teuscher
Cartoons can inspire children with a wealth of possibilities. They may wish to anvil on an elusive adversary, eat beloved lasagna on dreaded Mondays, or in Sarah Teuscher’s case: pick up a new instrument.
“I began playing piano when I was six because my brother Jason played it and I wanted to be just like him,” Teuscher said. “Then when I was in fourth grade I saw an oboe in a cartoon and knew I had to have that.”
Due to an absence of oboes, Teuscher began playing the clarinet. It was the closest she could find to an oboe and she played it for two years before switching in the sixth grade for an atypical reason.
“Laziness really,” she said about why she changed to the oboe. “There were a ton of people trying out for clarinet in the all-county band and no one for oboe. It turned out that I had a knack for it.”
Born in San Diego, her family moved to Sterling, Va. when she was 14. She attended Parkview High School and played oboe in the concert band. An urban legend in the band led her to take up drumline in the marching band rather than her usual oboe.
“We all heard about this girl who played the oboe and was marching in a parade. Her foot went into a pothole and the oboe went right through the roof of her mouth. I heard that and said ‘Yep, I’ll do drumline.’”
Teuscher went to James Madison University where she initially intended to major in biology. After one semester, she was convinced by Dr. Michele Kirkdorffer to audition and join the music program.
After earning a bachelors in music for music industry, an acronym she couldn’t wait to tell her parents, she enrolled in graduate school at Louisiana State University. Teuscher earned a masters in oboe performance and stayed in Baton Rouge working with car insurance. Her goal was to save enough money to pursue her dream of moving to New Orleans. After two years, she put a deposit down on an apartment. Exactly one week later, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast region, derailing her dream.
“After Katrina hit I didn’t play oboe for about two years,” she said. “Then my brother invited me out here to live with him and I was really lucky to spend some time with my nieces and family.”
She began working as an office manager for an aluminum company, Koenig & Vits Inc. In 2007 she saw an ad in the Journal Scene for the Summerville Community Orchestra in need of an oboist. She earned the second chair after auditioning and became the first chair one week later. Teuscher also subs in for the Charleston Symphony Orechestra after music director Alex Agrest recommended her.
“Alex is a very animated guy. His energy is endless and it is always positive,” she said. “He challenges us with difficult music and with him, we always seem to pull it off.”
Teuscher said that the relationships between orchestra sections and especially the winds makes rehearsal enjoyable.
“Everyone is a lot of fun, very talented and we’re a tight-knit group,” she said of the orchestra. “We’ll throw wads of paper at each other and the camaraderie makes it worth coming back to season after season.”
In 2009 Teuscher began working at American Pensions as an investment advisory assistant. She cited her employer as very helpful at accommodating her music schedule and that she’s found a nice balance.
“It’s funny that I work in investments because the old joke is that musicians cannot count to four,” she said. “I was once told that music is an addiction and you always need a job to feed your addiction.”
Teuscher also teaches oboe in the evenings and has one or two students at a time. Being a successful oboe player takes a lot of stubbornness and gumption she said. It also takes a little uniqueness.
“There aren’t a lot of us out there. We’re all a little weird.”