View Full Version : Oboe Question's...??

Hawk Henries
Jun-09-2008, 23:14
I mentioned in my introduction post that I am learning to play oboe. I have no teacher at the moment nor do I read music. What I do have is tremendous enthusiasm, perserverance and did I mention enthusiasm.
Also many questions that the manuals/book's may cover but would like to ask these question's to a living person.
So if oboe is what you play or have played are you open to sharing your knowledge?

I wish you Peace

Jun-09-2008, 23:30
Hawk ... get yourself a teacher, at least for a year or so. They will teach you the basics, including how to handle reeds (a big issue), breathing (so you don't hyperventilate), correct fingerings and approaches. As to learning to read music, just begin by learning the names of the notes on the stave ... easy, if you remember some basic helpful aides: Every Good Boy Deserves Fish ... FACE (that teaches you the lines and spaces on the treble clef).

Corno Dolce
Jun-09-2008, 23:32
Hello Hawk,

The Oboe and the French Horn are the two *toughest* solo-line instruments to learn how to play really musically. A thin column of air *under pressure* as a Hornplayer and an Oboist once told me. I laud your enthusiasm and willingness to strive to learn the instrument. I used to play the Horn quite a bit but my chops are more happy with the Contrabass Trombone. Is there no High School in your neighborhood which has a student orchestra or maybe a Community College or 4-year College or University with a music faculty?


Corno Dolce :tiphat::tiphat::tiphat::tiphat:

Jun-10-2008, 00:17
Sweet Corn - are you SERIOUS about having played the contrabass trombone? I'm stunned!

Hawk Henries
Jun-10-2008, 02:44

A teacher??? Surely you jest! Since I wrote that post I have mastered the oboe and have moved on to less mundane more challanging pursuit's...contr-bass kazoo :eek:

Ok obviously I'm just kidding. You're right about needing a teacher. Presently I am talking with someone who lives about 50 mile's from me. She is the closest oboist.
I have several book's that will be helpful. One I am using is a basic fingering chart. It is helpful in that correct finger position (on the key's) is demonstrated as well as the note's position on the staff.
One of the instrument's I play is Yidaki (didgeridoo). Have played for fifteen year's. Though it is not at all like oboe there are similarities. To make the drone your lip's have to be open "just right" and under pressure to get them vibrating-like the oboe reed somewhat. Playing flute's also helps. Both didg and flute have help me develop control of my breath.

Would you elaborate on "handling the reed's" ? I know one usually soak's them before playing. As I am writing I have the reed soaking in my mouth. Is this :crazy:.

Corno Dolce,

Our local school's have a band but no orchestra. The Bangor Symphony (office) is about 60 mile's away. Also the Pierre Monteux School for conductor's is around the corner, so to speak. I think there are many classical musicians in the general area I just have not met them ...YET :)
I live on the coast of Maine near Acadia Nat'l Park...in the stick's (country) yet close enough to Bar Harbor/Bangor.

Corno Dolce
Jun-10-2008, 04:23
Sweet Corn - are you SERIOUS about having played the contrabass trombone? I'm stunned!

Dear CT64,

I have two Contrabass Trombones in F(Ben van Dijk models), one with star valves and the other with Hagmann valves - both are a real joy to play - the one with Hagmann valves gives me goosebumps since the sound is so much smoother. Here's the web-url of the maker of my trombones:



CD :tiphat::tiphat::tiphat::tiphat:

Jun-10-2008, 05:59
Sweet Corn - next time I'm conducting Wagner's ring cycle I'll call you, ok?

Jun-10-2008, 06:37
Well, I played the oboe for a number of years, and I think Mat still does? Although I haven't mentioned it to him. :grin:

Question. Where are you getting your reeds?

You shouldn't soak the reed in your mouth before playing, you should soak it in clean water for a couple of minutes. It should make the reed stay cleaner/last longer. I used to carry around a little container for the water.

I used the time-honoured Barret method book to start learning, and a few others as well.

I've tried the flute, and the didgeridoo. Neither of them is all that much like the oboe where breathing is concerned...

The teacher should help a lot.

I miss playing oboe, (glorious vibrato!!!) but I can't do everything...

Corno Dolce
Jun-10-2008, 09:25
Hi CT64,

I like to play Renaissance A Capella Choral Music in Brasswind ensembles - the music of Jacobus Gallus being an outright fav of mine - Palestrina, Gabrieli, Tomas Luis de Victoria, Pablo Guerrero, Heinrich Isaac are others whose music is fun to play on Brasswinds.


CD :tiphat::tiphat::tiphat::tiphat:

Jun-10-2008, 10:50
So if oboe is what you play or have played are you open to sharing your knowledge?

I wish you Peace

I guess I am;)

Well, I played the oboe for a number of years, and I think Mat still does? Although I haven't mentioned it to him. :grin:

Well well well. Who would have thought?:grin: So, have you ever heard A. Pasculi's Oboe concerto? Absolutely fabulous... Rojo, my adventure with the oboe ended about two months ago. But my humble knowledge is still pretty "fresh". So I can help if I'll be able to.

You shouldn't soak the reed in your mouth before playing, you should soak it in clean water for a couple of minutes. It should make the reed stay cleaner/last longer. I used to carry around a little container for the water.

Amen;). I used to carry around a container like that, too. Believe me, it's very helpful. Just put the reed into the water for about 3-4 minutes and that should do. And Hawk, if you are really thinking of playing the oboe seriously, you should consider the option of making the reeds by yourself. It is difficult task to do, I must say, but it is worth it. And the earlier you start, the easier it all becomes.

Hawk Henries
Jun-10-2008, 15:51
Thanks for your input thus far.

I am curious, for those who used to play oboe, why you have stopped?

The book's I have so far are: The Art of Oboe Playing
by Robert Sprenkle and David Ledet

Oboe Method; a classical method for young
musicians by Elaine Reid

Making Oboe Reed's
by Joseph Shalita

Mel Bay's Oboe Fingering and Scale Chart
by Eric Nelson

I will look for the Barrett method book you mentioned Rojo. In one of the above mentioned books it suggested as a way of soaking the reed that some players will put their saliva in it and let it soak. Maybe this is a last resort if no water is available.
The oboe that was gifted to me came with a reed. The person who gave me the oboe is an oboist herself and she build's her own reed's.
I also purchased two reed's at a music store. One was a medium hard and the other medium soft. I find the MS easiest to play. I have attempted to make my own. It took me about 9 hour's and as I was tying it on the little tube thing (staple??) I broke it! Wonderful experience. Soon as I get my hand's on some Arundo Donax I will give it another go.

The different grades (hard/soft) of reed must effect playing in many way's. What do you prefer and why?

I wish you Peace

Jun-11-2008, 06:36
Mat- Yep, I've heard the Pasculli, and live, too. But never attempted playing it. Pasculli is to the oboe what Paganini is to the violin. At least in that piece, anyway. It's a great 'show' piece. My fav work for oboe is the Poulenc Sonata for Oboe and Piano. And maybe followed by Schumann's Three Romances for Oboe. And of course the Mozart Oboe Concerto. And the Marcello.. ooh, and the Cimarosa; I played that for an exam. Well, anyway, lots of great repertoire. :grin:

Hawk- I stopped because I returned to the piano, and found I didn't have time to maintain two instruments to my satisfaction. I still have my oboe though, and maybe someday I will return to it; don't know.

I would probably suggest easy reeds over hard ones, especially in the beginning. Once you've built up some embouchure muscles, then try harder ones. Once you get the hang of making them, you can try to make them (more or less) to your specifications.

Lucky you getting an oboe! :grin:

Btw, that saliva suggestion is disgusting! :grin:

Hawk Henries
Jun-11-2008, 18:50
"Btw, that saliva suggestion is disgusting! :grin:"
Especially if it is someone elses reed !!!!:)

Jun-12-2008, 00:01
Hawk - best of luck with your oboe adventures, I mean that sincerely. It's a wonderful beast if you can tame it. We have one of the world's finest oboists in the Sydney Symphony (Diana Doherty), she makes a sound that is spun silk. She received rave reviews when she played as soloist with the New York Philharmonic/Maazel a couple of years back. In the hands of a master (like her) it's a mesmorising and wonderful thing.

Hawk Henries
Jun-12-2008, 02:09
Thank you CT64. :)

I look forward to developing a relationship with it. At my age (52) I only aspire to develop a relationship with it that will allow it to be a voice of my expression and for me to express it's beauty....

If that makes any sense...sometimes words fail....

Jun-12-2008, 02:43
hawk - I think the bassoon is a far less challenging wind instrument (purely from a breathing perspective only) if you're after double reed ... and much more comical!

Jun-12-2008, 09:34
Hope you keep us posted on your progress, Hawk! :)

Hawk Henries
Jun-13-2008, 02:06
I certainly will Rojo and thank you for sharing! :)

As question's arise (in my best Arnold Schwartznegger voice) I'll be back!

Hawk Henries
Jun-15-2008, 05:04
When assembling the oboe I try to not put pressure on the keys/metal mechanisms (they seem so delicate) but inevitably it seems I have to in order to put it together.
Are the key assembly's as fragile as I think? How often does one grease the cork?

If I am drinking juice while playing is it best to drink plain water before i continue? Will the sugars from the juice ruin the reed?

Jun-15-2008, 13:38

I will answer your last question first. Do not drink juice, coke, sprite or anything like that if you are planing to play the oboe right after. Sugar contained in those beverages will make the keys (mechanism) sticky. The reed won't like it either.

The keys are delicate but if you grab them right, no harm should be done.

You're asking how often to grease the cork. Well, it kind of depends on how hard it is to put the pieces togheter. The grease's job is to help keep the cork in good shape, and also to make the assembling easier.

Hawk Henries
Jun-15-2008, 19:02
Thank you for your answers. After reading the answers it seems I should have thought about longer maybe negating the need to ask them.
Your advice to not drink anything with sugar because it might effect the keys is very good advice!!

BTW- I agree and like your signature line very much.

Thanks again...I am sure I will have many more questions to ask the expert's such as yourself.

Hawk Henries
Jun-23-2008, 15:29
Hi Folks,

When I put the reed into the oboe I usually place it as far in as possible. There seems to be a lip inside that stops it at a certain point.

Is this the optimal position? Does the reeds placement in the oboe effect tuning?

I have been using a medium soft reed which works fine. I am wondering if a reed can get "played" out. In other words can a reed loose it's ability to function properly even though it shows no obvious signs of damage/wear?

Thanks for your help.

Jun-24-2008, 21:28
Hi there Hawk

The reed's placement has a significant meaning when it comes to the tune. In other words, the further you place the reed in the oboe, the lower sound you get. It works both ways. It is helpful when you play with other musicians. It simply allows to change the tune constantly without having to change the mouth 'configuration'

Yes, the reed can and will get played out after a period of time. It is a relative issue. It depends on the quality of the wood the reed is made of, it depends on how often do you use it, and on few other factors. I'm not sure, though, if I understand the "play out" phrase correctly.

And the last thing, yes, the reed can lose its ability to work properly without any visible signs of wear. It's worth to mention that the reed needs to be cleaned from time to time. I used to clean the reeds with pipe cleaners like these.

Hawk Henries
Jun-25-2008, 00:16
Hi Mat,

Thanks for your answers to my questions!

I think your answer to my question of a reed getting played out was accurate...you understood the phrase correctly :)

When the pipe cleaner is used is it for the reed itself or for the staple/cork that the reed is attached to? I had been thinking about cleaning the reed (cane part) ...maybe a light mist of water with a miniscule amount of lavender or peppermint oil. What do you think?
I thought this because when I am finished playing, after an hour or more, the reed is very damp. I put it into its case and leave it open to let it dry.???

One last thing. I wipe out the oboe itself after playing. Is it necessary to let it dry completely before closing the case???

Thanks for your help :)

Jun-25-2008, 10:57
I never tried to clean the reed with any kind of oil. I'm not sure if it is safe thing to do. But I may be wrong. Maybe Rojo will give you some good advice on this one.

Here's my way of cleaning the reed with pipe cleaner. Put the cleaner into the reed (the cork side) and just pull it out from the other side (cane). Hope you understand what I mean; I have no idea how to put it in right words:confused:.

You don't need to leave the case open to let the reed get dry. And it's the same with the oboe.

Jun-25-2008, 19:00
Hey guys,

I've never heard of anyone using oils of any kind on reeds. I would imagine it might make the reed sluggish in response, cutting down the vibrations. You could always experiment with a crappy reed to find out the results.

By the way, you could also brush your teeth before playing; that helps the reed to stay clean longer as well. If it's convenient. Rinse your mouth well after brushing though.

Leaving the case(s) open for drying might be a good idea, but perhaps not very safe; one wouldn't want to risk anything happening to the contents. An open case is just asking for trouble. :grin:

Jul-04-2008, 19:46
You guys are bringing me back to my high school days with this thread. I taught myself (mostly) how to play the oboe and the bassoon. I liked them both, but preference remains with the bassoon. I love the slightly odd sound it makes. In band the other kids used to call it the "fart" instrument or the "goose" but I had a friend who was first bassoon and she showed me a lot. I also used the same book as Rojo to learn the oboe (as well as the bassoon).

I do remember that when we were taking a break during symphony season, we would take the reeds out and keep them in our mouths to retain the moisture. I would think that putting away the damp reed could lead to mildew, depending upon the humidity level. It was VERY humid in Florida, so I always let it dry out before putting the cover on the case. But, one time one of our cats chewed a reed up, so I had to put it on a shelf that the cat couldn't get to.


Jul-31-2008, 00:52
Hey Hawk,

How are you doing? Can you play Bach's d minor concert yet? Hope you didn't quit the oboe. :):):)



Hawk Henries
Aug-18-2008, 04:32
Hi Mat,
Still working at it. I can't play any Bach at the moment in fact I can't play any song yet. I have been concentrating on fingering and learning the notes.
Honestly I have had very little time to play as I have been traveling a great deal this summer playing my flutes.

When I first began playing flute (almost 20 years ago) I would have the flute with me where ever I went and i would play somtimes only for 30 seconds or a minute. I did this throughout the day then would spend an hour or more at night with the flute.
I find this approach difficult with oboe primarily because you have to soak the reed before playing...that is until a few days ago when I discovered composite/plastic reeds!!! Wahooo no need to soak them. I have also found that with the plastic reed I can play with a medium hard as opposed to medium soft reed. The medium hard reed seems to create a brighter sound.

Well I am loving this instrument and the music!!!

Aug-21-2008, 08:18
Hawksey, you up to the Mozart Concerto yet?

Hawk Henries
Aug-22-2008, 04:59
I have not even heard Mozart's or is it Mozarts' (hmmmm...the apostrophe goes where?? :) ) oboe concerto-----YET! Presently I am absorbed by Albinoni's' works for oboe/double oboe.
Can you suggest other oboe concerti? Thanks :)

Sep-18-2008, 07:47
Hawk - sorry it's taken me several moons to answer this. (Mozart's will do for apostrophes!).

He wrote a beautiful oboe concerto which is in c major from memory, and I think it was or is a transcription of a flute concerto he was bullied into composing. Mozart famously hated the flute and the harp. Consequently, when he wrote the delightful concerto for flute and harp, he said to his father something along the lines of "I've killed two birds with one stone ..."

Sep-18-2008, 10:53
Hi all – just poking my nose in! Here's Heinz Holliger on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scwk7jc7t6k) and here's YouTube's search results (http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=oboe+concerto&search_type=&aq=f) for oboe concerti.


Sep-19-2008, 12:24
My suggestion for someone who is just beginning their adventure with oboe would be Corelli/Barbirolli concerto in F Major

Sep-19-2008, 14:31
as we say here, Mat, what you said didn't fall in a deaf man's ear.

Sep-19-2008, 14:35
I have never heard this expression before, Sunwaiter. Please explain?

Sep-19-2008, 14:37
means i heard it and will remember it!

Sep-19-2008, 14:37
well, not heard but read :)

Sep-19-2008, 14:39
Oh, now I get it:). So, do you play the oboe? Or any other instrument?

Sep-19-2008, 14:43
no, i don't play oboe. i just like the sound of it and the part it often has in symphonic compositions. i do play guitar ( though lately time has been getting really hard to find ), bass guitar and a little bit of drums. my dream is to play some flute. it is my favourite instrument. On earth. what about you?

Sep-19-2008, 14:50
Let me put it this way:

Go to "What jazz have you been listening to today" thread, then read my posts form pages 8 and 9;)

Hawk Henries
Sep-20-2008, 18:17
Had my first lesson yesterday! Well it was kind of a lesson...After spending an hour or so making repairs and adjustments on my oboe the instructor allowed me to play his oboe. WOW what a difference a well regulated instrument makes in terms of playability!! He suggested that my oboe needs overhauling which I will do as soon as funds allow. We then proceeded to talk about canoes and the outdoors and family...all what I would consider to be very important to developing a relationship where the exchange of knowledge/information can flow smoothly. He suggested that in short order he can help me to aquire the skills to be an accomplished maker of noise on oboe :)

Toto thanks for the links to Heinz Holliger on you tube. I enjoy a double cd of Tomas Albinoni with Heinz H as the oboe soloist.

Mat I will search for your suggestion right now! Thanks.