Oboe/Oboe troubles


I'm a beginner and have many troubles playing the oboe. When I play the 'G' natural note, it usually goes off-pitch on the first try. I just can't get it right. It also goes this way for the lower notes. I find it really difficult to keep on-pitch, I either go too sharp or flat. I don't know why, but sometimes I start late on the first note. The sound doesn't come out until a few seconds later. And lastly I can't control my volume.. Please help!


Dear Dan

I am sorry that I have been late in replying i have had a virus illness - UGH!! Horrible. A lot in the UK at the moment.

The note G is often a little tricky to get. Let us assume that the oboe is really air tight and that it is something else. Maybe you!!

You must always practise long notes with a gently tongued attack. Try tonguing using a "Duh" rather than a "Too" Using too strong an attack often doesn't work well whereas the gentler "Duh" stroke is better - especially for the lower notes. Also make sure that your vowel shape is nice and round making an "Awe" rather than an "Eee" shape. This increases the volume of the mouth cavity which helps the low register from G downwards. The other fundamental problem that happens is a lack of a constant air stream. Make sure the breath is steady and smooth. Direct the air in  - your mind's eye - towards the top of your nose between your eyes. Tis method often helps place the air in the right spot.

Another thing. Have the reed vibrating well with a normal embouchure BEFORE putting it into the oboe. And don't have to bit it shut to get it to work. If the reed is dry or too open then you have to overcome a lot more resistance before it makes the air in the oboe vibrate.

Try these techniques and all the best with them.
It'll be OK. Practice hard and methodically those long notes and soft gentle tonged starts of notes with good air behind them.

Best wishes



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Geoffrey Bridge


Professional oboist with many years experience. Former pupil of Leon Goossens. Solo artist for Arts Council of Great Britain. Freelance recitalist/broadcasting/orchestras. Former Head of woodwind teaching in Hampshire, England. Questions on repertoire, playing styles, reeds, cane selection and processing.


St Andrews University Royal College of Music, Aberdeen College of Education Licenciate of the Royal Academy of Music General Teaching Council certificate Broadcast solo recitals/performed with major symphony orchestras/Music Club recitals/writings on double reed matters

Chairman and Trustee of the British Double Reed Society International Double Reed Society Association Hautbois Francais Orchestral Manager of Southern Pro Musica Orchestra/Aberdeen Sinfonietta

Double Reed News/Australasian Double Reed Society magazine/International Double Reed Society

LRAM, Cert Ed

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