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Oboe/Travelling with oboe


QUESTION: Hi, we are wanting to take an Oboe and a Cor to New York winter from Australian summer.
Beside the obvious precautions around indoor heating and zero outside temperatures, can you offer any advice on reducing the risk of cracking during airplane travel and arrival and the changes in temperatures.
Many thanks

ANSWER: Dear Dyan

The obvious one is to avoid extremes of heat or cold or leave the instruments damp after playing.
But for air transport you must carry them on in hand baggage and let them acclimatise in the aircraft. We can do this in the UK without funny looks from security people!

If you have a sheepskin lined case cover that would be a help to slow down the exchange of heat - either way - from hot to cold.

Some years back Rigoutat used to wrap their top joints in a piece of survival blanket! That's the foil emergency survival blanket - usually bright orange in colour on one side - made of a plastic material that are used for cold or heat insulation. You can buy these in the UK quite cheaply - the brand name is SurvivalBox. I think that would be a great way for you to minimise the drop in temperature from hot environment to cold and vice versa.

A well-cased instrument with a cover will still be fine I think especially if it is quite well run in and not brand new.

Hope this gives food for thought


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for the good advice.
I should have asked you also about the reeds - the teacher said the cane can crack and mentioned
putting a damp cloth in an air tight bag with the reeds. I'm not sure whether the reeds stay in their reed case
and then also go into an air tight bag with the damp cloth. Do you have any expertise in this area?
Thank you

Dear Dyan

I have never had a problem with reeds cracking under mysterious circumstances! Plenty of occasions when the cracking has been deliberate - by ME!!

But having said that if you want to be really nerdy with reeds invest in a humidified reed case costing "quite a lot" from Reeds n Stuff or place - an old American oboist trick - some orange peel in the reed case if you can find room! This is more to keep them from totally drying out making these particularly long scraped reeds more easy to prepare prior to playing.

I am not convinced that cracking will occur due to changes in atmospheric condition as the stress in the material isn't huge. In oboe wood mounted with keys with temperature differences across the walls of the bore this is much more likely and happens frequently.

So that's my take on it for what it's worth....

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.


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

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

Double Reed News/Australasian Double Reed Society magazine

LRAM, Cert Ed

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