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Oboe/Conservatoire fingering: Stuffy B-flat

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Question
Hello, I'm a beginner on the oboe and I'm learning on a dual system Cabart Special oboe. I was just wondering if it was normal on this oboe (and also any conservatoire only oboe) for the B-flat to be so much more muted/stuffy and harder to blow than the corresponding thumbplate fingering. Playing C-natural seems fine under either fingering, but the B-flat is  noticeably far worse. I understand that having your RH first finger down for the conservatoire fingering may increase the flow resistance and decrease the projected volume of the note played, but the conservatoire B-flat is so much harder to play, and sounds so different to the surrounding notes, as to be almost unusable. I was thinking about maybe investing in a conservatoire only system in the future, but this issue has given me serious pause for thought.

Please can you explain?

Kind regards,

Gareth

Answer
Dear Gareth

It is quite normal for the conservatoire B flat to be less vibrant than the thumb plate fingering. It usually matches well with the Thumb plate fingering of the C natural - the conservatoire fingering often being rather bright for the C.

I use both B flats but generally prefer the conservatoire option as the sound is less likely to stick out and go sharp on me.
If your B flat is very stuffy it could need a little looking at by an expert repair man. Just a tweak will brighten it up but it is tone hole work NOT to be undertaken lightly.
Consider this though. the vast majority of oboists in the world play the Conservatoire system with that B flat fingering, so it is expected to be a good note on the oboe. Yours sounds like it needs sorting.

Best wishes

Geoffrey

PS Tell me where you are and I can point you to a good repair man perhaps near to you or tell you someone to post it to. It is really best to take it yourself and have it fixed until you are satisfied.
Email me if you like on:  geoffrey@geoffreybridgeoboe.com

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Geoffrey Bridge

Expertise

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.

Experience

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

Organizations
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

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

Education/Credentials
LRAM, Cert Ed

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