Oboe/Oboe sound

Advertisement


Question
Hello,

I have been playing the oboe for about 2 years now, and I really love the sound of it when I hear recordings of other people playing it. But the sound that I produce is very dull, it has no resonance and I can't seem to play it any louder than possibly mezzoforte. I thought it was because I haven't been playing long enough, but all of the juniors who have been playing for less than 6 months have better tone quality than I do. Please help me fix this problem.

Thank you
Jessie

Answer
Embouchure
Embouchure  
Hi, Jessie.  There are 3 major factors in tone quality:  1) the instrument itself.  Different oboes have different tonal qualities: some darker, some crisper.  The instrument's adjustment will affect tone quality either for better or worse.  A poor instrument will obviously not be as vibrant as a well made one.  It would be like trying to compare a Stradivarius with a cheap fiddle.  2) how the reed is made will affect tonal quality.  There are too many variable here to go into great detail.  Too much taken out will lead to an unstable reed while too little will restrict the reeds vibrations and therefore alter the tonal quality.  Do you scrape your own reeds or do your purchase your reeds?  If you scrape the reeds, then you might want to talk with your teacher (you do have one, don't you?).  If you purchase your reeds, you might want to try a different brand.  You could ask one of your fellow oboists where they get their reeds and try those.  You should also learn how to adjust the reeds you buy to fit your embouchure.   Speaking of embouchure, 3) that will also determine the tonal quality.  It is not unusual for a beginning oboist to have a very flat embouchure.  This in itself will restrict the reed vibrations and therefore affect the tone.  My suggestions are first that you make sure that the instrument is adjusted so that you're not working against the instrument but with it.  Next is to take a look at the reeds that you use as I suggested above.  Finally, and I think most importantly, is to examine your embouchure. Play long tones in front of a mirror and take a hard look at your embouchure as you play.  If it's flat (as I suspect) try dropping your jaw.  That will help to round your embouchure and allow for greater, unrestricted vibration of the reed. To illustrate, I'm including a picture from Sprenkle and Ledet's book "The Art of Oboe Playing.  Joel  

Oboe

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Joel Simon

Expertise

Reed making, oboe technique, oboe adjustments. PLEASE NOTE, NO QUESTIONS ABOUT OBOE VINTAGE OR VALUE. THAT INCLUDES SERIAL NUMBERS, AGE OF INSTRUMENTS, AND HOW MUCH THEY MIGHT BE WORTH; AND THAT INCLUDES WHERE YOU MIGHT FIND SUCH INFORMATION. THESE QUESTIONS WILL BE REJECTED.

Experience

I've played oboe for over 40 years. During that time I've played and performed in many ensembles including full orchestras, chamber orchestras, and wind quintets. I've played as both an amateur and professionally. Out of necessity, I've learned how to care for the oboe, make adjustments and repair when necessary.

Education/Credentials
I studied with Robert Sprenkle at Eastman School of Music preparatory department and 3 years privately with Lois Wann. I've also studied with Robert Eliscu.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.