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Oboe/Does my oboe have a problem or is it me?


QUESTION: When I play some higher notes, mainly a and b flat, my notes go really flat and quiet.  I feel like I am putting a lot of air through the instrument, yet the notes barely come out and there is a lot of resistance. From high c# to f, my notes come out fine, it's just the range from high a to c that gives me trouble. Do you think my oboe has a maintenance issue or am I playing these notes incorrectly? Thank you!

ANSWER: Christina, thank you for your note. Is this a new issue with your oboe? Have you tried the oboe with several different reeds to see if the issue is consistent? Sometimes dirt gets into the second octave vent and the notes will not speak properly.
Let me know if you have tried several reeds....Thanks, hannah

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QUESTION: I didn't play my oboe for a couple of months because of marching band, but  I did not have this problem before. When I use softer reeds, the notes respond easier, but they're still really flat and quiet unless I force a lot of air through, so this had been a consistent issue with all of my reeds.

Chistina I suggest you have a qualified oboe technician service the oboe and clean out the octave vents. There may be some dirt or debris in the vent that is causing unusual sounds. You can also do a little test.......hold just the top joint in your hand and cover all the keys including the bottom of the joint, and then blow air into the reed well and toggle the first and second octave keys forcing air out of just each one of these vents....see if that dislodges some debris and then try the notes again.
Be sure to play the high A and high Bb with the second octave key  :)
Let me know, hannah


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Hannah Selznick


I have the expertise to answer questions about all brands and models of oboes and English Horns. I will assist in providing information about the process of purchasing and selling an instrument. I know reputable oboe specialist repairmen to recommend. I give guidance on oboe and English Horn reeds. I offer guidance on maintenance and handling of oboes and English Horns and help owners troubleshoot instrument issues.


I have been an instructor of oboe and instrumental music for almost 40 years. I have taught all grade levels from preschool music to college oboe (double reed specialist)instruction. I perform with a professional symphony in the Phoenix area. I also have an active teaching studio. I love what I do, especially in regards to educating future generations of musicians.

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BS.ED (Music) University of Missouri MM in Oboe Performance University of Tulsa Post Graduate Work in Oboe at Catholic University of America

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