Oboe/beginner oboe

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Question
I am an elementary Band director and I sometimes arrange full Band music for my beginners.  I currently do not have oboes in my ensemble but I may in the future.  What is a reasonable range to expect from a first year oboe player?  What would be the first six to eight notes that a young oboist would learn in a comfortable range on the instrument?  Thanks

Answer
Hi Sanford

In my experience the oboe finds it tricky at first in a band where the mass of clarinets in B flat are playing in say key of C.
Poor old oboe players have to quickly learn B flat (not so bad) and E flat (not an easy finger stretch at first) not to mention the F natural which doesn't fall naturally either..
So what I am saying is to accommodate  new oboists in band put your B flat instruments in the key of D!! or better still in A major!!!

The first notes usually taught would be an extended octave of G major. Starting on the left hand B, A and G then extending downwards to bottom E or D -all fingers on. That includes the F sharp rather than the F natural which is not a progressive fingering from G and the on to E. Some kids find that move to F natural a bit tricky at first as there is not much rhyme nor reason to it. F sharp is so much easier to comprehend.
Next starting back at B then go upwards over the break to D and progressively up to G using the back octave key. You then have a useful early range of notes. I wouldn't go into the higher reaches until the embouchure gets stronger as these notes (top A,B and C) need good breath and embouchure control.

Hope that helps you. Make sure the youngsters have an easy reed designed for a beginner otherwise they will be FLATTER than you have ever heard FLAT!!!! Basically they need easy vibrating reeds and a shorter length than normal as the embouchure and wind  pressure whichis vital for pitch is rudimentary.  They haven't achieved that yet. Be patient and give them lots of encouragement.

Best of luck

Geoffrey

Oboe

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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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