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Oboe/Middle F 'breaks' to an octave lower


I have a problem playing middle F (ie top line of stave).  Almost every time I play it, the note 'breaks' and the F an octave lower sounds.  All other notes using the first octave key are pure; it is only the F that causes a problem. To check it isn't purely my technique or reed, my teacher played my oboe using one of her reeds, and she had the same issue.  Can you please help?

Dear Liz in Hampshire

What a problem for you. What make of oboe and its age and model of course?

Please tell me in a reply to my email address and also a picture if possible of the F key fully opened - that will need a photographic assistant! I need to see how far open the F key is.

My email address to use is:

If you are near Winchester I will be at Peter Symonds College on a week's course from July 19th to 26th so if I can help we might arrange for you to bring the instrument for me to see and try for myself. We also have a "tame" repairer on site during part of the week who might help also. No charge from me but he may if he does any work for you.

I suspect that it is a venting problem though, with the size of the first octave hole being suspect. Or even needing cleaning perhaps. Very unusual though!

Anyway get in touch by email and we'll see what we can do for you.

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.


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

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

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

LRAM, Cert Ed

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