Products, resources, and support for oboists of all ages and levels of ability

We Miss QCDRC!

Things we miss about Queen City Double Reed Camp:

·      Meeting 20 oboe and bassoon campers!
·      Master classes with special guests: Aryn Sweeney, John DeGruchy, Kathy DeGruchy, Lauren Piccirillo, Peggy Grant, Tyler Wilkins, Julie Fuqua, and Connie Ignatiou!
·      Reed drills and warm ups with the whole group!
·      Playing “Under the Sea” with a 24 person double reed ensemble!
·      Playing Twister in the dorms!
·      The unseasonably cool weather!
·      Taking crazy selfies for the photo scavenger hunt!
·      Staying up late playing Apples to Apples!
·      Comparing “I’m the only oboe in my …..” stories! (Insert: band, grade, school, county, state, etc.)
·      Touring Cincinnati’s historical landmarks!
·      Movie night with new friends!
·      The beautiful campus and facilities of Xavier University!
·      Breakthroughs in reed making, including “firsts” in tying, peeping, and playing student made reeds!
·      Playing competitive games with cotton balls, cookies, and oven mitts, and toilet paper!
·      Getting to see a contra bassoon live and in person!
·      Barret, Barret, and more Barret!
·      Double reed laser tag!
·      Chamber music with new friends!

Things we don’t miss about Queen City Double Reed Camp:

·      Walking to class in the rain.
·      Cleaning up after reed making classes.
·      Getting up early for 7 AM breakfast.

Hmm… Looks like the pros outweigh the cons!
Hope to see you there next year!
p.s. Some of the day campers decided to stay for Double Reed Laser Tag!

Tips For Beginners and New Oboe Parents

Maybe you or your new middle school student just decided that the oboe is worth a shot. We agree! Our team members at Double or Nothing believe that the oboe can provide a rewarding musical experience for people of all ages, so we have put together a list of tips for beginners or parents of beginner oboists. The list below will hopefully help you make the most of your experience with the oboe and avoid some of the pitfalls and frustrations that can arise.

1. Use good equipment! Be very cautious with instruments available from Ebay, Amazon, Craigslist, local big box stores, or your second cousin’s closet.  Spend the money to purchase something reputable or rent something that is built to work and play in tune. Playing on a reputable instrument ensures a good resale value and a good experience for your student. Contact us if you have any questions about what instruments are reputable!

2. Stay away from machine made reeds. That’s easy for us to say… we operate a reed making business! Our business was born our of necessity. We saw too many students with reeds that hindered their musical experience. Machine made reeds don’t always respond well and they aren’t not always made to play in tune. Many of the ones I’ve seen students purchase aren’t even made to model the characteristic sound of an oboe, but they are still pricey. Those students come in to lessons frustrated because they don’t understand why they don’t sound like their teacher or like another oboe player in their band class. Contact us if you have any questions about what a reed should sound like and what it should do for your student!

3. Find a good teacher that specializes in the oboe. Sure tutor programs with high school students are free and woodwind specialists are cheaper than experienced professional oboists, but it can take years to undo unproductive habits that are established as fundamental technique. It will save your student frustration in the long run and will help them enjoy the oboe, band, and music even more. Contact us if you are having trouble finding an oboe teacher!

4. Trust your teacher. If your grandmother gives your student advice because she played the oboe in middle school, check with your students’ private teacher. Little things like putting the reed in the oboe all the way really aren’t up for debate… Even if Granny says it is okay!

5.  Use a reed soaker, and clean it out regularly. Even a good reed is difficult to play if only soaked in saliva, but you don’t want your student to grow new infectious diseases in their band locker either.

6. Make sure your students swab works and is used frequently! We recommend swabbing oboes out after every rehearsal, lesson, and practice session (
if not even more!). Students should always check for knots when swabbing out their instrument, and if it gets stuck in the instrument, QUIT PULLING! Don’t pour oil down the bore. Don’t burn it out. Don’t take sharp objects to the inside of the instruments. If it gets stuck, stop pulling and call your teacher, repairman, or local professional oboist! Give us a call! Our team qualifies as experts in swab extraction!

7. Reed storage. Invest in a decent multi-reed case. Imitation leather ones are not very expensive, and will help ensure that your reeds last longer. The two biggest traps for reeds are 1) your students two front teeth and 2) the plastic coffins for individual reeds. Even the most responsible students have destroyed reeds in those two ways.

Seasoned students and teachers, please comment with any additional advice!

Happy Oboe-ing!!

Why Do I Need a Reed Case?

Why Do I Need a Reed Case?

Well, basically a good reed case is needed to protect and prolong the life of your reed.  Whether you’re purchasing your reeds or making them on your own, we all know that having a good reed is an asset.  A good reed case does not need to be expensive; it just needs to do its job effectively. 

Look for these things when choosing your reed case:

1.      Does it stay closed when stored?

2.      Can you get your reed in and out easily without damaging the tip?

3.      Will your reed be able to dry out while in the case? (Something that is all plastic could be problematic.)

If you answered yes to these questions, then your reed case is suitable.  If you are looking for a good, inexpensive reed case, check out the selection from Double or Nothing Reeds … WOW!

Golden Rules for Ensemble Playing

Just a Few:

  1. Everyone should play the same piece.
  2. Stop at every repeat sign and discuss in detail whether to take the repeat or not. The audience will love this a lot!
  3. If you play a wrong note, give a nasty look to one of your partners.
  4. Keep your fingering chart handy. You can always catch up with the others.
  5. Carefully tune your instrument before playing. That way you can play out of tune all night with a clear conscience.
  6. Take your time turning pages.
  7. The right note at the wrong time is a wrong note (and vice-versa).
  8. If everyone gets lost except you, follow those who get lost.
  9. Strive to get the maximum NPS (note per second). That way you gain the admiration of the incompetent.
  10. Markings for slurs, dynamics and ornaments should not be observed. They are only there to embellish the score.
  11. If a passage is difficult, slow down. If it’s easy, speed it up. Everything will work itself out in the end.
  12. If you are completely lost, stop everyone and say, “I think we should tune”.
  13. Happy are those who have not perfect pitch, for the kingdom of music is theirs.
  14. If the ensemble has to stop because of you, explain in detail why you got lost. Everyone will be very interested.
  15. A true interpretation is realized when there remains not one note of the original.
  16. When everyone else has finished playing, you should not play any notes you have left.
  17. A wrong note played timidly is a wrong note. A wrong note played with authority is an interpretation.

Taken from http://www.elliott-randall.com


Does the Staple Really Make a Difference?

We have been asked time and time again about staples (also referred to as tubes or corks).  The staple is an important part of the reed that is, often times, not considered carefully.  Since it is the foundation of your reed, you would be wise to evaluate what you are using.  There are many metal used in manufacturing a staple with the most common being brass and nickel silver.  Staples come in lengths from 45 – 48mm with 47mm ranking first in popularity and 46mm ranking second.  There are also various textures for the outside of the metals.  We find these characteristics to be things left to personal choice.  However, the following characteristics should be considered carefully when choosing your staple:

1.      Does your staple fit your mandrel (make sure you have a good mandrel!)  The staple should be flush with the end of your mandrel to avoid bending any part of the staple when wrapping.  AND YES … it is very important to wrap your reed with the mandrel inserted into the staple.

2.      Examine the cork on your staple.  First, it should be made of natural cork, not something that looks like a bunch of little specks of cork melded together (this particle-style cork tends to easily chip off and can become lodge in the oboe).  Second, the cork needs to be free of splits or missing pieces.

3.      The metal area of the staple needs to be free of damage.

4.      The staple needs to fit snugly into the oboe.  (You can use a small amount of Vaseline or cork grease to help with removing the reed from the oboe, but be sure is it rubbed in very well with no excess product visible.)

What do we use at Double or Nothing Reeds?

            Stevens Staples, #2 Thinwall, Brass

Reed Making Tools

Oboe Reed Adjusting and Reed Making Tools

Prioritized List

Following is a list of oboe reed making tools in priority order.  Many companies offer reed kits; however if you are unable to purchase the entire kit, the tools should be acquired in this order.

  1. Good, quality double hollow ground knife (the most essential tool, must be high quality)
  2. Flat plaque with rounded ends
  3. Block
  4. Sharpening stone (India stone preferred)
  5. Mandrel
  6. Gouged, shaped and folded cane
  7. Staples
  8. Thread
  9. Beeswax
  10. Metric ruler
  11. C-Clamp (2”)
  12. Box or pouch to hold tools

Items 1-4 will be used for adjusting and making reeds, items 5 – 8 will be used for making reeds only.

Recommended Equipment

Recommended Equipment for the Oboe Student 

Through our website, at camp and from our private students, we are continually asked about what equipment is needed for the oboe student.  Having the proper equipment often makes the difference between whether a student continues on the oboe or quits due to frustration.  Below are our recommendations based on the level of the student.  Besides your private teacher, the two most important things to ensure the success of an oboe student at any level are a decent oboe and a good reed!


  • Oboe – in good working condition (prefer a modified conservatory system; such as Fox 330 or Nobel)
  • Handmade reeds – always have 3 in good working condition(to learn proper embouchure, breath support, pitch and tone)
  • Reed case – to hold at least 3 reeds (Reeds are delicate and expensive.  They also need to be able to dry out when put away.)
  • Swab – to clean out the oboe after each use (this will save on repair costs)
  • Cork Grease – to keep cork joints properly lubricated
  • Metronome – to learn to play properly in time
  • Music – as designated by your teacher

All of the above remain important, plus:

  • Oboe with at least a modified conservatory system; such as Fox 330 or Nobel (this will enable the student to have all the keys needed for the music at this level of playing)
  • Tuner – to learn hear proper pitch relationships
  • Reed making kit – to begin the process of making reeds (this takes several years to accomplish)

All of the above remain important, plus:

  • Oboe – the modified conservatory system oboe will also work at this level; however, it is important to consider a professional instrument at this point – depending on the intended   future of the student.  If the student plans to participate in select performing groups, attend college as a music major or minor, compete in concerto competitions, audition for other select opportunities. (Loree oboes are recommended)

Detailed information:

Handmade reeds – be sure to purchase your reeds from a professional oboist.  A quality handmade reed will help with tone, pitch, and proper development of the student’s support and embouchure.

Reed Making Kit
Needs to include:

  • Good quality, double hollow ground knife
  • Mandrel
  • Block
  • Plaque
  • Block (sometimes called billot)
  • Nylon thread (FF gauge)
  • Beeswax
  • Staples (sometimes called tubes)
  • Shaped, gouged and folded cane
  • Metric rule (6” size)
  • Sharpening stone

Other helpful things:

  • C-clamp
  • Razor blades
  • Carrying case or box

As always, we invite you to call or email us with any questions.  
You can reach us at DoubleOrNothingReedsLLC@gmail.com or 513.222.3287. 

Camps and Classes

Attending a summer double reed camp can be one of the most rewarding experiences of the year.  Just think, you can finally surround yourself with an entire room of oboe or bassoonists.  Get answers to your questions about reeds, tone, intonation, musicality, technique and so on … not to mention the coaching expertise of master teachers. You will also have the opportunity to play wonderfully unique chamber music and hear the faculty perform live and in person. We encourage you to check out these successful oboe camps … and tell your friends too!

Midwest Oboe Camp – Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio  www.MidwestOboeCamp.com June 9 – 14, 2013

Queen City Double Reed Camp – Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio – INFO TBA

Maine Camp for Adult Oboists – University of New England in Biddeford, Maine  www.OboeCamps.com 

Resources for Performance Anxiety

Ever since I began playing the oboe at age 12, I have suffered from performance anxiety of varying degrees. In middle school it didn’t seem so bad (I was the only oboist and that made me pretty freakin’ cool if I do say so myself…of course, my SOUND on the other hand left a lot to be desired). Nevertheless, when I got into high school the anxiety became worse; as a somewhat decent oboist, I began to get solos in band pieces and was encouraged to audition for ensembles such as District and All-State band. My nervousness was directly related to the importance of the audition. I struggled a lot. In fact, I remember thinking that if I could just get over my nerves, I could REALLY play the oboe. College rolled around and I decided to attend Baylor University as an oboe performance major. It was in these four years that the performance anxiety became almost debilitating. While it is true that performance anxiety eases with time and experience, that reassurance probably doesn’t help you NOW. So here’s a few books that will:


1. A Soprano on her Head: Right-Side-Up Reflections on Life and Other Performances, by Eloise Ristad


2. The Inner Game of Music, by Barry Green and Timothy Gallwey


3. Audition Success, by Don Green


4. Performance Success, by Don Greene

There’s more where this came from, but this should get you started. Happy Reading (and Reed-ing, HAHA!!)