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

Oboe Day at the University of Northern Colorado

Double or Nothing Reeds is going on the road again! We won’t be at the University of Northern Colorado in person, but we will have a table for vending. Come check out our table for great tools, accessories, and cane!

UNC Oboe Day Registrants: Send us a picture of yourself at our table! We would love to see you!

Free Shipping in September

Thank you to all of our customers who participated in our Back to School Event! We are still scraping away on some of your reed orders, but we could not wait to announce our next promotional event!
Double or Nothing Reeds would like to show our appreciation for our customers by offering free shipping on orders over $75! Certain restrictions apply. Offer is only valid for orders in the continental US. The subtotal before taxes are applied must be at least $75 to qualify. The shipping discount is not automatic; shipping fees for qualifying orders will be refunded after the transaction is complete. Qualifying orders can be sent through our contact form, but guaranteed shipping dates for reeds will not be calculated until the transaction is complete. Offer valid 9-1-2014 through 10-6-2014.
To take advantage of our free shipping promo online, go to the DNR home page and use the “Add to Cart” button to claim your shipping refund. Once the transaction is complete, your shipping fees will be refunded.

We always love customer feedback. Any suggestions for our next promo??

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!!

Recruiting Young Oboes

Part 2: Instrument Fittings

What do you do if when you have two minutes or less to determine if an incoming middle school student has any future playing the oboe, has any aptitude for playing the oboe, and would actually enjoy playing the oboe. 

Instrument fittings are noisy, they are hectic, and they are uncharted territory for the majority of the students and parents in attendance. When you have a line of 20 students and their parents waiting to try an instrument, the best thing you can do is have an efficient and expedient plan that can provide some insight into the three criteria above. 

Side note: Some students fit all three of those criteria upon first try, some students exhibit 1 or 2 of the criteria, and some students who become accomplished young oboists fit none of those criteria. 

Let’s assume that the band director or local music store provides you with working equipment (it can happen!). When a student that has never played a woodwind instrument before sits down at your table, what do you do? 

First, you have to exhibit positive energy. If you are tired and your busy schedule is showing on your face, students will feed off of that, and it will taint their experience with any instrument. If you are in a bad mood, fake it! Smile! Be excited about your instrument! If you aren’t excited about it, how can someone who has never played it be excited about it? 

The double reed family is great because part of the experience of trying the oboe or bassoon is making funny noises on the reed. Any kid who doesn’t smile or make some sort of funny face immediately after peeping or crowing a reed for the first time should probably consider another instrument… or they are way too serious!

The next thing that I want to find out is whether or not the student can fill the instrument with air. I don’t just hand over the oboe and let the kids start playing. That is neither efficient nor expedient. In fact, it is a recipe for disaster. They will unknowingly start to create bad habits with their hand placement. So their first contact with the instrument is just blowing through it while I finger the notes for them. It sounds crazier than it is. With the student seated facing me, I turn the oboe around so that the keys are facing the student when they play. I ask them to blow through the instrument while I walk my fingers down the natural scale. Students who struggle with this part of the fitting will likely have trouble using enough breath support in band class. That does not mean that they should choose a different instrument, but it could be an uphill battle for them. 

If the student demonstrates that they can put a substantial amount of air through the instrument, then I let them have a little more fun by tying in excerpts from the instrument demonstration. The student continues to blow through the instrument while I finger the snake charmer for them. It is short, fun, and it creates a tangible connection between the memory of hearing it and the experience of “playing it.” Now they can “play” something that a professional played for them!

The last thing that I do is actually let the student play the instrument by themselves… one finger at a time. First, the thumb under the thumb rest. The second finger is the thumb under the first octave key. Then the introduction of the keys with holes starting with the left index finger! They played their first note solo! Then the remaining fingers walking down the natural scale of the instrument one at a time until it becomes necessary to move on to the next student. 

Let us know if you have any questions or if you try our techniques! This is by no means the ONLY way to do an instrument fitting… It is just an example of a method that has proven successful recently. So successful that band directors have asked me to make the oboe less fun for new students. It seems that there are a limited number of instruments! 

Recruiting Young Oboes

Part 1: Instrument Demonstrations

Spring is here, and band directors every where are busy recruiting new students for their program. It is the time of year for 5th grade assemblies that feature band and orchestra instrument demonstrations followed by noisy and chaotic instrument fittings. Instrument demonstrations and fittings are exciting for everyone involved, but it can also be a source of frustration because there is a lot of pressure to help students pick the right instrument for them–one that could potentially shape their career and enrich their lives. Anything less could damage a student’s experience in music. Students who have a positive and meaningful experience in school band become life-long music makers and supporters of the arts, but the opposite is equally true and equally damaging to the future of classical music in the 21st century. 

Participating in band instrument demonstrations and fittings in the Cincinnati-Dayton area in the last few years has given me a better perspective on starting students. I have seen band directors emphasize several key guidelines to help students pick an instrument:

1. Students should pick an instrument based on the sound that they like the most
2. Students should pick an instrument that fits them physically (Although, the tuba doesn’t really fit any 5th grader)
3. Students should pick their new instrument based on what they feel like they were “born” to play
4. There are no male or female instruments
5. All instruments can play in different styles and characters (movie themes or otherwise)

The biggest issue facing a musician that is called on to demonstrate their instrument is highlighting the ways in which it is unique from the other instruments. It seems obvious to me, but I’ve been playing my instrument since I was 12. While I think that the double reed instruments are the best by far, that kind of presentation is misleading and ultimately detrimental to ensuring that students have positive and meaningful musical experiences. 

Surprisingly, there are different schools of thought on demonstrations. Should professionals be hired? Should older students demonstrate for younger students? Should demonstrators play pop tunes, movie themes, or “classical” music? I advocate for using professional musicians who are also experienced in working with middle school students to demonstrate their instrument. That way, students can hear mature sound and technique through someone who is able to communicate with younger audiences. Technical jargon and long speeches about physics or mechanics are lost on 5th graders. If you use a lot of new terms or speak for too long, you will lose their attention span and any potential interest in your instrument. A fifth grade class doesn’t need to know what an embouchure is and how it works to understand how the double reed is different from the single reed or no reed at all. 

What music should be played is a more controversial issue. While 99% of students will recognize pop tunes and movie themes, that is sort of a misrepresentation of what their school music careers will look like. More students will play twinkle twinkle little star than Adele, so playing the latest hit song on any single instrument seems like bait and switch to me. Yes, they will be captivated, and yes, they will remember you, but it taints their concept of what instrument they like going into the fittings. 

The music should be memorable and it should either be singable or exciting. If each instrument is only allowed three selections, then they should be three things that show different extremes of what the instrument can do. As an oboist, I usually play the Snake Charmer to create a personal connection between the students and the oboe. Not all students can name the tune, but it is something that they have heard before that is commonly associated with the oboe. Then I pick two contrasting selections: a lyrical melody and a technical selection. This year, I picked the solo from Bach’s Ich habe genug for the lyrical and the C minor Ferling etude (no. 28) for the technical selection. Both show off what the oboe is known for, both are pieces that students could play before their school music career ends, and both create a distinct impression.

Young minds deserve the best possible material to absorb. A demonstration could be their first and last experience with your instrument, so make sure that it is accurate, authentic, and has integrity.
Think about what ideas should be communicated verbally and how to transition from one selection to the next because the verbal communication is just as important as the musical communication.

Stay tuned for part 2 on conducting instrument fittings on the oboe.

Summer Study and Enrichment

We are currently developing a page specifically for double reed resources and learning opportunities. Here is a taste of available opportunities. Additional resources for camps and classes will be coming soon!


Queen City Double Reed Camp

DATE: July 21-25, 2014
LOCATION: Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio
HOST: Double or Nothing Ensemble
TUITION: Day Campers – $375, Residential Campers – $625 


During this energy-filled, highly motivating camp, students of all ability levels will be challenged and inspired by our accomplished double reed staff. Queen City Double Reed Camp is a unique opportunity in the Midwest for double reed students to spend a whole week immersed in musically enriching and mentally engaging activities related specifically to their instrument. At the end of Queen City Double Reed Camp, our students return to their homes and school music programs with new friends, new mentors, new challenges, and a strong desire to make more music and to have more fun doing it.

Throughout the week, students will have the opportunity to: Participate in master classes, Learn basic reed making techniques, Play chamber music, Receive small group and individual instruction, Perform in a culminating recital. Our guests in 2013 included: Lon Bussell (Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra), Carol Aufman (Bassoonist with Richmond Symphony and Bassoon Teacher at CCM Preparatory Department), Mark Ostoich (Professor of Oboe, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music), Julie Fuqua (Free Lance Oboist and Music Educator)

Midwest Oboe and Bassoon Camp

DATE: June 15-20, 2014
LOCATION: Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio
HOST: Lisa Sayre, Lisa Grove, Joe Hesseman


Midwest Oboe Camp is a comprehensive residency camp dedicated to the education of double reed players.  While at camp, students will be exposed daily to our staff of professional double reed artists through a variety of master classes, private lessons, reed making classes, and chamber music coaching.  Whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced, our camp is designed to meet your needs and help you grow as an oboist or bassoonist as well as a musician.

Special Guest for the week is Dr. Mark Ostoich, Professor of Oboe University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music

Bocal Majority Bassoon Camp and Operation O.B.O.E. Camp

DATE: June 15-20, 2014  
LOCATION: Miami University in Oxford, Ohio
HOST: Christin Schillinger, professor of bassoon, Andrea Ridilla, professor of oboe, & Bocal Majority
TUITION: $295 for commuter students, $595 for residential


This is a great event to come learn reed-making and adjusting, play some great double-reed chamber music and get to work with some amazing faculty members and guest artists! Residential students get to stay in the lovely and modern Maplestreet dorm in double occupancy, air-conditioned rooms.  Adult male and female RAs stay in the dorms for 24 access and supervision, including our camp manager. There will be an all-camp recital on the last day of camp. Friends and family are invited to attend.


Robert Atherholt Masterclass Series

DATE: May 28-31, 2014
LOCATION: Ball State University
HOST: Aryn Sweeney
TUITION: $500 Participant, $300 Auditor

Ball State University’s School of Music is proud to host the impressive teacher and oboist Robert Atherholt. Join us for four full days of classes!  The series will close with a recital by Atherholt on May 31 at 7:30 p.m. in Sursa Performance Hall.

Learn from one of the most highly respected orchestral oboists in the world. Throughout the four-day event, Atherholt will coach participants on orchestral literature and solo repertoire for the English horn. There will also be plenty of time for questions and answers on topics such as instruments, equipment, and audition and practice techniques.

Atherholt will walk participants through his process and share some invaluable insights for improved reed making. Reeds will be inspected and worked on under a projector to provide every attendee an extremely close vantage point.

Learn valuable methods of repair and maintenance from Indianapolis-based Carlos Coelho, one of the world’s leading oboe and English horn repair and restoration masters. Coelho will give instruction on adjusting your instruments as well as provide useful tips on common maintenance issues.

The series will also offer daily classes on body movement. Unleash your full potential by eliminating tension in your playing.


Music Institute of Chicago: 2014 Oboe Boot Camp

DATE: June 9-13, 2014
LOCATION: Winnetka Campus
HOST: Crystal Hall & Erica Anderson


Have you ever wanted to know more about how to play in tune, fix your own reeds, and have a chance to try out the English horn? Well, here’s your chance! Come to MIC Oboe Boot Camp! Participants learn how to make reeds, play chamber music, and the secrets of terrific oboe performing, all while having a great time!  If you want to improve your oboe playing, come to this camp!

Camp activities will include the following: Playing in daily workshops on oboe-specific topics:  improving dynamic control, tuning, tone production, audition success, improving technique, sight-reading, and more! Trying the English horn and oboe d’amore! Exploring music in a different way through composing and instrument creation. Playing oboe chamber music (trios, quartets). Learing how to make oboe reeds and process cane! Participating in the end-of-camp recital!

Survey of English horn Repertoire

Every now and then, I encounter someone who thinks that the English horn is an instrument that oboists play to make a little extra money for doubling at gigs. Hopefully, a little research into the scope of repertoire available for the English horn will dispel that myth!
Most music students won’t be getting a degree in English horn performance, but the English horn has a long history as well as a rich expressive palette. The expressive abilities of the English horn may be featured most often through certain orchestral excerpts, but we hope that the list below be a useful pedagogical tool and will provide inspiration in programming performances!
Before taking a look at the document below, please enjoy a couple of YouTube videos featuring English horn concertos!

First, Pēteris Vasks Concerto for Cor Anglais (English horn) and Orchestra.

Second, DM Kirsch’s Concerto for English Horn, “Jahreszeiten,” op. 18

Our “Survey of English Horn Repertoire” is far from complete! It does not account for countless arrangements and transcriptions, nor does it include every work ever written for the English horn. Please help us out! If we have overlooked something, let us know!

Why Queen City Double Reed Camp?

When there are so many options for summer enrichment and education, why should students and parents consider the Queen City Double Reed Camp?
Queen City Double Reed Camp is a unique opportunity in the Midwest for double reed students to spend a whole week immersed in musically enriching and mentally engaging activities related specifically to their instrument. At the end of Queen City Double Reed Camp, our students return to their homes and school music programs with new friends, new mentors, new challenges, and a strong desire to make more music and to have more fun doing it.
Reasons your student should attend Queen City Double Reed Camp:

  • Targeted, fun music and oboe-specific activities to promote higher level thinking.
  • Exposure to renown teachers and special guests who are prominent double reed professionals in Cincinnati and the Midwest. Current and former guests include: Lon Bussell from the Cincinnati Symphony, Dr. Mark Ostoich from CCM, Robert and Bailey Sorton and their quartet OBOHIO, Sarah Thelen of Fox Products.
  • Develop critical-thinking, problem-solving, and leadership skills through performances, classes, and ensemble rehearsals.
  • Daily, hands-on reed making workshop with expert instruction and personal attention.
  • Spiraling curriculum of oboe related topics suitable for all playing levels. Topics may include:
    • Technique and facility including upper register technique, trill fingerings, harmonic fingerings, etc.
    • Techniques for good tone production, intonation, and vibrato
    • Developing an effective embouchure
    • Survey of repertoire specific to double reed instruments
    • Articulation techniques including double tonguing
    • Performance technique and practice strategies
  • Structured study will include Private Lessons, Master Classes, and participation in double reed ensembles
  • Special topics courses including audition preparation, auxiliary instruments, instrument building, repair, and adjustments.
  • An opportunity to attend a professional local performance.*
  • Round table discussions with expert musicians on a variety of topics.
  • An opportunity for students to engage with Xavier University’s campus through activities fostering community, education, and enrichment.

The 2014 Queen City Double Reed Camp will be July 21-25 on the campus of Cincinnati’s Xavier University. Please visit our camp website for more information about our faculty and the registration process: http://www.queencitydoublereedcamp.com/
*Cost of attending a professional performance is included in the overnight camp tuition fee. Day campers are encouraged to participate, but there will be an extra cost to attend the scheduled performance.

A DNR Holiday Promotion!

Just in time for the 2013 holiday shopping season, Double or Nothing Reeds is offering a four-day promotion for our customers. We value your business and are looking for ways to show our appreciation for your loyalty. We hope you enjoy your Holiday and take advantage of our great deals!

We have five ways to save this year from Black Friday through Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

1. FREE Reed Case for 6 Oboe Reeds with a purchase of 6 Oboe Reeds


We are offering a free oboe reed case with a purchase of six of our handmade oboe reeds. Perfect for students and adults, this reed case holds six oboe reeds snuggly and allows them to “breathe” after being soaked. Orders must be placed on Nov. 29 – Dec. 2 to be eligible for a free reed case. Email, Phone, or Web orders are acceptable.

2. FREE Reed Case for 6 Bassoon Reeds with a purchase of 4 Bassoon Reeds


We are offering a free bassoon reed case with a purchase of four of our handmade bassoon reeds. With room for two more reeds, this reed case is a perfect Holiday present or stocking stuffer! Orders must be placed on Nov. 29 – Dec. 2 to be eligible for a free reed case. Email, Phone, or Web orders are acceptable.

3. FREE Handmade Tool Pouch with the purchase of a complete Reed-Making or Reed-Adjustment Kit


This offer is a great option for both bassoonists and oboists. Our handmade tool pouches are another great Holiday gift or stocking stuffer. Our tool pouches come in two styles: roll-up and cinch. We have a variety of colors and patterns available as well. Please contact us about the style and color you or your young musician would prefer! Orders must be placed on Nov. 29 – Dec. 2 to be eligible for a free reed case. Email, Phone, or Web orders are acceptable.

4. FREE Handmade Case Cover with the purchase of a NEW Oboe


Our handmade case covers have just as much personality as our tool pouches! To be eligible for this offer, we do not require that an instrument be purchased on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, or Cyber Monday. We do not expect anyone to buy an instrument without trying it first! Eligibility for this offer requires that you contact us concerning an instrument trial during one of those three days, and if a sale is finalized within 30 days after the initial contact, we will include a free handmade case cover with your purchase. Contact us via email, phone, or our contact page to find out more about our instruments!

5. FREE Reed-Adjustment Kit with the purchase of a NEW Bassoon


This offer is similar to our Handmade Case Cover offer above. We do not expect any customer to purchase a bassoon without trying it first, so we do not require purchase of an instrument on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, or Cyber Monday! Eligibility for this offer requires that you contact us concerning an instrument trial during one of those three days, and if a sale is finalized within 30 days after the initial contact, we will include a free reed-adjustment kit with your purchase. Contact us via email, phone, or our contact page to find out more about our instruments!