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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!!

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