Five Oboe Reed Tips

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Oboe By: Please log in to see tutor details
Subject: Oboe
Last updated: 20/04/2017
Tags: advice (beginner), oboe reeds

Asking any oboe player, at any level, about their reeds and you often provoke a whole host of reactions, exclamations and general grumbling! The reason for this is that you very quickly realise how big a difference the quality of reed makes to every aspect of playing the instrument. Particularly in the early stages of learning, the mystery of reeds can play a large role in whether students continue.

Here are a few points on how to choose, look after and maintain reeds:

1. It's always better to try before you buy - if you can get to the shop and try several you might find that out of 10-20 only one or two actually suit you. Cane is a natural substance, which is why no two reeds are the same whichever brand you choose. We're all different as players too, which is why it's so important to do this rather than accept whatever the shop sends.

2. Your teacher should be able to help you to adjust the reed. Everyone learns to make reeds as part of their studies at Music College, so a good teacher should be able to help if the reed is simply too hard or open. If the reed is split or badly damaged you need a new one.

3. They are incredibly delicate! Look after them, only handle them by the staple (bottom part) and especially avoid damaging the tip as this is the most delicate part

4. Keep at least one spare. Accidents happen, and often at the worst possible moment, so do always keep a spare.

5. Don't try adjusting them yourself - this is something definitely left to a professional! It might look easy when you see your teacher adjusting your reeds, but in reality this is something you spend years and years training to do, it's a expert skill, so no matter how good your dad thinks he is with a pen-knife wait until your lesson or it'll be game over.

I hope this advice helps anyone in the early stages of learning, and while reeds can be frustrating, it's worth some perseverance - I promise!


Emily Cockbill Oboe Teacher (South East London)

About The Author

I'm a friendly, encouraging teacher, with over 10 years of experience teaching students at all ages and abilities.




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