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 Starting Oboe ?
Author: Andy_uk 
Date:   2017-11-23 23:44

Hello all

I am starting of taking up the Oboe, at the young age of 40+, having never learnt an instrument before, but being able to read basic music (classical music lover).

Background to this is that our daughter, aged 8, has started the flute 2 months ago and really enjoys it, plus has made good progress (yes, I really know jingle bells on the flute by heart now). As no one in the house plays an instrument and I always regretted never having learnt anything as a child, I thought it’s a good enough excuse to start. My current job gives me the time to put into some practice most days and the stress level is usually low.

My thinking was that I might be able to duet with our daughter, assuming I manage to be any good. The obvious choice would be piano to accompany, but it does not appeal. I looked around, Oboe sounds like a good choice to me. I did toy with bassoon, but found it a bit boring (maybe I should consider cor anglais in the long run?).

Obviously I need to find a proper teacher (identified 2, but not contacted yet) and a good starter Oboe, too. Leaving that aside, I was wondering whether any of you think this would work or has any other suggestion?

Thanks a lot

Andy

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 Re: Starting Oboe ?
Author: Jim22 
Date:   2017-11-24 02:37

Sure, give it a go. It will be tougher and more expensive than flute. I have been playing for three years now, and have played flute, clarinet and sax. Oboe either makes you crazy, or you have to be crazy to begin with, hard to decide which. Enjoy!

Jim C.
CT, USA

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 Re: Starting Oboe ?
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2017-11-25 22:29

I'd strongly suggest you rent an oboe from an oboe or woodwind specialist as that way you should have a good quality oboe to learn on and also they'll supply decent reeds of the correct strength.

Find an oboe teacher as soon as you can - not a Jack or Jill of all trades, but an oboe specialist as they will teach you the correct posture, breathing and fingerings and also be able to advise and deal with any reed issues which is the main factor with oboe playing.

Don't use a reed that's too hard as you'll only knacker yourself out. Oboes have the highest breath resistance of all woodwind instruments, so the whole breathing and playing thing will take some getting used to.

Above all, listen to top oboists to get an idea of the sound you want to make and aim for that sound. The tone will be harsh at first, but you'll soon learn how to tame it over time.

Chris.

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 Re: Starting Oboe ?
Author: Jim22 
Date:   2017-11-26 01:50

Yes, you must have a teacher, or at least an oboe guru. Your biggest challenge will be reeds, and you cannot solve that alone. You need someone to keep you in reeds that work, or you will not be able to progress. Even once you have reeds that play, there is the problem of reeds that play in tune, or you will not be able to play with others. I'm about three years ahead of you on the learning curve, and I just played with a sinfionetta as principle oboe. I could not have done it alone!

Maybe my reed problem is bigger, given that I play American scrape reeds.

Jim C.
CT, USA

Post Edited (2017-11-26 03:26)

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 Re: Starting Oboe ?
Author: mschmidt 
Date:   2017-11-26 09:18

Why do you find bassoon boring? If you want to play duets with your daughter, you'll have more luck with the flute/bassoon combination than the combination of two treble instruments like flute and oboe. Of course, getting a good bassoon is even more of a financial challenge than getting a good oboe.

Mike

Middle-Aged Amateur


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 Re: Starting Oboe ?
Author: oboeyogi 
Date:   2017-11-26 15:05

Hi Andy

Some points.

Get some oboe lessons before you even get a oboe. This will mean that you get the a feel for the oboe that works (assume its the Teacher's), You will get the feeling of how hard you have to blow, as Chris said "Oboes have the highest breath resistance of all woodwind instruments, so the whole breathing and playing thing will take some getting used to."

I have played in bands for the last 7 years and have had 6 good player's of other instruments try it and quick move on its like all instruments it maybe for you maybe not.

I am not trying to turn you off at all I love the instrument with all it quirks just making sure you are sure the oboe is for you.

By the way I started it at the age of 48 so don't let that stop you.

All the best

Nicholas

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 Re: Starting Oboe ?
Author: Andy_uk 
Date:   2017-11-26 18:23

Dear all

Thanks for the tips. Definitively would go for a proper teacher, both I have identified are oboe teachers, with qualifications based on oboe, one plays oboe in a semi-professional orchestra and the other specialises in teaching oboe only.

I would look to rent at first for sure, there are also rent to buy schemes which could attractive as they take up to x months rent as a down payment on the instrument. The same is also available for bassoon, but a bassoon teacher is more difficult (only found one who has a qualification, but he mainly teaches clarinet and sax, whether this is out of choice or lack of bassoon interest, I can’t say).

I see what you say about bassoon being a better combination, but I actually found more sheet music for flute and oboe than flute and bassoon. Probably will go for obie and see how it goes, assuming the teachers have spare teaching slots.

Listening to bassoon I found it having less variety in pieces compared to oboe and somehow was less appealing in the sound, sounding a bit flat and less vibrant. Maybe I did not listen to the right things, but did the “usual” Mozart, Vivaldi, etc.

I heard it is the one with biggest resistance, but I tried flute and was not happy to not have any resistance, I think I would like to have some feedback when playing and somehow the flute does not give me that. But might be I am totally off the mark.

Any more tips are very much welcome.

Best

Andy

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 Re: Starting Oboe ?
Author: EaubeauHorn 
Date:   2017-11-28 02:41

There is a certain personality required for making reeds. I took up oboe in my 50s but already was very competent on a number of instruments and knew how to learn one. After three years I was good enough for amateur groups....and that is knowing everything else that I needed to know to do that ahead of time, including a degree in music, playing all strings and brass, etc. But I got stuck on reed making, and could not find any purchased reed that was anywhere even in the ballpark of the reeds my teacher made. He has retired, and I'm back to where (if health permitted) I'd likely be back stuck on reed making again. I can't believe what people play on, no wonder they are out of tune and sound like sick ducks. I know this is a negative comment, but how about clarinet? You will have SO much less trouble getting anywhere.

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 Re: Starting Oboe ?
Author: Barry Vincent 
Date:   2017-11-29 04:02

Hi Beatrice. My own experience with Oboe reed making is that it's all very well watching the Utube videos and learning how to generally make reeds but the real art of it all is the last final 'touch up' to get the reeds to play nicely. It requires the finest touch of the knife in a way that only time will perfect. I've had a lot of practice finishing off commercial reeds. Even the last batch of Academy reeds that I purchased needed this final delicate finishing off to my own satisfaction. And they are being made by a professional Oboe reed maker at Howarth. As far as completely making your own reeds I reckon you'd have to make several hundred of them to finally get this art 'down pat'

Skyfacer

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 Re: Starting Oboe ?
Author: mschmidt 
Date:   2017-11-29 09:49

Reed making is its own art. I started 40 years ago and I'm still improving. It hasn't been 40 years of continuous work, of course, and I was fighting an inadequate oboe for probably 25 of those years, but it does take a while.

Mike

Middle-Aged Amateur


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 Re: Starting Oboe ?
Author: Jim22 
Date:   2017-11-30 04:31

Its pretty overwhelming. I hate not being in control. I have been pretty successful buying and tweaking hand made reeds, but making my own is a bust so far, and i spend hours at it. My oboe is definitely limiting me too at the moment. I'm 53, i dont have 40 years left. I may have to make the choice to concentrate on playing rather than reedmaking, but i still need to work on adjusting them. I'm just a little down on it right now because i tried to perform a piece over the weekend and insort of crashed and burned. I was ok warmed up in rehearsal, but choked during the performance. It was a deceivingly tough piece, 4 flats, lots of alternate fingerings.

I think to be successful on oboe one needs to have passion for it. Otherwise, learn flute, or maybe clarinet. A C clarinet would be convenient. How about a C tenor or soprano sax? That would fix the non-octave thing.

I do have passion!

Jim C.
CT, USA

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 Re: Starting Oboe ?
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2017-12-02 20:16

Fortunately in the UK there are plenty of reed makers who sell both privately and through specialists, so getting ready made reeds mail order is dead easy. Your teacher will advise you what maker and strength to start out on and they should be able to make any adjustments they feel will make them play better for you.

Chris.

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 Re: Starting Oboe ?
Author: EaubeauHorn 
Date:   2017-12-07 20:23

Well, I am fine all the way up to the "fine finishing" part at which I am a complete failure. Time after time I would take a reed to my teacher and he would say, "Oh it's just not finished." 30 seconds later it was a wonderful reed. So it is the "important part" that I was never able to even come close to mastering. Didn't matter how many times I attempted it, they all went south after a certain point. And this is literally hundreds of reeds. I no longer play any instrument because of a medical mistake that has made it almost impossible to use my arms without extreme pain, so, at this point in time, whatever.

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 Re: Starting Oboe ?
Author: Spails 
Date:   2018-03-20 16:33

It's never too late to start. As long as you have ambition, you can learn how to play.

Just a warning though, oboe is probably one of the hardest instruments to play. It takes a lot of air and has a very complicated key system because of how old the instrument is.

The way I started was renting an oboe from my local music store, as well as an oboe book. I started going through the exercises and memorizing the fingerings.

I'm on my third year of playing and I'm first chair in my school's wind ensemble now in my last year of school.

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 Re: Starting Oboe ?
Author: DD 
Date:   2018-03-21 11:25

I will hit 40 this year, and I just started oboe last year. This is my story: I have always loved the sound of oboe, but never had the time and determination to start it. The trigger was when the music store on the same floor of my wife's office was closing down. Unbeknownst to me, there's a Marigaux oboe sitting there for decades and they're now selling it at a bargain. My lovely wife then bought it for me as a present. I then went about searching the best teacher I could manage to find.

I played clarinet for 30+ years, self-taught myself to play flute about 8 years ago. I would say oboe is a completely different beast. You would need a good teacher and a good oboe if you are ever going to enjoy the experience. Luckily for me, I have a good teacher and a professional model oboe, and am now steadily making progress.

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