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 Adult Learner - does this plan make sense?
Author: LuckyJim 
Date:   2018-10-07 22:17

I would like a steer on some options for an older adult learning the oboe.
The background is that I am in my mid 50s I have never played an instrument before and cannot read music. I want to play the oboe mainly because I love the sound it makes in baroque pieces.

At present I have limited free time as I work full time and have a number of other hobbies and commitments. My plan is to learn to play the oboe properly when I retire in about 4 years time. I have though been reading online about how difficult it is to learn the oboe and how much aggravation there is with reeds!

My thought was to maybe take up the recorder to begin with (perhaps alto/treble) as apparently the fingering is somewhat similar and this would allow me to at least learn to read music.

Once I retire I can then find a teacher and commit to the hours needed to practice the oboe.

What are thoughts on this plan?



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 Re: Adult Learner - does this plan make sense?
Author: Jim22 
Date:   2018-10-08 01:51

What are your goals? Do you eventually want to play with an orchestra? Do you have an oboe?

Life is pretty short, and Oboe is really hard. If you really want to play, I would go ahead and start now. A teacher will be of great value. You must have a source of playable reeds, and even then, they will need adjustments regularly, which takes time and experience to learn to do. Reeds are far and away the hardest part of playing oboe.

I am also a late starter, at 54, I've been playing for about 4 years, but I have been reading music and played flute since I was about 7 or 8. I can make reed shaped objects, and sometimes am successful at adjusting reeds I buy from a proffessional. I have never made a reed I could take to ma rehearsal. I play with a college orchestra, reasonably successfully, but intonation is always a problem.

If you don't HAVE to play oboe, I recommend flute. It avoids the whole reed thing altogether. I HAD to play oboe, so I know how you feel.

I do wish you the best with it!

Jim C.
CT, USA

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 Re: Adult Learner - does this plan make sense?
Author: oboi 
Date:   2018-10-08 03:57

I guess it depends what you want to do with it. If you want to mainly just amuse yourself or play with other instrumental beginners in a group setting, then I would say start now. Get a few lessons and then work on it by yourself as time permits until you have a bit more free time. The later you learn the oboe, the harder it will probably be to develop endurance due to back pressure.

If you want to be able to play in an orchestra of intermediate level amateurs, take in mind it will take you a number of years to probably be at a tolerable level, especially if you haven't played a wind instrument before.

If you want to mainly play baroque oboe solos, perhaps with an accompanist for fun, I would say start on it now and just do it at your own pace.

Recorder is significantly less taxing and easy to pick up. However, its sound is so different that even though you can perhaps learn it well quickly, it won't give you the sound world you're looking for. I am actually learning recorder now, and I could basically pick it up and play. However, the air and embouchure are so different that I'm not sure how much it can transfer to the oboe. Personally, because I play baroque oboe, I loved how the fingering was similar, but it won't be really too applicable to the modern oboe. The fingering will probably be the last of your worries. But if you do want to start with a recorder, choose the tenor. Then you can play all the baroque oboe pieces. Altos are in F and so everything will be shifted.

I am also trying to learn the chalumeau (early clarinet) and I think that could be worthwhile picking up if your eventual goal is to transfer to the oboe. It will give you some experience with air resistance.

Pretty much I think if you want the double reed experience but with fewer reed problems, go for a bassoon!

Either way, if you're going to purchase an instrument, do go for something that's at the intermediate level at least. I think half of the problems are due to terrible starter instruments.

Good luck.

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 Re: Adult Learner - does this plan make sense?
Author: Hotboy 
Date:   2018-10-08 09:08

"At present I have limited free time as I work full time and have a number of other hobbies and commitments."

This says it all. You do not have the desire to make the oboe a high priority, so best not to even consider taking up the oboe. This may seem harsh, but in order to learn the oboe, you must practice hard for 8-10 hours per week, and it seems that you are not willing to do that.

I know what I'm talking about...I'm a professional oboist who took up a new instrument at age 50+ and have spent 8-14 hours per week for the past 8 years to get to an intermediate level of techncal and musical proficiency because I have the DESIRE to do so.

There is so much more to learning the oboe than music theory and fingerings...the oboe is a PHYSICAL instrument that will inflict pain and discomfort on you to build endurance. Imagine running a marathon while lifiting weights...this is what playing the oboe is like, and you do not have enough time left in your life to accomplish that if you do not start now.

"My thought was to maybe take up the recorder to begin with (perhaps alto/treble) as apparently the fingering is somewhat similar and this would allow me to at least learn to read music."

Recorder sounds perfect for you. You can learn how to read simple Renaissance and Baroque music and play an instrument that is easy physically. Playing the recorder compared to oboe is like pulling a weed compared to chopping down a redwood tree.

Dane
Bay Area, California

Post Edited (2018-10-08 09:10)

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 Re: Adult Learner - does this plan make sense?
Author: WestieGirl 
Date:   2018-10-08 23:59

Hi Lucky Jim

Its great that you love the sound of the oboe, in the right hands it is the most beautiful sounding instrument in my biased opinion, but then I have been playing for over 30 years.

While hotboy makes some valid points, I would say don’t just presume that you will never be able to play one based on the points made. I have helped and played with adult learners before so it is not impossible but what I wound say is I have not seen many who can develop that beautiful tone you admire. And in my experience the old you start the harder it is to get it.

When you first start playing the oboe it does not sound like the recordings you hear, its loud, brash and as the saying goes duck like, this is down to the lack of knowledge about correct breathing and the lack of muscle development around the embrochure. My personal opionion is as a child with much more flexible and its easier to develop the strength needed. Breathing is difficult but not because it takes a lot off puff, but because you are blowing through a tiny hole in the top of the reed you end up with a build up of air in your lungs.

If you are still keen my advice would be to have a look at any music schools around your area or contact music shops and find out if there are any schemes where you can hire an instrument and have a few lessons and see how you go.

Before that however if you have any musical friends perhaps you can get them to try a few exercises with you. As on oboist you need to have a very good ear as there are so many minute adjustments you need to make while playing to keep the different notes in tune. Putting the reed in and just blowing the same on every note doesn’t work. Ask a friend to play you some notes and try and sing them back and see how well you can keep the pitch. I am also of the opinion that the oboe is a very difficult instrument to learn without having lessons with a actual oboe specialist, apart from correct posture, correct breathing and finger technique, you need to hear the sound you are aiming for as you play with an experienced player you listen and try to emulate this sound, even then it does take years to get to anywhere near the same sound if ever. If you can cope with not being able to replicate the sound you have heard and love and can enjoy the act of playing no matter what sound comes out then have a go. Playing for me is about the enjoyment of making music.

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 Re: Adult Learner - does this plan make sense?
Author: mschmidt 
Date:   2018-10-15 08:07

Hotboy wrote:


> Imagine
> running a marathon while lifiting weights...this is what
> playing the oboe is like....
>

C'mon, it's not that bad.

Mike

Middle-Aged Amateur


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 Re: Adult Learner - does this plan make sense?
Author: Claude013 
Date:   2018-10-31 17:38

I'm currently 58 and just bought my first oboe. There's no reason not to try if you want to play.
A lot depends on your goals. If you plan on playing in the local community orchestra, you'll want a better oboe than if you just want to sit on a hilltop and annoy the wildlife. Either way, if you can afford a decent oboe at the start, I'd advise getting a teacher right away and getting a strong start toward your goals.
A good teacher can also help you find a good oboe that will take care of you for years, so I'd get the teacher first.

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 Re: Adult Learner - does this plan make sense?
Author: EaubeauHorn 
Date:   2018-11-15 21:38

I took it up in my late 50s but I already had a music degree and was a wind player. I bought a pro instrument right away, which was the right move. You can't learn on a piece of junk. It took me three years of very steady practice to reach a level where I could play in an orchestra or band. I never, ever got good enough at making reeds to continue trying. I also was never able to find a bought reed that would work for me. So....it depends on your drive and your talent. I think I had good talent for oboe to start with (was not nearly so hard for my physically as I had heard, but then again I practiced my rear end off because I already knew what would be required to learn a new instrument) but my talent for reed making was zilch.
I don't know if you've been talked out of it yet, but you might find a teacher and have that person check out whether you can find a rental oboe at first. You may scream and run and you may fall in love with learning a difficult instrument.

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 Re: Adult Learner - does this plan make sense?
Author: EaubeauHorn 
Date:   2019-01-18 02:09

I wonder whatever happened to poor Jim with all the commentary he got here!

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