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 Need help! Weak muscles...
Author: Axolotl 
Date:   2019-04-26 18:31

Good afternoon, everyone,

I am a professional oboist, I have been playing oboe for 16 years.

I am French, so I'm sorry if the specific terms are not always well translated!

I am writing to you because I need help.

I've always had big muscle problems, and I'm dealing with them. I must say, I thought it was more or less normal.

I have always been able to play only one hour of oboe per day. Except for the orchestra, I can do 5 hours, since we don't play so intensely. Although it depends on the works.

For 13 years, I played extremely difficult reeds, very very very hard, without realizing it, I couldn't play 5 minutes with it today!

But it's been 3 years since I changed everything, oboe and material, I now play normal reeds, but unfortunately, I didn't gain in muscle resistance.....

After 20 minutes, I already feel tired, I can't keep my lips in!

I'm scared about my future, and very sad.

I have many friends who work 4.5 hours a day, when I can't go beyond 1 hour in pain.

How can I work my orchestra competitions properly with such low resistance?!

I don't know what to do anymore...... I know that I have a half of a less muscular face, when I speak, my mouth twists, and when I play, it is this half of a mouth that comes out...

I don't know if it was the oboe that only muscled half my face, or if it was the case before... Indeed, I have always played crookedly, and it's only been a few months since I re-educated my mouth to play straight, which is an additional difficulty.

Are any of you like me? Can anyone help me?

I can't believe it's inevitability.... :-(

I love this instrument more than anything, this profession more than anything. But if I remain so weak...... I'm afraid........

Thank you very much in advance for your help and advice.....

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 Re: Need help! Weak muscles...
Author: Jeltsin 
Date:   2019-04-26 22:01

I had similar problem and slowly it got worse. I found an advise at Regency reeds
https://www.regencyreeds.com/advice-3-w.asp
that helped me much (how to get better breath support).

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 Re: Need help! Weak muscles...
Author: Hotboy 
Date:   2019-04-27 01:04

If you want to be able to play for a longer period of time, you must do the following:

1) Improve your muscle strength and endurance. Just like with athletics, you must practice until you fatigue your muscles completely, and then force yourself to play for one minute more without biting. "Completely" means almost total collapse of your facial muscle strength. Over time, you will improve your strength, which will help your short- and long-term endurance.

2) Change your reed style. You may have gone from playing very very very (3) hard reeds to only very (1) hard reeds, but your reeds are likely still too hard. I assume that you make your own reeds, so you need to investigate different cane types and scraping styles. I'm guessing that the less-resistant reeds you have played on in the past did not have the tone you seek, so you have made them stiff to get a darker tone. You must learn to scrape reeds so that they have less resistance but still a darker tone. If you do not make your own reeds, then that is the central problem.

You also might investigate whether your oboe is a make that has more blowing resistance. An instrument with a different bore might make it easier to play with the tone and feel you seek. There are oboe brands with darker tones that may be what you need.

Dane
Bay Area, California

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 Re: Need help! Weak muscles...
Author: Axolotl 
Date:   2019-04-29 17:30

Thank you very much for your answers, that's very kind!

I've been questioning everything for three years.

I changed oboes twice, because I had a very hard oboe in addition to playing very hard reeds.

Now it's very fluid, I'm very happy about that.

I've had a scraping machine for a year, so I can't change the shape.

But I play infinitely easier than before. So, have I kept the habit of playing too hard again, even though I feel it's easy? Maybe...

You're right, I played very hard to get a dark sound. I've since learned that you can round the sound with your mouth, but I've only been doing it for a few months.

Unfortunately, no teacher has taught me this in the past.

The problem is that when I take more closed reeds, I can only play for a short time, and I lose all the bass instantly.

And when I scratch the more open reeds more than I have, even sparing the heart, the sound becomes really unpleasant...

I have tried several canes but I always come back to the same ones, which naturally have a darker sound.

I can see that I'm having trouble finding the right opening.

I order reeds that are a little more open than the average, because otherwise I close them like pancakes, even if I concentrate so as not to bite.

I guess I use too many muscles, but I still can't figure out how to do it, and 16 years ago usually....

What are your tips for a perfect mouthpiece?

What should I think about? I take all the advice, even the basics, because I learned badly, and I volunteer.

What are your sensations in your muscles?

It's stiff and painful for me.

Thank you in advance! :-)

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 Re: Need help! Weak muscles...
Author: Axolotl 
Date:   2019-04-29 17:32

Thank you very much for your answers, that's very kind!

I've been questioning everything for three years.

I changed oboes twice, because I had a very hard oboe in addition to playing very hard reeds.

Now it's very fluid, I'm very happy about that.

I've had a scratching machine for a year, so I can't change the shape.

But I play infinitely easier than before. So, have I kept the habit of playing too hard again, even though I feel it's easy? Maybe...

You're right, I played very hard to get a dark sound. I've since learned that you can round the sound with your mouth, but I've only been doing it for a few months.

Unfortunately, no teacher has taught me this in the past.

The problem is that when I take more closed reeds, I can only play for a short time, and I lose all the bass instantly.

And when I scratch the more open reeds more than I have, even sparing the heart, the sound becomes really unpleasant...

I have tried several canes but I always come back to the same ones, which naturally have a darker sound.

I can see that I'm having trouble finding the right opening.

I order reeds that are a little more open than the average, because otherwise I close them like pancakes, even if I concentrate so as not to bite.

I guess I use too many muscles, but I still can't figure out how to do it, and 16 years ago usually....

What are your tips for a perfect mouthpiece?

What should I think about? I take all the advice, even the basics, because I learned badly, and I volunteer.

What are your sensations in your muscles?

It's stiff and painful for me.

Thank you in advance! :-)



Post Edited (2019-04-29 17:34)

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 Re: Need help! Weak muscles...
Author: EaubeauHorn 
Date:   2019-06-03 20:20

I am more of an engineer than an oboist, but to quote you:

"I order reeds that are a little more open than the average, because otherwise I close them like pancakes, even if I concentrate so as not to bite."

To me that says you are still playing "as if" your reeds were so hard because you close them like pancakes. New embouchure needed....one that uses muscles mostly to resist the air, not to make the reed sound. I would take a drinking straw and learn to close lips around it and blow through it, without changing its shape, and use that as your template for a new embouchure with reeds that do not have that huge opening. If you can learn not to squash the straw, you can change your embouchure to not squash the reed. The straw will help your mind change its habit.

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 Re: Need help! Weak muscles...
Author: WestieGirl 
Date:   2019-10-27 23:04

Hi its been a long time since your post and I wondered how you were getting on. In my experience two things cause you to bite too hard either the reed is too hard or too soft, I find when they are two soft the sound is not nice but I also get a mark inside my lips where I have been biting to hard.

I have also recently discovered the lefreque sound bridge, it has improved my stamina greatly.

I have also found fortay reeds to be very good perhaps you could try some of theres as it might be a good pattern to base your own reeds on

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