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 Oboe Support
Author: drizzledtoes 
Date:   2021-04-06 16:02

I would like to ask, what do you oboist do in order to rid yourself of tension while playing the oboe, and also to increase air speed while playing the oboe.

I have been very confused and unsure about what i should do to increase my air speed, but many say that it should come from the stomach area, and that i should really focus and push from there to be well supported, and i am trying, but it seemed like i can barely increase my air speed and my higher notes are flat (beyond 2nd octave G)

When pushing at the abs area, do you guys push inwards, or outwards? It would make sense for myself to think of it as pushing inwards so that the air gets pushed out rather that pushing and flexing outwards, which feels weird for me.

I am also trying to play with less tension, any suggestions, i would be grateful to. I have the most tension in my shoulders.

Thank you so much!

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 Re: Oboe Support
Author: Hotboy 
Date:   2021-04-06 20:22

You cannot rid yourself of all tension, because tension in the diaphragm and embouchure are required to generate the high pressure necessary to produce good sound. Tension in the arms and hands must be eliminated for smooth technique, and the throat must be relaxed to allow a large volume of air to get to the mouth.

For building diaphram/lung strength, I recommend the Breath Builder.



Bay Area, California

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 Re: Oboe Support
Author: oboist2 
Date:   2021-04-08 01:53

I would strongly suggest that you get yourself a good teacher. it is much better that these things be assessed in person, and even then, it still can be difficult. Without the guidance of a teacher who knows what he/she is talking about, it is difficult to make any progress.
I assume you are playing long scrape US style reeds. For a start, do you have a source of good quality reeds. If they are bought from a store, possibly you do not, and that can be a major problem right from the outset. Y&ou also have to know what constitutes a good reed, and whether or not what you are using is right for you.
I encourage my students to always be on guard against unnecessary tension, some relaxation techniques.

Playing the oboe does not require a lot of air, but it does require sound strategies for breathing correctly and being able to quickly expel old or stale air ( and this is what usually makes us want to take even more air). I always teach my students to support the air from as low down as their body as they can and this is from the feet up, and a good posture needs to be acquired. The main muscles of support I get my students to concentrate on are particularly the leg muscles, and the lower abdomen, on oboe pushing upwards from the lower abdominals for speed and basic support, and from the lower sides to narrow the air stream. I am sure the diaphragm is involved but I find if more helpful to focus on those lower abdominals. It is also important when taking a breath not to raise your shoulders. I usually take my first breath according to the length of my first few phrases, and will let some air out before I start to play if I think I have taken in too much.

Best wishes on your oboe journey, but do get the guidance of a good oboe teacher.

Geoff Pearce

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 Re: Oboe Support
Author: tgenns 
Date:   2021-04-16 21:21

A couple of thoughts concerning your high note issues. As previously stated, find a good oboe teacher if at all possible. They will be able to pinpoint your problem and have a solution for you in the first lesson. If this isn’t possible, then here are a couple of my suggestions.
1) Your problem is most likely due to your reed. Check out online professional reed makers and buy a couple of student reeds from a couple of them. Try them out and see if that helps.
2) As for breathing, keep it simple. Breathe in from your stomach muscles without raising your shoulders. Most times you will not need a large breath, since oboe does not require as much air as other instruments – take medium sized or small breaths as needed. Taking in too much air all the time will make your breathing more work and labored than need be. Support the air column from your stomach muscles as much as needed for your optimal tone and pitch with your reed and oboe – this you will need to figure out for yourself, since for each person it is different. Many / most times you will need to do a quick exhale before inhaling to avoid too much air buildup in your lungs – this is standard oboe breathing technique. For difficult breathing passages, map out ahead of time where and how much you are going to exhale / inhale.
3) As for unnecessary tension in your body / mind, check out relaxation / meditation techniques that may help. There is a lot of information about this on the web. I meditate occasionally and find that it helps me become aware of unnecessary tension when it is happening and then relaxing as necessary. Although I have not tried it, the Alexander Technique is very popular with performing musicians for learning to relax and perform more freely without unnecessary tension.

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 Re: Oboe Support
Author: EaubeauHorn 
Date:   2021-05-14 23:51

I'm also not sure why you are talking about air speed; to me it is air pressure, not speed. I play all the brass, and you want air speed on trumpet. On tuba you want a thick column of air which is dramatically different from the fast air you need on trumpet. On oboe, although I am an amateur, I get a decent sound but I have those really developed abs from many years playing brass; I just blow hard, but not much air moves. It can't....look at the opening on the reed!! And since you asked, my stomach muscles are pushing out, not pulling in. That was taught to me by a horn teacher for high range on the horn, which requires air pressure too because the opening between the lips is smaller the higher you go.

My oboe teacher said I had a natural high range (I am not bragging.) All I can say is that to play that 3rd octave, I do with my throat what I would do to try to sing that pitch and it just worked. So I appear to be "hugely lucky." So for that ultra high E or F or whatever, try to sing up that high and note what your throat is doing. For me, that worked. And....the higher the pitch, the more reed inside the mouth, according to my teacher. He was able to tell me just a few really important things and I had the whole range. Teachers that good are RARE.

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