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 Worst Double Ever
Author: OboePrince 
Date:   2015-04-30 09:17

So, in a lesson with my oboe teacher, I discussed with him picking up the flute again as a second study. Flute was my principal instrument for years, I was very good, and it was very easy. I always made all state, I once made principal: This was not so on oboe. It took me a lot longer to get oboe than flute or clarinet. It's just a lot harder. Not to mention a "good enough" oboe is still a couple thousand dollars. They just aren't like other woodwinds. So oboe is primary now, but I miss flute so I talked about picking up my flute again to be met with,

"That is the worst instrument you could even think about going back to. If it were any other instrument... I won't even teach you lessons."

Initially I thought this was a very strong reaction. I understand that my breathing is still too much like flute (too large a breath) but, that's it, right? I can reallocate my brain that this is just a different horn.

So, I pick my flute back up, and my oboe chops are the best they've ever been right? I can play probably 3-4 hours in a day now. I get out my flute (and trust me, it's not for rustiness, I don't get rusty. I played clarinet on a concert over the summer, and I haven't played it in 8 years, and that was my tertiary instrument) and I could not play the bottom of the first, especially with any weight, or the very top of the second (the third octave was easier) to resound; my mouth would not relax and started to go numb after nary but an hour, and I used to be able to play for 8-10 hours on the flute, it's not tiring on the mouth, my hands would just give out. And my sound was... really small, and for me that is very abnormal. I was the guy who got told he played too loud, and was always principal because if you put me in the section, I would just overplay (and generally, outplay) the principal, which is why in really good ensembles, if I was not first (and I usually sit between 2nd-4th in really good ensembles) so I always get put on piccolo, because even though I'm a touch too loud for a picc, I am so willful that I don't have any problems tuning it, and I use so much air I still have a tone on piccolo. It's weird, I've always been better at piccolo, but when it come to the color instruments of the oboe... I can't play the English horn for anything.

So, in your opinion (anyone can weigh in, but people who double these 2 would help me a lot, even though it's an odd and rare double but one of the most common switches to oboe) because playing with a more relaxed embouchure is the problem, and I don't want to start trying to relax that and undo all the oboe work I have done, at least not till I am playing 6-7 hours a day, so I don't wanna go relaxing that embouchure, but to get a really boss flute tone I would. I just kinda miss it, I don't want to dive all the way back into it. So i am gonna join the colleges lower ensemble on the flute while being in the Orchestra on Oboe. But, do you think it would be much easier for me to play piccolo? I mean, for flute, my embouchure is just very tight and small and muscular. I feel like it would be fine for piccolo, and I can't still seem to control a piccolo. I just don't want anything to hurt my oboe embouchure.

American Oboist. I currently play on a Rigoutat Riec. She is beautiful.

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 Re: Worst Double Ever
Author: concertmaster3 
Date:   2015-05-06 17:29

So a couple of things that I'm hearing...

1. It sounds like you need to find a new oboe teacher...I've been a doubler for years, but primarily an oboist. I'm finishing a doctorate in oboe performance with cognates in multiple woodwinds performance and theory pedagogy. Flute has never hurt my embouchure, and it's actually one of my strongest doubles. The last ensemble I played in at school I was sitting next to the other Doctoral student and a master's student, but flute majors.

2. Doubling is like a switch. You turn your flute embouchure on, and turn the oboe one off, and vice versa. Opening up and relaxing for flute is not going to undo your oboe playing. It should enhance it because you shouldn't be THAT tight to play oboe; firm, but not tight. The embouchures are in different places as well, flute being down and back, and oboe being more forward and "inward" (for lack of a better word at 9:00am). Learning how to quickly set up each instrument's embouchure is a skill, and one that I have my students practice when they want to learn a new instrument.

I hope this helps.

Ron Ford
Woodwind Specialist

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 Re: Worst Double Ever
Author: MikeC855 
Date:   2015-10-30 20:36

Interesting that an oboe teacher would give you grief about doubling on flute. It's usually the flute instructors that go insane over suggestions of doubling. For that I concur, flute embouchures are easily "broken" if my own experience is any indication.

My absolute worst double? French horn to piccolo. Both are very tight and fatiguing, and very "needy" in terms of control. In truth, decades of mostly playing brass has all but put an end to my flute playing, which is sad because flute is my most technically facile instrument.

Oddest but easiest? Tuba to oboe and back. The embouchures are (to me) complementary, where one relaxes overworked muscles of the other. Tuba after oboe is almost a relief.

Most fun is tuba to piccolo. Aside from the sheer goofiness of swapping extremes (I play a 5/4 tuba - i.e., very big, with a large bore), it's a hoot to torment the flute section on Stars & Stripes with the piccolo obligato suddenly emanating from the back of the ensemble.

A difficult double for me is bassoon to oboe. I tend to "chomp down" too much on the bassoon reed if I've swapped straight from oboe without a break, timbre and intonation suffering accordingly.

Managing doubles (or triples, etc.), like everything else in instrumental proficiency, is a matter of practicing the changes. As Ron suggested, it's a matter of learning the switch. When I was more generally active in different ensembles on different instruments, I had a practice routine where I would pick a piece - Mozart horn concertos work well for this - changing instruments with almost every phrase. It was also a handy exercise in transposition.

Confounding band directors since 1964.

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 Re: Worst Double Ever
Author: fromsfca 
Date:   2016-05-01 05:17

An alternative viewpoint: doubling does not permit the time to concentrate on any one instrument.

In between shows, I have to keep up chops on flute, oboe and clarinet...forget the sax. If the new show has hairy piccolo, I have to stay current on that as well.

If Eb clarinet is in the book, I forego soprano clarinet to focus on that instrument.

Finally, Dave Valentin's flute teacher told him to skip sax, it would ruin his flute embouchure. His flute teacher? Hubert Laws, an excellent sax player in his own right.

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