How to Begin to Play the Oboe

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The oboe is considered one of the most difficult instruments to play, but with the proper posture, breathing and blowing techniques, you can learn to express the audible nature of this member of the woodwind family.

Posture

  • Keep your back straight with your shoulders above your hips and head above your shoulders.

  • Keep you feet flat on the floor.

  • Bring the oboe to you. Do not lean forward to the oboe.

  • Hold the oboe at about a 45-degree angle to the body. Keep your shoulders at a relaxed position and elbows 4 to 6 inches away from the sides of your body.

Hand Placement

  • Place your left hand on the top joint (10 or 11 holes) of the oboe with a straightened wrist and your palm pointed away from the oboe.

  • Use the first finger of your left hand as a hinge on the half hole.

  • Slide the fingers of your right hand along the bottom joint, which has 10 holes.

Breathing

  • Breathe as deeply as possible from the bottom of your lungs. Your stomach should expand first, then the chest and finally the upper chest. This is to create the expansion in the upper body that will ultimately help you to blow properly.

  • Repeat this exercise several times.

  • Release enough air to feel natural, but not too much.

Mouth Position

  • Pucker your lips. Do not smile.

  • Form the embouchure (use of facial muscles and shaping of lips) by securing the top of the reed near the edge of your lower lip.

  • Create muscle tension at the corners of your mouth.

Blowing

  • Steadily push inward and somewhat upward with your abdominal muscles. Tension should be felt around the belt area.

  • Repeat this exercise several times.

  • Blow more air for a louder sound and less air for a softer sound.

Tips & Warnings

  • Correct posture, breathing and blowing are crucial when playing the oboe. If you feel like you are not doing it right, stop and start over.
  • Do not propel your jaw forward. Keep it relaxed.
  • In order to achieve a successful sound, there should be as little reed in the mouth as possible and your teeth should not be close together.

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