I came across this site that begins:

Place the double reed in the mouth for a few minutes. Soaking oboe reeds in water is not advisable since they may warp when they are dry.

Oh PLEASE! That’s simply not good advice. All you do is take a reed, dip it in a bit of water (many oboists use an old plastic film container; I use a shot glass most of the time since it forces me to empty the water all the time, and I can see if the water is grungy), and set it back in your reed case. In a few minutes it’s ready to go. Putting it in your (not so clean no matter how you brush!) mouth means it IS sitting in “water” (saliva) for that entire time. It wears out the reed more. You are introducing more than just water to the reed. And it’s just not the right thing to do.

The page also includes this bit ‘o information:

The tip of the tongue is used as a valve to start and stop the flow of air.

Um. No. We do not stop the tone with our tongue. (There are instances where we break that rule, but I’m talking generally here.)

This is a school site. I really hope the oboe students at the school have private instructors who know better.

(The oboe picture cracked me up too; it makes it look as if the oboe is a very tiny instrument! See what I mean?)


  1. Hey, not on topic, but I wanted to say that I just had the chance to
    listen to the podcast of the Lorraine Hunt Lieberson memorial that NPR
    did. It was nice to hear your comments. I lived near Boston for a
    couple of years and I became close to a number of the folks who played
    Bach with Craig Smith at Emmanuel, including Peggy Pearson. It was very
    touching to hear Lorraine and Peggy performing together on the
    recording they played.

    She must have been an amazing person to know.

  2. Patricia Mitchell

    I do wish I had known her better. Mine was more of a “gaze from a distance and be envious” thing when I was younger, and then, when she returned, I was just in awe. I do remember, though, her sense of humor and this twinkle in her eye.

    And that voice … sigh ….

    I enjoyed hearing Peggy Pearson speak about her. (And I love her oboe playing on the CD I own!)

  3. Hi Patty —


    I use washed medicine vials for my “portable” reed water (I have a bunch, because I have to take amoxicillin before dental work). I used to use one at home, too, until I discovered that, as you said, I was fudging on keeping it clean. Now I have one of the clear plastic cups that fastens onto my stand — and I do refresh it daily, since I can see whatever is floating around in it (yuck!).

    I also like it that the little cup clips to my stand — I knock it over a whole lot less that way.


  4. Patricia Mitchell

    I think I should make a point of putting some tap water in one of those film containers and let it sit for a few days … then I’ll show it to my students and their parents. That’ll probably cure them of using those things! (I DO tell them to change the water every time they open it up.)

    I used to have something that attached to my stand too. Now I always use my tray when I play in the pit and no one seems to knock that over.

    I also use our filtered water for my reeds. Anything to try and get them to last longer! (I HATE making reeds. Can you tell?)

  5. I just read more from that site…sigh. I’m giving a seminar to band directors on the oboe next May, and I think I’ll mainly try and disspell myths. There are so many band methods with inaccuracies that it’s basically damage control when we see those students in private lessons and clinics.

  6. Patricia Mitchell

    Isn’t it sad? Where, I wonder, do these directors get their information? Sigh. Maybe some is from the books that I use. Could it be?!

    Of course the first thing I have to do when I work with students using either the Rubank or Gekeler books is to go through and cross things out. (Both books aren’t aware of left F, for one thing. Some books still have a student fingering forked F with the E-flat key.) Gekeler has information about rhythms (adding eighth or sixteenth rests with certain dotted rhythms, for instance) that drives me nuts!

    I’ve thought about writing a book myself, and having students use that. I just need to be more disciplined and hop to it!

    I’m curious, Jillian … what books do you use? Perhaps I should be using something else?

  7. I’ve never been strict about what books students use, unless they’re raw beginners, in which case I actually really like Gekeler. I do the same thing you do, with crossing out things…that E-flat key drives me nuts, but of course there are still many school board instruments that don’t have F-resonance, so the E-flat can help. Any oboe with a left F is good enough to have that forked F-resonance, but many don’t have left Fs at all. Typically if a student is young enough and only has a school board instrument of that quality, the Gekeler is great. I don’t remember that thing about the rests in dotted rhythms. I’ll have to look at it again.

    Boo, no Rubank! I make them switch to Gekeler.

    I use Barret after the Gekeler, or for students who don’t need the Gekeler beginning. I like the original, and it’s fun from a historical perspective to show students different notations. If they use that instead of the modern edition though, it’s important for students to have a good fingering chart like Schuring’s.

    I’ve also developed my own pedagogy binder with hand-outs of exercises I’ve found particularly useful over the years. I also use various technical exercise books like Tustin and Vade Mecum, and etudes like the Ferling.

    I’ve heard good things about the Edlefsen method book, but I haven’t used it.

  8. Patricia Mitchell

    Because I learned oboe with no left F I’m really a stickler for it now, and even have my newbies get an oboe with one at least by their 3rd month. To this day I struggle with left F, and I want to use the E-flat key with forked sometimes. (I don’t let anyone use the E-flat key, even if they don’t have the F resonance key, since I know they’ll have to get a better oboe by month 4.)

    Hmmm. I know a lot of people don’t like the Rubank. I actually use it; it moves more slowly than the Gekeler and for my young’uns it works fine. (With my changes, of course.) When they progress enough, we add Gekeler into the mix. I must admit, though, that I with Gekeler hadn’t taken the Barret duets! I like doing those with my students, and it’s annoying that the second part isn’t there. (I use the Hite edition because I’m so bad at reading bass clef unless my hands are on a piano!)

    I think I’ll check out the Edlefsen … once I start making better money, that is. (Rotten summer. Sigh.)

    Btw, I tried that “win an oboe” link at your site (using my PO Box #) and it turns out you DO have to sign up for three things when you reach the final page of their survey. No can do. (I was just so curious how the whole thing worked.) But how odd to have an oboe be a prize!

  9. Good to know about the oboe prize link. I knew it! Those stinkers.