I’ve had students come to me with some major problems. Sometimes it’s fingering issues, and sometimes embouchure. Sometimes it’s even basic things like, “Oh, I’m supposed to dip my reed in water?!”

Please, please, please … study with an oboist! Study with someone who is actually playing the darn instrument, not someone who used to play it in college. Study with someone who plays for you (and with you), so you can hear that the person actually knows how to play. I don’t care if a lesser quality oboe teacher lives closer to you; you are doing yourself a great disservice if you learn incorrectly. It’s difficult to break habits you learn when you begin the instrument.

One easy “instructor check”: Do you know left F? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, and you are playing in the key of Bb (two flats: Bb and Eb) email me. :-)

(And to you oboe instructors out there: yes, I’m picky about left F. Because I didn’t have it for far too long and I can’t tell you the amount of time it took me to break the forked F … WITH the Eb key! … habit. I give students 3 months or less to find a different oboe if they come to the first lesson with no left F key. I’m tough that way.)

Need a teacher recommendation? Check out your local college. Or contact me. I might be able to help. And I do have a list of instructors in the USA although it’s far too small. (I can’t call these recommendations for the most part, although I can highly recommend the few I’ve met. Just ask!)


  1. Since I moved to Gainesville FL and started teaching almost all of my young students have come to me not even knowing there was any F but forked F. Since most of them still have their Yamaha 221 instruments and have only been playing for a few months I can live with forked Fs but I actually have their band directors telling them that the standard F is the wrong fingering. it is a major uphill battle at this point! I have band directors telling the oboists to buy plastic reeds! It took me nearly 30 minutes to convince a mother of one of my students that her daughter might as well practice her oboe without a reed at all. I can only hope one day my teaching studio is as strong as yours and I can work with an entire lot of Left F’ers :) For now I feel blessed if they walk in knowing the left hand goes on top!

  2. I will only teach a student for one month with an oboe that is missing the left F. Even that is too long, because the forked F habit is a bear to unlearn if it’s taught as the first or even second F.