I have my students use a tuner. One thing about oboe; you can really manipulate pitch. So students need to check in on occasion to see just where they are. (Generally students are sharp, although I’ve had a few who were pretty darn flat.) I also have students do long tones on A-440 with a tuner. We have to tune an orchestra to an A, and I think getting that A firmly ingrained in one’s ear is a good thing.

But here’s the thing: some students use a tuner, but forget to look at the name of the note the tuner is hearing. They think they are flat because the tuner needle is a bit on the low side and they bite to get themselves higher, and actually wind up lipping the pitch up to an A sharp! So students, do be sure and verify that what you are playing is being heard as an A!

If pitch is wrong, it’s either your embouchure, your reed, or your oboe. So check those out. Yes? If it’s embouchure, you may be pulling the corners of your lips back rather than thinking “ooh” (or ü — “umlaut u” as I call it). You also might be taking in too much reed. (I don’t like to swallow the reed, although I know some who do. This is something you can play around with a bit to see what works for you. I also like a flat chin, not a “orange peel” chin.) If it’s your reed (crow it … is it crowing Cs?) and you can’t take anything off of it you’re sunk. Did you make the reed long enough (mine are generally 70mm)? Are you using 47 mm staples? If it’s your oboe, and it’s just ridiculously sharp, you’re probably sunk there too.

But I also want to stress something else about pitch. I suggest these policies:

  • When playing at home, be true to the reed. This means that you don’t alter your embouchure (if you know it is correct, so this is for more knowledgeable students, of course) to get that needle in the right position.
  • During lessons, continue to be true to the reed as well. But of course have a reed that is in tune! <
  • When playing in a group, be true to the pitch. You have to play with the proper pitch. This means you may have to manipulate your embouchure in order to keep the pitch correctly. Obviously this isn’t a great thing to do, so really … get reeds that are in tune! Get that embouchure figured out! (And oboe position might change things a bit too … play around with that. I prefer my oboe to be rather close to my knees when I’m sitting — and keep that head up! — it’s as if there are magnets in my knees and they are keeping the oboe somewhat close. I know other oboists don’t agree with that, so take that as you will.)

If you aren’t at a level to really know for sure if your reed is in tune, have your teacher check your reed. If you are a student oboist and don’t have a teacher, get a teacher. And make sure the teacher is an oboe player. Preferably one who will make you learn left F when you are learning your B flat major scale. ;-)

I can’t tell you how many times I have to correct new students due to some misinformation. (A simple word for “teaching the wrong things”.)

So here, for you to read, are some suggestions from yours truly. And yes, I suspect some oboists might disagree with me. But this is my site!

When teaching the alternate fingering for F, please teach left F if the student has the left F on his or her oboe when the right hand fourth finger is occupied before of after the F. Really. Why teach forked F (and with the E flat key, doggone it!) and then make the student learn the left F later. It’s just silly.

Obviously in the instance a forked F is the only possibility please don’t have the student use an E flat on the forked F.

Please teach the students to the use of the half hole, bottom octave key and side octave key. I can’t tell you how many students arrive not knowing which is used when, and some students seem to think you can switch it all around at their whim.

Please don’t skip over pages of the Rubank or Gekeler. They are in order for a reason. Having a student begin in the middle of the books means some things may be missed.

Please explain to the students that the Rubank and Gekeler fingering charts aren’t perfect.

Please don’t let students write the name of the notes over every single note. What a silly thing to do. If you want to quiz them, do that separately from their lesson book.

I realize some teachers don’t mind if a student uses both octave keys when only the side octave key is necessary, but doesn’t it seem like an extra movement when it isn’t necessary. Ask you student to play octave As and watch as their thumb moves to that unnecessary bottom octave key. How silly is that?

If the notes aren’t slurred, don’t let them slur. If they notes are slurred, please have them slur. I can’t tell you how many students ignore articulation and make it up as they’d like.

Yeah, I’m just a bit frustrated sometimes. I hate having to break the news to students that they have learned things so incorrectly. They are frustrated too, then, and that’s no fun.

I know I’m not perfect. I’m guessing some teachers who take over my students and find errors in my teaching methods too. Please let me know when I do that. And if you disagree with any of what I wrote above, you can certainly tell me. But I still stick to my thoughts. :-)

12. September 2008 · Comments Off · Categories: YTQ

my oboe teacher would have a field day correcting ur mouth position…my teacher could die…her breath smells funny too lol ….well watever ::eye roll::

12. September 2008 · Comments Off · Categories: Ramble

… it never leaves your identity.

Former professional oboist Sarah Bloom said she has a pretty good view of the large, white oil tanks at the Sprague Oil facility on the Fore River from her home in South Portland, so she’s hoping whichever proposal is selected for the Maine Center for Creativity’s “Art All Around” project is something she won’t mind seeing every day.

Yes, I’d posted about Sara Bloom before. Now she’s a finalist. I don’t think she was when I blogged earlier.

Hmmm. I decide to google “former oboist” because, already being as slothful as possible (sleeping in until 9:12 AM … yikes!), I may as well continue with this …

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Bill Bennett is a former oboist.

And …

The family is going to meet my uncle’s fiancée this evening. She’s a former oboist with the New York Philharmonic and now writes for the New York Times. I feel like it could be a scene out of some horrible modernization of a Jane Austen novel.

This was too funny! I know who this blogger is writing of, too. (This was back in 2005.)

Levine lives with his closest friend, Sue Thompson, a former oboist whom he met in 1967.

And …

There are a lot of oboes and string on this disc, and being a former oboist, I am electrified as I hear that instruments mellow honk!

Would a decent former oboist ever use the word “honk”? Hmmm.

There are also a number of former oboists (and current ones too) who conduct. (Yes, I could start a list, but I think it’s about time for my latté.) I think former oboist conductors is a good idea. Oboists are the first to know that “hand in the face” can be detrimental, along with “glare because I fear you might miss the attack” so I would hope these conductors don’t do HitF™ or GbIFYmmtA™ at all or at least not too much.

But the best of all is actually from a movie. Anyone heard of this?:

“Boss of the Ballet,” an absurdist caper film that seems to change in style and intention every few minutes, is the tale of two sanitation workers — a former oboist and a former ballet student — who decide to collaborate on a show. But before they can begin, the oboist must retrieve his musical instrument, which his wife gave to a neighbor. Instead of simply asking for it back, they decide to reclaim it in a ludicrously elaborate burglary.

12. September 2008 · Comments Off · Categories: Ramble

I just read of the death of oboist Matthew Peaceman. He was only 52. I didn’t know him personally, but he had been on oboe discussion lists I also participated in.

Very sad news.

Matthew Peaceman’s website
Tribute to Mr. Peaceman