There are some habits I have to get students to break when they come from other teachers. Maybe I’m crazy; maybe these things aren’t a big issue to some of you, but here are some of my pet peeves:

Order of F: regular fingering, then left, and finally forked. Sure, it makes sense to choose forked before left in some instances, but I think it’s best for students to get used to the left F first. Really.

I’m getting quite weary of students using the E flat key with forked F. Does this not annoy anyone else out there? If the oboe the student is using an oboe without the F resonance key I say just deal for now; if they continue with oboe they’ll most certainly get a better oboe soon, and breaking the E flat key habit is a problem. (I speak from my own experience!)

In addition, I really prefer that students learn to get off the bottom octave key when they move to the side. Sure, they don’t have to, but I can’t tell you how many students seem to think they have to hit both keys in order to play the notes above G#. This means that if they are moving from a lower note to a bottom octave key note, they add both octave keys; this involves unnecessary movement. Once a student understands just when they need the bottom octave and when they need the side then they can hang on to the bottom one if they are playing something so fast that it’s the best thing to do. (I don’t find the need to do this at all, actually.)

Finally … no sliding! Teach left E flat. Don’t let them slide. Pretty please? 🙂

Feel free to disagree with me … leave a comment and let me know! And add to these as well. I’d like to hear what pet peeves you have!


  1. Oh dear. I honestly didn’t know the bottom octave key wasn’t needed when you use the side one… I’m going to try that now :p
    I’ve only been using the side octave key for about half a year, I recently switched from a full-automatic Loree to a semi-automatic Marigaux.
    My teacher did well on all other parts you mentioned, though 😉

    And wow, it really is working! When I look at the mechanism now, I wonder, why didn’t I notice that before?

  2. …and yet there are times one just must slide, even with an articulated C setup – yay for nose grease!

    Say, why is it that saxomaphones have those roller-thingies and we don’t?

  3. How fun to hear that what I blogged actually caused you to figure that out. Thanks for letting me know! 🙂

  4. I’ve wondered that myself, Tim. I think some people have added rollers … I have this vague recollection of hearing that somewhere.

    But I could be making it up. I do that a lot.

  5. in theory I agree with all you said, except on sliding – for me, there are occasions where it just plain works better for me. However, I would NEVER teach anybody that… let them learn how to cheat on their own!