10. May 2011 · 4 comments · Categories: Grumble

I have a student who says he isn’t allowed to swab his oboe during performances. (It might even be that he can’t swab during rehearsals … I’m not sure!) His band director got angry with him when he tried to blow water out of a key. My initial reaction is to say, “Quit that band!” but instead I said, “the next time you get water in a key be sure to play boldly!”

Dear, dear band directors. I know you want a disciplined group. I know many of you like the military look and want everyone to sit perfectly still when not playing. I know we don’t see eye to eye on a lot of things. But can’t you please let my students swab their oboes when they have enough measures of rest to do so? I would greatly appreciate it.

Thank you.


  1. I am at a loss as to conductors thinking that they run a military school when at the podium. Oboes, bassons and other wind instruments do get spit in their systems. No player wants to sound like he is playing a water instrument. To prevent the swabbing of an instrument is the height of stupidity.

  2. I’ve always assumed the military thing comes from bands being part of the military for eons. But who knows? In any case it’s ridiculous! Thanks for commenting! (Have we met?) 🙂

  3. Wow. Just wow. I’m not a director, but have heard random stories in the past about these types of situations (one band director laminated all the parts…). Does he let the brass players empty their spit valves? Maybe he’s afraid of an oboe swab getting stuck? I’m curious what instrument the director plays.

    As a clarinetist, there’s no way I would go on stage without my reed case and swab, sometimes a screwdriver as well (the tool, not the drink ;).

  4. PS We really like to call it condensation instead. 😉

  5. Pingback: I Wonder If THESE Guys Are Allowed To Swab?! | oboeinsight