Everything you need to know about getting started on the oboe.
This post contains some sponsored links from Amazon. However, I ONLY recommend products that I use in my studio.
After reviewing this quick tutorial page on getting started, please visit my resource list for specialized double reed vendors that sell supplies, new and used instruments, offer rentals, and provide specialized repair services.
It is very important to have an instrument in a healthy, functioning condition. Please contact me for information on the various options for purchasing a double reed instrument. If you are unable to work with an instructor, you may want to take your oboe to a qualified repair specialist to make sure it is in optimal playing condition.
School instruments: If your student is borrowing a school instrument and is struggling with notes, it is recommended to have the instrument checked over by a teacher or repair specialist.
Most oboes will come with a swab, however if it does not, please purchase a cotton or silk swab. Many swabs are made to be “pull through” swabs, meaning they can be inserted at the bell of the instrument and pulled through the entire horn. However, I recommend you only pull the swab just far enough to clean the moisture out of the top and then pull it back through the bell to avoid the rare occurrence of accidentally getting it suck.
Please swab out your instrument each time you play it. This will keep plastic instruments clean, and help prevent cracks in wood instruments. Always check for knots in the swab, as they can get cause the swab to get stuck.
Instruments usually come with cork grease, but if not, it can be purchased for a couple of dollars. About once a month you will want to apply a very small amount of cork greaseto the tenon corks to prevent cracking and help the instrument assemble easily. Cork grease can also be applied to the cork of a reed if you are having difficulties removing the reed from the oboe.
Please read my page on FAQ reed page for more information on reeds and reed accessories. It is very important that you invest in a small plastic reed case as plastic tubes and single cases are not meant to be used for long term use and don’t provide proper ventilation. These cases can generally be purchased for as little as $10.
For advanced students with wood instrument in dry climates, there are a variety of opinions about humidifying. Putting a humidifier in the case can help prevent cracking and prolong the life of your pads. If you choose to humidify your instrument, be sure to check the humidifier on a regular basis and keep the humidity as consistent as possible.
Warming Up Your Instrument
It is important to use your hands to gently warm up your oboe prior to playing. This will help regulate the pitch of a plastic instrument and is extremely important for wood oboes. Hot air being blown into a cold instrument may cause a wood oboe to crack. Once the instrument feels about room temperature, proceed with your regular practice routine.
It is recommended that you send your oboe to a qualified repair specialist once a year for annual maintenance. These appointments will include a full cleaning and overhaul of your instrument to check for leaking pads, bent rods, clogged tone holes, and screw adjustments.
You may put a small amount of key oil on the moving parts of the rods and screws every few months in-between annual repairs.
Some oboists use a polishing cloth to wipe down they keys each time they play to keep the silver from varnishing.
It is a good idea to purchase ungummed cigarette paper locally or from an online double reed vendor to remove water in your keys if you start to get a gurgling sound. Gently place the paper under the key and allow it to absorb excess water; do not pull on the paper as it will rip and become trapped under the pad.
If your oboe starts to feel difficult to play please talk to your instructor. Oboes will go out of adjustment on occasion. Lessons include regular adjustments, but if your oboe does not come with an adjusting screwdriver it is recommended advanced players purchase one. You may also want to buy a spring hook to put springs back into place in case they become dislocated.