There’s no way around it—if you’re going to be a serious oboist, you have to learn to make your own reeds. Even fine handmade reeds purchased from an excellent reedmaker can’t compete with reeds made to your own personal specifications, suited to your highly individual combination of embouchure, instrument, playing style, and performance situation. A reed is in a constant state of change, from initial scraping until eventual retirement, and needs the daily ministrations of a skilled reedmaker to keep it playing at its best.
Woodwind doublers who take up the oboe as a secondary instrument will need to learn at least basic reed adjustment techniques in order to have reeds they can count on in professional situations. But if you’re going to learn the mysteries of fine-tuning “finished” reeds, you’re most of the way toward learning the whole process—consider at least learning to tie blanks from cane that you purchase already gouged and shaped. Starting from tube cane gives you even more control over the finished product, but requires the use of gouging and shaping equipment ($1200+, all told).
There’s no real substitute for learning reedmaking at the feet of a skilled oboe teacher, but here are some of my hand-picked favorite guides and tutorials online. These can serve as a good introduction for a beginner, and more experienced reedmakers may like to cull a few new ideas from the wide variety of opinions and approaches represented here. Continue reading “Oboe reedmaking resources”→
For several years, I’ve maintained what I believe to be a fairly comprehensive list of woodwind doublers’ homepages. I’ve been scouring the web lately for the homepages of woodwind players of all kinds, and have put together several new lists from what I’ve found. Now you can browse lists of:
I often get email from people who are considering pursuing a college or conservatory degree in multiple woodwinds. Now that I’ve completed two of them myself, here are a few thoughts.
If you want to enter a multiple woodwinds degree program, you should already have at least a basic technical command of each instrument to be included on the degree. This really should include a background of good private instruction on each instrument. In my experience, self-taught players on any instrument are rarely very well prepared for the rigors of college-level study.
Bachelor’s-level programs are rare, and I think that’s with good reason. For most woodwind players, I think, diving right into college-level study of three or more instruments is ill-advised. You will do much better to spend those years focusing on your strongest instrument, developing your musicianship, learning good practicing techniques, and hopefully racking up some achievements like contest awards or high placement in top university ensembles. All of those things benefited me very much (my bachelor’s degree is in saxophone performance), and it’s likely I wouldn’t have been able to achieve as much if I had been dividing my practice hours between multiple instruments (plus completing music coursework AND general education coursework). Continue reading “More thoughts on multiple woodwinds degrees”→
In order to try to keep things tidy around here, I’ve reorganized the site a bit (again). One thing that happened was that the old “articles” section disappeared and some of the old articles have turned retroactively into blog posts. The official start of the blog was May of 2008, but some of my old stuff (going back to 2001) can now be found there.