Skip to main content

A Clean Success

On the whole, I would call my first Oboe Reed Boot Camp a smashing success.  On Friday, the last day, we did time trials, and the first playable reed emerged in fourteen minutes.  That’s from soaked, shaped cane to a functioning reed, by a person who had never made one before that Monday.  The slowest took about 28 minutes, which still seemed pretty great.

On Tuesday, Day Two,  we had worked with bars of Ivory soap, to simulate the feeling of carving out the tip.  It’s not exactly like a scrape, more like a cut, and the soap is soft enough to make it easy, so we worked for a while to get the feel of that slicing gesture before we went back to our cane. 

Today, after the long week of ORBC and four intense days of IDRS I was unpacking my bags of equipment.  I came up with six bars of extremely beat-up Ivory, and decided to move them into the bathtub for use, because I am frugal like that.  Steve saw me transporting my load, and inquired.

Me:  Well, it’s soap that we used for the Oboe Reed Boot Camp. 

He: [pause] You used soap at your Reed Camp?

Me: Yes, it helped with some of the early lessons.

He:  [pause] Hygiene?  As in, Lesson One: High school students can be stinky?  Please bathe before entering the room?  Here is some soap…


Popular posts from this blog


When my students get too MOUTHY with the oboe, I put them in a corner.


They tend to play the oboe only from the TOP of their body, north of the collarbone, and it winds up unsupported.  Fussy.  Weak.  And out of tune.

So I back them into a corner, and have them stand a foot or so out from it, facing out into the room.  And I challenge them to find a sound that resonates BEHIND them, out from the corner of the room that they are not facing, to fill the space without blowing directly into the space.

It's a weird metaphor.  I wouldn't have any idea how to describe the physical technique to do it. When I find it in myself, it feels like my back is puffy and my body is round, and large, and barrel like, and also collected and zipped up, and supremely powerful.  If you know me, you know that these statements about my body aren't remotely true.  But that's what I feel when I'm blowing well, and filling the room, and owning my resonance.

I teach resonance.  I talk …

Five Minute Reedmaker: Length of the Windows

My Five Minute Reedmaker Season Two seems to be largely about experiments.  People ask me how LONG, how THICK, how SLOPED, etc - and I'm running the experiments for them and for you.

I've been posting these videos on YouTube, and sharing them from my Facebook Page, but haven't totally kept up with sharing here on my blog.

Here are the ones you may have missed:
Length of the Heart
Fallacy of the Long Tip
Moldy Cane

And here's the new one:

Here's the YouTube playlist with all of my other Five Minute Reedmaker videos.  You could subscribe right there if you wanted to - I'm dropping a video each week until I run out of ideas this season.
Here's my website, where you can order reeds or cane or ask me questions.  Questions will keep these videos flowing! 

Here's how you can send me your own reeds to analyze and improve on video for your learning pleasure!

Never Trust an Oboe, Part 2

(Part One HERE)
(Similar story HERE)

Mercifully, THIS one didn't happen to me.  But my poor student was playing an audition for his orchestra, and reached up with his right hand to turn the page of his music.  And heard a "plink".  And when, a split second later, he returned his hand to his oboe to continue playing, he found that his entire thumb rest had fallen off onto the floor, leaving only the post it had been mounted to.

With his hand now contorted uncomfortably, he finished the audition - ably, I am sure - and tracked down the crucial little piece of metal.  Evidently the screw that secures the adjustable thumb rest into its most optimal position had come out - never to be found again - so the thumb rest itself now can escape at will.

He devised a workaround - teflon tape to keep the thing in - but let this be a lesson to all of us.

Seriously, the oboe is not your friend.  It's like a cat trying to slip out the door - it's just WAITING for an opportunity …