I don't have access to a teacher as I live on a small Greek island and donít know of anyone here who plays the oboe. So I am going it alone and wondered if anyone new of a good book or guide to help with breathing and technique. Would a teacherís guide, like the teacherís book that accompanies a studentís course book, be useful?
For context: I am a piano player so the theory and musicality is not an issue. I donít need to learn how to read music having passed grade 8 piano many years ago and since been an accompanist and composer. But I have not had an oboe lesson for, oh, 30 years, since school.
Iíve recently bought an instrument which is due to arrive soon and yes, I know that buying one without trying it etc. is the wrong thing to do, but my choices are limited here.
Iím currently dabbling with my partnerís alto sax and teaching him theory and basic piano and the most obvious thing to come out of this is that my breathing is rubbish. Even though I had singing lessons a few yearsí back, from an opera singer, and know some basic exercises. Itís going to be harder to breathe with an oboe if I remember correctly.
So; any useful books on breathing and other basic techniques that anyone can recommend?
Looking forward to being a more active member of this forum and site too!
I'm not sure what you mean about right "breathing technique" but I know some good lesson books you could order and look through. Like:
1. The Gekeler Method: this is how I learned more intermediate things like keys and scales (there is also a Gekeler method 2)
2. Selected studies for Oboe By H. Voxman: Mostly just etudes, for practice after the gekeler method.
These are the only book I've used, and they've worked for me. But, then again I'm just a student, not a professional teacher, so im sorry that I couldn't help you more.
I have found it is very difficult to learn breathing technique from a book. And very few books that I have seen describe it properly. My suggestion is go to the voice section here and look at my answer to the "losing voice support". I have a good demonstrative execise that will help you greatly.
Also, If you are playing on a sax now and are going to be playing oboe be very careful and relaxed when playing and learning the oboe. Many Many Many people who go to Oboe from a single reed instrument will bite down on the reed when they get tired and/or frustrated. So don't get frustrated - enjoy your new found love of the oboe.
Here is the guidance I gave "losing air support".
First off, forget about your "diaphram muscles". Your diaphram is interior and sits between your lungs and abdominal muscles. The diaphram will do what it needs to automatically. Second don't think about supporting your tone by pushing your gut in to get the air out. Think about pushing your entire torso outwards.
Here is an execise to demonstrate what I mean. Start with your arms at your sides. Slowly raise your arms out to your side(not in front of you but to the side of you so your body makes a "T"). Now put your arms back down to your sides and raise them again, but this time have a friend hold them down to keep you from raising them. Feel the tension, the resistance? Feel the awareness of pushing your arms out and away from you?
Now sing a passage or do a siren exercise while keeping your abdominal muscles and rib cage pushing out with the same sensation you had with your arms when pushing against your friends hands.
Additionally for the oboe is your arm and hand position. Try to have a very natural slight curve to your wrists and middle hands. This will give you more stamina and help you to keep your torso full.
Thanks for the advice and tips; Iíll certainly check out those books and try that exercise. I also remember one from singing classes years ago: Taking a full breath and letting it out very slowly, with a slight hiss sound, while bringing the arms up until the finger tips touch above the head as the last of the breath is expelled. For stamina I think.
I used the two Gekeler books for oboe technique since my first instrument was the flute. Another book you could try is the Barret Method for oboe. It is the most commonly used book after the fourth or fifth year of playing oboe. It covers most advanced technique.
For the first three years that I played, I taught myself how to play the flute. In addition to reading books on the instrument, recordings also helped.
My news is that the oboe arrived yesterday and looks to be in good order Ė at least there is nothing obviously wrong with it. (Itís second hand you see.) After not playing one for 30 odd years I was able to get some notes out of it, which was a bit of a surprise, but: is it really meant to be so hard to blow?! I remember it being difficult butÖ
I will check out the links and books and start working on my technique immediately!
Try the Neiman Method for Oboe. My private teacher makes me play out of it and it is very good for technique. Also, you shouldn't need to blow so hard. You will need to start on a soft reed at first as well. If your embouchure isn't built up and you play on a reed thats too hard you won't be able to play very well and your mouth will hurt like hell.
I started playing about a week ago (and im teaching myself!)
I bought the Abracadabra Oboe book by A&C Black.
Im not sure about the breathing technique either...
Also, if anyone can help me, how can i stop myself biting on the reed (well, my lips) when i play?
I am a saxophonist which may be why i am tempter to bite the reed but when i stop playing my top lip hurts sooo much!
Good luck JamesC!
and thanks to anyone who can help me!
To stop yourself from biting the reed, stand in front of a mirror with the reed and cover the reed with your mouth as if you were drinking from a straw. Try to blow through. If your lips are too loose to blow, gently make a smaller opening with your mouth, always maintaining an O shape.
Things are improving and I am waiting for a new book to arrive, but I am working through my ĎLearn as you playí book steadily. I still find that I can only manage around half an hour before my lips get weak and the notes start to go flat, but I am trying to build on a little extra time each day. I find that my old singing lesson breathing exercise is a good way to warm me up. I do this for a couple of minutes while holding the reed in my mouth to soak it (is that a good idea, or is putting it in water better?). Anyway, also waiting for some new (softer) reeds and thoroughly enjoying my instrument. The neighbours are less inclined to go out during my practice sessions each time!
Itís good to know I am not the only beginner here Polarted! Best of luck to you.
Your neighbours can consider themselves lucky then!! It wont be long before mine move out, they got used to my squeaky saxophone playing when i first started and now they get to listen to an oboe that sounds slightly duck-like! (Fortunatley for them though its winter so i have the windows shut!)
I'm also going to get a softer reed, in the hope that it will be slightly easier to make a noise and not to bite.
Also, i think it is better to soak a reed in water for a couple of minutes and then suck the reed (im not sure though) but i never really bother (just too eager to play the oboe!!)
Lots of questions for anyone who wants to share advice:
And for anyone whoís following progress: I got some new reeds yesterday, soft reeds, as I heard they are easier for beginners. I find it much easier to blow through them but find that Iím getting an odd sound like thereís spit bubbling away inside the instrument somewhere, there is also a strange vibrating sound going on at times. The older reeds I have (which I think are medium) require more puff but donít produce these odd sounds. Perhaps I am past the soft reed stage? I also find that after a few minutes the reed feels like it is clogged up and I canít blow through it at all. What am I doing wrong? Pinching too hard maybe?
Interested to know what this bubbling noise is and why notes Ďvibrateí with a softer reed. Any ideas?
On the other hands the ten minutes of breathing exercise before a practice session is really helping Ė though I'm still taking too much breath (I reckon) as there is loads left in me when the time comes to breathe out!