Help a bassoonist teaching oboe!!!

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Home Forums Pedagogy Teaching – General: Solutions, Question, Tips Help a bassoonist teaching oboe!!!

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    Alexis Janners

    I am a university senior bassoon/piano performance major. I have been hired by some local high schools and a junior high to be their “Double reed instructor”. They hired me through recommendations from one of my professors and some other band directors.

    This is wonderful except I am a bassoonist, not an oboist, and I have to teach 3 junior high oboe players and a couple of high school oboists as well. While I know the basics of the oboe, I am a little uncomfortable with this task. I realize the outside world believes oddly enough that all double reeds should be exactly the same, so they are not going to hire 2 separate teachers.

    Are there some resources that anyone could recommend (books, even videos, etc) that will help me IF we get past “the basics”? When I say the basics, I mean embouchure, but also tuning, nice tone, etc, and I’m even supposed to teach bit of theory. The biggest thing is that I don’t know anything about oboe reeds, except they’re really small!!!

    Thanks for any advice you can give.

    Alexis Janners.

    Louise Hillery

    I hope this doesn’t sound rude, because I don’t mean it that way. But one of your options might be to say, “No, I don’t teach oboe.” Then help them locate someone who does.

    Lynn Hansen

    Alexis, I am an oboist (and a former public school band conductor) who views teaching bassoon much the same as you are feeling about teaching oboe. Fortunately, I was usually in the situation where teaching the fundamentals–including reading music, counting, etc.–was really essential, leaving little time for any advanced techniques. If you are comfortable with the basics of the oboe embouchure, breath support, hand positions and fingerings, you will make a huge contribution to most students. I would encourage you to identify a good source of reeds for your students, learn some often-used oboe reed adjustments techniques to keep their reeds alive, and be ready to refer the advanced students to a private lesson teacher. I’ll try to post again in a few days with some info on oboe fundamentals videos and other resource materials. Chin up, this could be quite a fulfilling adventure!

    Gene Carter

    Alexis…I have alternated between bassoon and oboe at various points in my life and would view your new responsibility as a great opportunity to gain a better knowledge of the oboe. First, I hope you have a reasonably good oboe to use as you teach your new students. The oboe is much more finicky than the bassoon as far as its adjustment and playability goes and I thinks its essential that you have an instrument that plays well.

    Secondly, locate a reliable source for good reeds for yourself. There are a lot of poor reeds out there and you will need reeds that play for you so you can work effectively with your students. David weber makes an excellent reed although I don’t know if he is accepting orders from new clients. Pat McFarland also makes good reeds as do many other professional players. Don’t rely on the commercial reeds sold by most music stores.

    Get the Barrett method book…it is the standard oboe bible for most and a good place for you and your students to start.

    Finally, make friends with the oboe players at school; but them a couple of drinks. Then pick their brains for suggestions and ideas.

    You’re confronted with a bit of a challenge but I think its also a great opportunity/

    Darlene Vandewater

    I would pick their brains first and THEN buy a couple drinks! Haha!

    Seriously—I think you may run into some trouble w/ the high school oboists if you can’t help them with their reeds. Even the junior high oboists will need to have tinkering done to their reeds, no matter how well-made they are. One reed does NOT fit all; I buy my reeds from very good reedmakers, and still have to make adjustments to get them “just so”, and in a lot of cases, just to get them to be playable for me. I’m not a bassoonist, but from what I’ve observed, bassoon reeds are not as intricate as oboe reeds. I would suggest getting the Reedmaking Manual by Weber & Capps (available at Midwest Music, among other places)–and then start experimenting with reeds yourself before you have to do it for your students.

    I think you would be OK with the other issues such as support, breathing, embouchure, etc…. but the reed issue is going to be where you might run into some problems, in my opinion.

    Marsha Burkett

    With regards to a bassoonist teaching oboe, I would check out Martin Schuring’s website:


    Claire Binkley

    Good luck in your teaching!! One of the best ways to learn something well is to teach it, so it looks like you’re in for quite a bit of an oboe education.

    My first private teacher of oboe was a bassoonist too. She did a *lot* of theory work with me. Though most of the major bad habits I had with playing oboe weren’t resolved until I got an actual oboe professor, she was still able to help in at least that part of my music ed. You still have something to offer those oboe students.

    I’m sure if an oboe-related question comes up when you’re teaching, you can just tell your students something to the effect of, “I’m not sure, but let me check with my oboist friends and answer that the next lesson,” and then ask the question here.

    Patricia Emerson Mitchell

    Watch out for the fingerings issue! If you read the “Welcome” posts from here, you’ll immediately see some of the problems; those beginning books don’t have the correct fingerings in them!

    I’d be happy to be “on call” for you at any time if you have questions. I’m often on IM (patioboe) and I’m an email addict (sad, but true fact: if I don’t answer in less than a few hours I sometimes get phone calls asking me if I’m okay!)

    I have a lot of links to oboe sites at oboeinsight that might help as well.

    (I’d be scared to death to take on bassoon students! Hope all goes well for you.)

    Lori Olson-Putz


    I play both the oboe and the bassoon and your first comment is right. They are both double reeds but not the same. I use a number of suppliers for oboe reeds as I just don’t make them for students due to time restraints. I do make bassoon reeds as my son is also a bassoonist, so my kids get those reeds. My suppliers are from Nielson, Stellar Reeds (oboe.net), and a site on ebay that I tried and liked called SquealyDan. The later reeds are made for him by college students and do need a bit of tinkering at times. If you are working with MS oboists, there are a few of major points that you can introduce. 1) Using a tuner to understand their scale 2) The couple of double fingerings (F for example) and when to you use it,articulation, and tone. For this later point, I use the imagery of a golfball inside the mouth to get them to stop the “smile” approach and open up. I still use the old Geckler books as I really like the slower sections to work with good tone production.

    Finally, and it may seem silly to someone who is dedicated to the instrument, but I spend time on care of the instrument and reeds. I start all my kids with three good reeds and a reed case, a film case for water, and good swabs for the instrument. I explain that they NEVER put the instrument away with swabing it out. Reeds ALWAYS are soaked in tepid water (at first anyway) and that rotating the reeds and drying them thoroughly will extend their productivity. When one reed starts to wear down, they MUST tell me so that they don’t find themselves down to one and in a bind.

    Check over the oboes and make sure they have these items and ask the director how you can get them if they don’t. Even if their early instruments are junk, they learn to care for them and later on this will help them with the good ones.

    You also may ask me anything for help. I see quite a bit on my various school travels.

    Ashley Rollins

    Covey oboes and Oxford oboes sell good reeds, but the price tag tends to scare new students.

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