Students may start directly on the oboe or may transfer from another instrument. However, prior experience on piano or another instrument is a great advantage. The student who already has a basic knowledge of rhythm and notation is better able to concentrate on the specific problems of the oboe and the reed.
The hand positions do not require a large stretch. The embouchure can adapt to both small and large lips. Larger lips seem to adopt more easily than thin lips. Many students make good progress even with braces on their teeth.
When a student is in late elementary or junior high school, it is an ideal time for them to start the oboe. It is important that the student be mature enough to handle both the instrument and the reed with care. Careful handling of the reed is basic, or both the student and the teacher will be continually frustrated!
Assembly of the oboe
- Cradle the upper joint in left hand.
- Place right thumb on the E key of the second joint. Carefully maneuver the two parts together, gently pushing in a clockwise direction until the bridge mechanism is properly aligned.
- Hold the lower end of the lower joint in your left hand. Place your right thumb on the bell key. Push and twist the bell into the lower joint.
Care of the oboe
Always soak the reed while putting the oboe together (see section Soaking the Reed).
Cradle the upper joint in the left hand. Place the right thumb on the E key of the second joint and carefully maneuver the two parts together, gently pushing in a clockwise direction until the bridge mechanism is properly aligned. Be careful not to bump the “arm” above the F # key.
Place the right thumb on the bell key. This holds it up and out of the way while pushing and twisting the bell into the lower joint. Left-handed people should reverse hands in the assembly procedures.
The reed is put in last. It will work best when pushed all the way to the stopping shoulder.
When putting the oboe away, put the reed into the reed case first. To separate the oboe, reverse the assembly procedures. Always clean out the oboe with a soft cloth swab, a Fox silk swab or a turkey feather. If using a swab, be sure to drop the weight into the large end of the upper joint. A Fox silk swab should be pulled all the way through the upper joint, but if a soft cloth swab is used, it should be pulled until slightly snug and then removed from the large end. It is extremely important to avoid wedging a cloth swab in the small end of the upper joint.
Never subject the wooden oboe to any extremes of temperature. To reduce the chance of cracking the body, the instrument should be allowed to warm up to room temperature before playing it. To prevent dust and lint from settling into the mechanism, it is important to frequently dust the mechanism. A soft watercolor brush is ideal for this. The joints of the key mechanism should be oiled every few months. A capillary oiler works very well. However, too much oil is worse than none at all. Too much oil can cause the pads to stick. If the joints are too tight, use a little cork grease to make it assemble more easily.