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I recently just got a brand new Oboe, and I'm having trouble getting my embouchure right. Please know that I just got it, so I'm still in need of much more practice. I am also a seasoned flute player who can expertly adapt his embouchure when playing the flute, but I'm not sure why that information would be relevant.

There is one primary issue that I'm experiencing that I cannot seem to find a solution for anywhere online . You see, when focusing my air into the reed, the air tends to also build up in my lips, making my lips slowly puff outwards and then weakening the grip that my lips have on the reed, which then allows it to slide further into my mouth.

Also, I am able to produce a good tone when playing in the lower register, but as I make my way into the second register, my tone gets dimmer and the volume gets lower. Especially when I get to the E flat in the second register, I can't seem to be able to play it in a good forte or fortissimo, but maybe a mezzopiano at best. I'm not sure if this has to do with my embouchure and the way that the reed is positioned in my mouth, though.

If you can provide any links to any online resources for aid with developing an Oboe embouchure, that would be much appreciated.

  • Try taking the reed out of your mouth so the tip is in the middle of your lip and relaxing your mouth. – Jacob Swanson Dec 31 '16 at 2:29
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Your breath support may be the issue, as well. This article may be helpful:

Of all the students in a beginning band program, the oboe players usually struggle the most. Even with a good reed and working instrument, without good embouchure and breath support, producing any sort of sound on the oboe is difficult at best. Perhaps the biggest mistake that beginners make is to fight the natural resistance of the instrument. When students first feel the back pressure that results from blowing through the oboe, they instinctively hunch forward, tighten up through the chest and shoulders, drop their head, clamp down on the reed and try to blow harder through the small opening in an attempt to overcome the resistance. However, this only makes the instrument harder to play.

I'm finding a lot of good info on this subject with just simple online searches for "Oboe embouchure".

Be sure to watch this to the end for the reed exercises test. Are you attempting these exercises with the same results? When it comes to practice, nothing is too trivial or elementary...

This is a 2 part blog from the same lady on embouchure.

Specifically regarding register transitions; this article:

It is exceedingly tempting for the beginner to play with a very loose embouchure in the low register (since the tones will sound, although badly) and tighten the embouchure and bite the lips together as he ascends to the upper register. The embouchure should remain very nearly the same from top to bottom of the instrument. Pitch should be controlled as much as possible by stomach muscles, diaphragm muscles and the resultant difference in air pressure. This system is most likely to produce an even tone quality from top to bottom of the instrument.

Watch for air pockets in the cheeks and lips.

A teacher must train his ear to be an accurate and rapid diagnostician of tonal ills. The exterior appearance of every embouchure will be somewhat different due to different thicknesses of lips, teeth formation, etc. By listening, however, it is possible to tell a great deal about troubles that may not be apparent to the eye. For example, too much reed in the mouth produces a characteristic ìhonkyî uncontrolled, blatant sound. Third space C will usually be very sharp, and other notes may be sharp as well. Not enough reed in the mouth gives a muffled, stuffy quality. A collapse of the ring of muscles may produce much the same result since the lip softens and spreads along the reed and to the tip, restricting the vibrations.

http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/Music/oboe2.html

http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/Music/oboe2.html

  • I have seen that exact video (along with a few others) on oboe embouchure, and they all pretty much say the same things while providing vague techniques on how to develop a good embouchure. In the video linked she describes a technique in which you simply blow with your lips on the thread to produce a C. Though it does produce a C when I attempt this, it also makes an awful screeching sound and I fear something may be wrong with the reed itself. Either way, thank you, I will continue to do more research on Oboe technique. – Sam Dec 31 '16 at 19:08
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    *Reed - I think you're absolutely right. One can even buy bad ones right off the shelf. You might try purchasing a handful at once... – Tim Burnett - Bassist Jan 1 '17 at 11:02
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    Two things: one, as Super Query says, reeds can be bad right off the shelf. Without a teacher to demonstrate live for you, your chances of sorting out reed problems from embouchure problems are practically nil. The other thing is that you will take time to develop chops: playing the flute doesn't prepare you for the much higher air pressure necessary for the oboe, and your lips will not be able to hold it until you've practiced quite a bit. Good luck! – Scott Wallace Jan 1 '17 at 20:03
  • @ScottWallace Yeah, I was thinking that it would be quite impossible to determine that problem by myself. – Sam Jan 4 '17 at 19:16
  • @Sam- I was in exactly that position myself many years ago. I had played flute for two years, and switched to oboe. I struggled through several weeks of squeaking and turning red before I found an oboist who showed me how to get reeds properly set up. Good luck to you- it is quite possible to play flute and oboe concurrently. – Scott Wallace Jan 5 '17 at 14:17

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