April 15, 2021

Too bad we didn't have as much time today - next time we have a time change I'll make sure to email both you and your mom so we don't get confused :) Next week is our regular day and time, Wednesday at 6pm.

Before you start playing put your reeds in to soak and do the breathing exercise 2 - 3 times

  • Breathe in as much air as you can
  • Breathe in a little more
  • hold it for a few seconds
  • Push the air out in a thin fast stream between your lips as though you are playing a very loud note on the oboe
  • tighten your abdominal (stomach area) muscles to keep the air stream the same speed and volume as you empty your lungs of air
  • Try to keep going as long as you can!
  • when all the air is gone, contract your ab muscles and see if you can squeeze out a TINY BIT MORE
  • BREATHE IN QUICKLY and deeply
  • Repeat! 

Gekeler book 1

  • Page 13 #4
    • Make sure to remind yourself of the high A, B and C fingerings using the side/2nd octave key and G fingering using the first octave key before starting
    • work on this as a warm up, and try to stop if you make a mistake - play the notes coming into the part where you made a mistake or hesitated, and then add more notes one at a time - repeat until it feels easy, then keep going
  • Last page (page 48)
    • Slowly work on the chromatic scale
    • Use the fingering chart that came with the Gekeler books to look up the fingerings if you are unsure, and write them in a notebook somewhere you can reference easily
    • Alternately, this website is pretty reliable for oboe fingerings:

Drivers License

You've really come far on this piece - the rhythm is good and you're confident with all the fingerings. Now it's time to make it more fluid by really concentrating on air support and lighter tonguing to allow the lines to sound a bit more musical.

  • Practice going from low F# to D
  • Practice going from low D to low B  
    • Keep your embouchure in the shape it needs to be to play a nice resonant low D while you play the F#
    • Slur slowly at first, then add in light quick tonguing while maintaining a steady air flow by supporting with your abdominal muscles like in the breathing exercise
  • concentrate on keeping your embouchure set as though for the lower notes and keeping your air stream going as you interrupt it lightly with your tongue between notes

New Piece: Lily's Theme

This is a super atmospheric piece - we'll need to make you some sort of backing track for it!

  • Oboe part here:
  • I've left it in the key I found it in this time....can you tell me what key it's in?
  • If you don't want to play it in this key (and I won't blame you) we're going to play the fun game of transposition (don't worry, I'll help) think about what key you would like to transpose it to, and what interval all the notes will have to move to get there :D

April 7, 2021

Glad you like the one new reed - if the other one doesn't behave itself don't worry about it, but do save it and any other reeds that are not working anymore, as well as the little cases, to go back with your mom the next time I have reeds for you as I can re-use the bottom part after sterilizing it.

Drivers License

Sounding so good! When you focus on it the rhythm is very solid - just remind yourself to keep the beat going in your head especially when you're not playing with the backing track.

Gekeler book 1 page 13 #4

  • remind yourself of the correct fingering for A, B and C above the staff (fingerings one post down, just scroll down!) before starting
  • You will need good air support with the new reed - take a big breath in before starting and as needed while you play. if you find you're feeling out of breath a lot mark in places to breathe - sometimes I even write "breathe out" and "Breathe in" in different places!
  • Start slow, make sure you can play without guessing fingerings for the notes

New pieces:

Looks like a lot of people have actually written out Lily's theme, so I'll have a look for a good version this week and have it for you probably for next lesson!

March 31, 2021

Yes! Rhythm is really improving in drivers license! Keep working on it, but also remember to take time to think about whether you like the sound you're producing (beyond just if it is in tune - is it a beautiful sound? Can you make it nicer? What are you physically changing to make it sound nicer?)

Gekeler Book 1 page 13 # 4

  • practice the transitions between the notes that use the 1st octave key (on the back of the oboe with your thumb) and the 2nd or 'side' octave key - E natural to A, D to B etc.
  • Make sure you are using the correct fingering for the C 2 ledger lines above the staff (shown below with other 2nd octave note reminders)
  • play slowly first concentrating on playing the right fingerings with a nice full sound
  • Remember to take a big breath in before playing and sit or stand tall so that you can use your full lung capacity!

Drivers License

  • Play the low notes first, out of time, getting a good big sound, then start to work on the rhythm
  • Work on the rhythm and note quality first for at least 5 minutes, then treat yourself by playing it with the backing track. 
  • See how far you can get without stopping with the backing track

March 24, 2021

Try to play on the harder reed for your warm ups - play as far out on the tip as you can and still get a good sound. This reed will be harder to play but will also give you a nicer tone. With oboe it's a balance between having a strong (resistant) enough reed that we have a nice tone, and making the reed responsive enough that we don't get over tired while playing - strengthening the embouchure by playing on harder reeds will help you get a nicer tone as you learn to control them.

Driver's License

Good work playing with the backing track! In your practice, try to do what we did - work on the rhythm, then try to play through just the section you worked on with the backing track. If you get confused, listen to the backing track while following along with your part to hear where you should be with your rhythm. Try singing your part!

Gekeler book 2

#1 - Barret melody

If you have time, see if you can work on this - when you have trouble with the downward slurs or the higher notes - separate the 2 or 3 notes that are giving you a hard time and play them back and forth until the transitions between them feel easy, then add more notes one or two at a time.

March 17, 2021

Sorry about the internet problems - I'll try to figure out what is going on before next week so you don't have to suffer through my terrible typos again!

Your tone and tonguing were much better in the last section of Driver's License after you started going for a larger sound and played (in your words) more in the middle of the reed - try to remember what this felt like and play the low notes with this same feeling and lots of air support in all your pieces.

Gekeler Method book 2

Page 8 #1

Before starting, remind yourself of the fingering for high C, F# and F natural

  • Work on the section after the double bar
  • When you have a problem, try to isolate 2 to 3 notes first, then add a note one at a time as it gets easier
  • Work on the turn in the second to last line - slowly at first, then faster
  • Work on the F# grace note bar
  • start to put in the dynamics

Drivers License

Nice work on the last low section! Your tone and confidence in this piece has really improved! See if you can remind yourself how the beginning section goes and we'll try to work on it with the backing track next week!

March 10, 2021

This week, focus on fast light tonguing

  • Think "dah" or "Thu" and try to just interrupt the flow of air, rather than stopping it, almost not touching the reed.
  • Once you feel like it's as light and fast as you can get it (on one note), try using this tonguing between slower moving notes (still on the same note for now, but move back to quarter notes or half notes with very light tonguing between them)

Also work on your low notes early in the practice session - they'll be harder and harder as your embouchure (face muscles/lip muscles) gets tired. Experiment with dropping your jaw and adding air pressure to make them sound as nice as possible - once you get a sound you like, mentally take note of how it felt physically, and what you changed to get there - this will be a constant in your oboe playing, I still do it!

If something is really frustrating you, either move on to something else, or put the oboe away and come back to it later! A lot of times if we think about it away from the oboe it helps more than angrily squeaking away.

Piece: Driver's license

  • work on going between C# - D - C# - B in the low octave and in the higher octave (using the half hole) before starting
  • try to use the lighter tonguing when you think about it
  • Play along with the backing track - it's okay if you get lost, but try to figure out how to get back in when you do without stopping it.
  • Try to find another device with speakers you could play it on so you don't have to hear it through the computer speakers (it'll be nicer, and louder), or alternately it might be better if you wear headphones - find out what works best for you to listen and play at the same time

March 3, 2021

Good work on your lighter tonguing this week! Remember to keep your air flowing and just lightly use your tongue to quickly interrupt the sound

Oboe maintenance stuff

Make sure you are 'swabbing' (cleaning out using the pull through cloth that came with the oboe) the oboe after each practice session. If you get a gurgling sound it usually means there is water stuck in one of the keyholes - sometimes just swabbing will get it out, but you should also have cigarette paper (without the sticky part) or tissue paper (the gift wrap kind, not the nose blowing kind) to stick under the key to absorb the water. The oboist below gives a pretty good description (and has a better camera angle than I do!)

Gekeler book 2, page 3

This piece is from the Barret Method book, and while it's pretty simple looking, it will sneakily make you work on hard oboe technique, so take it slow, make sure you have the right fingerings for the notes - practice looking up some you already know in the fingering chart that comes with the Gekeler books so you'll be able to reference them when you aren't sure too.

  • Try to learn the notes for this piece for next time, and start working on the dynamics if you have time

Driver's License

We're almost at the end!! See if you can play to the end, and then see how far you can make it from the beginning. Once you've learned the notes this should be easier, but it's still a long piece, so don't get discouraged if you can't make it through all at once right away.

February 24, 2021

Nice work on Drivers license today! Try to work on getting your tonguing lighter and faster while keeping your air stream steady.

Warm up suggestions

  • Give yourself 5 to 10 minutes to warm up on the oboe and work on technique and tuning away from any pieces we might be working on
  • Use the simple long tone exercises in Gekeler book 1 on pages 4 - 7 and try to listen for tuning while keeping your air going - when in doubt, add faster air, and listen to see if it sounds better
  • If something really sounds or feels weird - check your oboe physically - is it aligned correctly? are any of the keys not working?
  • If you can, try playing a note or two on the piano and matching it on the oboe - you can hold down the pedal to sustain while doing this so that you can properly hold your oboe


Drivers License:

  • once you have worked out the notes and rhythms for each section, try to think about how you can make it musical
    • you can listen to recordings and try to recreate their interpretation, or you can make up your own
    • Listen to yourself when you play a section that you are confident playing - do you like how it sounds? Could you make it sound better?

February 17, 2021

Good work playing on hard reeds! These reeds I would perform on so they take a little more work to play - make sure you're playing towards the tip of the reed and blowing lots of fast air to keep them vibrating.

This week - work on your tonguing on the first 8 bars - try to use the "Tah" sound to make the attack cleaner, and pay attention to when it sounds good - how did it feel? Try to make it feel that way again!

Take some time to clap out the rhythm - you're very advanced in your counting abilities, so don't get discouraged - you picked a tough to count peice! If you can clap the first 4 bars of this piece the rest is easy-peasy!

I'll listen to the exercises from the Gekeler books next week too, so have a peak at them for a warm up when you play :)

I sent your mom a copy of the piano part, but you can also download it from here

January 27, 2021

Your tone sounds really good this week! Focus on keeping the air flow constant to make phrases flow together better.

New Scale:

D Major (F# and C#) - play really slowly this week (use as a long tone exercise similar to what we did with C major) making sure you come off the half hole key for D and C# and back on it for all other notes.

Gekeler Book 1

  • Page 6 - Use these simple exercises for warm ups this week. Take 2 - 3 and focus on playing really in tune, with a big sound (play mezzo forte to forte)
  • Page 13 #2
    • Carefully practice in two bar sections
    • start slow and make sure to slur and tongue as written
    • Gradually move the tempo up until you make a mistake, then move it back down so that you can play it without mistakes
    • Try to get this exercise as fast as possible with no mistakes (don't try to go faster if you make a mistake)

New Piece:

Drivers License

  • Take the first two bars and double all the values of the notes (you can write this out on paper, no need for note values - just lengths)
    • 16ths will become 8ths, 8ths will become quarters, quarters will become half notes etc.
    • Mark in the quarter note positions in each bar and lightly write in where the 16ths are using the following method
    • If you get frustrated with the rhythm, listen to the song again and then try playing through it. Notice the repeated piano accompaniment and how the vocals always start just a tiny bit (a sixteenth) after 
    • I personally really like this cover of the song - see if you can spot the places where the rhythm is different in this cover (hint: there are a few places)

January 20, 2021

Good work on your embouchure this week - I can really hear the difference. Continue to work on the long tones and tonguing exercises this week, focusing on lighter/quicker tonguing so that there is less space between the notes and they start cleaner.

To think about:

  • What piece would you like to play next? Two options mentioned so far, but feel free to come up with others if you want!
  • What can you do to remind yourself to have good posture (sit or stand tall, with open chest and head balanced on your spine, and bring the oboe to you)

Possible new piece:

  • Driver's license 

January 13, 2021

Yay new reeds! A few guidelines for getting the most out of your reeds:

  • start each playing time by reviewing how your embouchure is formed:
    • stick out the tongue to bring the reed into your mouth
    • surround the reed with your lips as though it is a paper straw
    • keep the lip pressure as light as you can while still making sure that they seal around the reed 
  • if you overblow and the reed growls at you or the note goes up an octave:
    • stop, reform your embouchure, and consciously use a steady airstream to attempt the note again
    • use less forceful air/less pressure 
    • observe if taking air pressure away makes the note sound better
    • you may need to add some pressure at the edges of your lips/corners to bring the pitch up
    • balance the lip pressure and the air pressure until the note sounds good to you - you have a good ear - trust yourself!
  • keep track of the physical changes you make to adjust the sound (or timbre), pitch and volume of each note while you do your warm ups so that you can repeat them if you have an issue while playing your piece

Warm up Practice:

Spend maybe 5 to 10 minutes on warm up practice where you work on the technical bits. Then go play your piece or something you want to play. Come back to the technical exercises if you have a problem in your piece, or make up your own if it's a new problem!

Choose 2 or 3 of the following to work on (you don't have to do all of these EACH time you play!

  • from half hole D to E with the first octave key (thumb) for the E but not the D or C
  • Make sure you are using the 1 and 1 fingering for this C (C5)
  • C - D - E - D - C making sure to rotate your first finger off the half hole on the D and back on for the C and E
  • LONG TONE Exercise! This is the party trick exercise:
    • take a metronome set to 60 beats per minute (here's a free online one) or use the second hand on an analog clock
    • play your C major scale starting on low C (C4) with each note getting 4 beats 
    • See how long you can go without breathing!
    • TIP: Control your airspeed to go longer
  • Tonguing exercise:
    • Your description of tonguing is perfect - always think of pulling the tongue away from the reed - the shorter the time the tongue touches the reed the better it will sound
    • Some people think of using sounds like "tah tah tah" or "Teh teh teh" for repeated tonguing - use them if they help you
    • Play repeated quarter notes on the C major scale you can start at G and go down then up, or start at the bottom and go up
    • make sure each note sounds nice and doesn't growl or go up the octave
    • if you get frustrated move on to something else
    • Starting at the bottom:
  • Starting at G, and then doing the exercise above:


Are you bored yet?

  • Practice this in short sections, and go back and forth between playing 2 bar sections all tongued and all slurred (not tongued)
  • When you find the notes are not coming out well, stop for a second and try a smaller section - take 2 notes and go back and forth between them and make sure they both sound good, then add a third note
  • Remember to think "Ahhh" when going down to lower notes, and think about aiming a little under pitch or lower than they actually are 
  • If you get frustrated go do something else :) and come back to it later

January 6, 2021

Short notice cancellation - will allow lesson to be rescheduled.

Two more lessons scheduled including rescheduled lesson:

Jan 13 and 20th. See you next week at 6pm!

December 30, 2020

Good work fighting with your flat reed! Don't try different fingerings to get it in tune - just practice your C major fingerings and the tuning will become easier when my reeds arrive (although you will still have to work at it, it will be possible to play in tune!)

For your embouchure:

  • stick your tongue out to bring the reed into your mouth, then form your lips around it as though it were a paper straw - and seal in a circular shape around the reed
  • Try to keep your cheeks from puffing out by thinking about making the sound "Ahh" inside your mouth


  • from half hole D to E with the first octave key
  • C - D - E - D - C making sure to rotate your first finger off the half hole on the D and back on for the C and E
  • See if you can read through some more of Wallows 'Are you bored yet' 
    • work on the fingerings and make sure you're not guessing
    • Don't worry too much about the tuning until the new reeds arrive

Helpful Fingering charts:


Half Hole D

E first octave key

A Second octave key 

Note that you can hold the first octave key down at the same time or not (the second octave key automatically closes the first octave, so it doesn't make a difference)

December 23, 2002

Very nice to meet you - sorry that we seemed to be having some connection problems. If possible see if you can set up close to the wifi router or use an ethernet connection for next lesson.

Good job learning C major fingerings so fast - for this week concentrate on seeing if you can keep playing without your embouchure getting tired and with steady air so the pitch doesn't go up and down too much within each note.

For everything:

  • remember to sit or stand up straight and bring the oboe to you - don't fold forward to the oboe
  • embouchure
    • place the reed on the lower lip and roll the lip inwards slightly to cover your teeth
    • surround the reed with your lips as though you are going to whistle, except that the lips are rolled in, not out.
    • keep the lips sealed around the reed - think about making a circle with your lips


  • C major scale up and down 4 beats on each note - see how many notes you can go without taking a breath! Make sure to breathe out and in when you do stop, then start again
  • Practice the pattern we played: (don't worry about the low B, unless you want to see if you can figure out the fingering - I'll give you a hint, it involves the low C fingering plus one of the left hand pinky keys)
  • Also practice starting and stopping notes using your tongue
    • Start with the tongue on the reed and your air ready (breathe in)
    • release the tongue and blow into the reed with a steady stream of air
    • Stop the air and touch the reed with the tongue to stop the note - see if you can stop it without the pitch going down or up.
  • Some fun oboe music to listen to: