The oboe is said to be one of the more difficult woodwind instruments to play. It first takes some time until the player can even produce a sound, and even then, a beginner has little ability to control it. It would therefore seem to be a challenging instrument to learn.
But the oboe can be an extremely rewarding instrument to learn to play, and once the feeling of a good tone is produced it is hard to ignore its allure. Students who are successful with the oboe are very detail-oriented, patient, intellectual and curious.
The oboe is made out of wood and metal and gets bigger at the lower end where it flares into the ‘bell’. Oboes are expensive for many different reasons, but the most important are the cost of the exotic woods and other materials, and the skill in craftsmanship. The cost of new oboes ranges from £400-£2000, while used oboes in a good condition generally cost £100-£800. Some oboists replace their oboe every year!
Oboes favoured by experts include the Yamaha YOB-441 Series Intermediate Oboe; YOB-441 all Grenadilla; Schiller Elite Conservatory Oboe; Buffet Crampon Model 3613G Green Line Oboe; Ammoon Oboe; Selmer Model 122F Intermediate Oboe and the Talljo Oboe, ABS Pipe Cupronickel Keys of C for Beginners.
Is the position of oboe important?
It is the job of the principal oboist to tune the orchestra to an A at the beginning of each concert. The other key role of the oboe is that it usually carries the melody with its lyrical and mournful colour, often heard as the solo instrument in the most emotional sections of music.
How long will it take me to learn the oboe?
The oboe is very hard to learn to play. It often takes 6-8 months to develop an acceptable embouchure (the use of the lips, facial muscles, tongue and teeth in playing a wind instrument including shaping the lips to the mouthpiece) and tone. This has much to do with learning to make and adjust reeds, a necessary skill that will take you closer to your instrument.
Is playing the oboe dangerous?
To a degree, yes – headaches, eye strain and eye damage come into the world of the oboe player. Playing a musical instrument can affect physical and mental health plus musculoskeletal problems, focal dystonia, stress velopharyngeal incompetence, increased intraocular pressure and glaucoma, gastroesophageal reflux disease, lower pulmonary function, disease transmission via instruments and hearing loss due to noise exposure can be issues.
The oboe is a high-resistance instrument. Playing instruments like the oboe a lot, especially when increased blowing force is required (for a high pitch) can put eyes at risk due to increased pressure.
The oboe is officially one of the most difficult instruments to play. And not just because of the double-reed misery, the duck noises and the tuning issues. Despite this, persevere and your sense of achievement will be unparalleled.