Oboe Care & Maintenance Videos

Oboe Care & Maintenance Page

The Basics


Sit on the edge of your chair, and always keep your:

  • Spine straight and tall
  • Shoulders back and relaxed
  • Feet flat on the floor

Breathing & Airstream

Breathing is a natural thing we all do constantly. To discover the correct airstream to play your instrument:

  • Place the palm of your hand near your mouth.
  • Inhale deeply through the corners of your mouth, keeping your shoulders steady. Your waist should expand like a balloon.
  • Slowly whisper "too" as you gradually exhale air into your palm.

The air you feel is the airstream. It produces sound through the instrument. Your tongue is like a faucet or valve that releases the airstream.

Producing The Essential Tone

Embouchure (ahm-bah-shure) is your mouth's position on the reed. A good embouchure takes time and effort, so carefully follow these steps for success:

  • Soak the blades only of your reed in a small plastic cup (1-2 oz.) for 3-4 minutes.
  • Open your mouth so your teeth are slightly apart.
  • Roll your lower lip over your bottom teeth. Remove the reed from the water. Gently place the tip of the reed on the center of your lower lip.
  • Cover your upper teeth with your upper lip, and firmly close your lips around the reed. Your lips support the reed. Be sure your teeth do not touch it.
  • Adjust the position of the reed so the tip barley touches your tongue.

Taking Care Of Your Oboe

Before putting your instrument back in its case after playing, do the following:

  • Carefully remove the reed and blow air through it. Return to case.
  • Gently twist apart the upper and lower sections. Drop a weighted swab through the lower section and pull it out the bell. Return the lower section and the bell to the case.
  • Swab out the upper section or clean it with an oboe feather and return it to the case.

Getting It Together

Step 1: Soak your reed. Rub a small amount of cork grease on all corks, if needed. Clean hands.

Step 2: Hold the upper section near the top with your left hand. Grasp the lower section with your right hand, holding it near the bottom. Gently twist the upper and lower sections together. The upper section's bridge key(s) must be directly over the lower section's bridge key(s).

Step 3: Hold the instrument near the top of the upper section with your left hand. Grasp the bell with your right hand. Press down on the round bell key, raising it. Twist the bell onto the cork of the lower section. The bell bridge key must be directly over the bottom bridge key.

Step 4: Put the reed in your mouth. Form your embouchure and blow forcefully through the reed to remove excess water. Carefully insert the cork of the reed all the way into the reed well on the upper section.

Step 5: Put your thumb under the thumb rest. Place your left thumb just below the octave key. Your fingers should curve naturally. Hold the oboe as shown above.

Information above provided by Hal Leonard from the Essential Elements Methods Books.

Demonstration Videos

Oboe Assembly

Oboe Embouchure

Oboe Finger Placement

Oboe General Care

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