Beginning Oboe Students, Step 4 – Reed Care

Step Four-Reed Care

For the beginning oboist reed selection/reed care care is the biggest challenge.  Our Stradella reeds come in three strengths MS (medium soft, M (medium), and MH (medium hard).  Most beginners start with an MS (medium soft) reed.  You will need a small reed case that holds three reeds.  This case will fit easily into your oboe case.  Do not keep your reeds in the round vials with a cap for storing your reeds day after day.  Your reeds need to completely dry out each day and stay protected when you are not playing the oboe.

It is important to soak your reed for at least five minutes before playing it each day.  You can soak the reed in your mouth or you can soak it in a small container of water.  Be sure the opening at the tip of the reed (aperture) is crescent shaped.  If it is too closed or too open the reed will not vibrate appropriately.  If the reed is too closed open one side at a time with your finger.  Avoid squeezing the sides of the reed together at the same time to open up the tip of the reed. If the reed is too open (oval shape) press the top and bottom blades of cane together using your first finger and thumb just above the colored thread for 10 seconds.

Now you are ready to buzz your reed prior to placing it into the oboe.  The reed alone should buzz a low G (second line on the treble clef staff).  Find the sweet spot on the reed that produces this pith.  You can slide your reed gradually between your lips to vibrate a higher or lower pitch until you can sound a low G.  Be sure to stretch your teeth apart like you were yawning with your lips on the reed. Use the speed of the air to adjust your pitch.

Put the cork part of your staple into the well (the opening at the top of the oboe).  This should be easy. If the cork is too tight either put a small amount of cork grease on the cork or roll the cork on a flat surface with a flat kitchen utensil that is safe or a ruler.  When you remove the cork from the well always twist the cork out of the well in a circular motion.  Avoid lifting the cork directly up in the air.

 

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