My Reed-making Space

I live in a small studio, so I can’t have a typical practice area-reeds area space.  To partially solve this, what I did was to go to the local Walmart and purchase a small folding table and chair.  It is

more than sufficient to be home for all of my essential reed-making tools while out of the tackle box, has room enough for my magnifying lamp, and also provides me a view of the outdoors!  You can see my Reeds’nStuff double-hollow knife, Howarth reed case, and my Ando knife and burnishing rod sheathed.

Currently, my reed-making level is to purchase shaped cane from dealers and go from Photo Apr 14, 2 02 31 PMthere; tie my own reeds and shape, shape, shape!  I’m working with Mack-Pfeiffer shaped  cane at the moment, as I’m experimenting with no.3 staples.  The Mack-Pfeiffer is a wider shape versus the Rigotti that I was using previously, and ties better to the tube. Our local CCM teacher Dr. Mark Ostoich, developed a special no.3 staple – the Ostoich staple –  in conjunction with Chiarugi and Double or Nothing Reeds.

All of which is a heck of alot more than I could do a few months ago ~ I’ve managed to be able to get the reed to peep, and then I work on them with my teacher.  Eventually, I plan on getting a shaper tip and handle and go to the next logical level of making them.  I am uncertain if I will ever get to making reeds from purely raw cane… but who knows.  On the opposite side of thinking, Legere could come out with an amazing American scrape synthetic reed, and I’ll never have to make another reed!  Below are my two main knives, the Reeds’nStuff DHG Herder knife and the Ando chisel knife:

Photo Apr 16, 5 42 32 PM

I use the Ando knife for most of the reed “body” and heavy-duty work, and the Herder knife for finessing the tip of the reed.  Biggest problem for me right now?  SHARP KNIVES!


Oboe Method Books

I thought I might share the method books that I am using for my learning process.  Most are I am assuming pretty well-known:

Rubank Elementary Oboe Method by Hovey – the first book I started with, teaches the basics…

Rubank Intermediate Oboe Method by Skornicka and Koebner – currently using…

Foundations for Superior Performance: Warm-ups and Technique for Band by Williams and King…

Studies and Melodious Etudes for Oboe, Level I by Edlefsen – a really great book full of
some really fun and challenging stuff to play.  One of my favorites…

Pares Scales for Oboe by Pares…  broken down by scale, a good practice method book…

40 Rhythmical Studies for Oboe by Yaus – just starting to use….

One thing that I’ve begun to do is to create a compendium of methodology – I purchased a music-sized loose-leaf binder and sleeve pages, and have put together sections of music to work on, firstly by scales.  As I find something of interest I wish to keep long-term, I will add it to my Method repertoire.

A couple of other books I have but have not used much or at all yet include:

48 Studies for Oboe by Ferling…

Practical and Progressive Oboe Method by Andraud… includes reed-making

Barret Oboe Method by Boosey & Hawkes… the definitive guide

Oboe Camp 2017

After mulling over study opportunities this summer, including being accepted as a volunteer for IDRS 2017 and considering going back to YSU for the Oboe Week, I’ve decided to attend the 2017 Oboe, Clarinet and Bassoon Camp.  Organized by Double or Nothing Reeds, it will be held for a week in July at Wright State University.  Dr. Melissa Feilhauer, part of Double or Nothing, was my first Oboe teacher, so that will make it more fun!  I’m also particularly interested in the prospect of attending Wight State’s School of Music, and their Oboe teacher will be participating in the Camp.  I’m going to be a day camper, so no boarding of my kiddies and extra expenses, which actually was prohibitive for me to attend IDRS.  It should be lots of fun!  I’ll be sure to post a review of the Camp as the days unfold.

Last year, I attended a week-long in-resident camp at Youngstown State University called the Midwest Oboe Camp.  It was an amazing experience, playing all day long, most days until 10pm, working with others for the first time in a chamber group, and getting personal instruction from Dr. Mark Ostoich of Cincinnati’s Conservatory of Music.  I think it’s good practice to see others perform and work with other teachers, so I’m happy with my change in camps this year.

Legere Synthetic Oboe Reed – American

Coming soon!  I checked in with Legere Reeds Ltd. of Canada the other day to discover what the latest is on their synthetic oboe reed with the American scrape – they released a logoEuropean scrape last year – and they advised that it will be coming soon, like this year!  Last year, they were challenged in developing a double reed and this one in particular,  as it is a longer scrape than the Euro:

These reeds are manufactured in an entirely different way compared to the singles so while we were able to make them in the past, we could never do so in a way that was actually profitable. These developments were almost entirely ironed out by the time we released the oboe reed in June but there has still been a lot of work in making sure reeds are completely reproducible….(but) the foundation has been built for easy American Scrape development.

Today, Legere updated me about the American scrape reed through Messenger:

lot’s of progress! We are in testing and fine tuning right now. We could reasonably release the reed today with no other changes, but there are still improvements we’d like to make. It will almost certainly be announced in the summer, but there should be some prototype images published soon!

Legere also committed to send me a prototype for testing and review right here on Sacred Oboe!  It will be quite exciting to get this new reed and try it out.

The Next Big Move

What do I really want for myself right now?  More than anything, I would love to finish my college degree that I started over thirty years ago.  And, also more than anything, I would love to receive a Bachelor’s in Instrumental Performance.  Not because I have any wild expectation of joining a symphony – well, I’d like to play in a Community one – but simply because it means a lot to me.  It’s what I want to do for myself at this point in my life.

But there are many hurdles, the primary one being financial.  In order to be successful, I’d like to be able to start back full-time, to be able to take advantage of all the chamber groups and other performances that would be available and also required.  To be able to practice in a distraction-free environment daily, to be able to make reeds successfully and more expeditiously.  To be back on a campus and really enjoying college life and getting everything out of it that I can.  This is what I most desire.  But how to make it happen.  That is where I am presently stuck.

Along with being stuck in trying to problem-solve this issue, is the negative effect it has in trying to remain positive about all of it.  And that seriously impacts my practicing and reed-making, and other things associated with playing and learning.  It’s something that I really cannot seem to figure out right now, which makes me a bit anxious as well.  I would love to just be able to enroll at either NKU or YSU in their Music Program, attend full-time, and devote all of myself to my music.  And I think – know – I would do great if given the opportunity.  Yes, I’m  54, but so what… I can do this… just need the ability to.  Comments, suggestions?  Scholarships or grants?

Dayton New Horizons Band

Me warming up this past Thursday before practice with the Dayton New Horizons Band.  Sadly, my first season will be ending on April 29th, our Concert Day.

This past week, five of us began a new journey of playing as a Double-Reed Chamber group; three Oboes, English Horn, and Bassoon.  This is my first real experience in playing with a small group; while I did at YSU’s Oboe Week last year, it’s a bit of a different environment in our Band, getting together after practice.  Hopefully, we’ll continue playing together beyond the end of the Band season.

My Oboe Library

I thought it might be helpful to share my pedagogical oboe library.  I’ve managed to amass a few books related to oboe study and practice, and they are listed here.  One day I’ll perhaps get around to reviewing them, but I can say that Martin Schuring’s book is perhaps the standard at the moment.

Oboe Technique, Third Edition  by Evelyn Rothwell ~ an excellent primer.

Marcel Tabuteau by Laila Storch. ~ though a biography, it is loaded with pointers from the master himself.  Has an appendix on his famous numbering system.

Sounds in Motion by Bruce McGill ~ great phrasing technique book, I highly recommend.

Oboe Secrets by Jacqueline LeClair – features 75 of her tips for better performance.

Oboe: Art and Method by Martin Schuring ~ perhaps the definitive work at this time.

The Art of Oboe Playing by Robert Sprenkle and David Ledet.

I should point out that these are my books related to oboe play and technique.  I have several others that pertain to reed-making!