Oboe & English horn
The oboe is a member of the woodwind family and is typically made of grenadilla wood with silver keys. Its most notable feature is its double reed, which gives the oboe a clear and distinctive sound compared to other woodwind instruments. Oboes are most commonly found in wind ensembles and orchestras. Next time you’re at an orchestra concert, pay attention at the very beginning - the oboe gives the tuning note!
The English horn is a cousin to the oboe - musicians call it an auxiliary instrument. It is also made from grenadilla wood with silver keys but it’s about 1.5 times larger than the oboe and features a pear shaped bell and a bocal, which is a metal tube that connects the instrument and the reed. It has a more mellow sound, and composers often write English horn solos for mournful passages in their pieces.
Oboe and English horn reeds are made out of a species of reed grass called Arundo donax. Reeds are of critical importance to playing the oboe, because without them the instrument wouldn’t make a sound. As a professional oboist I make my own reeds to insure I play on a comfortable and reliable reed, and I extend that service to my students by offering student reeds for sale.
I recommend students wait until they are at least 10 years old to begin learning the oboe. After that, you can begin at any age!
That’s great news! The first step will be to secure an instrument for your child, which can likely be done through their school or local rental shop. The second step will be to purchase some reeds, and the third step will be to look into private lessons. I am happy to help you through any or all of these needs!