Finding your Voice

Playing the oboe is a marvelously complex F.E.A.T. involving Fingers, Embouchure, Air and Tongue. Performers must coordinate a multitude of subtle mental and physical processes. Properly mapping the oboe simplifies this feat for the oboist.

The two blades of a double reed are sometimes compared to the vocal cords. Singers know that the movement of air causes the vocal cords to vibrate, and the amount of air pressure on the cords can dramatically alter the timbre. Adjustments of the vocal cords create color and pitch variation. Oboists make adjustments to the reed with the embouchure and tongue to create dynamics and color variations.

Singers monitor the vocal cords mainly with the brain. Through practice they learn how to think a pitch or timbre, and it happens. Oboists can approach playing in the same way. With practice you develop the ability to imagine a sound, and then instantly produce that sound. When playing, notice that your embouchure, tongue and air are manipulating two blades of cane that act as the instrument’s vocal cords.

Then you really are singing.

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