Hello everyone! Last week, I talked about some general characteristics to consider in choosing a musical instrument for your child. I hope you found the information helpful and took the suggested action steps.
This week, as we continue to explore the exciting and rewarding world of music, I want to examine each instrument’s characteristics more thoroughly to help you choose a great fit.
Keep in mind, the instrument your child will succeed on is the one he/she will practice consistently!
The Oboe is a wonderful double-reed instrument mostly heard in Classical music. It looks like a Clarinet, but is thinner.
Factors to consider:
- The fingerings require more coordination than some of the other woodwinds. For example, your fingers have to sometimes go in opposite directions to finger a note (4th Line D-5th Line F).
- Your child needs to match pitch EXTREMELY well! Where you place your lips on the reed affects the pitch. (You need to hear it before you can play it.)
- The Oboe parts are usually melody parts, with occasional harmony parts in the beginning years.
- Band Directors tend to not pick a lot of students for this instrument because of the issue with playing in tune.
- Reeds can be expensive. Some Band Directors have the students start on plastic reeds in order to get the sound out. Eventually, your child will need to switch to wooden reeds. These can be finicky unless you learn how to adjust and make reeds.
- Band Directors (and colleges) LOVE oboe players that are dedicated and practice consistently! Your child will have MANY opportunities to shine if he/she works hard.
The Bassoon is another double-reed instrument that is more typically heard in Classical music. (By the way, there are some wonderful jazz oboists and bassoonists. You can play any style on any instrument; be creative!)
Factors to consider:
- The Bassoon is a rather large instrument. The weight will rest on the right thumb. There is a strap that goes across the student’s seat that also helps hold the instrument up.
- Many keys are operated by the left thumb.
- Same reed issues as the oboe.
- Your child needs to match pitch EXTREMELY well for this instrument too, because you place your lips on the reed on certain spots to get the pitch in tune.
- Your child’s hands need to be large enough to reach the keys.
- The Bassoon usually plays bass lines in the beginning years.
- Band Directors (and colleges) LOVE Bassoon players even more because there are fewer of them than Oboe players! Your child will have MANY opportunities to shine if he/she practices consistently.
So YES, choosing Oboe or Bassoon could potentially lead to a college scholarship, but again only if those instruments are practiced consistently. It really is best to get a private teacher for these instruments after a few months when you see your child taking an interest and wanting to continue into middle school.
- Listen to recordings of the Oboe and Bassoon from performers at all levels, not just professionals. This will give you an idea of how your child will progress in the future. YouTube would be a great resource. Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4, features some great Oboe and Bassoon solos. Skip to around 13:25 and 14:25 in the following video:
And who can forget, Stravinsky's Rite of Spring for the famous opening Bassoon solo found here:
- Talk to older students on the Oboe and Bassoon and see how they progressed and to possibly get some tips. (I have found that kids sometimes learn quicker from other kids rather than adults.)
- Share some of your thoughts/findings in the Comments below.
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In Part 3, I will discuss characteristics of the Flute……
Till next time….
The weight of the bassoon does not “rest on the right thumb” (perhaps you’re thinking of a saxophone). The weight of the bassoon is balanced between the bottom of the boot joint (where it attaches to the seat strap) and the left hand.
Thanks Bela for pointing that out.
I switched to oboe about a year ago. I love the instrument but I find the hardest part is keeping the correct mouth shape. If you don’t like soprano instrument there is a whole Oboe family.