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Keeping Oboe/EH at playable temperature in the pit

5928 Views 8 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  wesbrow
Question for those of you who play in musicals...

Oboes are notoriously easy to crack when played cold, which is why oboe players are picky about keeping their instruments warm while not playing. During musicals however, sometimes an oboe can sit unused on a stand for an hour or more and then need to be played immediately. How do you deal with this situation?
  • Always cut out a few minutes of music beforehand to warm it up?
  • Some kind of heating device?
  • Just chance it and start playing?
  • Use synthetic oboes?

I'm picking up the oboe now and this one has me stumped. I have to make too many cold switches on my piccolo right now, and it freaks me out every time, even when I get 20 bars or so to put a little heat into it.
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The biggest problem you'll face is keeping your reeds wet and responsive as you won't be able to crow them during a performance if they've been sat dormant for a duration.

Have reeds you know are easy players on standby to avoid low notes not speaking and after the initial soaking, dip them in your water pot to collect a drop of water between the blades as that will keep them moist but not waterlogged. Fill your water pot with hot water as that activates reeds faster.

When you have time during long dialogues, mop out your instruments and make sure the 8ve vents are clear of water (do the suck/blow thing on the top joint only to clear them).

If the pit is on the chilly or draughty side (if the stage door is constantly being opened for cast members popping outside for a crafty cigarette or twenty), keep the top joint warm by wrapping it up in a flannel and held under your arm (or in both hands if you're not playing). For cor, keep the crook warm by holding it in your hnd or kept in your trouser pocket until you need to use it so you've still got some chance of things being up to pitch.

But be sure if you do buy a new all-wood oboe, buy it in spring so it's well played in by the time winter sets in as that will reduce the risk of cracking - playing a brand new instrument in cold and low humidity conditions (which most halls often are) is asking for trouble.
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