Oboe

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Again as many people said here, the votes here are generally biased as people tend to vote for their own instrument and never had any experience with others. I've played piano before and sure I can play at a intermediate level and all I had to worry about were my fingers. With the oboe, I was constantly worrying about my fingers, the tone, how much air and support I'm using. On top of that, I have to worry about if I worked on reeds the previous night and if they play well in the playing environment, which leads me to having to pay attention to the temperature and humidity of the playing environment. And if you have wooden oboe, stress levels just increase. You're then constantly worrying about the humidity and temperature of where you store the oboe or else it will crack and it'll be a costly repair. Then prior to playing a wooden oboe, you have to literally put the joints of the oboe in your jacket or under your arms so that you can warm them up before playing, otherwise, you are ...more

I've been playing oboe for nearly 5 years now, as well as piano for 7 years and alto/tenor (same fingerings) sax for 2 years. Oboe (I've heard) is by far the most difficult instrument but in reality, it all comes down to who's playing the instrument. I've never had a private lesson on any of these instruments and I can truly say that it all comes down to focus an how comfortable you are at playing an instrument in general. One of the biggest problems I find, is that because this is a double reeded instrument, you have to exhale as well as inhale. With the saxophone, you exhale by blowing through the mouthpiece and playing your piece of music. With oboe, because the opening in the reed is so small, you have to exhale just like you would inhale to get all of the carbon dioxide out of your lungs. I have auditions for a band next week and with my audition excerpt, I have this problem. All in all, if you learn to master breathing on any double reeded instrument, you shouldn't have any ...more

Now, my vote may be biased because I have not played all of the instruments listed, but I do have some experience with French horn, piano, clarinet, and, of course, the oboe. Oboe is by far the most challenging instrument I have ever played. I love it to death, though. To start off with, reeds are expensive. And I mean EXPENSIVE. $15.00 for a reed that isn't very good at all. $25.00 for a good reed. $30.00 for one, singular, great reed. Or $35.00, depending on your seller. Keep in mind that these reeds only last so long, and if you're someone as clumsy as I can be, well, you're going to need a lot of money. Oboes are also very picky instruments. They need the right temperature, the right moisture, et cetera or else they just won't play in tune. Kind of like piccolo. Except the embouchure on oboe is much more complicated than piccolo, which is saying something. And the fingerings are crazy complex. They seem completely random, inconvenient, and all over the place. Oboes also put some ...more

This is my fourth year on oboe. I didn't really understand why people considered it hard until this year. First of all, FLAT FINGERINGS. Going from a flat to a flat/sharp to a sharp is difficult on oboe because you can't just lift up or put down a few consecutive fingers, you have to use your pinkies and pick up fingers while putting down others. PENTATONIC SCALES ARE EVIL, EVIL I TELL YOU! Then there is the temperamental reed. They never seem to play every note right when you need them to, such as during solos or tests. They also need to be soaked in water to get them to play right, which means you need to keep water with your instrument. And speaking of water, since all good oboes are made of some type of wood, if you get four very different seasons they need to be kept in a warm environment all the time with a humidifier in the case at the right times of year or else they will crack from lack of moisture in the winter or get water damage from too much in the summer. I learned that ...more

I've been playing piano (since 8), oboe (since 9), guitar, bass, and drums (I'm 18 now) and can say oboe is by far the hardest of them. I practice for more than an hour everyday, because it's necessary to advance.

One thing that makes oboe so hard is the amount of air you must put through it to get a decent sound. This involves pushing air through the instrument very quickly and with high pressure. You end up displacing more air than people would expect from such a small opening. Despite this, you still need time to breathe OUT when you are playing more difficult works, and then breathe in again a few measures later.

Not only is oboe extremely technically difficult (eg double-tonging, long technical runs, breathing patterns, etc, ) oboe players have the constant joy of reeds to worry about. In four hours of work I can get one playable reed. These reeds last a relatively short amount of time, and even a subtle change in air pressure or temperature can drastically affect ...more

The oboe. Where to start. I have been playing for 1.5 years, just got out of the duck phase, am thinking about learning how to make reeds, just had my band teacher tell me to play the notes right, and my reed is broken. Oh and I am not so sure about the out of the duck phase yet part. As my teacher says: if you look at the reed funny, it gets out of tune, if you have a single mistaken fingering, you are lost, if you didn't practice for 2 hours that night everyone knows, and I am pleading with you, give us time to soak our reeds at the beginning of class/rehearsal. I am lost on why we have no low b flat key on beginner oboes ( that is why we bend down sometimes and put the oboe between our knees) and the alternate and forked fingerings, reeds are perfect, awful and don't work well after 2 weeks, so new reeds a lot, and they cost 15-30$ for store bought, but they leak and it is better for handcrafted always, oboes are a random assortment of keys pressed to make a note. We have a key on ...more

I play the piano, flute, bass clarinet, and a bit of guitar, but I will never attempt the oboe. I'm a music major, I spend a lot of time around musicians on various instruments, and my girlfriend is a very talented oboist. Seeing her struggle with this instrument has scared me away from it. The fingerings are ridiculous, what should be an easy little line can be extremely difficult because so many fingers move with each note. Even worse is the reedmaking, once you get to a college level you are expected to make your own reeds. She spends 8-12 hours a week whittling cane to get it to the PERFECT size, measured in millimeters. These reeds last a week or so, so she's always afraid of running out of good reeds. Sometimes a reed is bad not because she messed up, but because of imperfections in the cane. I can't think of a single other instrument that requires this level of maintenance, it would be like if I had to tune my piano every day before playing it.

The oboe is beautiful. Even though it's the biggest pain in the butt to try to be in tune (getting your reeds to behave), catching your breath, being by yourself because there is no one in your section sometimes, switching from an impossible fingering to an even more impossible fingering, and don't forget the dreaded "duck phase" you get when you first start out. The oboe is a really beautiful instrument and it is demanded in a lot of ensembles, so you have a high chance of making an audition. You get a lot of solos. I personally think it is worth all of the hard work.

I play oboe, and know many other oboists. Many of these oboists play piano, and they have said the oboe is much harder. I also know many oboists who play flute, they believe that it is easier to use your octave on flute and not so easy on oboe. My band instructor plays clarinet, flute, saxophone, and oboe they both believe oboe is one of the hardest instruments to learn, and play. Also I know some people who play violin and they believe oboe is much harder. I, myself, play a little piano, but I don't have a piano in my house so not very much.

But here are some of the things oboe players have to deal with that others don't. (Besides bassoon):

1. Double reed, that has to constantly be wet.

2. Hard to go into upper register.

3. Very expensive reeds, a good priced reed for me is $20.00.

4. Embouchure, the embouchure is hard to keep, your face gets tired very fast.

5. Delicate reeds.

I would have to say Bassoon. It is double reed, like an oboe, which makes embrasure more difficult than instruments of single reeds. Finding a reed that meets your standards, while being affordable is nearly impossible. The reeds change, and your embrasure has to adapt to each reeds needs. However, it is also substantially larger than a oboe. The fingerings are far more complex than many basic woodwind instruments (this is speaking from experience, I can play the clarinet, flute, and all saxophones) because of the incredible amount of thumb keys. For many bassoons, there are 8 left-hand thumb keys, and 4 right-hand thumb keys. The size of bassoon tends to get to me after a while, as opposed to the size of a clarinet/oboe. My left wrist starts to ache from holding it upright for too long.
I notice that when I work out, and am in better shape, breathing and maintaining steady airflow is a lot better. Yoga and other stretch routines make better bassoonist.

I have been playing Oboe for only a year and it is probably the hardest instrument that I have learned so far. I have played the clarinet and some piano. Clarinet was a fun instrument but honestly was very easy, piano I don't even know why it's on the list is without a doubt one of the easiest. I have not had any lessons for piano and I am already play it well.
There are some annoying things about the oboe when you are a beginner. To start off the reeds are so fragile yet they are so expensive! The oboe is usually really out of tune and you can here over the whole band if you do not tune it. It kind of sounds like a dying duck when your a beginner but as you make progress it gets to be the most beautiful instrument in my opinion.

This or French horn. There are far more variables to deal with, especially as an orchestral oboist, that other instruments don't have to deal with to anything close to the same extent. You're expected to be perfect at all times regardless.

The physical effort involved with simply producing a note is crazy.

It's also incredibly difficult to teach - most of the technique is internal and difficult to explain or its something you have to work out for yourself. It's simply possible to just shift a finger, change a hand/bow position etc. It's generally only when the technique gets in the way of playing that it's something you can actually understand how. And what to fix. Even then, it's not obvious.

I agree with the fingering issues and that darn reed. It is especially hard to learn new things. I am self-taught (with the little help from my band teacher, but he knows pretty much nothing about oboes), and the first/second year was so grueling, that I almost quit band class. My reed would occasionally close up, I would mess up fingerings constantly on fast-paced music, and I have keep on buying reeds from the music store since I can't find any good reed makers. But on the other hand, the oboe has a very distinct sound that makes it unique all around and makes those hard times somewhat tolerable. I would highly advise that if anyone is starting out on oboe, go for it.

I have been playing the oboe for about 35 years and it really does have its challenges. I also play piano, clarinet, violin, recorder and saxophone but the reeds are really a challenge on the oboe. You just seem to get one you like and then it won't play right. It is an instrument you really need to practice or it will be very difficult especially going from high to low notes and low to high. If you have not practiced for a while you must not play for more than about 10 minutes and gradually build up or your lip may split. Despite the challenges the sound is so special and people are always so appreciative of its lovely sound.

I just started playing oboe like what... 6 months ago? At first I thought that I was awful at it, because all of the other band kids said it sounded totally different, and they would tease me, and say it sounded like a duck, blah blah blah. Then one day we has a substitute, and apparently she was like a professional oboe player or something. She told the entire class that oboe (and French horn) were the hardest to play in her opinion. She went on for about 10 minutes about why bassoon, oboe and French horn were super hard, and that you should tease them if they sounded horrible. That shut everyone up.
So, if you don't think oboe is hard, think twice because a person who studied oboe in COLLEGE says it's hard. Mind blown.

I've been playing oboe for close to 4 years now. While it has never been too difficult for me to learn the fingerings, it took me a whole year to finally be able to add a slight shimmer of vibrato. It is difficult to play, yes. But the fundamentals aren't extremely difficult. Just like other instruments, the fingerings come to you naturally over time. The difficult part is getting the oboe to sound good. At least from talking to the other people in my high school, it's rather rare to find an oboist with good tone. I never really realized this- my middle school band had two oboists, and both of us were very capable and tried out for all county and district whenever we could.Part of the difficulty with producing a good sound is the reed. The oboe reed is thin and extremely fragile- my best reed broke a week before all state auditions two years ago. They are very finicky (just read another comment and realized someone else already used that word to describe oboe reeds o_o). The reed is ...more

In 6th grade, we were allowed to play any instrument, except for the pesky oboe. Not only do you need to blow into a tiny hole that drains your air and makes you light headed, but the reeds cost 13 dollars a piece, but you have half holes and keys your tiny, meaty, human hands can't even reach. Not to mention, the reeds break constantly, and you need to soak them for five minutes straight before playing with them, and in the winter, they dry out in a snap. You also need to change your Reed every 3 weeks, making the oboe an overall expensive, and insanely difficult instrument.

I have played every instrument on this list (except flute and bagpipes) and I feel that Oboe is definitely the most ddiiffiiccuulltt. Basically the main problem is the stupid reed. You have to take care of your reed like you would a live animal that will die in 2 weeks. Half hole notes make you want to throw your oboe through a concrete wall. I shall now compare them to the other instruments ranked above this. Violin is NOT the hardest instrument to learn. I can play the violin very well and I only have been playing it for one year, while with the oboe small things still piss me off. French horns deserves its second place for the reasons stated in the comments. Piano does too. Switch violin with oboe.

I have been playing the oboe for over a year now and I love it, but I can't say it's easy. People say it's one of the hardest instrument to play and I agree. Just like other people have commented the fingerings are hard and the reed is probably what makes it kind of frustrating because the reed detirmines if your gonna sound in tune or even make a sound. Band is my favorite thing to do and it makes my life a lot better. I love it so much that I've put a lot of determination into it and has been in first chair since I started and been to many events and done well all because of the oboe. (Also I encourage you to play it to because it's the best instrument ever even if you don't agree with me)

Oboe is the hardest instrument in my experience. I have played clarinet (soprano and bass), trombone, and oboe in bands, and then for fun have played/messed with flute, saxophone, trumpet, french horn, baritone, harmonica, and have taken lessons for piano.

Oboe is the hardest because of
1. Reeds (influences tone, pressure, tuning)
2. Embouchure (influences tone and tuning)
3. The pressure needed to play (harder than trumpet or french horn)
4. Fingerings (not the same on every instrument)
5. Tone (varies by instrument, reed, and embouchure)

Now let me share something about the oboe. It has the highest double reeded pitch of all the double reeded instruments. I hear that people can feel dizzy playing on this thing for only 10 mins. I've also heard stories about if you stand up and play, you could pass out. Nevertheless, I play piano and oboe. Oboe is really hard but I picked it up. Mouth position is EVERYTHING! Reeds are also a pain. Articulation is harder too. The left hand 4th finger is hard to control as well. I would say many instruments are easier that the oboe. Not everyone can play this instrument. That's why there's usually 1-3 in every band depending on the size. I'm the only one in my band.

I just want to day that oboe actually involves quite a bit of tuning. You have to accustom your mouth to the reed you are playing and every reed is different. Also, a major breathing problem with oboe is that not only do you have to blow a lot, the hole you blow through is far too small, so you actually have to exhale quite frequently as well as inhale. It is a very high maintenance instrument, and it takes a lot of time to get an enjoyable sound out of. It is beautiful, but extremely challenging. I started a few months ago.

There aren't many crazy fingerings, and eventually will no longer be a huge trouble to make a sound, although the back pressure and air build up will never go away, they have to be controlled, but the oboe is an extremely hard instrument to play well. Beginning players will sound like a dying goose, and professionals like an angel, but pretty much everything in between is painful to listen to on some level, unlike clarinet or any more mellow sounding instrument, who sound ok when a novice plays them.

The fact that the oboe is so far below a guitar of any type is just sad. The reeds alone will absolutely drive you crazy, let alone everything else that goes into playing the oboe. The only instruments that even come close on this whole list are the Bassoon (same reasons, but Bassoon is slightly easier all around), Horn (the partials are so close together), and the violin family (has the same "you'll sound terrible for years" thing.

I have only been playing the oboe for about a year and a half, and I love it so much. I switched from clarinet and it was tough. The oboe is a very hard instrument. The fingerings are sometimes hard and very awkward. The reed causes much stress (should it be closed or open? ) and making/buying them cost some money. It also takes many years to master it, the tone, the vibrato, everything. But I still love it to death, and I know that the few oboe players in the world would agree with me.

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