Course Syllabus for Oboe Studio Instruction

MUP 111, 127, 327, 527, 727

Academic Year, 2009-2010


Martin Schuring

Music E-443



Auditions for band/orchestra seating and placement will be held on Tuesday, August 25 beginning at 7:30 pm. Sign-up sheets will be available the week before on the orchestra bulletin boards, located on the second floor of the classroom wing of Gammage Auditorium outside room 209. These auditions are intended for players who are interested in both band and orchestra, or who aren’t sure. There will be separate auditions for players interested only in band – consult the band bulletin board, located at the opposite end of the hallway from the orchestra office. You will play only the excerpts provided in the order given. It is not necessary to prepare anything else.  The sign-up sheet will tell you where the audition will take place.


If you are the recipient of a Special Talent Award (in other words, a music scholarship), you are required to play in one of the bands for the duration of your scholarship award. If you are not a scholarship recipient or hold an academic scholarship, band participation is not required, though certainly encouraged. Auditions for ensembles are held only at the beginning of the year. Results will be posted by Thursday evening, August 27, allowing students time to register for the appropriate ensembles. Consult the band and orchestra bulletin boards for first meeting times. Please come early to your audition – there is a form to complete before you play.


Lesson Scheduling and Registration

Lessons will officially begin during the second week of classes – the week of August 31. In order to schedule your lesson time, I will need a schedule of your classes by Wednesday, August 26. The blank form is included in this packet of information. When you have the information, please complete it by indicating each of your classes and their locations. Also be sure to indicate times of other regularly occurring events: work, church activities, etc. Also, please indicate your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choices for a lesson time. I am usually successful in accommodating these requests. Each student receives one 50 minute lesson per week.


The 11:50 hour on Wednesdays is set aside for Studio Classes (master classes), and student recital programs – either a Woodwind Area Recital (programs featuring only woodwind performers), or a Convocation (programs including performers from all areas). DO NOT sign up for any classes during this time. The School of Music computer will block registration during this hour, but other departments may not, so be careful. All students are required to attend area recitals; only undergraduate students are required to attend the convocations (see below under “Attendance”).



Attendance and Grading Policies

Students must attend all studio classes and area recitals as part of their oboe studio requirement. New undergraduates should familiarize themselves with the MUP 100 concert attendance policy. This can block graduation if not observed.

There is a weekly oboe studio class in place of the occasional Wednesday classes. The class meets for one hour every Friday at 11:50 am. The class location will be announced as soon as possible. Plan to have the first meeting on Friday, August 28. Attendance is required and is subject to the rules listed below. When studio classes are scheduled during the normal Wednesday rotation, you will have that hour free. If you are a new student and none of this makes sense yet, it will after a few weeks.

Attendance at all student, faculty, and guest oboe performances is required. A detailed schedule listing all required events will be made available as early as possible during each semester. If you have an unavoidable conŖict with a required event, you can get credit by attending the dress rehearsal. Unexcused absence from three or more required events during a semester will lower your semester grade by one full letter. The attendance requirement includes area recitals, studio classes, and all required events announced during the semester.

Each lesson will receive a grade. A grade of “A” is given for outstanding effort reflected by outstanding performance. A grade of “B” is given for good effort and performance, and should be regarded as describing normal progress. A grade of “C” is given when there are problems or areas of concern, and should be regarded as unsatisfactory. “D” and “E” are failing grades and should never occur. A studio class performance will be graded also, counting as one lesson grade. All students are required to perform in at least two studio class each semester; a sign-up sheet will be provided at the beginning of the semester. I will be happy to discuss your grade at any time.

An unexcused absence from a lesson will receive a grade of “E” for that lesson. Always call in advance if you are ill or have a problem.

A reedmaking class is offered for three one-hour periods each week. Bea Gerber, our graduate teaching assistant, will also offer a reedmaking assistance for students wishing additional help. Attendance at reed classes is limited to three students at a time; a sign-up sheet will be provided. I will send an e-mail when each month’s sign-up sheet is available. Signing up is first come, first served, so hurry. Classes tend to fill up very quickly. Freshman oboe students are expected to play on their own reeds immediately, with help given as necessary.

If you must All lessons missed due to my absence will be made up.


Jury Exams

Jury exams are held at the end of each semester. The jury exam is a ten-minute performance of selections from the material studied during the semester. We will select the material to be performed a few weeks before the jury. An accompanist is recommended but not required. Scale requirements (see attached) may be checked, also. Jury exams are graded and will be weighted as two lessons. If your jury grade deviates strongly from your studio grade, it may affect your řnal grade more than the two lesson formula permits. You will be exempted from playing a jury if any of the following applies to the semester in question:

Š          You are not required to take lessons to fulřll your degree requirements or…


Concert of Soloists Competition

Each fall, we have a concerto competition at ASU. The guidelines as determined by Dr. Russell are attached. We need to have our woodwind finalists determined by October 20, so we will need to start well before that to select the oboe contestants. The oboe round will likely need to take place in early October. I recommend thinking about this now if you would like to enter. Feel free to ask me for input about your repertoire choice.


Other Requirements and Items of Interest

Scale requirements are expected to be met within the first semester and maintained thereafter. Daily scale practice is an essential part of technical development. Refer to the enclosed scale sheet for minimum requirements. Please note that these are minimums and feel free to exceed them.

All oboe performance majors are required to be members of the International Double Reed Society.

Everyone must obtain an e-mail account during the řrst week of the fall semester. Let me know your e-mail address as soon as you have it. Many messages of general interest, including announcements of scheduling and required events, will be circulated through e-mail only, so check your account regularly. ASU provides free e-mail accounts to students, though many students find other providers are more convenient. I have no preference, but the account be must be reliable and you must check it regularly. I occasionally have problems with hotmail blocking my mail, so if you have a hotmail account, consider changing to another provider for ASU business.

New masters students need to have a faculty supervisory committee before their first recital, typically given during the second semester. This committee will evaluate your recitals and administer the final comprehensive exam at the end of your studies. It will have three members: me, one other woodwind faculty member, and one member from the history/theory area from whom you have taken a class. It is your responsibility to recruit these faculty members. It is your responsibility to invite committee members to your recitals well in advance. I have also attached helpful hints for MM and DMA students as authored by Dr. Jeffrey Bush, our associate director.               


I prefer that all new performance majors take the oboe pedagogy class during their first semester. This class is required for all performance degrees, undergraduate and graduate. It is a survey of oboe techniques, and provides a useful supplement to your lessons. Music education and music therapy students do not have to take this class, or may take it in a later semester. Students who have already taken it can repeat the class for credit. Class number is MUP 481 for undergraduates and MUP 581 for graduate students.


For more information about the oboe studio and other related topics, visit my web page at <>.


Recital Procedure

A successful recital begins with careful planning. Follow these steps, and start planning early – several months in advance – to avoid any problems. Important note: Students MUST register for recital credit at the beginning of the semester, or it will not count for your degree.


1. In consultation with me, determine your program. The program should include music from a variety of periods and styles, and should be of a difficulty level appropriate to your degree program. You should include one major or standard work (i.e. a concerto or a substantial sonata), and one chamber music work featuring oboe or English horn. This planning should take place months in advance, giving ample time to prepare.


2. Arrange all of the assisting musicians you will need. Make sure to get firm commitments, not vague promises. Check with me for recommendations of appropriate players.


3. See Cathy Bickell in the facilities and events office for a recital form. Work with me and your assisting musicians to find a time that suits everyone. Be careful to avoid conflicts with large ensemble events such as band concerts, orchestra concerts, or opera rehearsals/performances. Do this well in advance, as early as the system allows, to avoid problems.


4. Make sure to have the required permissions is you need anything out of the ordinary—harpsichord, electronic amplification, prepared piano, etc.


5. Make a rehearsal schedule with your colleagues. Do this weeks in advance. Everyone is very busy, so if you wait until two weeks before your recital, you will not get enough rehearsal. Plan more rehearsals than you think you need; it’s always easy to cancel them later. Make sure I hear everything in a lesson or a studio class at least two weeks in advance. Failure to be fully prepared two weeks in advance may result in the cancellation of your recital.


6. Neatly type your program copy. I can help you with this if you have any questions about formatting or spelling or whatever. Your program must be turned back to Cathy Bickell three weeks in advance.


7. Graduate students: Invite your committee members in writing at least a month in advance. Visit each faculty member in person and give them a written invitation. Don’t just send an e-mail. If they cannot attend, it is your responsibility to give them a recording of the recital afterwards.


8. Arrange a dress rehearsal time in the hall a few days in advance of your performance. The dress rehearsal can take place after an evening recital beginning at 9 PM or thereabouts; often the hall is also available early in the morning. I prefer dress rehearsals first thing in the morning over the late night times. Make sure that I am available, as well as all of your colleagues, and any extra equipment (harpsichord, etc.).


9. Practice a lot, rehearse a lot, make a lot of reeds.


10. Play well and enjoy yourself.


Recommended materials and tools

At a minimum, you will need to own the following books:


Barret Oboe Method (Kalmus recommended, or Boosey & Hawkes)

Ferling 48 Studies (Southern Music Company)

Andraud Vade Mecum (Southern)


Later in the summer, please look for “Oboe Art and Method” by Martin Schuring from Oxford University Press. You can pre-order it now from OUP or Amazon or just about anyplace that sells books.


Other method books, and solo pieces should be purchased as needed. We do not use duplicates or Xerox copies.


For reedmaking, you will need at least the following:


A knife. I recommend Rigotti for good quality and reasonable price. If you can spend more, Landwell knives are quite a bit better.


A good mandrel. Go ahead and get a good one that fits your staple preference. If you don’t lose it, it will last the rest of your life.


String. Nylon FF.


Beeswax. Available in the hardware store or through any doublereed vendor. A medium-sized cake lasts a long time. The stuff from fabric stores is too hard.


Staples. 2 dozen or so. I use Stevens #2 thinwall staples, available from Weber Reeds. Some students have reported problems getting reeds to seal using these, so make your initial purchase a small one until you know that they work for you. I’ve never noticed any difference between silver and brass, so get brass.


Cane. If you don’t gouge or shape yet, I recommend looking for…10-10.5 diameter, .60mm gouge, Pfeiffer-Mack shape. If the Pfeiffer-Mack shape is not available, Gilbert –1 is an acceptable substitute. Roger Miller and David Weber are a good sources of shaped cane. Get a bunch, you’ll need it. You will learn to gouge and shape your own cane soon after your arrival on campus, so purchase some tube cane (10 to 10.5 diameter). A pound is the usual measure, which will eventually yield about 100-150 pieces of cane. Some vendors will sell tube cane by the piece, or in smaller weights. You will go through several pounds during your first year.


Sharpening stone. The oboe studio has a system of Shapton sharpening stones. I will show you how to use these as soon as convenient. Then, you will need an item called Raz-R Steel to maintain the knife edge. This is available from Weber Reeds <> or from <>. It should not cost more the $25 or so; some vendors are selling it for much more, so be careful. A pair of ceramic sticks or a very fine ceramic stone are useful for touching up the blade.


Fishskin. You should need it only rarely, but it’s useful to have around, so get a small sheet. Thinner is better. Plumber’s teflon tape, though ugly, is better still.


Plaques. Get several; they get lost easily. Flat, blue steel, rounded or pointy ends. Nothing fancy.


Cutting block. Rosewood or grenadilla. NOT plastic. At least 1 inch in diameter.


You should shape your own cane for consistent results. I use a Mack-Pfeiffer tip. Copies of this are available from Midwest Musical Imports and RDG: MMI is cheaper. Don’t bother with the +1 or -1 designations; the straight-ahead Mack-Pfeiffer tip is the right design. There are many other good tips. You will also need a handle – make sure it has moveable jaws, but other than that, you don’t need the superluxe top-priced model. The Westwind handle is a good compromise between price and quality.


The oboe studio owns a Graf oboe gouging machine, a Gilbert oboe gouger, a Reeds ‘n Stuff oboe gouger, and a Ross English horn gouger, as well as an assortment of measuring tools, pregougers, shaper tips, handles, etc. – all for student use. If you don’t own any shaping or gouging tools, you will still do very well using the school’s equipment. But you will eventually need your own, so plan ahead. A gouging machine with accessories costs $1,000 or more; a good shaper tip and handle will cost $250 and up.


Summer contact info:

I can be reached via e-mail during the entire summer <>, though response time may be a few days slower than usual. Here’s the schedule…


I will be in Arizona until July 6. Office phone is 480/965-3439. After that, I will be in England for the IDRS conference and some traveling, returning to AZ on July 24. From July 26 until August 19 or so, I will be in Wyoming performing at the Grand Teton Music Festival. I should be back in my office on Thursday or Friday of that week—August 20 or 21. Except for the time I’m in England, you can call my mobile phone – 480/861-1954. Snail mail should be sent to:

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or problems. I look forward to seeing all of you in the Fall.