Easy Tiger features in List B of the Grade 2 oboe syllabus. You’ll need to pick between this one and Dragonfly.
I’ve heard it played faster, but I prefer to keep the tempo down on this piece. Try to make your performance sound jazzy by making a real effort to ‘swing’ your quavers – that means making the first one of the pair a bit longer than the second one. (Normally they would be the same length). As I always say, work hard at the dynamics and don’t be afraid to put lots of air through your oboe at the end of the piece to give a great lasting impression!
One of the things I really love about the internet is that I posted my video of Easy Tiger on my Twitter profile, and Pam Wedgwood actually saw it and enjoyed it! How about this for a personal career highlight?!
(For those of you who don’t know, when I’m not busy making music videos, I am a charity fundraiser)
Anyway, here’s the video. Pam Wedgwood likes it, and I hope you do too!
Easy Tiger is one of many fantastic pieces in Really Easy Jazzin’ About for Oboe. Quite a few of the pieces have featured in the ABRSM syllabus over the years, so it’s a good investment if you don’t already have a copy.
Who doesn’t love Gabriel’s Oboe? It really is beautiful.
Luckily for you (and me), this piece is currently on the ABRSM Grade 6 syllabus. That’s brilliant news, and please please PLEASE do add this piece to your repertoire if you’ve never played it before… We don’t want to encourage Arrangers to keep putting the best oboe parts on flute… ⬇️
Grr… Anyway, assuming you are looking at this post because you’re learning the oboe part, here are my top tips.
Gabriel’s Oboe – Top Tips
Watch your tuning – especially on those As! And also as you go into the higher register.
Don’t move too quickly on the turns
Don’t play this piece too loud. The piano part is simple, so your sound will project over the top no matter how lyrically you play.
Listen to lots of recordings and try to imitate the style you like the most.
Don’t worry too much about getting the rhythm exactly perfect – you can afford to use rubato in this piece, and pull the tempo around a bit.
I hope you enjoy my video! 🙂 Feel free to share it if you do!
Pendulum by Vera Gray is another really lovely choice for Grade 1 oboe. When you’re choosing your List B piece, you’ll have to pick between this one and Jackboots. So why not watch both videos to help you choose your favourite?
Here are my top tips to play Pendulum well:
Try to keep your phrases really smooth. Remember to keep a close eye on the slurs in the music, and only use your tongue to articulate the first note in each group.
Make a big effort on your dynamics. There are lots of crescendo and diminuendo markings in this piece – push more air through your oboe to play louder. One trick my teacher taught me to help me remember whether I should be playing louder or softer is to look at the hairpin lines of the dynamic markings. Imagine the lines are your mouth – when they are further apart (wider), the sound is louder!
Be careful in bar 8! That low D may squeak if your lips are too tight around the reed.
If you want to play along with Pendulum, you’ll need a copy of Oboe Music to Enjoy. You can grab a copy by following this link.
I love playing Jackboots by Vera Gray! It’s such a fun piece for Grade 1 and covers a good range of notes for the beginner oboe player. If you’re thinking about learning to play Jackboots, watch my video below and use my top tips to help you to play it really well!
Here are my top tips:
Don’t forget to check the key signature – Jackboots has two flats in the key signature at the beginning, so make sure you don’t miss any of those Bbs. The key signature changes in Bar 16 to one sharp, so make sure your Bs become natural!
Try to really show off your dynamics. The two bar phrase at the beginning is forte (loud) and then it is repeated at mezzo piano (fairly quiet) – make sure your audience can hear the difference in volume.
Make sure your staccato notes are really short – use your tongue for a really clear sound.
If you want to play Jackboots by Vera Gray, you can find the music in Oboe Music to Enjoy (Boosey and Hawkes). Click the link below to get your hands on a copy!
Telemann’s Sonata in A minor really is a very beautiful piece of oboe music. I created one video for each movement of the Sonata, so that it’s a bit easier for you to navigate – you’ll find these at the bottom of this post.
(This was also the very first Emilyreedsmusic video series that I made, so it has lots of sentimental value for me! I don’t think I realised that I was opening a can of worms when I decided to try accompanying myself on the piano for the first time, and that years later I would have a website and YouTube channel dedicated to doing just this!)
Anyway, getting back onto the topic, for Grade 7 oboe you won’t need to prepare the full Sonata – the syllabus requires either movements 1 and 2 OR movements 3 and 4. Recently, I performed the first two movements as part of a short recital, and I wrote the following performance notes, which you might find useful:
Written in 1728, Telemann’s ‘Sonata in A minor’ is written in a typical late-Baroque style. During his lifetime, Telemann wrote over 3000 pieces of music and was well-respected by his contemporaries, including JS Bach and Handel. As one of the leading composers of his time, Telemann’s music neatly bridges the gap between the Baroque and Classical periods, offering both lyrical melodic lines and opportunities for virtuosic performance styles through ornamentation and artistic embellishments.
Telemann was not only an extremely talented composer, but also took it upon himself to organise the publishing of his own works. This Sonata was first published in 1729 in Telemann’s own Der getreue Music-Meister, which featured over 70 of his other compositions, mostly solo instrumental pieces with continuo accompaniment.
The first movement, Siciliana, is a slow lilting and tuneful movement in compound time, contrasting with the fast second movement with its quick 5-note scale motifs heard throughout the piece. The third movement is another slow movement, and the only one in the whole work to be played in the relative major (C major). It offers a stark contrast to the fast and impressive final movement, Vivace, giving the performer an opportunity to show off their technical skill to end the Sonata.
The ‘Sonata in A minor for Oboe and Piano’ has been one of the most popular pieces in the oboe repertoire for hundreds of years, as it sits comfortably within the range of the instrument and enables performers the opportunity to demonstrate their articulation skills and dynamic range, as well as technical mobility across the instrument.
Here’s the videos of each movement:
If you feel inspired and want to buy a copy of the sheet music, here’s the link.