JM (John Minsker): He would ask you to whistle to form your embouchure. The idea was to avoid the stretching so that the corners of your month were closer together. This naturally gave you more cushion in the center. If you want to play pp, you play on the tip of the reed, and gradually as you expand that tone, you can take more reed.

RF: Tabuteau directed me to draw my lower lip more over my lower teeth and lay the reed against my lower lip.

MT: Keep the reed covered by holding the oboe lower and back against your lower lip.

MT: Use a mirror to check against a cheek or cheeks puffing out. Also, check to see that the oboe remains straight down, not to the right side. Check to see that the embouchure is flexible: up-and-down with the range of the instrument; in other words, in-and-out of the mouth by degrees.

MT to DB: Embouchure: Maintain it very tightly on level 1, but use less-and-less embouchure pressure on each higher level.

MT: Find the correct place on the reed. That is, each reed, however less than perfect it might be, has a right place for each note of the scale. This has to do with putting more or less of the reed into the mouth in a flexible manner.

[Note Ralph Gomberg’s solution: Use left-hand pressure to cause the reed to move further into the mouth.]

LVB (Laurie Van Brunt): How about the embouchure and reed placement in terms of the colors. Do you adjust – he talks about moving the reed in and out, how did he do this? How does that work exactly?

WR (Wayne Rapier): Well, he did it. I mean he literally moved his embouchure in and out; he was always talking about avoiding the crocodile bite. That meant to have a flexible embouchure so that if you wanted to play dark, you could surround the reed very much, and if you wanted to drown out the trumpet section, you could put very little lip on the reed and play straight out.

Marcel Tabuteau in 1950 at Preades with John Mack to his left and Laila Storch to his right.

MT to DB: Taught all around. Indentation of the jaw: tight there. Lips relaxed and flexible.

AG (Adrian Gnam): Adjust with the change of notes. Use the syllable ‘Oh’ not ‘Ah.’

MT: Embouchure: Maintain it very tightly on level 1, but use less-and-less embouchure pressure on each higher level.

MT: The following is an exercise to test the range of the instrument and to test the reed, tongued and slurred:

Item 83.png

RF (Rowland Floyd): Tabuteau advised me to play on a reed by itself, or in tube of cane to ‘save’ the neighbors when practicing [see below].

Item 8.png

MT: Practice on the reed alone, and then insert it into a piece of cane. Play chromatically using levels 1 to 5 to 1. Before playing, try the reed in the embouchure alone. The reed should be further into the mouth for high notes and further out of the mouth for the lowest notes.

MT: Take more reed in your mouth, and turn, roll, and twist your reed in the oboe to the left as does a bassoonist because it lets the reed vibrate more.

RF: I noticed that Tabuteau had a crease, a red mark on his lower lip after playing, which was ¾ of an inch long where his reed impressed his lip by turning it slightly to the left.

MT: Take more reed in the mouth when playing low notes and loud notes. For these, you need more vibration of the reed.

MT: Think ‘O’ on a low attack, not ‘E’ like a crocodile. Then you are cooked!