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Oboe Fingerings: Trills Part 1

Welcome to the first episode of One Minute Oboe Lessons! Recently, I coached a talented group of all-state level oboists, and to my surprise, they faltered on important topics, including trills that did not use the standard fingerings. This prompted me to create a series covering less common but crucial oboe techniques that may not be encountered often in regular lessons.

Today we will address two irregular oboe trills: G# to A, and A# to B (Bb to Cb or Bb to B). As an example, we will use Scheherazade, a soloistic orchestral piece by Rimsky-Korsakov. Use this link for a free download of the oboe parts of Scheherazade so that you may follow along. The video focuses on the beginning of the fourth movement.

Bb to Cb, also called A# to B, or Bb to B

This should be accomplished by playing Bb with the regular Ab key down and then lifting the middle finger of your left hand. Bonus info: Three lines before the end of page two, in the last measure, is a trill from Bb to Cb. Rimsky-Korsakov uses this trill in its other name, A# to B, on the next page. Quiz: How many times can you find this trill in the first oboe part? Enter your answer in the Contact page of to have a chance at being featured in a future blog post!

G# to A

“Well, that’s simple,” you think, and proceed to lift either your left hand ring finger or both that and your pinky. Not so fast!! That will result in a larger trill than a half step and be quite awkward. For this trill to be correct, you need to use the small curved right-hand Ab key that wraps around the other RH Ab and then trill your LH ring finger. This gives a better sounding half-step trill. Bonus info: In the first movement of Scheherazade, after successfully navigating the first waves of arpeggios and trills on page two, we arrive at three bars before letter E. Here we trill from G# to A.

Happy Trills until we meet again!

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