Reply To: Need help for flat oboe player

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Consistent pitch problems are usually a reed thing. Have her play on another reed and see if it changes at all. If she’s consistently flat and the reed is pretty easy, it sounds like it needs a tiny clip. I’m an oboist, but I’d be nervous about doing this if I wasn’t, but here goes-
You’ll need a reed knife or single edged razor blade and a small cutting block if you have one. You’re only going to clip of the tiniest amount possible- almost invisible. Put the reed on the cutting block, line up the knife to where you want it, and push down straight until it cuts through both blades. Remember- keep the clip as tiny as possible! You can always take more off, but you can’t put it back on. Have her try it again. If the reed is still comfortable and it’s a little bit better pitch-wise, do it again. The reed will get higher in pitch but harder as you clip it, so if she’s flat and struggling with the reed being too hard, don’t clip it.
It’s possible that it could be an embouchure thing if she’s flat on every reed. Her embouchure should be like a drawstring with the lips inside- the pressure should be round, not up and down, and not like a smile- more like a whistle with her lips rolled in. If her embouchure is OK, she should be reasonably in tune on a decent reed. The problem is finding decent reeds, especially for young players. There are a lot of REALLY BAD oboe reeds out there. If there’s an oboist in the area, you might be able to get suggestions for them, or even have them make reeds for your students if you’re lucky.
Good luck!