Double the Joy From Double Reeds

By Grace Doerfler – 10th Grade, Oakland Catholic High School

I’ve experimented with several different instruments over the years. I played the piano for a while; I learned how to play a wind instrument by trying the alto saxophone, then its cousins: the tenor and baritone. None of them really suited me though, and not until the summer before seventh grade did I really love making music.

My band teacher told me one day that the school had purchased several things for the music department—new music stands, a baritone horn, cymbals, and… an oboe. I received the news with only polite enthusiasm. I was a saxophonist; upgrades for brass and percussion players were great, but they didn’t really affect the woodwind section. I didn’t even know what an oboe was. But then he said, “I think you should try it.”

A few weeks later, on a sunny June afternoon, he brought me the instrument and told me to learn how to play it over the summer. He showed me how to assemble the joints and soak the peculiar double reed until the cane was damp enough to play. The notes I managed to coax out of the oboe that day were reluctant to leave the horn, but I experimented with the instrument all summer. The longer I juggled saxophone and oboe, the more I realized that oboe attracted me in a way saxophone never had. A year and a half after those first unpromising notes, I stopped playing saxophone altogether. Instead, I devoted myself solely to this instrument that could be joyful or poignant, light-hearted or melancholy, as the music required. My teacher’s intuition was good: I fell irrevocably in love with the oboe—and with music. The once-unfamiliar instrument transformed lifeless measures into something beautiful. Because of the oboe, I discovered a passion for music I’d never had before. I learn more about the instrument every day, and I know that music will remain an essential part of what brings me joy.


Grace DoerflerGrace Doerfler is a sophomore at Oakland Catholic High School who lives in West View. In her spare time, she enjoys running cross-country, playing the oboe, and baking. 

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