Howarth oboe Back to Links & Surprises
Oboe Classics logo and strapline

Zen and the Art of Oboe Playing
Some sayings by the French oboist Maurice Bourgue,
noted at a Masterclass in Ramsgate, UK, 1980 (and still true in the 21st Century!)


  • Either give your all or play nicely.
  • You have to die for the music
  • There is no secret!
  • Be like a happy monkey
  • Get the sense, then the sound
  • The audience meets you by feeling what you play, not by understanding
  • Playing is not more serious than drinking coffee
  • Take the reed in as you would take up a fork - simply
  • You play not to play well, or badly, but to give pleasure
  • Your desire is too strong; why do you want to play it right?
Maurice Bourgue, Folkestone 1980
  • Accept the danger and give your life. The truth is after the fear. Go through the fear. Why not? What is your reason? The risk of being unsuccessful is not a big risk
  • Agree with the fear, it is a good friend

  • All my body is like a heart, with blood. It is my limit, and also my freedom
  • Whooohhh! Whooohhh! Full of pushing but without will*

  • The embouchure is in the stomach
  • The reed is the join, but not the start
  • To be right at the mouth, first be right in the breath

  • Rhythm is the basis of technique
  • In order to play out of time, you have to feel the pulse
*By 'will' I think Bourgue means desire, effort, or anything else we might add to the act of pushing air.

Back to Links & Surprises