Adrian Lin ’22 scrapes off the last millimeter of wood using a small bevel knife after an hour of hard work—he has just finished making an oboe reed, a thin wooden mouthpiece, completely from scratch. As an oboist, Lin believes that making homemade reeds is an essential practice for all oboists trying to develop their style.
“Reed making is a really important part of playing the oboe; it’s what ultimately forms your sound. So being able to make your own reeds and shape your own personal voice in the oboe is really quintessential to being an oboist and also being a musician… Every oboist sounds unique and reed making is what brings that uniqueness to life,” said Lin.
Lin began playing the oboe five years ago, and at Andover, he is a part of the symphony orchestra, band, and chamber music groups. Adrian credits Andover for developing his passion for not only playing the oboe but also classical music in general.
“Before coming to Andover, I wasn’t that interested in music. But it was really coming to Andover and having the music department offer these ensembles that really helped me gain interest,” said Lin.
Lin started making his own reeds when quarantine first started in lieu of buying reeds online, and since then he has been making reeds every day. In particular, what Lin enjoys most is the personal touch and the detailed process that goes into making each reed. According to Lin, each millimeter is imperative to the overall reed quality, and scraping too much or too little could potentially throw off the oboe’s sound.
“The tiny details [of reed making] and the subtlety really aligns with what I like about music too because there is so much delicacy and [there are so many] personal nuances that you bring into the music, and reed making really reflects that detailed part of music-making. It really allows you to build a personal voice and that is something unique to [the] oboe because you are building your sound the way you want it and not many other instruments have that,” said Lin.
Lin’s attention to detail is part of what makes him such a great oboist in orchestra and band, according to Brendon Chung ’22, a friend and fellow orchestra member. Chung commented on Lin’s dedication and motivation for playing music, which is what he admires most about Lin as a musician.
“I’d say since he is so dedicated, he practices a lot, and even though I do like playing music I can’t really find the motivation sometimes. He always seems to have that energy to practice,” said Chung.
Lin hopes to carry on his musical career by playing the oboe in college. Although he doesn’t plan to major in music, he wants to continue to be a dedicated oboist by playing in ensembles in college and beyond.
“Engaging with the oboe throughout my whole life is something that I plan to do. Just as an amateur musician, someone who does it just because they love it, just for fun,” said Lin.