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Do you know how to use the half-hole on the oboe?

As we’re getting back to basics, I thought we should revisit the half-hole and what your students should and should NOT be doing with their finger on that key.

WHAT: The half-hole key is the first key on the oboe, pressed by the index finger of the Left hand. (pic)

HOW: To properly uncover the half-hole, the oboist’s finger must roll down to uncover the hole in the key while keeping the key fully depressed. (video or gif)

WHY: The half-hole key is the octave mechanism responsible for C#, D, and Eb in the staff. To play the note an octave lower, simply cover up the half-hole and make sure the reed has room to vibrate in the mouth.


  • Slide or pick up and put down the half-hole finger.

  • Use the thumb octave key at the same time as the half-hole

  • Leave part of the hole covered - the entire hole needs to be uncovered

  • Use the half-hole at the same time as the second/side octave key

  • Move the entire wrist to get the turning motion: the finger alone should rotate.

Check out my Instagram post to see a demonstration:

So now you know a bit more about the half-hole mechanism of the oboe. Remember: Uncover the entire hole while keeping the key depressed.

Do you have any questions about playing the oboe? Comment on this post and ask! I might choose your question for the next blog.


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