Brass doubling?

I have now successfully completed both my written and oral comprehensive exams, and am one large step closer to finishing a doctorate in multiple woodwinds performance.

In the oral exam, one of my professors asked why woodwind doubling is a well-recognized musical specialty, but doubling on brass instruments is not.  The question was an odd one, especially since brass instruments fall precisely outside my area of expertise. I didn’t have a good answer, except that brass players seem to be particularly protective of their embouchures, and presumably don’t want to risk ruining them by switching instruments. (That seemed to be satisfactory for purposes of the exam.) Continue reading “Brass doubling?”

Review: Improve Your Doubling, by Chris Vadala

Improve Your DoublingI only know of one etude book geared toward woodwind doublers, and it’s Chris Vadala’s Improve Your Doubling: Advanced Studies for Doublers (Dorn Publications, 1991).

Mr. Vadala is on my list of “notable woodwind doublers,” and certainly he is an outstanding player on single reeds and flute, but I think what makes him really notable in the (tiny) world of woodwind doubling is that he jumped on the opportunity to establish himself as an expert in the field, by writing this etude book and by contributing a semi-regular column, “Tips on Doubling,” in Saxophone Journal throughout the 1990’s. If you find yourself in the odd position of trying to do scholarly research on woodwind doubling (like I do, now and then), you find a lot of Chris Vadala and not much of anybody else.

So. I’m generally leery of anything that is “for doublers.” I don’t want, say, a clarinet mouthpiece “for doublers”—I want a clarinet mouthpiece for clarinetists. What do I want to sound like when I play the clarinet? A doubler? No. And so I find the idea of an etude book “for doublers” to be a little problematic—wouldn’t I be better off using the tried-and-true etude books for each individual instrument? Continue reading “Review: Improve Your Doubling, by Chris Vadala”

Recommended: Jennifer Cluff’s flute blog

If you aren’t reading Jennifer Cluff’s blog, I highly recommend surfing on over and spending a few hours: www.jennifercluff.com/blog/

Ms. Cluff’s blog gets my vote for being the most useful woodwind-related blog currently on the web, with long and in-depth posts about flute playing, including, sometimes, answers to readers’ questions. There is really excellent stuff here for beginners and very advanced flutists alike. I just finished reading her latest post, on excess movement in flute playing. Ms. Cluff’s posts are sporadic but always worthwhile, so subscribe to the RSS feed if you’re cool like that. Continue reading “Recommended: Jennifer Cluff’s flute blog”

Learning to play a woodwind: is previous woodwind experience a disadvantage?

I teach a woodwind methods class as part of my graduate assistantship (and was the teaching assistant in the class for several years before teaching it on my own). In this class music education students get a crash course in playing and teaching the woodwind instruments, in preparation (too little!—but that’s another blog post) for careers as school band directors. My class is made up of woodwind players, brass players, percussionists, keyboardists, and even vocalists. It is interesting to see how to woodwind players fare in comparison to the non-woodwind players. Continue reading “Learning to play a woodwind: is previous woodwind experience a disadvantage?”