MS Word music hack: Automatic sharps, flats, and naturals

Here’s how to set up Microsoft Word to automatically insert sharp, flat, and natural signs for you. Instructions are for Word 2007 running on Windows Vista, and may need to be adapted slightly for your setup.

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Rampal on flutist/flautist

Jennifer Cluff posted this video on her excellent blog today:

I think Ms. Cluff’s commentary is right on the mark.

But I’ll admit the thing that jumped out to me was the brief conversation between Jean-Pierre Rampal and Dick Cavett, at about 5:10. Rampal takes a stand on the flutist/flautist thing, which is a big pet peeve of mine.

Doubling reminders for the day

Non-doublers often seem to think that the most amazing thing about doubling is keeping all the fingerings straight. I don’t find that to be a major problem; the keywork of each instrument feels different enough in my hands that I think I tend to switch into the right fingering mode automatically.

It’s the other stuff that’s a problem. I find I often need to give myself a few reminders as I’m setting down one instrument and picking up the next. Here’s the stuff that has been going through my mind lately—maybe one or more of these will click for you, too. Continue reading “Doubling reminders for the day”

Review: The Woodwind Player’s Cookbook

I’ve been reading The Woodwind Player’s Cookbook, published last year by Meredith Music and edited by Charles West. It’s a collection of 57 pedagogical essays by a pretty impressive roster of woodwind folks. You can download the table of contents here to see the authors and titles.

Most of the articles deal with technique fundamentals on specific instruments, which should make this book valuable to school band directors, but it also works quite well as a handbook for woodwind doublers; in fact, there are several articles that deal specifically with doubling, by Mike Duva, James Nesbit, Elsie Parker, and Albert Regni. Continue reading “Review: The Woodwind Player’s Cookbook”

Eight live microphone tips for woodwind players

If you are a classically-trained woodwind player, playing into a microphone might be a new experience for you.

A rock band that I play in (flute and saxophone) does a lot of shows in small clubs and bars, and the sound guy (or girl—I’m using “sound guy” from here on out, with gender-neutral intent) is usually used to miking vocals, guitar amps, and drum sets, and may or may not know what to do with a woodwind instrument. I can often help things along, and make sure the band and I sound our best, by coming armed with a small amount of knowledge.

Here are some basic tips for looking and sounding like you know what you’re doing. I’m assuming here that you’re not doing anything fancy gear-wise (there are plenty of options if you want to buy a clip-on mic), just showing up with your instrument and using the venue’s basic sound equipment. Continue reading “Eight live microphone tips for woodwind players”