A toolkit for simple woodwind repairs

I think it’s really valuable to be able to do a few small repairs on woodwind instruments. As a doubler, I’ve found it to be a financial necessity—I can’t afford to run to the repair shop every time some little thing needs tweaking on one of my instruments—and it’s a great way to get to know your instruments better. (I do still make sure my instruments visit a real professional on a regular basis.)

There are some inexpensive and easily-obtained tools that are useful to have around. Most of these things you can easily buy locally; only a few require buying from a musical instrument repair supplier (MusicMedic.com and Ferree’s Tools are a couple of good suppliers that happily sell to non-pros). These are tools and supplies suitable for small repairs and maintenance, the kinds of things that you can do mostly with common sense or with instructional materials available online. The most expensive item on my list is a “selection” of sheet cork, which I have pegged at about $20 to get smallish pieces in a few different thicknesses. You can get my entire list for less than the cost of a decent clarinet mouthpiece.

Continue to the interactive shopping list

Jazz chord symbols: a primer for the classically-trained

Printed jazz music often uses chord symbols to indicate the music’s underlying harmony. As with the Roman numeral system used in classical music theory, jazz chord symbols may be used as a tool for analysis. But they are also used for performance, like Baroque figured bass notation, with the musicians using the symbols as a framework for improvising melodies and/or accompaniments. In jazz, the symbols are  generally non-specific with respect to inversion, and players of chord-capable instruments (such as piano or guitar) in jazz are accustomed to making independent choices about inversion and voicing. Depending on the situation, printed jazz music may include written notes only, or notes plus chord symbols, or even chord symbols alone.

Simple major triads aren’t common in most “modern” (post-1940) jazz. But in the rare cases that they do appear, they are indicated with a single note name:

C major

The letter “C” above the staff is the chord symbol. The notes shown on the staff here are the corresponding pitch classes, stacked in root position in the thirds familiar to students of classical theory, though a jazz musician, composer, or arranger would rarely voice a chord in this way.

Almost always, there should some variety of seventh specified, using the numeral 7 (and when it isn’t specified, it is often implied). By convention, using the 7 alone with a note name indicates the lowered seventh:

C seventh

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Required recordings, spring 2012

It’s a new semester, so it’s time again for required recordings. I think I’ve got an exceptional group of recordings picked out for my students (and myself) this semester: lots of beautiful, virtuosic playing, and  great repertoire.


Joseph Robinson: Principal Oboe, New York Philharmonic

Find it on: Amazon | iTunes

Repertoire: Saint-Saëns Sonata, Piston Suite, Poulenc TrioNielsen Two Fantasy Pieces, Dring Trio, Shickele Gardens, Still Incantation and Dance, Martin Petite Complainte Continue reading “Required recordings, spring 2012”