A few months ago I posted some of my recommendations for good woodwind-related blogs, and shared a couple of tips on getting the most out of your blog reading. I’ve got a few more favorite blogs I’d like to share today, and another blog-reading tip, too.
This time I came up with a blog each for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and saxophone, plus a bonus one. Here they are in no particular order:
Barrick Stees is the assistant principal bassoonist in the Cleveland Orchestra, and a professor at the Cleveland Institute of Music and the University of Akron. His blog is fairly new (started earlier this year) but is already full of good stuff. Professor Stees shares some insights on playing excerpts at a level suitable to one of the great American orchestras:
He also keeps a travelogue of his tours with the orchestra, and comments on other items of interest to professional or developing musicians, such as:
Cooper Wright is a doctoral oboe student and a recovering professional reedmaker. This is a guy who has harnessed the reed-related neuroses common to oboists, and turned them into a deep understanding of how the little pieces of cane work. His posts are occasional but meaty, with lots of high-level shop talk. Some samples:
- The gouge and making reeds commercially
- The role of the overlap
- Stability, Projection, and the Opera Pit
Dr. Adam Berkowitz is a clarinetist and bass clarinetist with contemporary leanings (and a new book on extended techniques). His posts are practical and focused on technique and performance issues, and sometimes include video demonstrations:
Flutist and composer Nathan Zalman’s quirky blog posts are usually at least tangentially related to flute playing, and always full of the kind of common sense born of experience. Check him out and enjoy the ride:
- Cracked lips–OUCH!!
- I Want to Believe (flute gear and the placebo effect)
- My Flute Is Bent (on doing—or not doing—your own repairs)
Ben Britton, jazz saxophonist, does frank and insightful reviews of saxophones, mouthpieces, etc:
- Throwdown: Yamaha’s Custom EX Tenor Saxophone vs. Selmer’s Reference 36 Tenor Saxophone
- Otto Link’s “Vintage” Metal Mouthpiece
…and also shares his thoughts on creative jazz improvisation:
Chris doesn’t reveal his last name on his website, so I won’t share it here. (Chris stops by here now and then, so maybe he’ll choose to identify himself in the comments. If not, that’s cool.)
Chris’s blog is very, very specialized: he deals with the use of the AKAI EWI (electronic wind instrument) in combination with a sophisticated software package called Reason. I’m an aspiring EWI player, but I don’t use Reason (yet?); still, I’m always interested to check out Chris’s latest posts, where he often gives away new patches (sounds) that he has developed for users of Reason, and usually provides an audio clip for the rest of us.
Blog reading tip: the Google Reader “next” bookmarklet
As I mentioned last time, I find Google Reader to be 100% essential for keeping track of blogs. I subscribe to over 300 myself, mostly woodwind-related (or at least music-related), and Reader makes it easy to skim for the blog posts that I want to read in detail. Many of the blogs that I track with Reader are rarely updated, and this is one area where Reader really makes things easy. I don’t want to spend time visiting individual blog sites that haven’t been updated in a year or more, just on the slim chance that the author has resurfaced to write something new and brilliant. But with Reader, if something new pops up, I know about it right away, and, if not, no further effort is required on my part.
But for me, one downside of using Reader is that it gives me the blog content out of context. I enjoy reading the posts on the author’s website, where I can get a more complete picture: their design flair, their blogrolls, comments that others have made about their blog posts, and more. Enter: the Google Reader “next” bookmarklet!
To get one for yourself, visit your Google Reader home page, and find “Reader settings” (it’s currently in the menu in the upper-right-hand corner, with an icon that looks like a gear). Click on the “Goodies” tab, and scroll down to “Put Reader in a bookmark.” Drag the provided link to your bookmarks bar, and you’re ready to go. Click on it to move quickly through your unread blog posts, presented in their native habitats. Enjoy!