Bad ideas woodwind doublers get

July 9, 2008

Some, but fortunately not all, of these are mistakes I have made myself.

Bad idea Good idea
“With the help of a fingering chart and the Internet, I can pick up clarinet on my own. I’ll take lessons later, once I’ve gotten pretty good.” “The earliest stages of learning are when the vital habits are formed. Now is the crucial time to get some expert guidance.”
“Someone is selling an oboe really cheap. This is my chance to pick one up.” “It will be worth it to save and sacrifice so I can get a high-quality instrument. Since I’m doubling, I need every advantage.”
“I just need to learn how to make a good embouchure and how to finger most of the notes, and then I can add this new instrument to my arsenal.” “I need a solid technical foundation on my doubling instruments, just like I have on my main instrument. Better start putting in some hours on long tones, scales and arpeggios, and etudes.”
“I play flute pretty well compared to the other guys in the saxophone section, so I figure I’m on the right track.” “I’m spending a lot of time listening to great flute recordings to develop a good sound concept.”
“I already have lots of etudes and exercises that I use on my main instrument, so I’ll just practice the same stuff on my other instruments.” “I’m immersing myself in the tradition of each instrument—learning, for example, to play saxophone like a saxophonist and clarinet like a clarinetist.”
“I sound bad. Maybe I need a really short barrel, a really soft reed, a really open mouthpiece, a really unusual headjoint…” “I’ll leave extreme gear choices for when I really know what I’m doing. For now I’d better stick to standard, middle-of-the-road equipment and get some embouchure advice from a good teacher.”
“Since I’m a jazz player, I can skip the tone exercises. I’m going for my own sound.” “Classical training will give me a thorough command of the instrument, and give me options in developing a personal sound concept. If I skimp on fundamentals, I’ll just be limiting what I can do.”
“I’ve got some money to spend. What new instrument can I get for this amount?” “This is a perfect opportunity to take some lessons with a good teacher. It’s the best investment I can make in my music habit.”

No shortcuts!


  1. Keir

    I know this is probably quite old but could you do a part 2?


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