Required recordings, fall 2009

I’m requiring each of my applied students at Delta State to purchase a recording of their instrument this semester as a sort of textbook. A number of them have confessed to me that this will be the first such recording they will own. I plan to require a different recording for each instrument each semester, so that, over the course of several semesters of study, the students will begin to build their personal libraries of great players playing great literature.

The purpose of this, of course, is to help the students develop good aural concepts of tone, phrasing, expression, vibrato, ensemble, and so forth. To try to learn to play an instrument well without a solid aural concept is like trying to learn a foreign language from a textbook. You might pick up a few things, but you’ll be sunk unless you get to really hear—over and over—how the words and phrases sound.

Here are the recordings I’ve selected for this semester. They are recordings of some of the most admired and relatively current performers (all are actively performing except for the late, great Mr. Mack), performing core solo literature. There’s no flute recording because I’m only teaching reeds, but maybe something like this would have been a good choice.

Oboe: John Mack, Oboe

John Mack, Oboe

Repertoire: Schumann Three Romances, Saint-Saëns Sonata, Hindemith Sonata, Poulenc Sonata, short pieces by Murgier, Berghmans, Planel, and Barraud.

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Know your foreign musical terms

This is a bit of one of the excerpts that I provided for my saxophone students to play at their beginning-of-the-semester band auditions.

"Excerpt

I heard some very fine playing during the auditions, but many of the students were fooled by the “senza vib.,” with some going so far as to use fairly extreme vibrato at the beginning of the note.

As my blog readers already know, of course, senza vibrato means without vibrato.

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Review: The Woodwind Anthology

Woodwind Anthology cover

I recently got my own copy of The Woodwind Anthology, a massive two-volume collection of articles from The Instrumentalist and Flute Talk magazines. I’ve used this anthology from various university libraries throughout my  long college education, and found it to be a go-to source for pedagogy classes and comprehensive exam preparation.

Inexplicably, Instrumentalist is selling these right now for $37 for the set. Check it out here. The shockingly low price makes me wonder if this has gone out of print. If you’re interested, I suggest ordering soon.

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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.

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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?

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Instrument stands for doublers: mini-reviews and a wish list

Recently I have been getting a bit of pit work from a nearby community theater. They like to do month-long runs of their shows, which means that the musical director often hires two or more people for each seat in the orchestra, so that they can trade off playing the show according to their availability. One little perk of this method is that often the woodwind player who does the first show leaves his or her instrument stands in the pit for the other doubler(s) to use, so I’ve gotten to try out a variety of stands lately in a real-life situation.

I have, of course, a number of stands of my own, most of which do a basically satisfactory job, but none of which I’m overwhelmingly enamored with.

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Review: The Many Sides of Al Gallodoro

I recently picked up a copy of The Many Sides of Alfred Gallodoro, Vol. I from Half.com. (As of this writing, they don’t have any copies left, so you’ll either have to get yours from his own website or from CD Baby. There are sound clips at both sites.)

Mr. Gallodoro is a living legend of woodwind playing: born in 1913, started playing professionally as a teenager, and is still at it. I’ve got him listed on my little woodwind doublers’ hall of fame, and you can read his full official bio here.

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Essential saxophone recordings: A work in progress

Seminal Early Concert Soloists

Mule, Marcel

Marcel Mule: Le Patron of the Saxophone (Clarinet Classics, compilation 1996)

Marcel Mule: Le Patron of the Saxophone: Encore! (Clarinet Classics, compilation 2000)

These compilations also feature recordings by the Mule Saxophone Quartet.

Wiedoft, Rudy

Kreisler of the Saxophone (Clarinet Classics, compilation [year?])

Leeson, Cecil

Rascher, Sigurd

Regrettably, recorded performances by Sigurd Rascher and Cecil Leeson are not currently in print. Important out-of-print recordings include Sigurd Rascher Plays the Saxophone, volumes I and II, formerly published by Grand Award, and The Art of Cecil Leeson, volumes I-VII, formerly available on the Enchante label.

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