Posts in category “Woodwind playing and pedagogy”

October 18, 2017

Connecting observations to techniques

For instrumental music teachers' feedback to be useful, it needs to connect an observation to a technique.

September 6, 2017

Naming the low E-flat (contrabass? contra-alto?) clarinet

Every so often I hear from people about what I call the E-flat contrabass clarinet (or “contrabass clarinet in E-flat), such as in my woodwind doubling in musicals list or in my woodwind methods book. Some prefer the term “contra-alto” or even “contralto,” but I find “contrabass” to be the most accurate and useful description ...

August 8, 2017

Homemade EWI stand

There are a few stands commercially available for the Akai EWI, and lots of folks have made their own or repurposed other items. I wanted one that was inexpensive and compatible with the Hercules stands I mostly use these days, and decided to try the DIY route. I came up with something workable but not ...

July 20, 2017

Aspects of articulation

photo, Zachary SumnersThe concept of “articulation” in woodwind playing is really a bunch of concepts mashed together. Suppose one of my students comes in for a lesson and I tell them their “articulation” needs work. Do I mean they should:

June 12, 2017

Woodwind doubling on both oboe and bassoon

Mid- to late-20th-century music written for woodwind doublers, such as musical theater “books,” largely solidified around three main types of doubling specialists. The most common of these is the clarinet/saxophone/flute player. Less common but still widely used are the oboist with passable single reed skills, and the “low reeds” bassoon/bass clarinet/baritone saxophone player. In the ...

May 25, 2017

New book! Woodwind Basics: Core concepts for playing and teaching flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and saxophone

I'm pleased to announce the release of my book, Woodwind Basics: Core concepts for playing and teaching flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and saxophone. I wrote it with woodwind methods/techniques classes in mind, but I think it also works well as a reference for private teachers at any level, or for woodwind players, especially woodwind doublers.

May 13, 2017

Quick flute switches and embouchure problems for woodwind doublers

photo, SheriLots of woodwind doubler horror stories have to do with quick switches to flute or piccolo. (“Twenty minutes of hard-driving R&B tenor saxophone, then two bars to switch to flute and enter pianissimo in the third octave…”) Doublers in this situation often beat themselves up about perceived deficiencies in their flute embouchures, and commit to ...

May 5, 2017

Interview: Jonathan Tunick, Broadway orchestrator and more

Jonathan Tunick is a show business legend: a composer/arranger/orchestrator/musical director for stage and screen; a collaborator with Stephen Sondheim, Placido Domingo, Barbra Streisand, and too many more to mention; and a winner of many awards. Needless to say, I was thrilled to hear from Mr. Tunick a few years ago, when he contributed some information ...

April 6, 2017

Being a beginner on your doubles

If I could go back and do that first lesson over again, I would ask that teacher to treat me like a beginner, since that is exactly what I was.

February 21, 2017

Concept-based woodwind methods

Most college students studying instrumental music education have to take a woodwind “methods” course, a sort of crash course in teaching the woodwind instruments. I have taught woodwind methods classes for about the past ten years. A typical approach is to divide the semester into instrument-based units: x weeks studying the flute, x weeks studying the oboe, etc. ...
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