Posts in category “Woodwind playing and pedagogy”

February 13, 2018

“Problems” vs. solutions

I often see this kind of thing in woodwind pedagogical books, workshop handouts, and lecture notes: Common clarinet problems embouchure too loose chin not flat fingers not curved enough This bothers me because it’s really not clear that these are “problems.” Would you have a student tighten a “too loose” embouchure if they sound great ...

February 7, 2018

Stale air

The “stale air” phenomenon afflicts oboists (sometimes clarinetists and others). It can be hard to relate to if you haven’t experienced it. Here’s how it happens. (The “math” and “science” here are very simplified for clarity.) The oboist breathes in a lungful of air. The air is about 20% oxygen and 80% other gases. The ...

November 21, 2017

Hercules stand clip modification

I made a small modification to my Hercules instrument stands so I could clip them onto my instrument cases for easier carrying. The stands all have this same yellow sort of teddy-bear-head piece on the bottom: Remove the nut from the center of the bear’s forehead: I bought a handful of these. They are almost ...

November 9, 2017

Be suspicious of instrument bling

If you are considering buying the newest, hottest instrument, accessory, gadget, etc., it’s worth asking yourself a few questions: Is this item made out of materials that are usually used for fine jewelry or the dashboards of luxury cars? How likely is it that the most visually-attractive materials also happen to have the ideal acoustical ...

October 28, 2017

Sample woodwind methods syllabus

Shortly before the beginning of fall and spring semesters, I usually get a few emails from new university professors and adjuncts looking for advice and resources on teaching woodwind methods courses. I’m happy to hear from folks, but thought it might be helpful to make available a generic syllabus based on how I teach my ...

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

The 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 ...
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