Posts in category “Woodwind playing and pedagogy”

December 14, 2018

FAQ: Ligatures

These are questions I am often asked about clarinet or saxophone ligatures, by blog readers or by my students. Is there a ligature that can accomplish _____ for me? If you are looking for something to hold the reed onto the mouthpiece, then yes. If you are hoping to achieve something loftier, then probably not. ...

December 10, 2018

Things beginning band directors say to clarinet sections

Tough love for teachers of beginning clarinetists.

November 23, 2018

How to get 10 good reeds from a box

If you are getting less than 80% playable reeds from the boxes you are currently buying, buy different ones.

November 15, 2018

Planning breaths

When learning a new étude or repertoire piece, it’s common to practice at first with focus on the notes, often playing them at a slow tempo and/or divided into chunks. This is a good approach for mastering the needed finger technique, but it may neglect one of the crucial parts of a performance: breathing. In ...

October 29, 2018

Bassoon jaw movement: survey of published opinions

I was under the impression that there were advocates of jaw movement in bassoon articulation. A skimming of some pedagogical materials at hand seems to debunk this.

September 5, 2018

Music practice and technical debt

In a perfect world I would always tackle an issue head-on. In reality sometimes a looming performance means plastering over the problem and promising myself I'll fix it later, at a greater price.

August 30, 2018

The bassoon’s special(?) staccato

I have a vague memory from childhood, well before my bassoon-playing days, of learning that the bassoon had some special quality to its staccato notes. (From an educational tv show? a children’s book on musical instruments? I can’t recall.) My impression was that this sound was different in some way than staccato produced on other ...

August 12, 2018

Frequently-asked questions about woodwind doubling, and their unpopular answers

Q. Should I be a woodwind doubler? A. In most cases, no. If you already feel driven to do it, and have the time and resources to devote to it, then maybe. Q. What’s the trick to getting in enough practice time on all these instruments? A. Figure out what to de-prioritize in your life ...

July 13, 2018

Reedmaking and choosing your college oboe or bassoon professor

If you're considering a school where you might study with someone who isn't a performer on your double reed instrument, it would be worthwhile to find out their plan for teaching you reedmaking.

July 7, 2018

Problem-specific vs. general solutions

I hinted at this idea in my recent post about clarinet undertones: Many of the ideas shared by the distinguished authors seemed like just descriptions of good basic clarinet technique (“ensure correct, stable embouchure formation,” “establish breath support/air pressure before releasing tongue”). … If you can play with a beautiful, characteristic tone, mostly in tune, ...
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