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 to devote more hours to practicing.

Q. What’s the trick to affording all these instruments?

A. Figure out what to de-prioritize in your life to devote more money to instrument purchases.

Q. What instrument/mouthpiece/etc. should I buy?

A. The one that you have carefully, methodically selected from among dozens or more high-quality specimens, without blindly following internet recommendations.

Q. What’s a good mouthpiece, instrument, etc. for a doubler?

A. Only buy things “for doublers” if you want to sound like a doubler. If you want to sound like, say, a good clarinetist, use what good clarinetists use.

Q. Which instrument should I learn next?

A. Whichever motivates you enough to devote the necessary time and money.

Q. Playing one instrument already means it will be easy to learn another, right?

A. If your goal is to develop only a superficial command of the instrument, then yes. 

Q. How do I know when I am “good enough” at an instrument to count it as one of my doubles?

A. You stop getting fired for how you sound.

Q. How do I get gigs?

A. Sound great, behave professionally, and be liked by the right people.


3 responses to “Frequently-asked questions about woodwind doubling, and their unpopular answers”

  1. Ron Nelson Avatar
    Ron Nelson

    All good thoughts. In terms of instruments, the more you have and play well, the more you work. If you are not relying on woodwind doubling as your main source of income (like me), then I think it’s best to chose the ones you really have a passion for,work hard on them, and don’t worry about the rest. I regularly play Bb clarinet, flute and alto saxophone, occassionally piccolo. I also own a soprano and tenor but they spend most of the time collecting dust. And I have borrowed an alto flute and bass clarinet when absolutely needed. But 3 the primaries are all I truly have time for.

  2. In relation to question one: I’m a teen who started playing pits last year on flute and piccolo a year ago. Since then, I’ve fallen in love with pit, have played in four more musicals and am actively seeking out other gigs to gain experience. In addition, I’ve also taken up the saxophone and have plans to learn as many woodwinds as I can if not all of them. Do you think I should be a woodwind doubler?

  3. David Benedict Avatar
    David Benedict

    Another tip: spend money on lessons with a good (or great) teacher.
    You may think that what you know on your first instrument will transfer easily to other instruments. It wont.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments that take a negative or confrontational tone are subject to email and name verification before being approved. In other words: no anonymous trolls allowed—take responsibility for your words.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.