Need a panflute? Woodwind doubling gear woes

Toothpaste For Dinner

A handy “panflute flowchart” from

So how much gear does a woodwind doubler NEED?

I HAVE a B-flat clarinet. I NEED an A clarinet. Mozart, you know. And Nielsen and Stravinsky. And orchestral playing. And I really NEED a good bass clarinet, too. And something tells me that if I can get my hands on those, I will discover that I really NEED an E-flat, and maybe a C, and contrabasses in one or more keys.

At least once a month I get a phone call from someone looking for a baritone saxophone player. (I HAVE a soprano, an alto, and a tenor…) As far as I can tell, there isn’t a privately owned bari anywhere in town. If I managed to scrape together the cash to buy one, how many gigs would I have to play on it before it paid for itself? It doesn’t matter, because deep in my soul I NEED a baritone sax, too.

I have tinwhistles in a variety of keys. My current favorite maker has in them in all twelve keys, and some of those keys in multiple octaves. Traditional Irish music tends to stick to a small handful of key signatures, most playable on a D whistle, but what kind of self-respecting doubler turns down a gig because the whistle part is in A-flat? I NEED more whistles.

In a related vein, I recently played for a musical theater production that called for “bamboo flute” among other things. I showed up with a big Rubbermaid bin full of flutes—imagine my embarrassment when I discovered the part called for a bamboo flute in C# major, one that I don’t have. I had to play the part on Boehm flute instead. I NEED… well, you get the picture.

And yes, I HAVE a panflute. A Romanian-style one, anyway. I still NEED a South-American-style…


3 responses to “Need a panflute? Woodwind doubling gear woes”

  1. Michael P Avatar
    Michael P

    I NEED an A clarinet, a baritone sax, a tenor sax, a piccolo, and a contra alto clarinet.

    Then I’ll need whistles in every key…

    I think I’ll have every orchestral woodwind. It’s going to be nice knowing that the next time I decide to buy a woodwind after that, I’ll be able to trade one in to offset the costs.

    I’m envious of your tub-o-whistles. I saw it at NASA in 2007 and was amazed.

  2. Merlin Avatar

    This made me chuckle a little.

    I needed a panflute for Secret Garden. Cost me all of $39 for a two octave C major diatonic from G to G. Worked great, and it’s tunable too.

    I also decided I “needed” a low D penny whistle. Turned out the part was playable on a regular D whistle. Oops. The low D whistle has a crazy stretch too, so it’s probably not going to get played much.

  3. I started on the flute (then piccolo and alto flute)……

    Then gigs started coming, and I didn’t want to sit around watching the music go by, so…

    Like Merlin, I needed a panflute for Secret Garden. Probably got the same one. I got the low D penny whistle, it sits in the closet with the other whistles (not a full tub).

    I have acquired a Bb, A, Eb and bass clarinets. They get used. Well, not the Eb so much.

    Got an alto sax and bassoon because my son quit playing them. Can’t let them sit around unplayed. Got a soprano sax just because. All of these get played regularly.

    Sometimes I think I need a bari sax. Then I tell myself that I don’t want to schlep it around, and I can play the part on bassoon.

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