Doubling reminders for the day

Non-doublers often seem to think that the most amazing thing about doubling is keeping all the fingerings straight. I don’t find that to be a major problem; the keywork of each instrument feels different enough in my hands that I think I tend to switch into the right fingering mode automatically.

It’s the other stuff that’s a problem. I find I often need to give myself a few reminders as I’m setting down one instrument and picking up the next. Here’s the stuff that has been going through my mind lately—maybe one or more of these will click for you, too.

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Review: The Woodwind Player’s Cookbook

I’ve been reading The Woodwind Player’s Cookbook, published last year by Meredith Music and edited by Charles West. It’s a collection of 57 pedagogical essays by a pretty impressive roster of woodwind folks. You can download the table of contents here to see the authors and titles.

Most of the articles deal with technique fundamentals on specific instruments, which should make this book valuable to school band directors, but it also works quite well as a handbook for woodwind doublers; in fact, there are several articles that deal specifically with doubling, by Mike Duva, James Nesbit, Elsie Parker, and Albert Regni.

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Eight live microphone tips for woodwind players

If you are a classically-trained woodwind player, playing into a microphone might be a new experience for you.

A rock band that I play in (flute and saxophone) does a lot of shows in small clubs and bars, and the sound guy (or girl—I’m using “sound guy” from here on out, with gender-neutral intent) is usually used to miking vocals, guitar amps, and drum sets, and may or may not know what to do with a woodwind instrument. I can often help things along, and make sure the band and I sound our best, by coming armed with a small amount of knowledge.

Here are some basic tips for looking and sounding like you know what you’re doing. I’m assuming here that you’re not doing anything fancy gear-wise (there are plenty of options if you want to buy a clip-on mic), just showing up with your instrument and using the venue’s basic sound equipment.

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Bassoon as a double

I’d like to say up front that I really love the bassoon. I do.

The bassoon was the last of the major woodwinds that I added to my arsenal. Looking at it from a strictly pragmatic standpoint, I think that was the right choice for me, and would be for most doublers. Let’s face it: when it comes down to time and money, for woodwind doublers, the bassoon demands a lot of both and doesn’t always return a lot of either.

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DRQOD: Ghandarvas and powdered wigs

I always enjoy Patty Mitchell’s “BQOD” (Blog Quotes Of the Day) over at oboeinsight. I’m in the thick of dissertation writing these days (technically, it’s “doctoral document” writing, since I’m working on a DMA, not a PhD), and this morning I ran across a couple of items that won’t make it into the finished product but are too fun to keep to myself. And so I present my Dissertation/Document Research Quotes Of the Day:

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Flutist spotlight: Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger III

Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger III, who heroically piloted US Airways Flight 1549 to a safe emergency landing in the Hudson river, was first-chair flutist in his high school marching band, according to the New York Times.

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Just like tying my shoes

I like to use shoe tying in my teaching, as an example of what regular practicing—even just a few minutes every day—can and should accomplish.

Playing a woodwind instrument involves a number of complex physical actions: coordinated finger movements, a delicately balanced embouchure, well-timed breathing, and more. And musicians mostly need to execute these physical elements without a lot of thought, so that they can mentally focus on things like expression and communication. The way to do this is to practice the physical stuff regularly and consistently, so that it happens automatically.

Like most people, I think, as a small child I found shoe tying to be a complicated proposition. It’s a sophisticated task for little fingers. But once I got the technique worked out, I just did it every day, day in and day out, until I didn’t need to think about it anymore.

Or so I thought.

Imagine my dismay when I discovered, just this morning, that I have been doing it wrong all my life.

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More woodwind blogs

I’ve added a number of new woodwind-related blogs to my blogroll (to your right). All are blogs that I read regularly.

If you don’t already use a feed reader, I suggest you check out Google Reader for keeping track of all your favorite blogs in one place.

The new ones as of this update are:

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Mario Rivera (1939-2007): Latin saxophone and flute

I recently got a copy of the 1984 Tito Puente disc El Rey. I’m sorry to say I wasn’t familiar with the names of any of the other musicians on the album—everyone sounds absolutely incredible—but I was blown away by the flute and tenor playing of Mario Rivera.

A quick Google search later and I can see that the late Mr. Rivera ranks among the heavies of Latin Jazz, and I have been missing out on his playing before now. Pick up a copy of El Rey and check out his virtuosic charanga-style flute playing (on Puente’s Oye Como Va, for examplethat’s right, Tito Puente wrote it, not Carlos Santana) and some really tasty tenor sounds, too (check out the Latin cover of Giant Steps).

Or, surf on over to YouTube for some videos from a Bern Jazz Festival appearance. Hear some breathtaking baritone  playing, some really nice flute duets (not to mention piccolos, timbales, and scat) with Dave Valentin, and, if that’s not enough, Rivera on vibes and even trumpet(!).

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Free download: New orchestration of the Creston saxophone sonata

Italian pianist Marco Ciccone has done a new orchestral transcription of the Paul Creston saxophone sonata. I haven’t heard it, but I got email from Mr. Ciccone about it and thought I would pass the word along.

The score and parts (you have to provide your own saxophone part) are available here in PDF format, presumably for a limited time, as the arrangement is slated to be published soon. [Update: looks like this is no longer available.] According to the “warning” document, there are some restrictions on performances made with the free parts, but in any case it seems worthwhile to download the score and check it out. Instrumentation is eight woodwinds, five brass, two percussion, strings, and, of course, alto saxophone solo.