Woodwind Basics (PDF)


This purchase is the PDF version. Paperback available on Amazon.com.

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Woodwind Basics: Core concepts for playing and teaching flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and saxophone is a fresh, no-nonsense approach to woodwind technique. It outlines the principles common to playing all of the woodwind instruments, and explains their application to each one.

The ideas in this book are critical for woodwind players at all levels, and have been battle-tested in university woodwind methods courses, private studios, and school band halls. Fundamental questions answered with newfound clarity include:

  • What should I listen for in good woodwind playing?
  • Why is breath support so important, and how do I do and teach it?
  • What is voicing? How does it relate to ideas like air speed, air temperature, and vowel shapes?
  • What things does an embouchure need to accomplish?
  • How can I (or my students) play better in tune?
  • What role does the tongue really play in articulation?
  • Which alternate fingering should I choose in a given situation?
  • How do I select the best reeds, mouthpieces, and instruments?
  • How should a beginner choose which instrument is the best fit?

Woodwind Basics by Bret Pimentel is the new go-to reference for woodwind players and teachers.


I just purchased and read through the pdf version of your wonderful new book. (How nice to have an inexpensive textbook choice for students.) I taught a woodwind methods/techniques class for prospective public school teachers for 35 years. [The textbook I used] was a good resource but a little too detailed for the overwhelmed beginner. I think yours may replace it as the standard textbook. –Jerry P.

★★★★★ As someone who is a beginning teacher, Pimentel’s book has been an asset in teaching woodwind instruments. The book is not filled with fluff like many woodwind pedagogy books but with concise, valuable information. Pimentel debunks some myths about teaching woodwinds such as the old adage that firming up the embouchure fixes any clarinet problem. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is or will be teaching woodwinds (especially band directors). You will reap unlimited rewards with this minor investment. –Amazon.com reviewer

★★★★★ This book is FANTASTIC for any band director. I’m a clarinetist who has been teaching beginning woodwinds for the past 5 years, and my college methods class left a lot of gaps in my knowledge. Bret’s book is a great, accurate, concise guide to teaching woodwinds. I especially like the “Gotchas” for each section–things that band directors often say that are incorrect. Thanks for a great resource! –Amazon.com reviewer


Version 1.1, 2017/06/23 – p. 67, illustration of saxophone mouthpieces pitches is corrected to read left to right “baritone – tenor – alto -soprano” instead of the reverse.

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