Review: The Woodwind Player’s Cookbook

February 8, 2009

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.

There are a few odd things  about the editing of the book. The “cookbook” theme gets old pretty fast—a number of the articles seem to have things like a list of “ingredients” unnecessarily tacked onto the text (“Ingredients: Motivated young bassoonists and supportive directors!”). The book also sports culinary graphics.

Another strange choice is that the articles are in alphabetical order by author, which seems to have pretty limited usefulness. It would make more sense to group the articles by instrument, or at least to provide an alternate table of contents with the articles organized in a more useful way. Still, if you’re interested in all five instruments, it makes a good cover-to-cover read.

The Woodwind Player’s Cookbook seems to be in somewhat short supply, sold out at a number of retailers’ websites, but copies are available here and there. List price is $24.95.

To sum up: I recommend The Woodwind Player’s Cookbook for excellent content by excellent players and teachers, despite some editorial weirdness.

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