- David Wells has updated his excellent bassoon fingering charts.
- Oboist Cooper Wright discusses shaper tip widths.
- Clarinetist Victoria Soames Samek suggests there are better options than just circling problem notes in your sheet music.
- Bassoonist Kristopher King explains the usage of the little finger whisper key. (Warning: auto-plays music. If you have a website, don’t do that.)
- John Witt reports on the Carolyn Hove English Horn Masterclasses, days 1 and 2 and days 3 and 4.
- Bassoonist Betsy Sturdevant warns about carrying musical instruments onto airplanes.
- Jennifer Cluff offers tips for cleaning a flute (spoiler alert: she suggests letting a professional do it).
- On the WindWorks Design blog, J. D. Smith shares a do-it-yourself modification for the Yamaha WX5 wind controller.
- Christa Garvey does some facial stretches for a tired oboe embouchure.
- Bassoon professor Christin Schillinger offers advice for musicians choosing a college.
- Saxophonist Anton Schwartz recommends “back-chaining” as a practice technique.
- Oboist Patty Mitchell muses on her choice to be a musician.
Favorite blog posts, February 2014
Here are some of my picks for some excellent woodwind-related blog posts from last month.
- Bass clarinetist Michael Lowenstern gives excellent advice on some topics (such as “biting”) that I think are not often taught well.
- Mark Catoe gives a workshop on teaching beginning clarinetists to cross the break. (Those are some mighty handsome fingering diagrams.)
- Chris Dunning takes us on a historical video tour of the saxophone in jazz [update: link dead].
- Clarinetist Adam Berkowitz manages the logistical details of a performance. Also: two habits worth having.
- Jennet Ingle bemoans the oboe’s caprices. “It’s not that playing the oboe is physically more difficult than any other instrument, it’s that the oboe doesn’t want you to get it.”
- Bassoonist Betsy Sturdevant chases the elusive high F.
- Oboist Patty Mitchell explains what it means to “know” a piece of music.
- Trent Jacobs gives a primer on amplifiers for woodwind players interested in going electric.
- Over at Music Collective, flutist Jessica Dunnavant discovers life beyond the university-teaching-job search.
- Timothy Owen offers some observations and advice on playing multiple sizes of saxophone.
- Clarinetist Heather Roche gives composers some insights on glissandi and air sounds, with extensive audio clips.
- Vanessa Breault Mulvey of the “Flying Flutistas” avoids “muscling up” on the flute. Also on the trapeze. Really [update: link dead].
- Cooper Wright gives his oboe a good cleaning.
- Woodwind player Ted Nash tells the story of how he nearly got adopted by Quincy Jones. “Part II to follow,” he promises.
- Meri Dolevski-Lewis gives some good common-sense tips to those working with a pianist for the first time.
Favorite blog posts, January 2014
Here’s what’s worth reading from the woodwind blogs in January:
- Woodwind doubler Steve Moffett suggests taking a break now and then.
- Oboist Patty Mitchell reminds us that playing with a pianist means needing to know your own part and his or hers.
- Helen Bledsoe weighs in on the debate about how register changes are made on the flute. I don’t entirely agree with her, but she makes some interesting points, as do the flutists in the videos she shares. (For more on this, see my previous post and accompanying PDF cataloging some of the, er, hot air surrounding this topic.)
- Clarinetist Adam Berkowitz takes practicing to the next level.
- Bassoonist Christin Schillinger shares some ideas about ongoing development as a musician, plus some metronome games.
- Woodwind doubler Josh Johnson does a review of the Ridenour Lyrique bass clarinet. I’m sharing this one because I think it’s a well-written and thoughtful review, and because I think high-quality instruments made from alternative materials are a welcome next wave in woodwind manufacture. As a side note, I recently purchased one of these basses for my university clarinet studio and have spent some time playing it, and my experience with the instrument basically matches Josh’s.
- Oboist Cooper Wright seeks to raise standards in his teaching studio.
- Woodwind doubler Michael Grant concludes(?) a 12-part marathon of long posts describing his experience playing in the pit orchestra for a local musical theater production [update: link dead].
Just when I think I’ve got every single woodwind-related blog in my feed reader, I stumble onto a dozen more. If you’re writing good stuff and think you might have escaped my notice, let me know!
Favorite blog posts, December 2013
Here are the woodwind-related blog posts that made my “nice” list for December. (One from late November seems to have slipped in here, too.)
- On his new blog, Timothy Owen explains how he tunes his saxophone like an M-16 assault rifle.
- Bassoonist Betsy Sturdevant (of the Columbus Symphony) reveals her basic reedmaking method.
- Cooper Wright doesn’t just play the oboe, he plays the concert hall.
- Theresa Koenig domesticates a wild recorder.
- David Freeman experiences a gig frustration common to woodwind doublers.
- Jennet Ingle plays the oboe while sick, and learns some things about her playing.
- Trent Jacobs shares a good contrabassoon fingering chart.
- Saxophonist Bill Plake discusses advanced metronome usage.
- Steve Moffett uses a vibrato exercise to develop his flute tone.
- Jeff Cunningham has a literary adventure in the saxophone’s upper register.
- Matt London asks some important questions about the “classical” tenor saxophone.
- Bassoonist Christin Schillinger clears up some misconceptions about practicing.
Favorite blog posts, November 2013
Some good stuff from the woodwind blogs in November:
- I’m totally stoked that oboist Cooper Wright is blogging again, from a new location. Add this one to your RSS reader to follow his transition into a new job as co-principal oboist of the Thailand Philharmonic, and, of course, his endless reedmaking.
- Saxophonist Steve Neff reviews the new John Coltrane Omnibook.
- Helen Bledsoe searches for the elusive tin oboe. Spoiler alert: she doesn’t find one, but she tries some interesting things along the way.
- Saxophonist Bill Plake warms up body and mind.
- Bassoonist Betsy Sturdevant thoroughly prepares the Beethoven 4 solo.
- Matt Otto takes a closer look at the 8th-note “swing” feel of three of the great jazz saxophonists. (Please don’t make the “oh, it’s just triplets” mistake.)
- Jennet Ingle reminds us that effective doubling requires more than just being able to play the solos.
- Adam at A Classical Journey is studying musical instrument repair and documenting the experience very thoroughly. The class has started its woodwind unit [update: link dead], so if you’re fascinated by this stuff like I am, then now is the time to tune in.
A few more woodwind blogs you should be reading
A few months ago I posted some of my recommendations for good woodwind-related blogs, and shared a couple of tips on getting the most out of your blog reading. I’ve got a few more favorite blogs I’d like to share today, and another blog-reading tip, too.
This time I came up with a blog each for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and saxophone, plus a bonus one. Here they are in no particular order:
Barrick Stees (Barry Blogs)
Barrick Stees is the assistant principal bassoonist in the Cleveland Orchestra, and a professor at the Cleveland Institute of Music and the University of Akron. His blog is fairly new (started earlier this year) but is already full of good stuff. Professor Stees shares some insights on playing excerpts at a level suitable to one of the great American orchestras:
He also keeps a travelogue of his tours with the orchestra, and comments on other items of interest to professional or developing musicians, such as: