- Check out posts by a small army of bloggers documenting ClarinetFest® 2017.
- David Wells is working on collecting the Paris Conservatoire bassoon contest pieces.
- Woodwind doubler Ed Joffe encourages continuing your musical studies beyond school
- Saxophonist Roxy Coss discusses women as an under-represented group in jazz music.
- David Mankin shares a fascinating story about oboists Robert Bloom and Engelbert Brenner in a remarkable recording session.
- Clarinetist Jeremy Wohletz explains the importance of aural training.
- Saxophonist Sam Newsome identifies some issues that lead to rhythm problems (particularly in improvised music).
- Flutist Tammy Evans Yonce explains how she approaches a new repertoire piece.
- Saxophonist Ben Britton catalogs some methods of dealing with sticky G-sharp keys.
- Eryn Oft outlines the history of Heckel bassoons.
- Nicole Riner offers suggestions on making first contact with a potential college flute teacher. (Applicable to other instruments, too.)
- Jenny Maclay dives deep on clarinet resonance fingerings.
Favorite blog posts, March 2016
- David Wells discusses composing cadenzas for the Mozart bassoon concerto (and shares his finished product).
- Jill Cathey shares some techniques she is using to improve her oboe reedmaking, including giving her reeds names.
- Saxophonist Eddie Rich legislates three laws of practicing [update: link dead].
- Cindy Ellis explains the function of each lip in the flute embouchure.
- Jennet Ingle explains (and demonstrates in a video) a technique for cleaning out oboe reeds.
- Manny Martinez suggests 10 classical saxophone recordings to check out.
- Trent Jacobs uses a power tool to make bassoon reeds.
- Cate Hummel continues her crusade against questionable “kiss-and-roll” flute embouchure pedagogy, and has an insight into that technique’s popularity.
- Jeff Cunningham explores some of the “ups & downs” for beginning saxophonists. It’s good context and advice for woodwind doublers, too, who may be at beginner stage on a secondary instrument.
- Bassoonist Andrew Burn shares some unconventional ideas about recital preparation.
- David Freeman logs a gig experience covering Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album, and shares saxophone solo transcriptions.
- Khara Wolf discusses aspects of high-altitude oboe reedmaking.
- Helen Kahlke shares a review of an inexpensive bass saxophone. Don’t reach for your wallets yet, but the takeaway here is that playable, affordable, modern saxophones lower than baritone could be on the horizon.
- Also, I am now a co-author, with Kellie Lignitz-Hahn, of the “Clarinet Cache” column in The Clarinet (journal of the International Clarinet Association), and the related blog. Check it out online or in your latest print issue.
Favorite blog posts, July 2014
I am closing out July in Baton Rouge, Louisiana at ClarinetFest. Report forthcoming. For now, enjoy my best-of-the-woodwind-blogs for the past month.
- David Wells shares a useful, sortable table of Vivaldi’s 39 bassoon concerti, and discusses their complicated cataloguing.
- Heather Roche continues her project of documenting the clarinet’s extended technique possibilities with a chart of close-dyad multiphonics.
- Ed Joffe shares a 2006 interview with jazz saxophonist and flutist Lew Tabackin.
- John Witt explores some of the acoustical concepts related to oboe reeds.
- Jennifer Cluff addresses some questions about neck tension and the flute. (If you have pain, please consider blog posts to be supplementary information to that provided by qualified medical professionals.)
- Jennet Ingle exercises patience when returning to the oboe after a short hiatus.
- Saxophonist Bill Plake works on “microskill” projects.
- Trent Jacobs invents an improved bassoon A-flat/B-flat trill mechanism in the shower, and has one made for his own instrument. (As it turns out, someone else beat him to the idea, but it’s still cool.)
- Sam Newsome discusses the ongoing influence of soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy, and shares a who’s-who of current jazz soprano players.
- Matt Stohrer comments on the potential viability of a 3D-printed saxophone.
Favorite blog posts, June 2014
- 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, October 2013
Here are my picks from October. I strongly suggest that you read all of these, share them on your favorite social media outlets, leave thoughtful comments to the authors, and subscribe with your favorite blog-reading apparatus.
- A whole lot of clarinet bloggers have posted in the last couple of days about the Robert Marcellus masterclasses now available through Northwestern University’s website. I believe Chastine Hofmeister’s post was the first one to come to my attention.
- Saxophonist and Alexander Technique guru Bill Plake debunks woodwind players’ favorite finger-technique myth.
- David Wells blows the bassoon world’s minds with a video of eminent bassoonist Klaus Thunemann playing jazz(?!). And this isn’t a cute little novelty swing tune, either—it’s full-fledged, Mahavishnu-esque 1970’s fusion.
- Eric Seddon offers advice and encouragement to aspiring jazz clarinetists in school band programs. I’m already on record as not entirely agreeing with all the points Eric makes, but his side is definitely worth reading and considering.
- Flute professor Tammy Evans Yonce muses on the purposes of a woodwind pedagogy course. (You don’t have to compliment me by name to get picked as a “favorite blog post,” but let’s say it doesn’t hurt your chances. Worth a read in any case.)
- Reed player and composer Demetrius Spaneas explores themes of struggle, stress, and balancing artistic pursuit with the practicalities of life.
- Saxophonist Peter Spitzer encourages you to freshen up your set list with some freely-available lead sheets to some lovely and little-known Bossa Nova tunes by Roberto Menescal.
- Oboist Jennet Ingle had a tough month. She shares a frustrating rehearsal experience (no, Jennet, it’s not just you!) and characterizes her relationship with the instrument as, well, adversarial. (She does also offer some constructive tips for dealing with oboe-related struggles.)
- In a similar vein, bassoonist Cayla Bellamy offers three “ups” to help through practice-room plateaus.
- Saxopedia announces an influx of new (old) transcriptions by Danish saxophonist Thomas Høeg-Jensen, to add to an already-impressive listing [update: links dead].
- On the Powell Flutes Teach Flute blog, distinguished flute pedagogue Leone Buyse shares some thoughts about her own teacher David Berman, and makes a strong case for taking notes in your lessons.
- Dan Forshaw throws down the gauntlet to fellow saxophone enthusiasts: can you put the Mark VI tenors in chronological order based on video clips? (I can’t.) Nice playing, Dan!
- “Practicing Flutist” Deanna Mathews Kilbourne uses difference tones to tune her flute choir.
Great stuff, everybody, and I look forward to reading more in November.
Favorite blog posts, September 2013
Here’s what I liked on the woodwind-related blogs this month:
- From Casa Valdez, some utterly fascinating recordings (with scores!) of Joe Viola playing overdubbed woodwinds. A must-see for doublers.
- I have been seeing this incredible video of Samuel Barber with the classic Philadelphia Orchestra Wind Quintet all over blogs and social media lately, but Donax Music was the first to bring it to my attention. Worth the half-hour.
- Saxophonist Jody Espina shares the concept he calls “Coltrones”—a sort of combination of long tones and transcription that can help you sound like Coltrane (and others).
- Oboist Jennet Ingle explains how your brain may be sabotaging your playing in a confused attempt to keep you alive, and offers tips for solving this problem.
- David Wells makes freely available his edition of Vivaldi G-minor bassoon concerto RV 495—solo part, score, and orchestral parts.
- Saxophonist Jeff Cunningham shares some tips on maintaining motivation to practice. Geared toward beginners, but solid concepts for experienced musicians as well.
- Trent Jacobs of Midwest Musical Imports does a brief video interview with bassoon maker Peter Wolf. It’s a little bit of an ad for Wolf/Midwest, but I’m a sucker for new technologies/materials in instrument manufacture, and Wolf is full of interesting ideas.
- Soprano saxophone specialist Sam Newsome walks us through a solo by Wayne Shorter (with video).
- Oboist Christa Garvey connects articulation to breathing.
- Saxophonist Bill Plake shares some ideas about attitude and progress toward musical goals.
- Maarten Vonk of Bassoon.com starts a kind of census of the world’s bassoonists.
- Clarinet Cache points out some resources for finding and reading clarinet dissertations.
- Bassoonist Jolene Mason wrestles with the competitive aspects of music and academia.
Enjoy, and keep writing good stuff!
Favorite blog posts, August 2013
Read these excellent mostly-woodwind-related blog posts from the past month, and thank me later:
- Bassoonist David Wells shares and comments on early 20th-century recordings of the Weber Andante e Rondo Ongarese by William Gruner and Fernand Oubradous.
- Multi-instrumentalist Mark Catoe shares some clear thinking about teaching the concept of time signature. This will benefit even some of my college students, who are still trying to shed the “quarter-note-is-always-one-beat-no-matter-what” misinformation they were fed years ago.
- Viviana Guzman at The Flute View declares the first Canadian Flute Convention a success.
- Sherman Friedland offers some comments about purchasing clarinets. He mentions a couple of specific makes and pulls no punches about his opinions, but regardless of your personal taste in instruments there are some general points worth drawing out: just because “everybody” uses one model doesn’t mean it’s the “best;” a good teacher is crucial to the process of obtaining a fine instrument and making it sing; and it doesn’t hurt anybody to at least consider the advantages of instruments made from non-traditional materials.
- Matt Stohrer explains why getting your saxophone overhauled is good for your playing and for your bottom line. Good advice for any woodwind player, really, though of course some of the instrument-specific details will differ.
- Oboist Christa Garvey gives college music majors some sage advice for the new academic year.
- Saxophonist Craig Buhler suggests that a joyful performance requires joyful practice.
- Clarinetist Meri Dolevski-Lewis gives some tips on reading (and, by extension, on writing) advertisements for private teaching. Also: tips on diversifying your musical income streams (including a strong case for woodwind doubling).
- Patty Mitchell shares a compelling argument, in video form, for learning the play the oboe the right way rather than looking for shortcuts. (Spoiler alert: It’s a demonstration of a single-reed mouthpiece for the oboe.)
Favorite blog posts, April 2013
I currently have over 400 woodwind-related blogs in my feed reader, and try my best at least to skim the new posts. In the past I’ve occasionally passed along recommendations about some of the blogs that I think are especially good. I’m considering moving toward something like a monthly list of some of my favorite individual posts instead.
Here are some from April (a few from late March sneaked in, too).
- The eminent Sam Newsome shares sheet music, a recording, and some commentary on a fun tune for solo soprano saxophone using some multiphonics: “Blue Swagger” – The Art of Solo Soprano Saxophone
- Stephanie Mortimore (of the Metropolitan Opera orchestra) offers a difference-tone-based approach to improving intonation over at one of the Powell Flutes blogs: Taming the Beast—Revolutionize Your Piccolo Intonation! (Part II). No reason this method couldn’t be used for flute or any other instrument. Part I is the usual boilerplate explanation of equal vs. just temperament.
- Ben Britton suggests saxophone subtone as a way of improving breath support (Benefits of Subtone and Diaphragmatic Breathing to Tone) and, speaking of multiphonics, explores a methodical way of discovering and using multiphonic fingerings (Multiphonics Dissected).
- Alexander Technique teacher Bill Plake gives advice: A Simple Tip To Help You Play Better At Fast Tempos
- From the Arts and Crafts department, David Wells shares his secret for cheap, customizable bassoon reed storage: The $3 Bassoon Reed Case
- Jennifer Cluff dives deep into the IMSLP and discovers some flute chamber music gems, free to download: Kummer Trios for free
Yet more woodwind blogs you should be reading
I insist that you check out the following woodwind-related blogs, listed in no particular order. Also see my previous roundups:
- A few woodwind blogs you should be reading
- A few more woodwind blogs you should be reading
- Still more woodwind blogs you should be reading
David A. Wells
David Wells is a bassoonist, educator, and scholar. His blog is excellent and rich in original, thoughtful, useful content. Try these on for size: