- Bassoonist Barry Stees continues his in-depth and insightful series on interpretation, with installments on motive and harmony.
- Flutist Cindy Ellis offers ten piccolo tips.
- Oboist Christa Garvey shares a breathing exercise for quieting performance nerves.
- Saxophonist Ben Britton experiments with some improved altissimo fingerings. And of course I would be remiss not to mention his very attractive saxophone fingering diagrams.
- Woodwind doubler Steve Moffet considers practicing instrument switches.
- Heather Roche catalogs extended clarinet articulation techniques.
- Bassonist David Pierce offers six words to inspire performers.
- Anna Norris explores some issues with beginners and the bassoon.
- Oboist Jill Cathey plays her scales backwards.
- Contraforte-ist Kristopher King shares his reed dimensions for this intriguing instrument.
- Oboist Patty Mitchell asks a question worth considering about music students and immunizations.
- Clarinetist Michael Dean addresses a surprising connection between posture and embouchure.
Recommended reading from the woodwind blogs in March:
- “Komuso Lady” at A Shakuhachi Journey blogs about tsu meri difficulties. Even for players of “modern” Western woodwinds, there are good thoughts here on getting to know your instrument and its tendencies intimately.
- Betsy Sturdevant offers some commentary and tips on playing bassoon 1 on the Firebird Suite.
- Patty Mitchell shares some reed advice for oboe students.
- At the “MetOrchestraMusicians” blog, a nice infographic about reeds. (Hat-tip to Patty Mitchell for this one.)
- Saxophonist Timothy Owen explains his reed preparation and finishing process.
- Clarinetist Adam Berkowitz offers some insightful responses and expansions to my recent blog post about uncompensated gigs.
- Saxophonist Bill Plake keeps a level head about equipment (suitable for players of all instruments).
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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!
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.)
Some of the best woodwind-related stuff I’ve read this month:
- Clarinet professor Adam Ballif shares some thoughts on going paperless as a musician, and takes an easily-digestible look at voicing and the clarinet.
- Flutist Catherine LeGrand gets super-methodical about interval practice and note shapes.
- Oboist Patty Mitchell attends the IDRS conference and provides a sneak peek into pedagogical sessions with Peter Cooper, Carolyn Hove, and David Weiss (and friends). Jealous.
- Bassoonist Cayla Bellamy tries playing like a superhero.
- Rigid saxophone harnesses seem to be popping up from several makers lately. Barry Caudill tries one on for size. (Inclusion here isn’t an endorsement of this particular model; I’m just glad to see a nice thoughtful review of this type of product. I would like to see Vandoren sending some of theirs out for review—hint, hint?)
- Woodwind doubler Steve Moffett passes along a good clear approach to determining how far in or out to roll the flute.
- Saxophonist Ben Britton clarifies a few things about reed strength.
Enjoy! If you or one of your favorite woodwind bloggers writes something especially awesome in July, drop me a note and I’ll give it a look for next month’s list.
If you’re a woodwind player and avid blog reader, you’re likely already following some prominent and popular bloggers like oboist Patty Mitchell (oboeinsight), flutist Jennifer Cluff, and clarinetists David Thomas (The Buzzing Reed) and Marion Harrington.
I read and enjoy all of these, but I would also like to suggest a few others that are particular favorites of mine. These are ones that I think have a somewhat smaller readership, although there’s not a good way to know that without asking nosy questions. So I could be wrong, but I’m guessing that some of these may be new to you. Check them out, and let us know in the comments what else you’re reading.
Also, read to the bottom for a couple of tips on reading blogs like you know what you’re doing.
In no particular order…
I posted last week about Diane Wood, the federal judge and oboist who is a candidate to fill a soon-to-be vacant seat on the US Supreme Court. (Unsurprisingly, Patty Mitchell, prolific blogger and online curator of all things oboe-related, also picked up the story.)
The oboe isn’t just an instrument; it’s a way of life. … Playing the oboe means living your life entirely at the mercy of tiny wooden double reeds that crack at inopportune moments (weirder and more awful yet, you’re supposed to make them yourself as though you were a 19th century artisan). It also means blowing so hard into them that you risk a brain aneurysm every time you try to hit a high D. It also means you’re a huge nerd.
If you aren’t reading Jennifer Cluff’s blog, I highly recommend surfing on over and spending a few hours: www.jennifercluff.com/blog/
Ms. Cluff’s blog gets my vote for being the most useful woodwind-related blog currently on the web, with long and in-depth posts about flute playing, including, sometimes, answers to readers’ questions. There is really excellent stuff here for beginners and very advanced flutists alike. I just finished reading her latest post, on excess movement in flute playing. Ms. Cluff’s posts are sporadic but always worthwhile, so subscribe to the RSS feed if you’re cool like that.