The few, the proud, the woodwind doublers

I’m back from the the excellent Region VI conference of the North American Saxophone Alliance. I went to soak up some good saxophone playing and to deliver what is becoming more or less my standard spiel on woodwind doubling.

This time I gave away half of the handouts I brought with me. That’s a dramatic improvement over some of my earlier presentations. Unfortunately, it’s not because attendance has gone up, but because I no longer find it realistically necessary to bring extras “just in case.”

photo, Benson Kua
photo, Benson Kua

As usual, my presentation was scheduled first thing in the morning, in a distant corner of the conference venue, and conflicting with a masterclass by one of the conference’s most admired performers. But, also as usual, the stalwart few who came were there early and already bubbling over with questions. Some were people I had previously been in touch with through this blog. And, as usual, they were all extremely attentive, and many of them went out of their way throughout the day to offer gratitude and compliments.

I really don’t blame the conference hosts or attendees (of this conference or any of the various others) for giving a woodwind doubling presentation relatively low billing. Woodwind doubling is a niche topic. Most of the conference-goers are probably better served by attending a good masterclass on their instrument. Plus, it works out well to give these presentations to small but enthusiastic groups, with lots of opportunity for questions and discussion. I preach to the (woodwind) choir.



3 responses to “The few, the proud, the woodwind doublers”

  1. I totally understand, Bret! I am a huge admirer of your website and the amazing research you have collected….I believe woodwind doubling is the MOST marketable skill in the professional working world but a sadly, a “low-value” skill in academia. I spent years getting my flute and clarinet chops into shape to get work (with success!), but then found that to get back into school, I had to set all this aside and practice hours and hours on one instrument. It is such a shame that such a separation exists. Keep up the good work! If I was in your region, I would have been in the front row!!

  2. Doug Owens Avatar
    Doug Owens

    Yeah, I missed the conference… because I had a gig. Playing saxophone. One of the orchestras I play bassoon in asked me to double on Bernstein. Just goes to show that doubling can be a pretty cool skill set. As always, this site is awesome, Bret!

  3. Greg Wrenn Avatar
    Greg Wrenn

    I’m sorry this is so delayed, but I *thoroughly* enjoyed your presentation at the conference. It was a pleasant surprise to see you there since we had been in contact with each other only a couple weeks before the event! I had a few questions going into the presentation, and you managed to answer all of them in your handouts. I think it is wonderful how you deftly you compare saxophone playing/teaching to the other woodwinds. I wish more conference-goers would attend your presentations, because I’m sure there are plenty of them who teach clarinet and flute lessons but don’t really know what they’re doing!

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