What’s in a name? What “doublers” call themselves

I’ve struggled a little with what to call myself as a player of several woodwind instruments. “Woodwind doubler” seems like the most accepted nomenclature, but “doubler” seems a little inapt for someone who plays more than two instruments (my flute teacher calls me a “five-aler”). And besides, “doubler” sometimes carries a certain connotation of playing several instruments poorly. “Pete” on The Woodwind Forum referred to this in a recent post. In the same post, he attempts to define “doubling” like this:

Being asked to play multiple instruments that you normally don’t, but have a bit of facility on them that doesn’t quite match your main instruments.

That doesn’t sit very well for someone like me, whose goal is to play all their instruments equally well.

Today I clicked through some of the links on my list of “doublers” on the web to see what they call themselves. Here are some of the titles I found:

  • woodwind doubler
  • woodwind player
  • multi-reed specialist
  • woodwind artist
  • multi-woodwind artist
  • multi-instrumentalist
  • woodwind performer
  • reed player
  • woodwind recording artist
  • multi-instrumental performer
  • woodwinds soloist
  • multi-woodwind instrument performer
  • multi-woodwind performer
  • woodwind specialist
  • woodwind instrumentalist
  • woodwind-er
  • woodwind performing artist
  • multi-reed instrumentalist
  • mulitple woodwind specialist
  • multi-woodwind player
  • multi-reedist
  • woodwind man
  • multi-reedsman

In my bio, I am currently calling myself a “woodwind artist.”

In a future post, I’ll comment on some of these titles, and why I like some better than others.

3 thoughts on “What’s in a name? What “doublers” call themselves”

  1. I think Sal Lozano in his interview published in the May/June 2008 issue hit this subject on the head. He says when he has a clarinet in his hands, he is a clarinet player. When he as a flute, he is flutist (or flautist).

    Bret, I think your “woodwind artist” designation is one of the better ones. Also, “woodwind specialist” indicates you are good at several, which is the category I like to think I am in.

  2. Sal Lozano’s interview is in the May/June issue of the SAXOPHONE JOURNAL. It appears I left the “where” part out.

  3. The word “doubler” doesn’t seem to mean just playing two instruments. I’ve heard players say “I am getting three doubles on this show!” Now someone could call it a quadruple, and I suppose some do, but mostly the word “double” is used no matter how many instruments are being played. So “doubler” is, to me, the easiest way to go about it.

    I’m not considered a doubler even though I occasionally get doubling. Playing oboe and English horn pays doubling but doesn’t turn me into a doubler.

    Of course what I’m called can be a little odd to. We are (or at least were) referred to as “straight players” and I always hope a musical has a “straight book”. A colleague nearly ripped my head off when I said, “I sure hope it has a straight book!” because he thought I was offending our “non-straight” community. I guess we need a different name too. ;-)


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