- Flutist Katherine Emeneth gives some advice to students preparing to rehearse with a collaborative pianist.
- Saxophone maker Steve Goodson discusses some of the developments related to his saxophones over two decades. Whether or not you have interest in Goodson’s instruments particularly, it’s an interesting look at saxophone manufacture and innovation. Long read.
- Bassoonist Christin Schillinger shares some insights on practicing and time management.
- On Powell’s Teach Flute blog, Morgann Davis discusses some pros and cons of the split-E mechanism.
- Bassoonist Betsy Sturdevant muses on playing in spaces with varying acoustical properties.
- Timothy Owen lists the three things you need to know to play the saxophone.
- Bassoonist Trent Jacobs explains some useful electronic effects for amplified bassoon playing.
- Clarinet Cache catalogs some useful online bass clarinet resources.
- Bassoonist Kristopher King recommends keeping an audition journal. (Warning: site has auto-playing music.)
From the woodwind blogs in August:
- Reports on the International Clarinet Society’s 2014 “ClarinetFest” (held in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA) by Josh Johnson and, of course, on the ClarinetFest blog. (My own brief general report is here, plus a report on my own presentation on woodwind doubling.)
- Reports on the International Double Reed Society conferences (New York City) by Jennet Ingle, Patty Mitchell, and Robin Tropper (parts one and two).
- A sort-of-report (sort-of-advertisement) on the National Flute Association conference on the Powell Flutes blog.
- “TFox” examines the issue of ivory bassoon bell rings.
- Oboist Jennet Ingle comments on the maturity that comes with experience. In, I think, a sort of related vein, she also discusses perfectionism and “mistakes.”
- Clarinetist Heather Roche gives some tips on double tonguing.
- Saxophonist Jeff Cunningham suggests some guidelines for determining the right reed strength for you. His site is geared toward less-experienced players, but in my opinion a number of “advanced” players could use a refresher on this.
- Saxophonist Sam Sadigursky explains an approach to help with mastering scales.
- Adam Berkowitz shares and comments on a very cool video of some bleeding-edge electronic bass clarinet playing and technology (most of the playing is by Matthias Müller).
- Saxophonist Jody Espina shares his “squeak-be-gone” exercise.
- Saxophonist Bill Plake compares routine and process in practicing.
I saw a blog post recently by a saxophonist who had been called upon to play some clarinet for a big band jazz gig. The post was full of common frustrations that saxophonists who are casual clarinet doublers face in that situation. I want to respond to some of the ideas in that post, but since it’s not my object to embarrass anyone I’m not going to name the saxophonist or link to the blog post. Also, the “quotes” I’m using here are actually paraphrases, but I believe they capture the saxophonist’s intended meaning.
The clarinet is evil! And it sounds like a dying animal.
I understand this is said in jest, but fear and/or contempt are not good starting points for approaching woodwind doubles. Either focus your energies on instruments you are motivated to play, or have an open mind. As with most things, you probably hate and fear the clarinet because you haven’t taken the time and effort to get to know it.
I’m actually pretty good at the bass clarinet, though.
I doubt it! There are plenty of saxophonists who claim they can play the bass clarinet but not the B-flat clarinet. In many, many of those cases, what the saxophonists mean is that they can use a very saxophoney approach to playing the bass clarinet—a too-low voicing, a too-horizontal mouthpiece angle, etc.—and make some kind of sound, whereas the smaller B-flat simply won’t cooperate at all with these bad techniques. Truly good bass clarinetists, however, produce a more characteristic sound because they play the instrument like what it is: a member of the clarinet family.
I dug up a fingering chart so I could do some practicing for my gig. Those pinky fingerings just don’t make any sense, plus you have to read a bunch of ledger lines.
Saxophonists are spoiled by the instrument’s relatively small “standard” range and relatively simplistic fingering scheme. But I think a reasonable argument could be made that the clarinet’s system of alternate “pinky” fingerings is tidier and more flexible than the saxophone’s clunky rollers. Break out the Klosé book and learn to do it right.
A new Internet friend shared this gem with me (click for slightly larger):
Lawrie Bloom, solo bass clarinetist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, starts this video talking about his reed break-in process, but spends some time toward the end (start at about 2:45 to cut to the chase) talking about his strategy for doubling clarinet and bass clarinet in a symphonic setting.
Mr. Bloom recommends using slightly softer reeds than usual to compensate for the fact that the reeds will be somewhat drier than optimal, and using a mouthpiece cap whenever possible.
I recently picked up a copy of The Many Sides of Alfred Gallodoro, Vol. I from Half.com. (As of this writing, they don’t have any copies left, so you’ll either have to get yours from his own website or from CD Baby. There are sound clips at both sites.)
Mr. Gallodoro is a living legend of woodwind playing: born in 1913, started playing professionally as a teenager, and is still at it. I’ve got him listed on my little woodwind doublers’ hall of fame, and you can read his full official bio here.