- bassoon blog (Betsy Sturdevant): The art of bassoon maintenance
- Just Flutes Blog (Adam Clifford): CITES Regulations of Wooden Instruments – Update
- Steve Neff Music Blog: Buyer Beware! Counterfeit Vintage Saxophone Mouthpieces Galore
- oboeinsight (Patty Mitchell): A Very Good Reminder
A few years ago I reviewed Gene Kaplan’s Duos for Doublers, a set of duets for woodwind doublers playing flute, clarinet, and saxophone. I was pleased to hear from Gene again recently about his new Duets for the ‘Double-Reed Doubler.’ It contains seven duets in a variety of styles, with one doubler playing oboe, clarinet, and alto saxophone, and the other playing clarinet, bassoon, and tenor saxophone. (No flute in either part.)
The books (a set of two, one for each player) are neat and easy to read, with well-placed page turns and spiral binding. Like the Duos for Doublers, this set currently costs $30.
I’m pleased to see more materials making their way into the world that address the growing pressure on woodwind doublers to be skilled double reed players. The idea of “doubling” meaning just flute, clarinet, and saxophone is increasingly a thing of the past. Working on doubling in a chamber music setting, like these duets, is a useful way to improve your skills as a soloist-level player of multiple instruments.
Here’s a demo of one of the duets, called “Machinations:”
I wouldn’t call these duets easy, exactly, but they aren’t overwhelming for doublers with a little background in each instrument. All the instruments stay mostly in their lower and middle registers. The oboe rarely ventures outside the staff, and the bassoon stays squarely in bass-clef range. There are some fast switches (catch me trying to play bassoon with the tenor in my lap in the demo video), some tricky navigation of the clarinet’s throat-to-clarion break, some articulated low notes in the saxophones, and other real but not unusual challenges.
These duets are a fun an interesting challenge if you have a doubler friend to practice with. Head over to Gene’s website to get your copy.
- Everything Saxophone (Ben Britton): Kenny Garrett & Jazz Articulation
- The Flute View (Rena Urso): Understanding the Connection Between Your Arms and Tongue Can Improve Your Articulation
- Clarinet Divas (Diana Haskell): Female Clarinetists In U.S. Part Two – College Professors/Teachers
- ProneOboe (Jennet Ingle): Discouraging Words
- Practice Room Revelations – Jolene Madewell (flute): How I Practice Vibrato: 6 Self-Awareness Questions [Video]
- Jess Voigt Page (saxophone): Making money as a private music lesson teacher on public holidays!
- Jennifer Cluff (flute): Presto Young Person’s fingerings
- MATTHEW EMANUELSON – Blog (bassoon): 10 Tips for Audition Day
- The Flute Examiner (Keith Hanlon): Modern Piccolo Mechanisms
- Recorder Jen (Jennifer Mackerras): Choosing a new recorder – wood or plastic?
- Jess Voigt Page: Selecting repertoire while you’re in school
- Bill Plake Music: Remember to Pay Attention to This Important (Yet Too Often Overlooked) Component of Your Practice Routine
- Dr. Cate’s Flute Tips (Cate Hummel): The Secret of Tuning Up Db (C#)
- Jenny Maclay: 30 Day Self Care Challenge for Musicians
- LearnSaxophoneOnline.com (Jeffrey Cunningham): Crystal Clear Articulation
- Observing Focal Dystonia (Andrée Martin): Lose your GPS
- Trent Jacobs, bassoonist: Addressing Stress VPI
- oboeinsight (Patty Mitchell): The Internet Is Not Always Your Friend
- International Clarinet Association (Nicola Buckenmaier): Caroline Schleicher-Krähmer: The First Female Clarinet Soloist
Here are videos from my recent faculty recital at Delta State University. I performed the Saint-Saëns oboe, bassoon, and clarinet sonatas, plus the flute Romance and “The Swan” from The Carnival of the Animals as a baritone saxophone transcription.
“The Swan” is originally for cello, so I assumed it might work well as a baritone saxophone transcription. It turns out it really fits quite comfortably in the alto saxophone’s range, but I decided to take it on as a baritone piece anyway as a personal challenge.
- Sax Spy – Blog: 3 Low-Note Exercises From the Masters
- Trent Jacobs, bassoonist: On forming blanks and cracking cane
- ProneOboe (Jennet Ingle): Psychology of the Oboist and Transitions
- Jenny Maclay: The Complete Guide to Developing Great Technique
- Sam Newsome’s Blogspot: Soprano Sax Talk: Websites: Relevant or Relic?
And, as always, this is an excellent way to get your blog post selected as a favorite:
- Joffe Woodwinds: Bret Pimentel
- Jennifer Stucki, oboist: Why is my Reed Playing Sharp and Flat?
- Rachel Yoder, clarinet: Objective Language in Applied Music Instruction
- Just Flutes Blog (Roderick Seed): Tips on Andersen Etudes: Op15, No. 3
- Sam Newsome’s Blogsite: Soprano Sax Talk: Acute and Chronic Practicing
- Bassoon Blog (Betsy Sturdevant): Contrabassoon for Dummies
- The Flute Examiner (Kelly Wilson): 11 Cool Things About the Tongue
- Peter da Silva Music: Woodwind Tips – Venting
- Recorder Jen (Jennifer Mackerras): Why we should all start practising long notes
- The Flute View (Jolene Madewell): 7 Tips for Sparking Joy in Your Practice Room
- oboeinsight (Patty Mitchell): Conductors and Kindness, Part 3
- bassoon blog (Betsy Sturdevant): Characteristics of a top-notch wind quintet
- Bill Plake Music: Be Mindful of This Very Important Connection When Playing Your Instrument
- Sam Newsome’s Blogspot: Soprano Sax Talk: Teacher and Student: Then What?
- Practice Room Revelations – Jolene Harju: How I Regained Confidence In My Playing (After Becoming Too Afraid To Play)
- Joffe Woodwinds: Practicing on the Gig
- JQ Flute: Rough times happening? Oh look, there you are making gold out of it. Here’s 3 heartfelt observations about your playing to get you through the storm
- Oboemotions: Promising Research
- Kristopher King (bassoon): Low A
- The Flute View: Creating and Refining Better Habits in Your Practice Room by Rena Urso
- Wayne Leechford: Auditioning for All-District
- Jenny Maclay (clarinet): My Winter Warm-Up Routine For Cold Days
I mentioned in a previous post that I wanted to examine a “controversial” aspect of bassoon playing: the movement of the jaw during articulation.
I was already aware of Terry Ewell’s well-reasoned article from The Double Reed journal, which concludes that jaw movement is unnecessary and inefficient. But I was also under the impression that there were advocates of jaw movement. A skimming of some pedagogical materials at hand seems to debunk this—I couldn’t find a single author strongly and clearly in favor of jaw movement.
The Ewell article should be the go-to for anyone interested in the topic. In a different article, Ewell summarizes:
Chewing motions with the jaw should not be used during the tonguing because the tongue should function independently of the jaw.Terry Ewell: “Basic Bassoon Articulations,” in Woodwind Anthology, Volume II, 1999 edition. Northfield, Illinois: The Instrumentalist, 1999, p. 951. Article originally printed in The Instrumentalist
Here are the other anti-jaw-movement examples I could find:
One of the worst possible habits is to tongue in a “chewing” fashion. The movement of the jaw and lips not only distorts the tone each time they move, but actually slows down the action of the tongue.William Spencer, rev. Frederick A Mueller: The Art of Bassoon Playing. Princeton, New Jersey: Summy-Birchard Music, 1958, p. 54.
In staccato passages, the collapse of pressure can produce a ‘gobbling’ reaction in the jaw. As a result the quality of tone and attack may suffer. … As we tongue more rapidly, we must try to involve only the tongue and not allow the jaw and throat to become involved… The momentary opening and closing of our lower jaw may be in response to the change of pressure inside the mouth once the support is switched off; however it is more likely to betray and involuntary ‘gobbling’ with the jaw in sympathy with the activity of the tongue.William Waterhouse, Bassoon. Yehudi Menuhin Music Guides. London: Kahn & Averill, 2003, p. 116-123.
Needless to say, there should be minimum outward movement of the lip or jaw, as this will hinder the tongue’s freedom of motion.Homer Pence, Teacher’s Guide to the Bassoon. Elkhart, Indiana: H. & A. Selmer, Inc., 1963, p. 2-3.
The following refers to the woodwinds in general:
Jaw should not move during articulationH. Gene Griswold: Teaching Woodwinds. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc., 2008, p. 31.
Movement of the jaw in tonguing. This is the result of too large or too violent movement of the tongue, frequently accompanied by changes in pitch of the tone. … Jaw movements can occur with all methods of correct tongue placement, as well as with incorrect tongue placement, and these prevent the development of speed in articulation.Frederick W. Westphal, Guide to Teaching Woodwinds, Fifth Edition. Boston: McGraw Hill, 1990, p. 227.
This may include the jaw:
The goal on all wind instruments, and particularly the bassoon, is to maintain an open mouth and throat position while playing. The bassoon tone is very sensitive to this positioning.William Dietz: Teaching Woodwinds: A method and resource handbook for music educators. Belmont, California: Schirmer, 1998, p. 14.
Here is the closest I could find to advocacy for jaw movement, though it’s not 100% clear that that is what the author intends:
On both double reeds, embouchure pressure on the reed will vary to control the ends of notes. Increasing pressure on the reed will keep the pitch from dropping. For this reason, you will see embouchure movement while articulating, which will be more pronounced with bassoonists…Charles West: Woodwind Methods: An essential resource for educators, conductors, and students. Delray Beach, Florida: Meredith Music, 2015, p. 68.
I also turned to Christopher Weait’s Bassoon Strategies for the Next Level and Arthur Weisberg’s The Art of Wind Playing, both of which seemed like likely sources on information, but could not locate passages in either that directly addressed the issue.
In summary, there seems to be little support for the idea of jaw movement in bassoon articulation. If you are aware of sources that encourage this technique, I would be curious to hear about them.