Which is your favorite?

Another question that I am frequently asked as a woodwind doubler is, “Which instrument is your favorite?”

My answer to this is simple.

If it’s a good day, then my favorite is the one I’m playing.

If it’s a bad day, then my favorite is any one but the one I’m playing.

University/conservatory degree programs in woodwind doubling, part II: jazz

In response to my recent post about woodwind doubling degree programs, someone sent me this question:

My question is, out of that list, do you know of which schools offer multiple woodwinds with a Jazz/Contemporary focus … or at least some focus on jazz?

I checked out most of those pages, but it seems it’s all very classical focused.

Before addressing that question, I think it’s worth saying that if you’re going to be a woodwind doubler, a little jazz background is really valuable.

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University/conservatory degree programs in woodwind doubling

I’ve updated my list of schools with woodwind doubling programs. The current count as of this writing is 5 schools with some kind of bachelor’s degree program, 15 with a master’s program, and 5 with a doctoral program.

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Review: The Many Sides of Al Gallodoro

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.

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Masato Honda plays recorder

I’ve been practicing the Telemann recorder suite this summer, and I had been meaning to write a recorder-related post. I thought I might mention this video of Masato Honda, a Japanese woodwind doubler and fusion/smooth jazz artist, but Gandalfe at The Bis Key Chronicles beat me to the punch today with this post featuring another video, of Mr. Honda’s really nice saxophone playing.

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University woodwinds job postings, 5/30/08

Being a doctoral student in multiple woodwinds performance, I like to keep an eye on the job listings for university faculty positions that involve teaching multiple woodwind instruments. There usually aren’t many, at least not many that involve a national search. But two positions were posted to HigherEdJobs.com this morning:

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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”).

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Woodwind doubling in musical theater orchestras: Taking the insanity out of Crazy for You

Crazy for You is a Broadway-style stage musical by Ken Ludwig. The show, which premiered in 1992, uses songs written by George and Ira Gershwin for musicals in the 1930’s. In January and February, 2003, the Brigham Young University Department of Theatre and Media Arts and School of Music produced the show.

Synthesis, BYU’s award-winning jazz ensemble directed by Dr. Ray Smith, filled the role of pit orchestra. The five-member Synthesis saxophone section became an orchestral woodwind section, with a combined arsenal of over twenty instruments. The practice of “doubling,” or playing more than one instrument, is common in theater orchestra woodwind sections. A woodwind doubler may be expected to play instruments from all five woodwind families (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and saxophone) in a single show!

The woodwind parts in Crazy for You provide an excellent case study for the challenges facing the woodwind doubler. The show requires five woodwind players. The first woodwind part calls for flute and piccolo, clarinet, and soprano and alto saxophones. The musician playing this part is the primary flute, piccolo, and soprano saxophone soloist, as well as the lead saxophonist in saxophone ensemble passages. Special considerations include extensive use of the extreme high ranges of the flute and piccolo, as well as trills in less-common keys and in the high register; and jazz inflections, including pitch bends, in the saxophone parts.

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