- Saxophonist Steve Neff explores the “holy grail” mindset with regard to mouthpieces.
- Flutist Nicole Riner offers tips on making a living as a freelancer.
- John Isley discusses finding a personal voice on wind controller.
- Oboist Jennet Ingle discusses integrity in musical interpretation. (Note: also some political content.) Jennet’s new video series on reedmaking is also worth checking out.
- Clarinetist Jenny Maclay shares a method for transitioning back into serious practicing after summer vacation.
- Kristopher King shares an interesting bassoon museum piece.
- Erin Nichols shows off acoustic paneling made especially for flute playing.
- Check out posts by a small army of bloggers documenting ClarinetFest® 2017.
- David Wells is working on collecting the Paris Conservatoire bassoon contest pieces.
- Woodwind doubler Ed Joffe encourages continuing your musical studies beyond school
- Saxophonist Roxy Coss discusses women as an under-represented group in jazz music.
- David Mankin shares a fascinating story about oboists Robert Bloom and Engelbert Brenner in a remarkable recording session.
- Clarinetist Jeremy Wohletz explains the importance of aural training.
- Saxophonist Sam Newsome identifies some issues that lead to rhythm problems (particularly in improvised music).
- Flutist Tammy Evans Yonce explains how she approaches a new repertoire piece.
- Saxophonist Ben Britton catalogs some methods of dealing with sticky G-sharp keys.
- Eryn Oft outlines the history of Heckel bassoons.
- Nicole Riner offers suggestions on making first contact with a potential college flute teacher. (Applicable to other instruments, too.)
- Jenny Maclay dives deep on clarinet resonance fingerings.
- Clarinetist/doubler Gentry Ragsdale-Szeto finds ways to squeeze in practice on multiple instruments.
- Oboist Patty Mitchell discusses the energy musicians put into playing, teaching, and listening to themselves.
- Clarinetist and saxophonist Andrew Allen explores some difficulties and benefits of playing and teaching multiple instruments.
- Flutist Jolene Harju shares tips on keeping double-tongued notes resonant.
- Clarinetist Jenny Maclay doesn’t play rests, but does observe silences.
- Flutist Terri Sánchez blogged like crazy this month, with many downloadable exercises and practice ideas. A few I liked included this one-minute warmup, these harmonics exercises, these 100 ideas for getting “unstuck,” and this advice on creating your own warmups.
- Heather Roche shares some clarinet works by female composers. (Check the comments section for more.)
- Flutist Jolene Harju does an interesting video experiment with expressive body movements.
- Clarinetist Jenny Maclay suggests practicing recovery from mistakes.
- Ed Joffe shares his experience with developing a multiple woodwinds graduate degree program.
- Flutist Andrée Martin discusses priority scheduling for practicing and for life.
- Barry Stees offers some tips and tricks for playing low, soft orchestral bassoon parts.
- Flutist Vanessa Breault Mulvey shares ideas on being observant of your own playing.
- Saxophonist Sam Newsome recommends slow progress. He also shares some interesting experiments in “prepared” soprano saxophone.
- Cate Hummel warns against some small but problematic flute habits.
Lots of woodwind doubler horror stories have to do with quick switches to flute or piccolo. (“Twenty minutes of hard-driving R&B tenor saxophone, then two bars to switch to flute and enter pianissimo in the third octave…”) Doublers in this situation often beat themselves up about perceived deficiencies in their flute embouchures, and commit to even more hours of Trevor Wye, but never quite seem to solve the problem.
While daily work on the flute embouchure is crucial, as is a good warmup, I think often the real problem is the reed embouchures. If playing clarinet, saxophone, or double reeds is leaving your embouchure too tired, tense, or numb to play the flute at your best, then consider improving your reed playing. Adjust your tone production to be less tense, adjust your setup to be freer-blowing, and adjust your mindset to be focused on efficiency rather than muscular effort. Keep up the flute lessons, but touch base with good reed teachers, too.
- Bassoonist Anna Norris suggests showing up for auditions.
- Michael Shults switches between jazz and classical saxophone.
- David Freeman transcribes recorder parts for Stairway to Heaven (but plays them on an electric keyboard…).
- Michael Lowenstern addresses a bass clarinet reed question.
- Flutist Vanessa Breault Mulvey discusses squeezing’s detrimental effect on flute playing.
- Saxophonist Bill Plake discusses tone imagination.
- Flutist Jolene Harju shares ideas for getting the most out of your lessons. I also liked her “Fundamentals Workout Planner.”
- Jennet Ingle learns something about disappointing performances.
- Saxophonist Jay Brandford shares an Eric Dolphy anecdote about dedication to detail in practicing.
- Matt Stohrer shares his procedure for “setting up” a new saxophone. This is sort of a commercial post, but instructive about what a new instrument might need to play to its best potential.
- Flutist Jennifer Cluff explains anchor tonguing.
- Saxophonist Kristen McKeon auspiciously launches her blog with a post on mindfulness in rehearsal.
- Flutist Jolene Harju uses a custom warmup sheet.
- Gentry Ragsdale-Szeto shares her journey as a woodwind doubler.
- Matt Stohrer offers some tips on navigating the modern saxophone market.
- Flutist Cynthia Ellis has an epiphany about the much-fretted-over “teardrop” lip.
- Jeff Cunningham gives advice to beginners about the “spitty” saxophone sound.
- Flutist Deanna Mathews Kilbourne suggests what to practice first.
- Joan Marti-Frasquier shares a quarter-tone fingering chart for baritone saxophone.
Another month dominated by flute bloggers. Leave me a comment if there are excellent blogs by reed players that I should be reading.
- Jolene Harju shares a calendar of flute practice ideas. (It’s for February, but easily adaptable to other months.)
- Heather Roche continues her massive and thorough project documenting extended clarinet techniques with a chart of quarter-tone tremolo fingerings for bass clarinet.
- Flutist Nicole Riner shares resources for commissioning new music.
- Flutist Tammy Evans Yonce requires her woodwind pedagogy students to teach private mini-lessons.
- Flutist Rachel Taylor Geier offers suggestions on making a recording for a job application or audition.
- Cate Hummel explains playing the flute softly.
The book includes seven studies for doubler playing flute, clarinet, and alto saxophone. It also includes a piano accompaniment book, with piano part recordings available for free on the publisher’s website. This is an elegant solution to one of the problems of woodwind doubling etudes: how do you enforce quick instrument switches? Chris Vadala’s book provides rests and trusts you to observe them. Gene Kaplan’s duo book pairs you with another woodwind doubler. Saunders’s book, used with the recordings, provides a simple way to work out quick switches alone in a practice room. (For a real-world challenge, cue up the recordings in a playlist, and sight-read the book beginning to end with no breaks between etudes.)
Saunders’s tunes are fun and musically satisfying—to my tastes, the best among the doubling etude books so far. Styles are what you might find in contemporary rock/pop-based musical theater. Here is a quick-and-dirty demo of etude #3, “How Cool Can You Be:”
Mr. Saunders emphasized to me that the etudes are intended for aspiring woodwind doublers, and therefore are of moderate difficulty. I would say So You Want to Play is not as challenging as the Vadala book, comparable overall to the Kaplan book. The most technically-demanding material nearly always falls to the clarinet. The flute parts tend to stay in a comfortable register, rarely breaking into the third octave, and maxing out at a high G. There is a note or two of saxophone altissimo. There are frequent instrument switches, a few of them very quick.
Mr. Saunders was also kind enough to send me early drafts of some a couple of etudes that will appear in a forthcoming second volume. They appear to be more difficult, with some swing feel and doubles on soprano and tenor saxophone.
As I’ve mentioned in reviews of previous materials, I wish there were more resources available for doublers that included the double reed instruments and/or auxiliary instruments. But, as you may know, double-reed doubling is less common in the West End than it is on Broadway, so this book is probably a good fit for most British woodwind players (like Mr. Saunders), and quite a few American ones. So You Want to Play is a solid addition to the flute/clarinet/alto materials available, challenging but fun for an up-and-coming doubler.
The flute bloggers have been busy this month.
- Cynthia Ellis offers some ideas on altering flute fingerings with the right pinky.
- Saxophonist Bill Plake provides some clarity on economy of movement vs. economy of effort.
- Flutist Nicole Riner shares some ideas and resources related to the importance of hard work over talent.
- Clarinetist Chastine Hofmeister gives some advice to young musicians on solo competitions.
- Flutist Jolene Harju offers suggestions on rejuvenating your warm-up routine.
- Flutist Nicole Chamberlain suggests prioritizing.