- Flutist Nicole Riner lists extended techniques with some sample repertoire and practice tips.
- Saxophone mouthpiece reviewer extraordinaire Steve Neff explains how to test a mouthpiece thoroughly.
- Oboist Patty Mitchell offers a somber reminder that sexual harassment is an issue in the music world, too.
- Clarinetist Liz Aleksander outlines a methodical approach to tuning.
- Bassoonist Nadina Mackie Jackson gives some perspective on teachers and teaching.
- The “Curious Clarinetist” tells a satirical tale of new instruments.
- Cynthia Ellis and Cate Hummel provide tips on playing the piccolo.
- Clarinetist Jenny Maclay shares ideas for mastering a new repertoire piece besides just practicing.
- Oboist Jennet Ingle discusses the importance of choosing the right reed for a performance (and which factors are most important).
- Ariel Detwiler discusses some of the issues of choosing which students are good prospective bassoonists.
- Ben Britton looks at some common saxophone tone production issues.
- Flutist Deanna Mathews Kilbourne reminds us to play in tune, even alone.
- Oboist Jennet Ingle provides a peek into a “portfolio” career.
- I mentioned previously this post by clarinetist Jenny Maclay on cueing (and attempted to expand upon it). Jenny also takes a look at the A-flat clarinet.
- Cate Hummel gives advice on what order to teach new notes to beginning flutists.
- Saxophonist Steve Neff explores the question of how much the mouthpiece matters.
- I’m still enjoying Rachel Taylor Geier’s “practice blueprints” for flute repertoire. Here is Bach sonata #4.
- “Ericdano” at jazz-sax.com suggests some essential gig gear.
- Cynthia Ellis offers a brief thought on dynamics and the piccolo.
- The Clarinet Online, the International Clarinet Association’s blog, gives reports on many of their August conference events. Jessica Harrie also makes a report, as does Chastine Hofmeister (two posts).
- Cynthia Ellis shares a couple of third-octave piccolo trill fingerings.
- The “Clarinet Things” blog outlines a method for practicing scales. Saxophonist Ben Britton shares some tips for polishing them.
- Oboist Aaron Lakota gives some advice on breaking out of a “reed rut.”
- Sandy Herrera is running a clarinet audition-prep challenge.
- Woodwind player David Freeman relates an experience playing for a musical.
- Eric Seddon comments on some jazz clarinet history.
- Simon Barker offers advice on how to record a saxophone.
- Oboist Jennet Ingle discusses her experience recording an album.
- “Ericdano” reveals some saxophonists’ favorite electronic effects pedals.
- Saxophonist Bill Plake explores “compression” and wind playing.
- Clarinetist Michael Dean examines some resources available for better-informed preparation of the Cyrille Rose “40” and “32” études.
- David Erato compiles some piccolo tips by some top working flutists and doublers (and also me).
- Saxophonist David Freeman shares some settings for the kinds of electronic filter sounds used by Michael Brecker and Jeff Coffin.
- Josh Johnson shares in exhaustive detail the flutes he tried out at the NFA conference. For gear junkies only.
- Heather Roche demonstrates some extended techniques specific to the “paperclip”-style contrabass clarinet.
- Saxophonist Bill Plake discusses some benefits of practicing with a drone.
- The unnamed mom at How About Oboe? gets her 10-year-old oboist to practice difficult things for just two minutes at a time.
- Cate Hummel brings things back to Earth about the flute and the so-called lip “teardrop.” (I also hinted at that topic in a recent post.)
- Bassoonist Barry Stees continues his in-depth and insightful series on interpretation, with installments on motive and harmony.
- Flutist Cindy Ellis offers ten piccolo tips.
- Oboist Christa Garvey shares a breathing exercise for quieting performance nerves.
- Saxophonist Ben Britton experiments with some improved altissimo fingerings. And of course I would be remiss not to mention his very attractive saxophone fingering diagrams.
- Woodwind doubler Steve Moffet considers practicing instrument switches.
- Heather Roche catalogs extended clarinet articulation techniques.
- Bassonist David Pierce offers six words to inspire performers.
- Anna Norris explores some issues with beginners and the bassoon.
- Oboist Jill Cathey plays her scales backwards.
- Contraforte-ist Kristopher King shares his reed dimensions for this intriguing instrument.
- Oboist Patty Mitchell asks a question worth considering about music students and immunizations.
- Clarinetist Michael Dean addresses a surprising connection between posture and embouchure.
- Christa Garvey reports on this year’s John Mack Oboe camp, and shares some masterclass notes. Her post about the fallacy of “doing more with dynamics” is really excellent, too. Christa wrote several other top-quality posts this month, but I’m going to just mention those two to avoid embarrassing everybody with my gushing.
- In other conference reports, David Davani covers ClarinetFest in a five-part series, and Robin Tropper tries out oboes at the IDRS conference in a series of extremely detailed posts.
- Saxophone repair genius Matt Stohrer takes a refreshingly rational look at the effect that a saxophone’s finish does or doesn’t have on its tone. (Obligatory: my own post on this topic.)
- In a perhaps-related vein, The Life of the Flute Player reviews a flute and a piccolo constructed of non-traditional materials. I’m including this post not because I have opinions on these specific products, but because more and more plastic woodwinds are popping up, and I think it’s a trend worth watching.
- The always-insightful Bill Plake, saxophonist and certified Alexander Technique teacher, looks at practicing in terms of adding new ideas and subtracting old habits.
- Saxophonist Sam Newsome recommends a thoughtful approach to using or not using a metronome when practicing.
- Saxophonist Bob Hartig conquers less-familiar keys so that they become natural and intuitive.
- Bassoonist Barry Stees recommends continuing your musical education after graduation.
- Jennet Ingle doesn’t mind playing second oboe.
- Doubler Steve Moffett has an epiphany about flute articulation and the “ta” syllable.
- Adam at A Classical Journey explores career options for musicians, and discovers that sometimes plan “A” isn’t the one you wanted after all.
- Clarinetist Sherman Friedland wrote an incisive post on the basics of crossing the break, which has since disappeared from his site. So instead of linking, I’ll just recommend that you subscribe to his RSS feed so you can read his posts before he deletes them.
I currently have over 400 woodwind-related blogs in my feed reader, and try my best at least to skim the new posts. In the past I’ve occasionally passed along recommendations about some of the blogs that I think are especially good. I’m considering moving toward something like a monthly list of some of my favorite individual posts instead.
Here are some from April (a few from late March sneaked in, too).
- The eminent Sam Newsome shares sheet music, a recording, and some commentary on a fun tune for solo soprano saxophone using some multiphonics: “Blue Swagger” – The Art of Solo Soprano Saxophone
- Stephanie Mortimore (of the Metropolitan Opera orchestra) offers a difference-tone-based approach to improving intonation over at one of the Powell Flutes blogs: Taming the Beast—Revolutionize Your Piccolo Intonation! (Part II). No reason this method couldn’t be used for flute or any other instrument. Part I is the usual boilerplate explanation of equal vs. just temperament.
- Ben Britton suggests saxophone subtone as a way of improving breath support (Benefits of Subtone and Diaphragmatic Breathing to Tone) and, speaking of multiphonics, explores a methodical way of discovering and using multiphonic fingerings (Multiphonics Dissected).
- Alexander Technique teacher Bill Plake gives advice: A Simple Tip To Help You Play Better At Fast Tempos
- From the Arts and Crafts department, David Wells shares his secret for cheap, customizable bassoon reed storage: The $3 Bassoon Reed Case
- Jennifer Cluff dives deep into the IMSLP and discovers some flute chamber music gems, free to download: Kummer Trios for free
I’m pleased to share some audio from my Delta State University faculty recital a few weeks ago.The big event of the evening was the premiere of Sy Brandon’s Divertissement for multiple woodwinds and piano, which seemed to be well received. It’s gratifying to be involved in the creation of a piece that fills a gap in the small multiple woodwinds repertoire—something than can be played by a woodwind doubler, without having to bring in a concert band, a truckload of electronics, or obscure instruments. The audience seemed to enjoy the derring-do of the final movement, which involves six instruments.
I’ve studied the Bonneau Caprice en forme de valse in the past and have had students perform it, but this was the first time I played it in public myself. Since I’m trying to balance a half-dozen or more instruments, I tend to shy away from pieces that seem too technical, and, in that respect, this was the riskiest piece on the program. I was mostly pleased with how it turned out.
Dr. Sy Brandon has posted his work on the sixth and final movement of the Divertissement for multiple woodwinds soloist and piano.
In some early communication, Dr. Brandon suggested that this movement, the “Galop,” be written for piccolo. I was happy with this idea, and even dusted off my piccolo to start getting my chops in shape. But by the next day he had hit on a new idea that I liked even better: using the sixth movement to bring back each of the five previously-featured instruments in one tour-de-force finale.
While I was pleased to have this piece include a chance to show off my skills at switching instruments on the fly, I did think that this might limit the number of doublers who could perform the piece. I like the idea of a piece custom-tailored to my specific skill set, but, on the other hand, I would like to see the piece become a significant addition to the limited repertoire for woodwind doublers.
The problem, of course, is that a “doubler” might play any combination of instruments, and a piece for five specific instruments does drastically narrow the field of capable performers. My initial hope was that the piece might be adaptable to individual doublers’ abilities, either by selectively omitting movements or by providing alternate instrumentations.
Dr. Brandon, unsurprisingly, was two steps ahead of me. He has announced two different versions of the sixth movement: one version is for piccolo, and the other is for doubler playing flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and saxophone—the instruments used individually in the preceding movements—plus a brief surprise appearance by the piccolo at the very end. Continue reading “Multiple woodwinds commission, sixth movement (multiple woodwinds or piccolo)”