BDP Video 300: Reflections. Terry B. Ewell provides an overview of the Bassoon Digital Professor project, his pedagogical approach, and his current and future plans for the website and other projects.

[Music: Hummel Bassoon Concerto. Performers Peter Amstutz, fortepiano and Terry B. Ewell, bassoon.]

Welcome, I am Terry Ewell and you are viewing the 300th video in the Bassoon Digital Professor series. I am going to take a few moments here to reflect on what has happened, where I am right now, and my projects in the future for the Bassoon Digital Professor. It seems very apt to do this. It is December 30th of 2020, the year is drawing to a close and I am also timing this with the last video of this third century (if you will) of these videos. So, let’s get started.

I mention that this is the 300th video in the Bassoon Digital Professor series. These videos are numbered similar to an opus number in music. The first English video, number 1, started in 2007 when I began the website and also started working on the digital videos on YouTube and other places. This is a listing of where we are up to this date. So, although this is the 300th video, this does not include a couple of videos that were originally in Chinese. So, I have had 298 in English, plus one Chinese video—this is one I spoke in Mandarin and added English subtitles. There was one video I think on circular breathing [in Mandarin] that was a repackaging of many other materials that you find in my other videos.


Starting Date




298 (plus 1 with subtitles)

Chinese (Mandarin)



Korean 국의



Spanish Español



Farsi فارسی



Russian Русский










So, to date I have had 77 videos in Mandarin Chinese, 17 in Korean—these started in 2012. In 2016 I started with Spanish, 122 videos. That is really growing. Farsi videos for those in Persia, Iran. In Russian, 63 videos; those are also actively growing. In German those were a couple done this year with Bach Cantatas, and Latin as well for the Verdi Requiem.

I want you to be aware that completing 300 videos is quite an accomplishment. It takes me one to two hours of work for each minute of a new video that I produce. Time is spent developing and researching materials, creating graphics and text, recording audio and video portions, editing and synchronizing audio and video, and other post-production work. Then most videos are presented in three formats on and loaded on YouTube with transcripts. Derivative videos—those in additional languages—are translated by my talented team and then edited by me for their final production. Each of those is the result of several hours of work. So, 300 videos: you are looking at thousands of hours that I have devoted to this.

Well, let me talk a bit here about what Bassoon Digital Professor means to me. Bassoon is my expertise, my primary area of expertise. However, I do draw upon my education, a PhD in music theory as well. This has given me great insights into the academic discipline. It is Digital, not online, not correspondence. I distinguish between correspondence, online, and digital instruction. I am not an online professor, rather I choose the word digital because it encompasses more than just online delivery.

Let me give you a quotation from an essay I wrote, “Becoming Digital Professors,” which explains some of the aspects of digital for my teaching. For the sake of time, I am not going to read the statement here. You can pause the video and read it if you wish.

I teach courses at Towson University not only in bassoon but in ethics, music composition, and digital instruction.

Last of all I am a Professor. That is a term that I take not only in rank—I am a full professor at Towson University—but also in advocacy. I have been a professor for a long time, well before I even entered the academic realm. I profess what I learn about the bassoon, about performance, about practicing, about life as a musician, and also life as a Christian. These experiences I share are influenced by my education in various aspects as a bassoonist, music theorist, and a religious believer.

Let’s go on to my mission statement. I don’t know that many people pay much attention to it, but you will find it on the BDP home page. It is “presenting a well-reasoned pedagogy for bassoon practice and performance.” Let me break this down for you. First, notice the “Ps” in there. There are 4 Ps in this.

First, Presenting. I have given a lot of thought to the BDP videos and the websites that I manage. I am greatly in debt to the time I spent in mainland China starting in the summer of 2012 and my study of the Chinese language. I learned that in order to better communicate with those from different cultures and languages I had to radically change my delivery of materials. Now I try to be more concise, eliminate USA slang, incorporate more graphics and on-screen text, and demonstrate items as much as possible. All of this is part of the first “P,” presenting.

Next is Well-reasoned. Sorry, I couldn’t come up with any “Ps” here! But I carefully research what I present to you in order to hold to the highest academic standards of USA universities. I fail in that aspiration many times, but it is still my goal to present informed teachings that acknowledge the great work of others in the field. What you will see on is over four decades of materials that I have gathered or created myself.

Pedagogy.  I have a life-long interest in studying how best to deliver information and skills to students. I am still learning new ways to be a more effective instructor.

Practice. I broadly interpret this word. It not only refers to what we need to be do master the bassoon, music, fingerings, breath control, etc. but also the best practices for physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually presenting music and participating in musical experiences. For instance, with practice I emphasize three Ts: in tune, in time, with a good tone. So, one of pedagogies, one of the ways in which present to students is that they should not just play alone, but they need to play with others. I wrote an article in the Double Reed News called “Two are Better than One: New Ideas for Duets in the Bassoon Studio.” My goal is to make sure that students, in every lesson with me, they play not only with drones but they play with accompaniments or each other. Ideally, when we are meeting face-to-face, I overlap lessons so that the students play duets with each other and do some sight reading and we even talk about repertory in those instances. I think that the idea of playing duets is fabulous. There are many great bassoon pedagogues who has done this. For instance, Étienne Ozi the great bassoon pedagogue has written many duets. You find that Weissenborn also has duets in many of his studies. These pedagogues emphasize that. I have included even more emphasis in this direction.  You will see later on my website that there are many accompaniments for bassoon players either to play along with recordings of me playing bassoon or me playing piano and creating harpsichord or other accompaniments.

Performance. I am not just an instructor, but I am an active performer as well. My performances are on bassoon, as a videographer, and as a webmaster. So, my pedagogy is delivered not only with explanations, but also with examples. I think that is important.

Most of you viewing this video are familiar with my YouTube videos. However, that is only a fraction of my pedagogy that is available. If all that you are doing is watching my YouTube videos, you are missing a lot of materials I have to help you as a bassoonist develop or as a teacher to help your students.

These are free materials on my website. I do not charge for them. You will notice that my YouTube videos are not for money [no advertisements]. Except for a brief period at the end of 2018 when a few friends helped me out with money for videos, all funding for the videos, translations, websites have come from my earnings. With the exception of a few materials available on Lulu, I earn no income from the items. It is just God’s blessing in my life that I want to share with you.

So, let’s explore for some additional items that will improve your bassoon practice and performance.

The Home page has been updated with some new items up here at the top. This whole section down here is from my older page. The older website was codified in 2009, and these links relate to the older page. Those are all still current. I make sure that the links aren’t broken. We are now here on the home page. Let’s go through a few of these items.

The Audio here, there are some very important and rare items from Maurice Allard as well as a few of my audio performances. One is from the International Double Reed Society. I was the winner in the first Gillet Competition. Bassoon Digital Professor we will look at later. Colossians 3:16, this is brand new project. This is my COVID-19 project. Teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. These are many songs throughout the world that Christians have produced and I bring to you. In fact, the first item in that series was from Mexico.

Drones, these are very important things to practice. For Christian Artists—there is a website there supporting Christians. The bassoon fingering companion, we will take a look at that in a moment.

Here we have the Graded Bassoon section. This is a brand new feature on the site that I will be completing in my sabbatical in Spring 2021. It presents an approach to the bassoon staring with Grade 1, the easiest, and going all the way to Grade 6. These grades are based upon the Maryland Music Educators Association rankings of solos. This was redone by Barry Trent, Norma Hooks, and me. I think it provides a very nice and comprehensive listing for bassoonists. On this listing I also include the Texas Music Educators Association and the Associated Board of Royal Schools of Music. You can see that their logos will appear in some of these. Let me go to Level 3 here. You will see the Texas flag there and yes, there are some of the Associated Board items in there.

In addition, I should mention that I have my Graded Excerpts. This is actual expert music lifted from the literature that I have put in a series. The music is available on Lulu, but the accompaniments are available here for free.

OK, moving onward. IDRS Items. The International Double Reed Society has deleted or lost several of the items I donated to the Society. Over 2,000 have been lost from their website upgrade. The Bassoon Fingering Companion has missing graphics and updates. I have the more compete version on my website. Conference programs have been deleted from their website. I need to add the West Virginia one, but several of the programs have been restored here thanks to the Wayback Machine. The International Publications page is now gone from the IDRS but I link it here. The MIDI collection on is very small, on my site is it over double the size. It is way bigger than that. Podcasts, IDRS deleted all of the IDRS podcasts. I retain them here. The Reed Project, all of the photos of reeds, historic reeds, as well as current practices were deleted. It is available here. The Who’s Who database, which had 1595 entries, is no longer available. Unfortunately, I have no way of recovering this. I have requested many times from IDRS to gain all of the materials lost. I would be happy to support it myself and host it here, but unfortunately nothing has come in my direction with that. This is a real loss to the Society. The Who’s Who wasn’t just famous bassoonists or oboists, anybody could have requested to be part of it. In fact, I added entries for everybody who requested. But it gleaned from all of the IDRS conference programs, all of the little biographies, all of the obituaries, all of the other biographical materials in the IDRS journals and put little snippets there, so it was easily searchable. It really was a wonderful resource for the world that is unfortunately is gone now.

MIDI and mp3 collections—these are very large. Let me show you the mp3s here. It is so large I had to break it out into different indices.  Here is A-D. I think that includes about 200 different entries in there. You can see that different tempos are given.

As I mentioned before this is a very important part of my pedagogy: that people be able to play along with MIDI files and mp3 files. Here you have the largest number of files in the world here on This is a chance for people to practice…Not all of these are as large. Most of these have 100 plus entries. You can see that I have about 1,000 files for mp3 and I am continuing to add to those. That will be part of my Sabbatical project as well. You have some of the other items here. 

The Play Along! Series. That is the Rubank studies and also A Tune a Day.

Let’s take a look now at Bassoon Digital Professor. The majority of the Bassoon Digital Professor videos are on YouTube. However, you are missing a lot of items I can’t possibly host on YouTube. For instance, I do have a recommended course of study, that will take you to that Graded Bassoon Solos page that I showed you earlier.

Here is the sequence of videos: when they were posted and developed. They are in different languages. Here is Farsi, Spanish for video 89. Here is Chinese. You have all of the videos listed there in sequence.

There is also a topical listing that allows for you to find videos that might be of interest. Then there are links to other pages as well. There are hundreds of references here. One thing that you will not find on YouTube is extra links to webpages. This is on ornamentation. I even have a webpage that provides different practice examples. I have practice examples for ornaments and the solo music to Vivaldi’s La Notte concerto and videos below. There are a lot of extra materials that are available on with this BDP site here that you don’t find on YouTube.

Last of all, let’s take a look at the Fingerings. I have updated fingerings on this site. IDRS has completed an update of their fingerings. Unfortunately, it is lacking in several different ways. Let me give you an example of how it lacks comprehensiveness, how it lacks citations, and how it lacks context. Here is the bassoon fingering database on IDRS for E5, high E. We have five fingerings given here for the German system bassoon. You can see that there are no references given here and it doesn’t give the context. Context being, for instance, sometimes you want a high E fingering that you slur to from D#. Other times you might need a fingering that works in a quick turn-around. Sometimes you need a fingering that you can do a leap of an octave or more up to high E. Sometimes you want a fingering that is quieter. Sometimes you want a fingering for a shake or something like that. So, you can see that there are a lot of things lacking here.

If we go to the original Bassoon Fingering database we have dozens of fingerings. I provide the context: Gerald Corey, again I give person’s name. So, I acknowledge the contribution of someone else. This is important because these are often discoveries. He gives a context here “useful for running passages.” So, you get an idea of where the fingering would work. If you wanted to look up the reference, you could do that as well. For instance, in the Ronald Klimko book Bassoon Performance Practice… there is a reference for it there.

The one author I didn’t put in was me! I think when I was creating this fingering database, we were including just published fingerings when I was creating this with Lisa Hoyt. We had to hand enter all of the fingerings, it had to be in ASCII code. The fingerings themselves had to be in a different font. All of this was in the middle 1990s with very slow modems. At that time, of course I couldn’t have a pdf document. If you are interested in one of my fine solutions for a high E fingering, you can scroll down and find my E5. Where did it go? There it is. This is a particularly fine one I continue to use even now although I have a high E key. It is very good for a quick slur over large distances.

Unfortunately, the IDRS fingering database fails in all three aspects. Perhaps in the future if I have a lot of extra time, I can convert the Bassoon Fingering Database Companion and include also the pictorial fingerings. Oh, by the way I have done something. This would be an example of what it would look like. These are fingerings for difficult passages. Let’s pick my solo piece here, Gethsemane. Here you have the old entries. Then you have the pictorial fingerings that are given here that help you to see this as well. This is what I was hoping that the IDRS would create when they did their database of fingerings.

One last feature I wanted to show you is the search function. Obviously, you can search by item here, use the Google search. I am really pleased here that Vincent Igusa has given me a search function for the BDP videos. Let’s just say we wanted to find every comment I had about E5 in the videos that I produced. Well, there you go! Weissenborn Study #50. I mentioned E5 several times. You click on the link and it will bring you right to the area [in the video] where the E5 fingering is entered.

Well, you have watched this video to the end. Thank you for giving me the honor of seeing all of this. I pray that God will grant you insights to know His will, that your ways will be pleasing to Him, that you will have the strength to continue in doing what is right, in all things being thankful. God bless you in all you do!

 [Music: Hummel Bassoon Concerto. Performers Peter Amstutz, fortepiano and Terry B. Ewell, bassoon.]