First Bassoon Lesson, Part 1. BDP #25.

<Music: Vivaldi's E minor Concerto, First Movement>

Welcome, this is the first in a series of videos dedicated to starting bassoonists
and also to the teachers who teach young bassoonists and even beginning adult

I hope that you will find it helpful.  In this particular lesson we will be
discussing the care and maintenance of the bassoon reed and the bassoon, playing
position, embouchure position, and just a few basic fingerings. So, let's get

First off, with the bassoon reed I suggest that you soak it in tepid or luke-warm
water. Generally I find thirty seconds to a minute is fine for me, if it is a reed
that I am playing off and on everyday. If it is a reed that has not been played in
quite a while it may need as much as 5 minutes.

But once soaked the reed is ready to play. The bassoon embouchure is a very
flexible embouchure. Unlike the single reed instruments where the embouchure is
fixed to the reed, the bassoon reed will move in and out of mouth and the
embouchure, especially the jaw, will be moving throughout the ranges of the
instrument and in fact our dynamics are changed by the position of the jaw and the

So it is important to realize that we use a very flexible embouchure on the
bassoon. One way in which to think about the position of the embouchure is to
experiment with a low whistle. The jaw is dropped. The embouchure is forming around
the reed and with that low whistle embouchure you take your finger and roll your
lips in a little bit. You've got a close  approximation to a bassoon embouchure. 

You can tell the proper bassoon embouchure particularly for the lower register of
the instrument by the way the reed plays or "crows."  You put the bassoon reed in
your mouth, again with that embouchure. 

Right now I am just getting a single higher pitch. If drop my jaw, loosen the
embouchure just a little bit I get the octave below it. You can hear how it is
dropping in pitch. Then if I loosen it even more you get what we call a "crow" on a
bassoon reed. 

The crow is [produced] with the very loosest embouchure. That is a type of
embouchure that would be particularly used in the low register. As you get higher
and higher on the bassoon your embouchure tends to tighten in order to get the
higher notes. But for now for the beginner it is good to have that looser
embouchure. Play with a forte tone, a loud sound. You use that as a reference then
for the other embouchures. OK, so we are ready now that you understand about the
embouchure and things. 

Oh, I have to talk to you a little bit about tonguing. We start each note on the
bassoon with the tongue on the reed, releasing the tongue. If this is the reed and
this is your the tongue, the air starts, the tongue is on the reed, you release it
and the reed vibrates. For now we can stop [the reed] with the tongue. We'll talk
about articulation later on in some of our other lessons. So give that a try. Start
and stop with the tongue. I am going to get a little be closer. I hope I don't
"gross you out" with this. I am going to show you the position I use with the
tongue on the bassoon reed. 

So if this is the bassoon reed and this is the tongue I find that bassoon reeds
hits just a little bit back from the tip of the tongue on the top of the tongue.
And then I release and go back and forth like that. All right, now we are ready to
put together the bassoon. I know that you are excited to put the bassoon together
for the first time. 

Well, here we have the bassoon case which we have just opened and our bassoon here.
I am going to instruct you now on the proper steps to put together the bassoon.
First you pick up the boot joint. You want to pick it up in such a way that you are
not crushing the keys or the key work.

So holding it from the sides is probably best. I position it with the pancake (or
the E key) here facing me. Next I pick up the the tenor joint. The tenor joint fits
right into the boot joint. The tenor joint will have a space such as this so that
is right around the rim. Now many bassoons (and in fact this is one of them) may
come from the factory with a line (I think you can see that on the video)
inscribed.  (Let me get the reflection right; there you go. There you can see it.)
You need to line those two [lines] up right like that. And we are then set. That is
in the proper place.

Next we put in the long joint. The long joint fits in like this. Push it down. Now 
most bassoons at the top will have a locking mechanism and this one has the lockin
mechanism that fits right in and closes over like that. 

And last of all we put on the bell of the bassoon. To put on the bell of the
bassoon you need to hold down this pad so the key is up and you slip it on.

None of the joints should be overly tight. The bassoon should not fall apart when
you pick it up like this. You don't want to damage anything by forcing it together. 

Now let's a discuss a little bit here some other aspects of the bassoon case. Here
we have our two bassoon bocals. It has these twists that you twist in order to get
the bocal out. 

In this particular case here's our seat strap which we will be showing later. This 
case has it's reeds in here, a reed case. You need to find a good place for the 
reeds.  Now many reeds you purchase will come in a small little tube like but this
does not allow for enough air circulation for the reed to dry out and it might
mold. In fact this case as it is probably needs some holes
drilled in it just allow for a little more ventilation. 

<Music: Vivaldi's "La Notte">