Seventh Bassoon Lesson, Part 1


Dynamics and long tone exercises. By Terry B. Ewell. BDP#195.

Welcome! Well, generally this is the first point in the lesson plans that I begin talking about dynamics. I have a reason for delaying the talk about dynamics until the student is well established, understanding the fundamentals of air support, embouchure, and playing a good, healthy forte sound. That healthy forte sound is the “home base” (if you want to talk about that) for the other dynamics. If students don’t understand proper support and an open embouchure, they will have difficult playing the quieter dynamics properly.

Generally a good forte is with full air support, with the embouchure dropped, and more of an “ah” vowel. We will be talking about this later in our lessons.

Now let’s practice some long tone exercises with dynamics. We will start with forte, then diminuendo, and then crescendo back to forte. Let’s set the metronome to 60, a beat equals 60. Let’s practice this with three counts in each phase of the exercise.

Long Tone 1

<example, forte to piano to forte>

Now let me do the other exercise:

Long Tone 2

<example, piano to forte to piano>

The object of the exercise is to maintain a steady pitch throughout all of the dynamics.

When you have mastered three counts per measure, add another count—four counts. Then five, six, etc. throughout the range of the instrument so that you understand that every note on the bassoon is a little bit different.

An even greater challenge than playing this exercise on the bassoon is playing it on a bassoon bocal with just the reed. This is well worthwhile practicing because it helps you to focus even more on on embouchure and air balance. Let me again set my metronome to 60.

Let’s again do this for three counts.

Long Tone 1

<example, forte to piano to forte>

And now starting piano and crescendoing.

Long Tone 2

<example, piano to forte to piano>

There are subtle differences that occur in my embouchure. Not only is my embouchure opening up for forte, but I find that my embouchure goes slightly closer to the wires for forte.

Embouchure reed in

Then when I play piano the embouchure closes and I pull the reed out slightly.

Embouchure piano

Gaining mastery over dynamics will help you convey musical gestures. This will help you to play musically.

If you want to learn more about playing musically, please see my many videos on phrasing. Several of them are linked on my website

<Closing Music: “Home Sweet Home” from A Tune a Day, lesson 29 number 6.>


Copyright (c) 2016 By Terry B. Ewell. All rights reserved.