Who Should Play Bassoon? Discussion of challenges and advantages to playing bassoon by Terry B. Ewell. This is a remake of BDP#24. BDP #341, www.2reed.net.

[Music: Orefici’s Melodic Study #5]

1. Welcome, this is Terry Ewell and I am going to devote this video to talking about my favorite instrument—the bassoon. I wish that everyone had the chance to play this marvelous instrument, but unfortunately not all are suited for the instrument or the instrument for them.

2. Now the fact that you are watching this video indicates that your personality might be well suited to the bassoon. I have noticed over the years that students who choose the bassoon are usually independent thinkers, willing to be different, and interested in unusual challenges. Bassoonists are a bit quirky and generally enjoy the unusual. If that describes you, then you have found a great instrument.

3. However, an interest in the instrument is just not enough for compatibility. I want to make sure that you know if the instrument is a good fit for you. Now, this video is produced for distribution in four world languages. Sorry, if I don’t adequately or accurately cover all of the considerations you need in your location or culture for deciding whether to study bassoon. However, I hope to help you along with that decision with my following comments. As I see it, there are two challenges and three advantages to playing the bassoon.

Challenge 1—Finger Length

4. In general, the bassoon requires a larger hand than other instruments. Let give you the key tests to see if your hand fits the instruments well. In the left hand cover the third hole (often called the C hole) and then reach for the speaker keys otherwise known as the flick keys. You should be able to reach these comfortably.

5. If that reach is uncomfortable there is fortunately a solution that might be helpful. Some bassoons—particularly student models—have an extra key to cover the C hole. This helps with the reach.

6. Now, in the right hand test out your ability to reach the little finger F# key. This reach is often not a problem particularly if you play without a crutch or hand rest.

7. In Australia and Europe some younger students are taught first on a mini bassoon also called a “Tiger Bassoon.” This instrument can be a first step for children to play the bassoon until their hands grow bigger.

Challenge 2—Cost

8. The second challenge for the instrument is its cost. Student model bassoons typically cost ten to fifteen times as much as student clarinets, four to five times as much as student flutes, and twice as much as student oboes. You will have to consider carefully how to obtain a bassoon: whether one is available on loan from a school or whether one needs to be purchased.

9. I caution you here against the purchase of a cheap bassoon that has poor intonation and other problems. Starting on a bad instrument is a disastrous situation for a young student. This will discourage even the most diligent student. I urge you to compare carefully the bassoon you are considering purchasing with those produced by the Fox Corporation.

10. The Fox Corporation does not sponsor me, and I have always been reluctant to promote one bassoon maker over another. But in this case, there are so many poor, cheap bassoons on the market that I need to caution you to take the time to make comparisons. The Fox or Renard bassoons really set the industry standard. Renard is the name used by the Fox Corporation for their student model bassoons.

11. The cost of instrument is not the only consideration, however. A bassoon reed will cost about ten times as much as a clarinet reed and most often more than an oboe reed. This cost must also be factored into your decision.

12. Well, that said I now want to talk about the many advantages of playing the bassoon.

Advantage 1—2reed.net and losfagotistas.com.ar

13. First of all, I have made it a very important part of my life to furnish free educational around the world. I am trying to bring down the cost of education for bassoonists. If you make use of 2reed.net you can reduce expenses for purchasing music, music instruction, and paying to practice with accompanists. There are thousands of free materials and videos on my website. I have created these materials over forty years. In particular I want to point out that my online curriculum begins with this video and progresses through every level of bassoon instruction even to items of interest for graduate students in universities.

14. For those listening to this video in Spanish, I also want to alert you to the marvelous website by Los Fagotistas. This site, hosted by Carlos Arias Sanchez, provides free materials from numerous bassoon teachers and artists.

Advantage 2—Performing with Dental Braces

15. The second advantage for those with dental braces or dental hardware and wires. The bassoon embouchure is quite forgiving and does not place the same pressure on the front teeth as found with brass instruments or single reed instruments. Dental braces make it particularly difficult to play the flute, but this is far less on issue on the bassoon.

Advantage 3—Rarity of the Instrument

16. The last advantage is the rarity of the instrument. This means that a promising student on the instrument will have more opportunities in ensembles and gain more performance experience. It is a great instrument for amateur adults as well. Every woodwind quintet needs as many bassoonists as flutists, but because there are so fewer bassoonists there are many more opportunities to play and perform in groups.

17. Well, I hope that this has been helpful to you. I would be so happy if you decide to play my favorite instrument. I have enjoyed playing it since I was eight years old and now fifty-five years later, I am still excited to get my hands on this wonderful, wonderful instrument, the bassoon. Bye.
[Music: Orefici’s Melodic Study #5]