Topic: Standing or sitting? Bassoon lessons

A post in another section of the Forum brought up an interesting question for those of us who teach (or students too, I guess).  Do you or are you required to stand for your lessons?  I have my students sit, and I always sat when I was tought, but the post I was referencing implied that some teachers have their students stand.  Could I input from both sides of the aisle??

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Re: Standing or sitting? Bassoon lessons

I'm a student who is told to sit. Through sitting I get into the habit of using my diaphragm in my breathing process. When I practice I stand up for my own personal preference and because I practiced sitting, I get into the habit of using diaphragm when standing. When you sit it is much easier to use your diaphragm

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Re: Standing or sitting? Bassoon lessons

I practice differently depending on what material I'm working on.  General technique, scales, that sort of thing can go either way, but if I'm working on orchestral music, audition material, quintet music, or anything that I will actually play sitting down, I practice that music sitting down.  If I'm working on solo literature, jazz and improvisation (including electric bassoon stuff which I do pretty frequently these days), anything that I will actually play standing up, I practice that stuff standing.

For me there's a subtle but significant enough difference in my technique when standing versus sitting, so I try to be as consistent with the material as possible.  To me it doesn't make any sense to practice Marriage of Figaro standing up, any more than it makes sense to practice Confirmation sitting down.

Of course, I didn't ever stand to play until about only 2 years ago (I'm 28 now).

M.M.A., D.M.A. University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign: B.Mus. Lawrence University
Bassoon professor at University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire
Maker of the Little-Jake electric bassoon pickup and Weasel bassoon reeds

Re: Standing or sitting? Bassoon lessons

Sitting to play the bassoon for lessons and almost all performing has been common in the U.S. at least since WWII. In Europe, however, bassoonists appear to stand on a regular basis. I stood to play for the first time to perform the Mozart Concerto in 1976. Since then I have stood for all solo performances, and as often as possible in chamber music. Most other woodwinds stand for lessons and performing.

To be completely comfortable while standing I strongly recommend having a 'balance hanger' for the instrument and it might be necessary to experiment with a sling instead of a neck strap. I found that it was absolutely essential to use a hand rest (crutch) while standing.

Some players also have a 'belly guard' that keeps the instrument a little bit away from the right side of the body. I was intrigued by William Waterhouse's performance with orchestra at the IDRS meeting in Victoria BC. He stood to play by placing his spike on the seat of a chair.

I am lucky in having a relatively light instrument, but nowadays instruments have become heavier. A heavy instrument will make it more challenging to stand, especially if it is 'top heavy' and puts a lot of weight on the left hand.

When our double reed quartet OBOHIO was active we always stood and I thought we could communicate better as a result. An additional positive result for standing is that the sound of the instrument is better, possibly due to the more even reflection of the sound from the floor. Recently, a colleague told me the New York Woodwind Quintet stood to play in a concert in Ohio. I applaud that, as I think it will make it more interesting for the audience.

Best wishes to all, Christopher Weait

Christopher Weait,
Principal bassoon, Toronto Symphony (1968 - 1985)
IDRS Honorary Member; Emeritus professor Ohio State University
www.weaitmusic.com

Re: Standing or sitting? Bassoon lessons

Trent, you play Bird on bassoon and you don't post videos on youtube! Guys, jazz bassoon needs to be online as much as possible!

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Re: Standing or sitting? Bassoon lessons

I always sit during lessons. Me and my bassoon teachers are bassoonists who ALWAYS sit, even when soloing.

Bassoonist, Contrabassoonist, Composer.

Ask not what your reed can do for you, but what you can do for your reed.

Re: Standing or sitting? Bassoon lessons

Hmmm....I would change it up once in awhile IMHO. If you can play standing up, you can play sitting down, if you can play sitting down, you don't neccesarily have the ability to be playing standing up. While sitting, you already have pressure in your diaphragm area so you have that aerosol can ready to shoot air out, its not the same standing so I personally think standing has done so much more for me as a student player.

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Re: Standing or sitting? Bassoon lessons

All performance except some chamber music and concerto playing, involves bassoonists playing seated. Certainly orchestral and band playing (apart from those ceremonial marching bands) is done seated. Therefore I am happy for my students to have lessons seated also. Using a seat strap allows for less weight on the player and facilitates much better resting posture. The bassoon is a heavy instrument and we need to conserve our energy for blowing the jolly thing!

However it is important to address good posture while seated. Erect, well supported back, natural body posture with hands in a comfortable and easy position, reed at the right height and angle so the head is also naturally balanced and not twisted to the side. Some players adopt quite unbalanced postures, leaning to the left, "hiking" the right shoulder and stretching to a reed that is too high or dropping the neck to a reed that is too low. i.e. the strap adjustment is crucial.

Feet are equally important and I "test" my students by having them attempt to stand from their seated position on the chair,  without adjusting the position of their feet in any way. If the feet are too far in front, or tucked under the chair or (horrors) legs crossed then there is no way they can stand up, without a major rearrangement.

Sit as if you are about to rise from your seat, possibly placing left foot slightly ahead of the right foot. This give the necessary access to the abdominal muscles essential for a supported air column.

Neville

Neville Forsythe
Christchurch New Zealand
Bassoonist / Teacher / Conductor

Re: Standing or sitting? Bassoon lessons

Bryan Cavitt wrote:

A post in another section of the Forum brought up an interesting question for those of us who teach (or students too, I guess).  Do you or are you required to stand for your lessons?  I have my students sit, and I always sat when I was tought, but the post I was referencing implied that some teachers have their students stand.  Could I input from both sides of the aisle??

I am taking lessons from a teacher who sits when he plays (including when performing concertos in front of orchestras), and who routinely has his students sit. He does not require that students sit in lessons (that I know of), but that is the default.

In my case, we are trying to help me get over the hump on certain physical issues, so he recommended that I try practicing while standing. So far, so good. This is an example of a teacher who has a standard approach, yet who is flexible and who thinks outside his box when trying to help his students.

I own a harness and my bassoon is equipped with a balance hanger, which helps a lot, considering my instrument (a 601 with extra keywork) is heavy.

I've been asked to play bassoon in a short flute/bassoon piece on a recital next month, so maybe I'll try playing it standing up.

Earlier this year, I attended a concert of the Borealis Wind Quintet. They perform standing up. I asked them afterwards about it. Alas, I was not taking notes and I do not have a photographic memory, so I don't remember all that was said, but the impression I'm left with is that they feel they have better cohesion as a group when they perform standing.

I hope that at least some of this is useful.

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Re: Standing or sitting? Bassoon lessons

I was attending a "mini-masterclass" at Bassoonarama a couple of years ago when the subject came up.  The teacher was a big proponent of standing whenever possible.  She believes that it is easier to engage all of the muscles that support the air column by doing so.

Nancy

"There are 2 means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats" - Albert Schweitzer

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