I heartily agree with your second paragraph Chip.
I certainly learned contra just by playing it - growled away for three months at home before unleashing myself on the local amateur orchestras. I've enjoyed the company of contra players quite frequently socially but it's playing together that's rare. In 10 or so years of contra playing I've only played with other contras about 5 times - sadly the only time I've played the Rite of Spring another one couldn't be found.
I've come across many bassoonists who have been asked to play contra, in most cases by people who should know better, with no time to learn to play the thing. (one tiny 18 year old girl was handed a rented contra on Friday evening, never having even seen one before & was expected to play with her youth orchestra in Royal Featival Hall in London the following day! And she had to get it there herslf on public transport) This applies also to all the 'fringe' instruments - cor anglais, bass & Eb clarinets, basset horn, piccolo, bass flute...... No wonder these instruments can get a bad reputaion.
Those in the know have an uphill struggle with some conductors - what sort of MD would say that it's not worth getting a contra in for Shotakovich 5??
I seem to have gone off topic here................ Reeds? - why didn't I take up the flute?
Last edited by Ian W (2006-09-05 06:29:09)