Topic: A bassoon query: How fast are your scales?

Hello bassoon world!  (Oboists, feel free to chime in as well) 

As a university professor, part of my job is to set guidelines for our students who are required to take a performance exam at the end of their sophomore year in order to advance into upper level applied lessons.  At this point in their study, there is  (in theory) no distinction in playing ability between music education, performance, business or media majors, so it is important to think about minimum standards across the board. 

As many of you know, it is difficult to explain to other woodwind performers (sax, clarinet, flute), why we simply cannot play scales as fast as they can.  Sure, some scales are pretty easy (F major), but some have physical limitations (C# minor) which are quite difficult.  Understand, we are not talking about the knowledge of the scale, but just the limitations of our instrument in regards to the speed at which we can play over the full range of the bassoon at the sophomore level of study.

So here is my question:  Do any of you out there have set parameters (rhythm/tempo/range) that are expected of your university bassoonists?  If you are currently a university student, what is expected of you in regards to scales?

Here are my current guidelines:

Sophomores (at the end of the 4th semester of applied lessons) are expected to perform by memory all major and 3 forms of minor scales.
Students begin on the tonic pitch, but must play over the full diatonic range of the instrument:  Low Bb (Bb1) to "Rite of Spring" C (C5) for every scale
Scale speed is in eighth notes with a range of 105-120 for the quarter.  The arpeggio of each scale is expected in quarter note triplets.

Understand, these are minimum requirements to encompass every scale.

I would very much like your input, so I may take a consensus to a meeting next week to show what other universities are doing.  This will help to decide if current standards need to be adjusted.

Thanks, and I certainly look forward to reading the replies!

Scott

Scott Pool

"The Ornaments look pretty, but they're pulling down the branches of the tree." - Cake

Re: A bassoon query: How fast are your scales?

"Play everything slowly, but sometimes in a fast tempo." -- Rudolph Serkin  ;-)

James Jeter, D.M.A., NYC Bassoonist
"To love human beings is still the only thing worth living for; without that love, you really do not live." Soren Kierkegaard
"Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." Mahatma Gandhi  "Mach' es kurz! Am Juengsten Tag ist's nur ein Furz!" Goethe

Re: A bassoon query: How fast are your scales?

Scale requirements were a continual conflict with some of my woodwind colleagues during my full-time teaching career. I was accused of wanting a "double standard" (one for bassoon; one for other woodwinds). In fact, what I wanted was a quintuple standard - a separate set of standards for each instrument.

While your requirements appear to be reasonable, it is not clear what you mean by "The arpeggio of each scale is expected in quarter note triplets." I support the concept of a different rhythm for arpeggios.

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

Re: A bassoon query: How fast are your scales?

ChrisW wrote:

Scale requirements were a continual conflict with some of my woodwind colleagues during my full-time teaching career. I was accused of wanting a "double standard" (one for bassoon; one for other woodwinds). In fact, what I wanted was a quintuple standard - a separate set of standards for each instrument.

While your requirements appear to be reasonable, it is not clear what you mean by "The arpeggio of each scale is expected in quarter note triplets." I support the concept of a different rhythm for arpeggios.


Chris, sorry I was not quite clear on the arpeggios, but they are required at the same tempo of the scale, but instead of eighth notes, they are played as quarter note triplets.

Scott Pool

"The Ornaments look pretty, but they're pulling down the branches of the tree." - Cake

Re: A bassoon query: How fast are your scales?

Arpeggios are of equal importance as scales. I expect a student to have as much fluency with them as their scales. Music travels not just scale wise but also harmonically as well. I endeavour to practise scales as cleanly as possible and at various tempi. Including up to 120+ in various permutations. You can never play them enough, and there is ALWAYS something more to do. Learning arpeggios really well will help with such excerpts such as the Ravel G major Concerto.

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