Topic: Switching to Bassoon from Flute/Sax

Hi everyone, my name's Stephanie.

This year, my high school band has been lacking a bassoon, and so I, along with some other kids, voulenteered to see if we could play. I have a few questions though:

What kind of similarities/diferences can I expect between Flute and Bassoon or Sax and Bassoon?
Where can I find a good fingering chart?
Any hints that I could maybe use?

Thanks!
-Stephanie

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Re: Switching to Bassoon from Flute/Sax

Hi Stephanie,
I'm not a bassoon player, but I think that there are so many difference between sax and bassoon and flute and bassoon that it would be difficult to list them all here.  Probably the biggest differences would be in the embouchure and air.  I know I tried playing flute once, and found that it took a much greater quantity of air than the oboe-- felt like the moment I took a breath all the air was gone and I needed to take another one.  Oboe is different in that way because it requires a smaller amount of air, but there is a lot of air pressure, and bassoon might be the same way.  Will you have a bassoon teacher?  I think that's the most important thing when switching instruments.  A fingering chart is a good start, but there is nothing that can replace having a good teacher.  For oboe, there are good fingering charts in front of the Rubank series methods books--especially the Intermediate and Advanced books, because those charts are for full conservatory (professional) oboes.  I think the bassoon Rubank series might also have fingering charts.
Good luck!
Heather

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Re: Switching to Bassoon from Flute/Sax

Hi Stephanie:
I am certainly no expert on this subject because I don't play sax or flute--only bassoon.  I can say, however, that I had many successful bassoon students who have switched from sax or continue to play sax.  For "doublers" sax and bassoon is very common. 
Here is a good fingering chart   http://idrs.colorado.edu/BSNFING/FINGHOME.HTM

Kent

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: Switching to Bassoon from Flute/Sax

Stephanie,

I have found that it is easier to get students to switch from flute to bassoon than saxophone or clarinet to bassoon. This is for three reasons:

1) The bassoon embouchure is radically different than the flute or single reed embouchure. But since the experience of a reed in the mouth is so strange for a flutist, these students more readily adapt. The single reed students try to keep their same embouchures and consequently the jaw is too tightly held and too closed.

2) The bassoon oral cavity is also very different than flute or the single reeds. Here again the flutists seem to be less likely to impose their flute tongue or throat positions on bassoon playing. Again this is a problem with single reed players, especially more advanced players who have learned "voicing."

3) Increases or decreases in air respond the same way for double reeds and flutes. When they increase air the pitch goes up. This is not the case for single reeds, increases in air cause the pitch to go down. Again the single reed players need to fight againsts acquired skills.

This does not mean that single reed players can't make fine bassoonists. It is just that learned habits that are very good and successful on the clarinet or saxophone are poor habits on the bassoon. Flute players don't seem to bring these same assumptions to playing the bassoon.

Good luck. I think your choice of bassoon is excellent!

Terry

Terry Ewell
Professor Bassoon, Towson University
Former President, IDRS
Former Principal Bassoon Hong Kong Philharmonic, Wheeling Symphony

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Re: Switching to Bassoon from Flute/Sax

Stephanie,

I can give one more reason why I prefer to switch flutes to bassoon over sax to bassoon: the thumb!  I play both the oboe, the bassoon, and the flute. Everytime I switch back to the oboe and even after thirty years of playing,  it takes me a while to remember to reverse the thumb use. On the flute and bassoon, the thumb is down for lower octave. For a flute player switching to bassoon, this take ones less headache from the switch.

Lori

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