Topic: Welcome

Welcome to the Teaching Forum.

We hope to be able to stimulate lively, constructive debate; share problems and solutions; inform members of helpful resources and techniques any of us find of assistance in teaching double reed instruments.

Hopefully, helpully yours

Neville Forsythe (moderator)

Neville Forsythe
Christchurch New Zealand
Bassoonist / Teacher / Conductor

Re: Welcome

Like all "good" radio talk-show hosts (whom I despise and go out of my way to avoid listening to), I will kick the ball off with a provocative statement:

Instalment 1

I have a pet hobby horse, which is to overhaul the fingering charts of bassoon and contrabassoon - both enormously counter-intuitive and in my opinion, a major block to early rapid progress, (not to mention fluency and security of fingerings).
I guess it might even help other woodwinds. A secondary benefit is the clarity of using ascii text to code fingerings.
No doubt there will be drawbacks and even resistance. However I am looking forward to feedback on this and many other "good" ideas which members must have.

Neville

Neville Forsythe
Christchurch New Zealand
Bassoonist / Teacher / Conductor

Re: Welcome

When teaching private lessons to young students, I am often appalled at the fingerings they use.  Fingering charts in most beginner band method books are outright wrong most of the time.  I try to pay particular attention to such basic fingerings as: Oboe- which "F" fingering is the first choice (and why); the correct fingering for 3rd space C#; use of LH Eb key; when to use 1/2 hole and when to use 1st and 2nd 8va keys -- Bassoon- a useable fingering for 3rd space Eb (I teach to add rh 2 and Bb); where to use 1/2 hole; where whisper key comes off; proper flick key use; nearly all fingerings above middle C.  My experience is that if a student masters these basic fingerings early, and practices using them regularly, they will be much more likely to develop into good players.

Share

Re: Welcome

I agree with BassoonII.  I like to teach the "better/best" fingerings early on.  I know some teachers don't do this.  I am not sure if they feel some students might be discouraged with fingerings that are usually more difficult.  I don't believe it is because they don't know the fingerings.  There are always students who continually try to get away with the simpler "wrong" or "less good" fingering but I am equally persistent that they learn the better fingering and to do this I demonstrate the reasons why.  They always agree but between lessons often forget.  Kent

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

Re: Welcome

I, too, agree with BassoonII!  First, in teaching oboe, I never use a "band" method (I use the Gekeler method, that favors teaching sharp keys over flat keys at first)...using band methods often lead oboists to believe that forked F is the only choice for F, and some band books even advertise using the "open" C# fingering as a vaild 3rd space C# fingering!  This is largely due to the use of flat keys in band methods, as well as beginner oboes with limited keywork.  Another issue I find often is that student believe that "sliding" between fingerings (for example, RH Db to Eb) is the accepted norm, rather than a rare exception.

So, I teach the better/best fingering combinations early on as well.  Even if the student doesn't have a LH F key, I explain that when the student gets an instrument that does have that key, what the preferred situations to use fingerings will be.  And, I have students mark which combinations they will use for their exercises early on, to get them thinking about possibilities.

Candi

Candi Morris
Oboe/EH/Oboe d'amore
Dayton, OH

Share

Re: Welcome

I agree about the fingerings.  My student's parents bought her a nice Yamaha oboe for starters that has all the neccessary keys (left F, left Eb, etc) and I make her use all of them properly.  I told her "Your parents paid extra for all those keys, you should learn to use them!"  Haha.  Seriously, I told her the same thing---the fingerings may feel awkward at first, but will make her life a whole lot easier down the road.  I wish my first oboes had had all the bells & whistles!

I also make her mark the music for which F and Eb key to use.  (Why the heck not, I do it myself sometimes!)

The band method her band director is using has very good fingerings for oboe included-- I checked! And they are all accurate; lucky for us!  I can't remember the name of the method, but I will see her Wednesday night and will follow up.

Last edited by oboe1960 (2006-08-21 15:46:25)

Darlene

Share

Re: Welcome

I must also agree with BassoonII. My first two or three years with the oboe there were no oboe teachers available, so I learned entirely via band methods. It caused SO MANY fingering problems that took me FOREVER to iron out. (I think I still make my poor teacher rip his hair out sometimes.) The only one of the oboe problems mentioned in this thread that I DIDN'T have was that I knew not to use "open C#".

The band methods are a horrendous way to teach a LOT of instruments, I've found: they're counterintuitive so that the band director can make all the kids play together ASAP. (I paged through an oboe book in my store and it starts with teaching D.) But if something of a poor quality will get kids who would otherwise not play at all into the band and orchestra program, I'll put up with them.

Are we going to make an "Ultimate IDRS Fingering Chart" then? It might serve as a handy reference; maybe a fold-up for each instrument that can be taken out of The Double Reed for reference.

Claire Binkley
Oboe/English Horn
West Chester University

Re: Welcome

When a new student (or parent) contacts me about oboe lessons I first ask about the oboe; if they haven't rented one yet, I tell them to get one with the left F (if it has that, it has have the low B-flat, or so I've found, and so far they've also had the F resonance key). If they already have an oboe with missing keys I give them a few months to replace it.

After using a Linton (yikes!) for a short time, I moved to a Lym in my early days. There was no left F, and the fingering books all had me using the E-flat key for F, of course. I can't tell you how difficult it was to get over those fingering problems. (Even now I sometimes struggle with left F!) So I explain to my students and parents about my situation, and tell them I'm doing them a favor.

I use the Gekeler (and to the horror of some, the Rubank ... for my young'uns it is often better because it moves slower). Gekeler, at least when I last checked, which was a few days ago, doesn't use left F. I change the fingering charts the minute I can.

What I'd love is a book that teaches "fingerings first" rather than keys. For instance, rather than learning the G major key with F#, I'd like to teach F#/G-flat. I'd like to test my system out and see if students have less of a struggle with certain notes ... for instance, they learn B-flat long before A#. When they finally see and A# they tend to get confused, and often play an A-flat, which they learned earlier on.

In any case, it's this idea I have, and I'd love to give it a go sometime. I could be all wrong; perhaps nothing will help with these little "glitches" some students have. But I figure it's worth a try! So eventually I want to start, with the help of the Sibelius program, putting together a beginning book.

When I'm done with my other projects, maybe.

PEM
http://www.oboeinsight.com
AIM: Patioboe

Re: Welcome

Patty:
I teach a double reed methods class but we don't have any Linton oboes.  I am interested in how bad they really are.  Is it the pitch, tone and response that are poor.  What else?  Keywork?  I know most bassoon teachers would not recommend a Linton bassoon unless this is all the student could afford and even then it may be better to look for something else.  Is this true for oboe too.  Thanks, Kent

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

Re: Welcome

Kent:
My apologies! Big error from me ... I just remembered ... I did NOT have a Linton oboe! I had a Linton English horn! And I had it longer than I should have. Fortunately (really!) it was stolen from my dorm room in my freshman year in college. I replaced it with a fabulous Rigotaut that RDG picked out.

Silly me ... how could I have forgotten that? I suppose I must have started on a school oboe (probably an awful thing, but I honestly can't remember that first oboe) when I began in 7th grade as a 10 year old, and then my folks bought the Lym. It's a bit of a blur. Sorry ... this was so long ago (back in the late 60s) that my memory has failed me. Sigh.

The Linton was a ROTTEN English horn. Bad sound. Out of tune like crazy. Thin, thin, thin sound. Really rotten all around. I even said, shortly before it was stolen, "I wish someone would just steal this!" Little did I know .... Crazy thing was, I landed my first symphony job the very next year. I certainly wouldn't have even auditioned had I still owned the Linton. Or at least I HOPE I wouldn't have!

What KILLS me is that I sold my (historical) Lym. It wasn't a great oboe, but I'm sorry I didn't hang on to it in any case. It also came with a matching knife (that someone took from my school ... imagine ... I took my KNIFE to school with me!) that had a special spot in the case, as well as a matching screw driver (wood handle, not metal).

Ah well, hindsight.

I've never missed the Linton EH, though.

PEM
http://www.oboeinsight.com
AIM: Patioboe

Re: Welcome

Thanks for the info Patty.  I had a student one year at our music camp here at NAU and I felt bad afterwards because she was playing a Linton and it was a very poor instrument and some notes could not be played in tune.  I nicely told her it was holding her back.  In other words, it was the instrument's fault and not her fault that she couldn't play in tune.  Later, I found out her parents were not happy that I had criticized her bassoon.  Her parents had bought it for her.  I told her that any bassoon is expensive and because her parents bought her any bassoon it showed that they were totally dedicated to her and her music education.  I am now more careful what I say to young students about their instruments though I think students need to know why they can't play in tune.  Even I could not play it in tune.  Thanks again, Kent

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

Re: Welcome

Hey Kent, I played a Linton oboe for about ten minutes when my Yamaha was in repair, I hadn't gotten my Loree yet, and the second oboist was scared to play a band solo, so she handed me her instrument. I immediately made a horrendous squawk because the reed was bad, but when I got it to work, the sound was extremely thin and... well, plasticky. It was so bizarre sounding because it was that quacky sound of a beginner oboe with a more advanced player's phrasing and vibrato.

Claire Binkley
Oboe/English Horn
West Chester University

Re: Welcome

Kent Moore wrote:

I am now more careful what I say to young students about their instruments though I think students need to know why they can't play in tune.  Even I could not play it in tune.

Yes, indeed! One of the things I do, if a student's parents have already purchased a bad instrument, is to play mine and then play the same piece on theirs. The parents are often quite shocked! It helps if they can hear that difference rather than being told they made an error in a purchase. So often they made the assumption that their child wasn't sounding good merely because he or she was a beginner. I can often even manage to make everyone laugh when I sound out of tune on those awful instruments. (I think the parents are somewhat relieved, actually ... fearing, prior to that, that their child was just awful and there no hope.)

I sure wish parents would consult with a good teacher before jumping in and buying an instrument; so many purchase the instrument and only after that look for the teacher. They just look for the least expensive oboe. (grumble)

Hmmm ... guess that's something I should blog about, eh? smile

PEM
http://www.oboeinsight.com
AIM: Patioboe

Re: Welcome

Thanks, Claire, for confirming what I assumed about the Linton oboe.   Who knows maybe someone will chime in with a positive experience smile  Kent

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

Re: Welcome

Patty:
Yes, when I told that student it was not her fault and that it was her instrument's, my intention was to make her feel good, especially when I couldn't play it either.  But that is not how she took it.  I was insulting her instrument and to her it was precious so I am careful in my wording now.  Kent

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

Re: Welcome

I had the same experience with my student with the Yamaha--- her parents bought the oboe through mail order; nobody even played it first!  THEN they got a teacher (me) who would certainly have gone about buying an oboe differently.  She has a few major issues on this oboe and it needs to be sent back to wherever it came from to be adjusted.  I just wish they had had someone actually PLAY the oboe first, before they bought it!

And of course I also got on the wrong side when I pointed this out----- I guess it didn't help matters any at this point, but still.....Oh well, open mouth and in goes the foot. sad

Darlene

Share

Re: Welcome

You're welcome, Kent.

I'd like to agree that it's really unfortunate how many unknowing parents just buy the cheapest instrument they can find regardless of quality and have it bite their kids in the posterior when they decide to be serious players. It IS hard to make such a financial investment when they aren't even sure if their children will persue music, but that's what music stores' rental programs are for.

Claire Binkley
Oboe/English Horn
West Chester University

Re: Welcome

In many small rural schools, we are lucky to have what ever instruments we have. We need to make them work the best we can. Granted there is only so much we can do, but we can keep the player working towards a goal of a better instrument as they get older. As a very good friend of ours at Forrest Music told us, "Face it, Bundy oboes serve a purpose. It is limited and should not be used for a long time, but they do start a player" I put Linton in the same boat. During that time, we teach good care of the reeds, what to look for, and how to maintain an oboe. the other is to introduce them to the "standard" fingerings and then add the trill/alternate fingers as the music demands.  But with the bassoon especially, the "extra keys" can be determined by the bassoon, the reed, or the bocal.
to compound the fingering problems, many of the new books are intended to have them play with the band right away because lesson time is being eliminated. The result is starting with odd notes. In one oboe method book I used this summer (helping a neighboring school), the third note introduced was 3rd space C#!!!! Let's start right out battling embochure and all fingers at the same time!

When I started oboe over 40 years ago, only professionals had the LH Fkey, but with time, a better oboe,and practice, I use it now. But to be honest, if I am sight reading and the part goes by fast, I find I still slip into the old habit. Many of my students play school instruments because they will never be able to purchase an instrument, so a conservatory instrument simply isn't in their future until maybe college. In fact in many cases, I have deals with them that if they practice and take care of their istrument and reeds, I will give them reeds for free. You would be amazed how hard they work and the goals they set as a result. They realize they are a small number and that if they work hard, they can get scholarship aide in college and continue to play even if they don't major in music. In small colleges across the country that is a big incentive to get players and with rising costs in tuition, it is an aide for the student as well.  One of the biggest life lessons I try to give my students is that I teach English during the day, but I am a trained double reed player and continue to love and play into my 50's. Being a musician doesn't mean you have to go into teaching; sometimes we are lucky to play for the simply joy of playing.

But it all starts with that old Linton or Bundy oboe, or a Conn bassoon, patience, and some interesting intonation battles!

Lori Olson-Putz

Share