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Topic: Recruiting & Retaining Double Reed students - your tips?

Hello all ~ I'm a new user on the forum, from Melbourne, Australia.
I am preparing an article for the professional journal for the Australian Band and Orchestra Directors' Association (Vic. chapter).
Do you have advice/comments for Australian middle & high school educators about the successful recruitment of double reed students?
All responses to the following questions will be gratefully received. 
Please note if you will be pleased for your name, position, school etc. to be published in the journal.
Thank you for your time.  I look forward to reading your international perspective.

1. How do you see the situation with double reed players in schools and ensembles at present?
2. What factors do you see could be contributing to the decline in double reed numbers in school music programs (if any)?
Please comment on (a) recruitment and (b) retention.
3. What activities have you successfully implemented to recruit and increase the numbers of double reed players in your school/ensemble?
4. What activities have you successfully implemented to retain the numbers of double reed players?
5. Have you seen or heard of anything else that works?
6. What programs exist to assist with the promotion and development of double reed players? e.g. masterclasses, instrumental association/forum
How can/do people find this information?

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Re: Recruiting & Retaining Double Reed students - your tips?

Hello ct,

I find that successful double reed students have several if not all of these characteristics:

1) Prior musical experience. Ability with piano or another wind instrument can be helpful.

2) Motivation and intelligence.

3) Comfort with being different. Individuals that are attracted to bassoon, for instance, don't mind being unique. Popularity doesn't come with performing a double reed instrument!

4) Supportive parents. Difficulties with reeds, instruments, and finding appropriate teachers is a challenge. Double reed parents need to be willing to help out financially or students quickly reach insurmountable obstacles on the instruments.

5) Check for adequate finger length with the left hand for bassoonists. Some (especially women) do not have the hand size to play the bassoon. Fox makes a smaller stretch instrument (Renard 222 I think) that fits a smaller hand. However, it is best to place students with the smallest hands on the oboe so that they will not have the physical challenge on the bassoon

Terry

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

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Re: Recruiting & Retaining Double Reed students - your tips?

1. How do you see the situation with double reed players in schools and ensembles at present?

Secondary schools in NZ quite strong although some fears of govt cutting some programmes or some funding within programmes.

"Out of hours" school (CSM) is doing well with good stock and numbers.  More adults taking up bassoon too!

2. What factors do you see could be contributing to the decline in double reed numbers in school music programs (if any)?
Please comment on (a) recruitment

fewer boys taking music - lack of equity across primary schools - some a really struggling t find music teachers esp in the classroom.

and (b) retention.

Depends on competing activities - a number of very promising bassoonists are also very good musicians on other instruments and eventually have to make a choice. As bassoon is the more recent instrument it is often the one to go.

3. What activities have you successfully implemented to recruit and increase the numbers of double reed players in your school/ensemble?

Recruitment from existing wind students showing rapid progress on clarinet (I am unashamedly subversive in recruiting bassoon students from this source!)

4. What activities have you successfully implemented to retain the numbers of double reed players?

A sense of being valued - indeed needed. Rapid promotion (not at expense of good technique).

5. Have you seen or heard of anything else that works?

More supervised practice sessions (between lessons).

6. What programs exist to assist with the promotion and development of double reed players? e.g. masterclasses, instrumental association/forum

Little apart from my own drive and perseverance. Not enough of the above activiies as we seldom see visiting experts in Bassoon - Yoshi come back soon!

How can/do people find this information?

Our Itinerant Unit is in process of establishing a website (still some way away).

Christchurch School of Music (CSM) has website <http://www.csm.org.nz/>

Offline CSM annual prospectus.

Neville

Neville Forsythe
Christchurch New Zealand
Bassoonist / Teacher / Conductor