Topic: Conn Bassooon help!!

Hi everyone!  I've been asked to teach double reeds at a university, and I have previous experience on Bassoon as an oboist, but not much lately.  I'm fine with most bassoons, but the one that I am borrowing from a friend has no whisper key, making all the middle/upper register notes hard to play.  Can anyone give me some advice about how I can over come this?  I'd greatly appreciate it!

Ronnal Ford
fordro@wssu.edu
Adjunct Double Reeds Faculty

Ronnal Ford
DMA Oboe Performance '16
Multiple Woodwind Performance/Theory Cognate
Adjunct Professor, Guilford Tech & Forsyth Tech

Re: Conn Bassooon help!!

Ronnal...If your position pays well enough step up and rent a reasonable bassoon. Midwest Musical Imports would be a good source. I don't really see how you can do a creditable job teaching the instrument with a bassoon that is hopelessly archaic. Your second octave notes can be produced by "flicking" but if you don't have that much experience on the bassoon you won't be able to pull that off with acceptable success.

Gene Carter, Owner
Linden Reeds

Re: Conn Bassooon help!!

Ronnal,
Your topic implies that you are using a Conn bassoon that does not have a whisper key system.  As far as I know Conn never made a bassoon without a whisper key system. 
It sounds to me like your problem is not with the lack of a whisper key, but with the instrument itself.  You say that the middle/upper register notes are hard to play.  That's not consistent with the lack of a whisper key.  The open bocal vent would cause the greatest problems problems to the response in the low range, some loss of response in the middle range, and would cause little or no difficulty to the upper range where it mostly needs to be open anyway. 
I suspect that the instrument you are playing on has many problems of which the lack of a whisper key is the least of them.  The lack of a whisper key suggests that it is on the order of 100 years old.  Bassoons have long lives, but no all of them are worth lasting that long.  If the instrument is good enough then a whisper key system can be installed on it.  It sounds to me that this bassoon has a better future as a lamp than as a useful instrument. 
I agree with Gene Carter's thoughts.  You really do need to have a decent instrument to work with.  Doesn't the university have anything you can use? 

Chip Owen

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Re: Conn Bassooon help!!

Well the bocal that was given to me to use has no vent in it as well.  It looks as if its been sealed shut.  Maybe I could possibly try a different bocal if I can find one.  It looks as if the bocal was made for use without the whisper key.  I have worked out a lot with flicking, and changing my air focus for the middle ranged high notes (2nd A up to 3rd D...Especially on the C# since my thumb cant really flick any other keys).  Above that, everything is fine, as is below, because the whisper key would be closed and the vent closed on the bocal.  Other than flicking, are they're any other suggestions for fingerings in that range that I could use? As a side note, the instrument only has B and A flick keys and the C# key.

Ronnal Ford
DMA Oboe Performance '16
Multiple Woodwind Performance/Theory Cognate
Adjunct Professor, Guilford Tech & Forsyth Tech

Re: Conn Bassooon help!!

Bassoon bocals have had vent holes for centuries  before the existence of the whisper key.  Between the two the vent hole is the more important.  An open vent hole in the bocal is essential for a few notes, most notably the D just above middle C. 
Any modern bocal should work.  You'll find the response of low notes will suffer with the presence of the vent hole.  The size of vent holes has become larger since the invention of the whisper key provided the means to close it. 
If allowed, have a hole drilled in that ventless bocal.  Don't worry about the vent button of a modern bocal--just drill the hole in the side of the bocal.  The position should be about where a modern bocal would have the hole.  A modern bocal will have a hole more or less in the range of 0.032 to 0.038 inches.  Try a hole less than 0.030; I'd start with something on the order of 0.024 inches.  A hole in the the 0.024 to 0.030 inch range should improve the performance of those notes around middle C while still allowing decent response in the low end.  Perhaps a maker of baroque or classical bassoons could provide better specifications. 
This is one of the unique aspects of the bassoon.  The register keys/octave keys of every other woodwind are normally closed until the key is depressed.  Only the bassoon has a hole that remains open until depressing the key closes the hole.  What we're describing is the origin of that.  Bassoonists have always had on open vent hole in the bocal.  The whisper key was invented to close the hole--not to open it. 

Chip Owen

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Re: Conn Bassooon help!!

Dear Ronnal,  You have been given excellent advice and suggestions.  Take action!!  Don't argue.

Sanford Berry

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