Topic: Bassoon embouchure
Dear forum users,
I've been thinking about my embouchure a lot, lately.
When I first started playing, my teacher, a former bassoonist with the Memphis Symphony, taught me to put about two-thirds of the reed blade into my mouch and to form my lips into an "o" shape. He told me to pretend I was whistling.
This contradicted everything I had seen at all-state and all-region band competitions, where the bassoonists used a broad embouchure in which the teeth were pulled over the lips, but Dr. Pugh was my teacher, so I did as I was told.
Then I attended my first college. I was the only one with this round embouchure; everybody else used the tight-lipped embouchure I had seen before. But my teacher said nothing about this part of my embouchure. Plus, I had since seen Judith Leclair peform on "Live From Lincoln Center" with this round embouchure, and taken lessons from a local professional bassoonist, who also used it, so I assumed it was okay. With regard to the rest of my embouchure, however, I was taught that how much of the reed I kept in my mouth depended on the register; the higher I was in the instrument's range, the more reed I needed in my mouth and the more lip pressure I needed to apply.
That's what I've been doing since.
However, a dear friend of mine told me that his teacher at CCM, Bill Winstead, taught him to keep only the very tip of the reed in his mouth. This same friend also suspects that a Norwegian bassoonist he and I both greatly admire does this same thing, and that he uses a very thick, open reed. According to him, this requires powerful oral muscles, but it enables him to play very softly and very loudly, and he can "pop out" E5.
Plus, our library has a copy of Maurice Allard's bassoon method. When I perused it, I said that the best embouchure was basically the exact opposite of everything I've been told--with the lips pursed and pressed slightly outward, like in a kiss. Granted, the French bassoon may simply be different in that respect, but it still got me thinking.
What do you think about this?
Last edited by Allen R. Hall (2006-10-31 11:41:11)
"The same people that make toasters make showers--for they have a turney-button, too, that lies." -- Eddie Izzard