An Ideal Practice Schedule for an Amateur Bassoonist. Suggestions?

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Home Forums Pedagogy Teaching – General: Solutions, Question, Tips An Ideal Practice Schedule for an Amateur Bassoonist. Suggestions?

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    mike nahas

    I would like some help on two issues:

    A- What would be an ideal practice schedule for an amateur bassoon player with one hour a day available who would like to have fun on the process?

    When I work with scales, my reading gets better, my technique (fingering) too. It does not help with my speed though.
    When I work on etudes, it seems my reading is also helped, and also the technique, but I am afraid I’m not doing what I was supposed to.
    Long notes and sonority work is a torture. I was catch myself ending up doing a whole hours of either only scales, or just the etudes.
    I’ve been playing more seriously for the last 3 years.

    B- How do I brake my reed-making adiction? I also get into the trap of jeopardizing playing time for reed making. I have more good reeds already for at least an year and a half. Should I declare an year moratorium in reed making?

    Thanks for your widom,

    Gene Carter

    Ah, the reed making addiction. Destroyer of homes and families, robber of sanity and rationality, consomer of disproportionate amounts of ones time and life. It sounds as though you may already be beyond help. And, it just gets worse. You buy new tools so you have to make more reeds to use the tools. Trying new cane? More reeds to test the latest crop. A new book on reed making or visit to a previously unvisited reed maker’s web site. More reeds to be made to test out newly acquired wisdom.

    Mike, your only hope is to do what I did. Get good enough at making them so you can sell them. Its the only way out.

    mike nahas

    Why did I feel it was coming?

    Gene, your posts are awesome, although it does make me feel in a RMA (Reeds Makers Anonimous) meeting!

    Let’s see: I am back to bassoon after 20 years away. (I’m two years old, after return to paradise). I already have A Rieger profiler, A R&S Tip Profiler, A R&S tip cutter (awesome, BTW), 3 shapers, including a Vario, tons of everything else and I buy about 50 canes a month.

    It is true that everybody I showed loved my reeds, but I think they are not exactly what I see American Bassoonists using. I think because I lived in Brazil 32 years, and 8 years in Germany before coming to America,
    my reeds are to German/Austrian sounding (it means very dry/dark/round sound).

    I feel the American preferred sound color is more between the french and the German one, to my ears at least.
    (that’s my experience listening to other camp players at last years’ Popkin camp.) I don’t know though if this comes from FOX’s and Older Heckels, (compared to newer Heckels, Walthers, Moennigs, Puechners) OR if this comes from the reeds, which is my perception. Of course it is way easier to to make a more agile, dinamic- and vibrato-friendly reed with the American caracteristics, than with German sounding ones.

    Anyway, I might eventually send my reeds to coleagues to try them. But I think I’m the only soul in this side of the world using Knochenhauer shape.


    Kent Moore

    Hi Mike:

    You are obviously aware of the problem and want to do something about it. It may be as simple as scheduling time to practice and time to make reeds. Set those times aside to practice and do not touch the reed tools. Also divide your available time to practice technique, etudes, pieces etc. Use a timer if you need one. That may not leave much time for each but done regularly instead of infrequently, you would do well in each category. I hope you find a solution. Kent

    Bryan Cavitt

    Strange how this topic got away from practicing to reed making (sounds like more than one of us belong to RMA).

    I want to answer your concern about practicing scales and not improving on speed. The Oubradous scale studies are excellent in this area. Between scales, rhythms, articulations, and tempo, you can’t help but improve in all areas. I used them with all my students starting with C major just as soon as they can play up to G above the staff. It’s amazing how well it works.

    Bryan Cavitt
    Bassoonist, Elkhart (IN) Municipal Band; Bassoon Dad and Uncle

    mike nahas

    Thanks, Brian.

    this was the first book I started with after the Weissenborn routine, after I came back to bassoon. My question is this (actually two):

    a-Isn’t the suggested speeds unrealistic? I don’t see myself ever going over the first step (OK, scales alone I can do it up to the 2nd suggested speed).

    b- Should I do it only up to high A natural? The whole 4th octave region seems to lag my performance, not counting that as an amateur more into baroque and classical period music, that region is not part of the repertoire.

    Heartly thanks,


    Bryan Cavitt

    The Oubradous studies show a bracketed area in the tenor clef region (the upper most notes) that is optional – I don’t let my beginning students try that at all. That should suffice as far as your range is concerned.

    Speeds unrealistic? Depends on how much you want to put into it. My son, now a college student, can play the scales in triplet form at 100. It takes time, but it’s like anything else. You can do it if you practice it. Look at the baroque and classical repretoire – Telemann has fast movements. Mozart, Weber, Fasch, etc. all have fast movements in their works. If you’re only playing chamber works, I’m sure they have slow and fast movements also. If you want to play in tempo, you have to work on speed, and scale studies will get you there. You have to walk before you can run.

    Bryan Cavitt

    Trent Jacobs

    Hello my name is Trent and I’m a scrape-a-holic.

    (“hi trent!”)

    Jamie Sinatra

    Hi Trent! :-)
    When you only have an hour to practice, the thought process should be one of not so much “working hard”, but more of “working smart”…due to a physical injury I sustained about 11 years ago, I can only practice about an hour a day outside of rehearsal before my embouchure goes south…during this hour, I focus on two things:
    1. What do I NEED to practice today?
    For me, this would include 5-10 minutes of long tones and slow scales and 10-20 minutes of my music
    for the week that I´m playing for the orchestra…or, if the music´s not difficult, 10-20 minutes of either
    orchestral excerpts or solo lit. that I need for an audition or recital that´s coming up.
    2. What do I WANT to practice today?
    This is a matter of personal preference…go with your heart and your gut…pick something out of your
    library you haven´t played in a while, play some jazz if you want to…it´s your world…the rest of us
    are just passing through it.
    Now remember…you´ll want to adjust your time accordingly to your demands…sometimes you´ll need to off-balance the time (40-20 or 50-10 or, dare I say it, sometimes 60-0)…but don´t forget to play something you enjoy at some point during your practice time…that makes the practice time worth it.
    Hope that helps. :-)

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