Beginning Bassoon methods

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Home Forums Pedagogy Teaching – General: Solutions, Question, Tips Beginning Bassoon methods

This topic contains 7 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Bryan Cavitt 13 years ago.

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    Jim Fellows

    I have never been quite happy with what I have been using for absolute beginners (with no experience on another instrument). It generally includes the Rubank Beginning for a bit (but it always seems to go too high too soon), then piece-in Weissenborn and a few other snippets of my own until the student is better established. I know there are a few new bassoon methods out, but generally haven’t had that many students that I have started from square-one, so I haven’t looked into them. Any suggestions?

    Jim Fellows


    Neville Forsythe

    Hi Jim

    I have cut & pasted from a reply to an Australian graduate’s survey on Bassoon teaching regarding my first tutor of choice – “The Young Bassoonist” which I use with my own fingering chart (another matter altogether). I will send you a PDF to your email address.

    A few details about The Young Bassoonist.

    It is clearly laid out with fairly large staves / notes. No fingerings are offered.

    Each tune is accompanied by a smaller preliminary c. 2.5 cm long stave with the new notes or intervals.

    Tune 1 is Suo-Gan (1st version) using EDC 4/4

    Tune 2 is Au Clair de la Lune (Extending downwards to BAG) 4/4

    Tune 3 is Song of the Crib (same range) 3/4

    All 3 use crotchets and minims and slurs. (repeats are also presented along with simple dynamics p pp mf mp although I encourage a full strong supported tone to start with).

    Tune 4 is Song of the Volga Boatmen (open F, introduces a pair of quavers, cresc & decresc)

    Tune 5 is O Come All Ye Faithful (new note middle G, range G-G, dotted crotchet / quaver)

    Tune 6 is See Amid the Winter’s Snow (movement C-G, B-G)

    And so on introducing progressively: low F, 9/4, Bb, upper A, 2/2 3/2, B, C, dotted quaver / semiquaver, Bb, 6/8, low EDC, F#’s, Eb, Ab’s, C#, upper D, C#, E Eb, F.

    The tunes are a mix of hymns, folksongs mainly of British origin. Most are very approachable and seem to suit the bassoon’s voice and character very well.

    The arrangements are all by Sydney Lawton.

    I find the progression rate varies from “steady”, (the book may take a year or more to complete), to “race-horse”, (it may be completed in a few months by a student with previous woodwind experience – including recorder).



    Neville Forsythe

    Here it is at last – I have finally worked out how to share images with the rest of the Forum – no easy matter.

    This is my fingering chart mentioned to Jim in earlier mails about Beginning Bassoon Methods

    Feel free to discuss the pro’s & con’s – try it with a few beginner students – you may be surprised at its user friendliness and intuitive aptness to human hands/brains. I do not claim that the actual fingerings are definitive – what I am trying to show is that any fingering of any complexity can actually be reduced to simple codes easily understood and more importantly memorised. It is a lucky spin off that it (IMHO) improves the format for sharing fingerings using a single horizontal line of ASCII symbols i.e. letters and numbers.

    You can simply drag the image off the page on to your desktop to copy or print.






    Neville Forsythe

    Try a few fingerings for the newly published chart:

    Th a 1/2 2 3 : 1 4

    Th a 1/2 2 3 : 3

    Th bc 1 2 3 : 3

    Th AB 1 2 3 4a : ThB 1 2 3 4

    Th e 1/2 2 3 : 1a 4a

    Th a 2 3 : ThA 1 2


    Bryan Cavitt

    If the student is an absolute beginner, I will use whatever method book the school system uses to teach with appropriate changes in fingerings (Eb, G). I will incorporate Weissenborn as soon as I can along with an easy solo so they can have their fun too! No complaints yet!

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


    Neville Forsythe

    Please revisit my earlier post of the new fingering chart to get a copy of the accompanying fingering diagrams – if you drag the images off onto your desktop you can review them, print etc

    Ceers Neville


    Steven Morgan

    I don’t think there’s a better method for beginners than the Weissenborn. I use this book exclusively and supplement it with whatever the student is playing in school. I’ve looked at other methods, but have never made the switch because I like the way the Weissenborn eases students above the break. I also think the duets are very beneficial. In my opinion, it’s a classic for good reasons.


    Neville Forsythe

    I agree, but with the caveat that very young players benefit from something more approachable, and even older/faster students sort out the 2.4 octaves from low C – upper F with “The Young Bassoonist” (It also helps establish intonation as there are piano accompaniments).

    Weissenborn is almost always my second source even though it retreats to a narrower range and rebuilds more chromatically. the duets as you observe are beneficial and can even be played by 2 students in some cases.


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