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Thu, May. 22nd, 2008, 07:27 pm

Hello everyone I have been playing the bassoon for around 2 years now in my high school band, and I've encountered many problems.
1) Mouldy reeds
2) Conductor says that I'm biting my reed too hard
3) High notes sound tight
4) High notes cracking

Please help ):

Thu, May. 22nd, 2008 12:55 pm (UTC)

Hi! I encountered all of these problems in high school, so here are some of the things that worked for me:

1) Mouldy reeds -- Either put holes in your reed case (whether through drilling or some other method) or leave your reed case open for at least an hour after you play. Or when you get home from school. You can soak the already-mouldy reeds in hydrogen peroxide or antiseptic mouthwash, but honestly if they're mouldy they're more or less ruined and that's not a good long-term solution.
2) Biting the reed -- I struggled with this all the way into freshman year at music school, and the solution for me was to use more air to support the notes. What ended up happening was a teacher had me lay on the floor with a book on my stomach and fill my stomach up with air so that the book moved up when I breathed in, and moved down when I breathed out. Then he had me sit up and play, but he put his hands firmly on my shoulders so that I had to use my stomach instead of moving my shoulders. If you don't have someone to hold your shoulders down, you can also practice in front of a mirror.
If your problem isn't too little air (although those are good exercises regardless), try using lighter reeds and consciously tell yourself to stay open. But honestly, I thought my biting was due to a lot of factors and it turned out to be simply the air, so I would strongly suggest to try that first.
3) Tight high notes -- Again, put a lot of air into them. :) Also -- and I realize this is discouraging -- but the bassoon you're using might also be keeping you from playing nice-sounding high notes. I learned the Rite of Spring excerpt while playing on a Fox Model 4 (the plastic one), and it was a battle to the death because the instrument had a terrible high range. But now it's one of my best excerpts, so I guess it gets better?
4) High notes cracking -- Make sure you're using the right fingerings, and check the half holes on the high A-flat and D so that it's not too big or too small. (The former tends to be too big, the latter too small, in my experience.) You can check around the IDRS website or try Google for alternate fingerings.

Hope that helped a little? If you have any other questions, you can feel free to contact me! ♥

Thu, May. 22nd, 2008 01:40 pm (UTC)

I liked this response :)

1) My first reed cases were empty plastic sucrets (throat lozenges) boxes. My father drilled large holes on the top and bottom for ventilation and slid a tiny rod through one of the sides, onto which he slipped pegs to hold the reeds. $3 reed case. I still use them, they're eleven years old, are in great shape, and keep the reeds mold-free.

I never leave my reed case inside my bassoon case. My reeds are either in the outside pocket of the case or in the bag that holds my music stand reed tools and music. The closer they are to fresh air the less of a chance they turn green!

Thu, May. 22nd, 2008 01:51 pm (UTC)

Omg thanks sooo much your advice really helped :) Anyway just wanted to say that I've been trying very hard but I can't help but bite my reed. But I'll definitely try using more air!

Btw, I don't know how to make or adjust my reeds because I was never taught so I just buy reeds from music shops. Is that bad? And what do the sizes mean? (Like medium, medium soft and medium hard)

Oh yeah another question! How do you vibrato on a bassoon? Sorry for asking so many questions :C Lol when I try to vibrato it sounds very fake..

I use a Schreiber bassoon :)

Thu, May. 22nd, 2008 06:16 pm (UTC)

Its not necessarily a bad thing to buy reeds instead of making them, but you certainly should learn how to adjust the ones you buy. Almost all of the reeds I buy need adjusting. In addition to your air, high notes sounding tight/cracking could also be a reed issue. Sometimes problems like a high note not speaking is simple an issue of needing to clip the tip of the reed, or hitting it with some sandpaper. Do you have a private lesson teacher? If you dont want to or can't afford to take lessons, I would see if you can find someone who can give you one or two lessons to address these issues. When it comes to adjusting reeds, there is only so much you can learn from someone on the internet.

I was self taught for the first few years of high school when I was learning to play, and I had soooo many issues with intonation, notes cracking/not speaking. A lot of my problems were air support, but a lottt of my issues were purely because I was playing on awful reeds (I mean, how was I supposed to know??)

As for vibrato, I have no idea how to tell you how to do that. I kinda woke up one day and was able to do it. I just think about singing through the bassoon, and it works.

Medium, soft, hard, ect. refers to how hard the cane is.

Thu, May. 22nd, 2008 09:07 pm (UTC)

If you feel up to experimenting, this is the best site I've found online to go to for reed adjustment help: http://www.canit.se/~chrisdav/reedadj.html You can just use 320 or 400 wet/dry sand paper if all you are doing is adjusting store bought reeds. Still, if you can find someone to teach you, that would be the best!

As for vibrato, I was taught to use a diaphram vibrato. Think of a Santa Clause laugh from the gut. Or someone punching you in the stomach. I'd start on the top space G since it's stable, but you can bend it both ways easily. Play a long tone on that note and try to get your diaphram moving the way it would in the santa laugh or continual punches to the gut (I prefer to use the Santa image myself...). Start off quite slow, maybe pule at a metronome marking of 70 or 80. Once you get the hang of that, start on your low F and play up an octave scale pulsing about 12 times on each note at that slow tempo. It takes quite a while for some players to build up the muscles to do a nice vibrato. You can do that exercise daily as part of your warm up and expand the range and speed. Remember, lower equals slower; your low notes will use a slow vibrato, and it will get faster the higher you go in your range. Some notes are going to be more difficult to vibrate on; usually top line A to the D above that is difficult. I've heard differeing opinions on the actual pitch difference within a vibrato. Some people want the pitch to oscilate between in tune and slightly sharp, others in tune and slightly flat, or like a sine wave where the pitch goes a bit under and a bit over. I prefer the last because it tends to sound more in tune in context.

My current teacher talks about a vibrato more like a vocalist does, but I've never really caught on to how he wants it done. But there are other ways. Just try to avoid a chewing motion. That's correct for sax, but messes stuff up for bassoonists. Hope that helped! Good luck with everything!