Playing scale patterns in sharp keys can be challenging, especially in the upper register. In A major, the following fingering pattern emerges:
Notice the right-hand cross fingering between e, f-sharp, and g, and the left-hand cross fingering between e and f-sharp. Cross fingering patterns can produce snags if not carefully and methodically developed. So, here is the first set of exercises designed to work on these problems:
Each measure can be repeated multiple times. Begin playing slowly and gradually increase tempo to establish your “outer limit.” It is best to avoid playing too fast since we don’t want to practice these patterns with wrong notes, etc. Another sequence that can be very helpful in isolating glitches is this one:
Here, we work through the cycle and play one of the notes longer, the rest shorter. In the first measure, the first note (e) is long, in the second measure the second note (f-sharp) is long, and so on. Since for practical purposes, all of the intervals between these notes will be important, the next step is to mix them up:
If you find a particularly gnarly interval, especially when slurred, be sure to isolate and work on that fingering pattern. Investing some effort into patterns like these will yield great dividends, enabling you to play with confidence and poise as you conquer the technical challenges. (Thanks to SS!)
We’ve discovered a clever little “personal” etude this week. Here it is:
It captures the tricky b/c# interval that can always use more repetitions, crosses the break from e/f# with a touchy half hole, includes top space g for pitch accuracy and left-hand pinky precision, then descends to repeat.
With dotted rhythms, we can improve finger trajectories:
Then, for something a bit more involved, and useful for finding the latent lapses, here is the pattern in triplets (notice how it takes three cycles to come out even):
Later in the week we decided that a great way to really clean up the digits is to play short staccato:
Apply in liberal daily doses, rinse and repeat often. Add to your favorite warmup routine!
“Why do some people achieve outsize success? Given the competitive nature of the modern world, it’s a question many have spent time thinking about. The usual answer is that success results from some combination of talent, luck, and hard work. Tales of prodigies and “naturals,” born ready to conquer the world, tend to minimize the importance of hard work, but the whole formula may need a rethink. That’s the message of Peak, a new book by Florida State University psychology professor Anders Ericsson and science writer Robert Pool. Ericsson has spent decades studying the concept of “deliberate practice,” the sort of hard, unglamorous focus on improvement that gets results. This highly readable book distills Ericsson’s work for a general audience, while raising thought-provoking questions about what talent really is.” Read the full review . . .
I was a young bassoon student (the case almost touched the ground when I carried it by the handle) taking lessons once a week with Wilbur Simpson (for many years second bassoonist with the Chicago Symphony). One week, before we headed upstairs to his bassoon studio, he ushered me into the living room and said, “I want you to hear this!” He carefully laid an LP on the turntable, located the needle and turned up the volume. Enthusiastically, he exclaimed, “Wait ’til you hear this–a french bassoonist with a marvelous tone!” For my first experience hearing the french bassoon, I was blessed with the round sound of the incomparable Maurice Allard (1923-2004) performing Boismortier’s Concerto in D. Read William Waterhouse’s biographical sketch of Allard.
The Glickman/Popkin Bassoon Camp is a ten-day summer camp for bassoonists 18 years of age and above, of any skill level.
DATES for the 2016 Glickman Popkin Bassoon Camp
May 30 – June 9
Each day includes master classes, reed making classes, ensemble activities and recital hours. Also included are bassoon repairs, bassoon makers, music and tool vendors, and many ways to relax and learn through social engagements.
Established in 1978 by Loren Glickman and Mark Popkin and located at the beautiful Wildacres Retreat Center in Little Switzerland, NC.
This year, the guest artists are:
- Andrew Cuneo, principal, St. Louis Symphony;
- David McGill, professor of bassoon at Northwestern University and former principal, Chicago Symphony;
- Harrison Hollingsworth, principal, New York City Ballet Orchestra.
A limited number of scholarships are available for those students who apply and meet the requirements.