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Thread: Bassoon training tricks?

  1. #1
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    Default Bassoon training tricks?

    Hi everyone!

    Would you know tricks, techniques, wisdoms or methods to learn faster on the bassoon?

    ==========

    More precisely, I'm limited by my memory right now. The finger speed and accuracy are easy to me. Synchronizing the fingers is of course a difficulty, especially to play slurs cleanly on the 3rd octave, but I see progress by practising. What disappoints me presently: I don't progress, or very slowly, in learning the fingerings of a new piece.

    I decided to learn Elgar's romance just because it sounds nicely when Sophie Dervaux plays it
    and I'm stuck at the middle of the first page. There are bar 9 with 9 (NINE) notes and bars 16-17 with 13 (THIRTEEN) notes on the third octave. I found simple alternate fingerings to play the slurs. Technically easy after 7 months, but I don't memorize the fingerings at a satisfying pace.

    • 2 days ago, I spent nearly an hour on these two passages. I cut even the 9 notes in shorter chunks, practised slowly than faster. The first passage worked.
    • 1 days ago, the first failed. I decided not to practise legato, but to remove and position all fingers for each note. After an hour, the first legato attempt just worked for both passages, happy.
    • Today, both passages failed, I had again forgotten the fingerings. I've put again an hour in these 22 notes, both passages worked, but I pretty sure they fail tomorrow.

    Good that I just like to hear my bassoon, so patience is easy. I'd already have kicked a piano . But no instrument before challenged my memory. It's brutal.

    I tried to write marks on the score. This works for one detail in a bar, say "take the whisper key the other way" but not for 2-3 fingers at unusual positions for each note: too little time to read.

    So how would you practise that? I'm still in a good mood and spirit, confident to achieve it, but I'd like to save time and continue practising the rest of the piece, and other pieces, and progress.

    Practise these two passages ten times 6 minutes a day instead of 60 minutes at once? My neighbours would eliminate me, I already negotiated my training hour (which I exceed).

    Insert other exercises, longer and longer, between training sequences of these two passages? For the continuo part of JSB's Air it helped.

    Practise without the instrument? On drawings? Fingers in the air? Immobile, eyes closed?

    Better ideas?

    Thanks!

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    Sorry, i had a full posting all set for you, then lost the whole god-damned f@#$%%^&*&^$#g thing!! I'll try again tomorrow.....

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    An effective strategy is to not work the actual piece until after scales/arpeggios in various articulations and keys are mastered.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Enthalpy View Post
    Hi everyone!
    Would you know tricks, techniques, wisdoms or methods to learn faster on the bassoon?
    !
    It sounds like you are trying to play, or practice pieces one note at a time, without any established technical basis. I really can't relate to such an approach.
    Developing a solid technique on bassoon, or any instrument, requires a focused, diligent practice routine to establish the desired coordination of different elements.
    Methodical practice of scales, arpeggios is necessary to establish this technique - proper hand position, posture, breath support, embouchure are all key elements along with finger coordination. You want to learn, to program into your playing note patterns, groups of notes - which is why scales and arpeggios are so important. Major/minor scales, arpeggios major/ minor, 7ths of all varieties...slow practice, good sound, accurate intonation, proper breath support and embouchure adjustment should all be present. This will provide you with a basic technique, in which you will recognize note patterns, groupings, and you will be able to play them without trying to play note by note, one pitch at a time...

    Now - that is a life-long endeavor, believe me, one can always improve - but, I will offer a shortcut, of sorts, that may help you develop a quick technique to "get around" the horn...I use these as warmups - play them slow at first, always attentive to tone, pitch, smoothness, breath support:

    1. Chromatic scale [there's only 1] - start on low Bb - play as high as you can go - hopefully at least 3 octaves, higher if possible - play in triplets, 16th notes, and quintuplets.....try starting on different notes.
    2. Whole-tone scales [there are 2] - start on low Bb, same range as #1 - then start on low B natural
    3. diminished 7th arpeggios - [there are 3] - low Bb, low B, low C - same as 1, 2
    4. augmented triads - [there are 4] - Low Bb, B, C, C#
    This will help you learn scales, arpeggios, "note groupings" that you will recognize, and your fingers will be programmed to play that pattern. you won't be trying to decipher the music one note at a time....
    obviously, bigger intervals would require additional practice and routine work, but these warmup drills will help to get you going....
    hope this helps...

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    I just looked through my old copy of the Elgar then took out the beast and played through it. It's been a while. But nowhere did I need to use alternate fingerings. Why would you need them for the slurs? Unless your instrument is leaking? The reed is dead? Or the bocal/bassoon setup doesn't work?

    Yes, bassoon can be brutal. Take from someone who is by training a percussionist! When I took up bassoon I did it the same way as I did drums decades ago: you must learn the basics. They are essential. No shortcuts. For snare drum it meant learning every rudiment until I could play them without error over and over. With bassoon it meant every scale: major, natural & harmonic & melodic minors in every key. And then playing them by 2nds, 3rds, 4ths. Learning every slur until flicking became something you just automatically do. Playing legato in a beautiful singing tone is most difficult on bassoon, but so rewarding. if your instrument and reeds aren't up to it, no amount of practice will help. Learn the basics!

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    Thank you all!

    Some elements in no special order:

    It's a French system, Buffet-Crampon, built in 1915, with fewer keys than presently. Probably I missed simpler combinations, but at bar 9 and bars 16-17 I didn't see how to use the standard fingerings. From what I saw, the German system isn't quite simple on the third octave neither. At least, I need no flicking, and the emission of high notes seems easier on the French system (C# on third octave is safe, emission gets difficult at D with this reed, I train slurs only up to Bb presently).

    I practise some basics everyday, about 30min. I started C-major, Bb-major, D-major. Now I concentrate on the more difficult parts of them: whisper key, note pairs where finger synchronization is difficult. ### and bbb is the planned next step.

    I haven't practised arpeggios up to now, my fault. I like very much the idea of whole-tone scales, diminished 7th and augmented triads.

    Yes, I choose pieces difficult for my level and train them for long, 60min a day. I started Bachs' Air after some 2 months and the four voices worked around the fifth month
    Started the Badinerie meanwhile but it will wait until I replace the pads and possibly try a higher transposition. I've started Elgar's Romance in the seventh month, maybe three weeks ago, it looks no more difficult than the Air. I have no problem with the agility. It's a mere matter of memory.

    The main problem I see with learning difficult pieces over a longer time is that I don't learn to read the notes. By the time I know the fingerings, I've long learned the notes by memory. Bad! Maybe I'll write some reading exercises.

    The instrument isn't in top condition. I must replace the pads, and then the lowest notes should become easier.

    Today, some bars went better than in the past, even at first run, so I progress nevertheless. The brute method should succeed, maybe in one week for these bars, and then I go farther in the score.

    And yes, a nice bassoon sound is rewarding. I wanted to play it for decades.

  11. #7
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    I just wasn't patient enough, and had forgotten how long the Air has taken. Yesterday the first half-page of the Romance went almost perfectly at first trial, today my last hesitations were hidden by the piece's tempo.

    Useful was to release and replace all fingers between the notes when training difficult passages.

    I had also forgotten to train quickly too. On the violin, training slowly generally suffices.

    Decisive: I had previously repeated many times a passage after it had worked once. This doesn't help quickly. Instead, I interleaved several difficult passages as soon as they began to work individually. It's much more efficient.

    Of course, I go on training scales and excerpts of them. Usually 1/3 of a session duration, today 1/2.

    ==========

    When slurred notes need to move many fingers, parasitic sounds may appear. How to train against these?

    Previously, I moved the fingers very quickly, also during the exercises, to reduce these noises, in addition to synchronizing all fingers.

    I begin to realize that synchronisation is more important than speed, and that moving the fingers slowly helps hear and correct the synchronization errors.

    So what do you recommend when training: move the fingers between the notes at concert speed, or slow the movement down?

    Many thanks!

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