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Doublers with a day job who also play Double reeds?

If there are any, how do you do it?

I find it hard enough to practise all the "single reeds" let alone think about picking up bassoon, oboe, and english horn, though I think about it now and then.

So are there any nine to fivers who also started taking up double reeds while they were working? How did you do it and how is it going? Did it drive you crazy? Is it possible on an hour a day total practice routine?

Just curious.


Striving to play the changes in a melodic way.
Staff member
Hi Ken. I'd ask this question of Janet Putnam (eastside) or Jay Easton or Paul Woltz (westside Seattle). I know there are a few, but to build a solid double reed sound, I've heard that the minimum time you'd have to spend, and maybe then not make progress, is an hour a day.

So with clarinets, saxes, and flutes (like you play) we are talking some serious shed time. It will be interesting to see how SuzySax progresses when she starts lessons next week. She'll be down to two a week with and hour of clarinet on Fridays and an hour of English Horn on Mondays. But then she only works every other week as she's half time hours now.
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Content Expert/Moderator
Staff member
I was doing OK with a day job and playing bassoon.

The only reason I've made some good progress on oboe and EH lately is that I'm playing for a living in a summer rep theatre, so I've got a fair amount of shed time during the day at the moment.


Old King Log
Staff member
Soon to be fagged out, and not looking forward to it...

"Ich bin ein Tage Faggot Spieler"...

Well, you get the general idea. I used to be a full time worker who also attempts to play one double reed (the bassoon) that has to cover Broadway show charts. This time around, it's The Pajama Game, with that 1940's "modern musical" instrumentation that sticks the Reed IV or V player with the ungainly combination of bass clarinet/baritone sax/bassoon. And, I have to say that I never welcome this sort of thing when it happens.

Practice? What's that? I get my three hours plus each week at our rehearsal, but 95% of that is on baritone, the balance being on alto, clarinet and bass clarinet. Not much call for bassoon on pop charts, after all.

So, I'm moving forward with close to zero bassoon time prior to the weeklies. Ouch!

It takes me about three hours of on and off bassoon playing to get halfway proficient with the mouth. (The fingering stuff is much less onerous, save only for the little finger right hand stretch that ends up hurting after the first half hour or so of play.)

Part of this will be with long tones and the tuner, just to get the embouchure stabilized, and to get the facial muscles "exercised" to the extent that they stop hurting. It's the same way with extensive clarinet playing (as I did last year when I did Clarinet I on The Sound Of Music), of course. A hurdle that has to be surmounted with most wind instruments.

Once the mouth parts start acting according to what I remember was proper technique, I work on the breaks (there are a number of them on the bassoon) and the left hand technique. I have more trouble with the left hand than with anything else on the horn, and the reversed layout of the little finger keys just about drives me bonkers. I keep a fingering chart close at hand just to check now and then.

By performance time, I am up to playing any note on the horn from the low Bb up through the top note of the overblown base scale on the front of the horn. Anything above that I generally don't need for a musical, and I am not above dropping notes in the haunting and beautiful upper reaches of the horn's range down an octave to accommodate my wobbly skills.

And, to top all of this off, I only have a shaky comprehension of the bass clef notation used for the horn. It's pathetic, I know, but I learned bassoon through a "see the spot, push the button, monkey" technique, and have never learned the note names to the point that I could associate the blot with a particular pitch. (Yeah, bass clef is my great weakness.)

I did a show a couple of years back where (for some stupid reason or another) migrated into tenor clef for six friggin' bars - I just penciled in the notes and went from there.

And, on top of all of that hassle, there's the baritone to bassoon horn changes in the older shows. Crazy For You, when I did it a couple of years ago, wasn't too bad, but the one bar of 4/4 time allowed for such a shift in No, No Nanette!, which I did back in 2001, is laughable. I keep the bassoon and the baritone on my H-bar stand, with the butt ends of the instruments down almost at ground level. The set down for the baritone is about the same as any other change, but shifting the bassoon up to the seat strap, getting the reed from the pot (mounted on the stand just below the desk shelf) onto the bocal, and swinging it all into place without loosing an eye in the process. Fun, fun, fun...

All in all, it's not my favorite way of making music. And, even though retired, I have enough stuff going on with my aged mother and her move into an assisted living facility to more than eat up my new-found "all the time in the world" status.

But, I'll muddle through somehow. However, no one will mistake my playing for that of Bradford Buckley...


Content Expert/Moderator
Staff member
This just made me laugh; there is *so* much call for tenor clef right? :emoji_smile:

Tenor clef has a way of lurking in show books and jumping out at the unprepared bassoon doubler. I've made sure to spend some time practicing out of bassoon studies and excerpts that include it just so it doesn't catch me napping.

Played a concert band piece last week that had both bassoons in tenor clef for the last couple of lines of the piece.


Broadway Doubler List Owner
Distinguished Member
This just made me laugh; there is *so* much call for tenor clef right? :emoji_smile:

Make no mistake--tenor clef is so common as to be absolutely ordinary in bassoon music. "Real" bassoonists (I'm working on it...) switch between bass, tenor, and even treble clefs without batting an eye. You would be hard pressed to find solo repertoire that doesn't include at least some tenor clef, if not mostly or entirely tenor clef.
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