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...