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Woodwind Diversity, etc

Again to follow up with my curious nature, I've been noticing by buzzing around different discussion sites in regards to woodwind, both professional and amateur, and I'm very pleased to see the large amount of "doubling" players, given the fact that I'm very new to the internet and have been living in extremely secluded situations (what is this face book thing I keep hearing about? And this "I pod?" Electronic peas, I presume?) with little access to how great the world of woodwinds has been growing behind my naive back.

Down to the point and question, what is the main benefit of your doubling and why did you decide to start?
I do not perform professionally however I started doubling, tripling, quadrupling, etc, from addiction and desperation for something to do after work every day. When asked if I have kids, I say their names (first and middle) first. Clarie Net, O'boeman, Tarry Gata, and Ryan the contrabass.


Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
Facebook is an internet social site

an iPod is a product from apple that originally was a MP3 player, now it's alot more. It also evolved into a phone, the iPhone.

I'm not quite sure when I first "doubled" .. Piano was first, so I guess saxophone was my first double, then clarinet. But I was much more proficient on sax and clarinet, so I guess that is my first double. I picked up clarinet because I loved the range and tone of it some 33 years ago.


Old King Log
Staff member
You can make a tidy side income...

..by serving as a theater musician for local theatres. (Note artsy spelling of term.) Most of the "books" (the printed or manuscript part) for the woodwind players are set up with some combination of sax, clarinet/bass clarinet/flute and (all too frequently) a double reed or two.

Most of the "modern" shows (after about 1953 or so) use some variant of this style of instrumentation. Theatres like to get musicians that can play all of the parts, rather than just one of them (or - horror of horrors - transpose everything onto the clarinet or sax).

True, you most likely won't be pulling down scale (which isn't all that great anyway, not compared to a day job), but money's money, you can pick and choose once you get known, and the music is usually fun and often quite challenging.

Good doubling shows to start with are many of the classics like Guys and Dolls, Annie Get Your Gun, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, 3¢ Opera or The Music Man. Once you can handle those, it's time to move on to stuff like Sweeney Todd, Company or On The Twentieth Century.

These days, it's not unusual for even small theatre groups to do stuff like The Producers and Urinetown (but be ready for a wild ride if you land this last one).

And, you can hack a lot of the pre-1953 stuff with clarinet skills alone, as well as Oliver! and the entirety of Gilbert and Sullivan. So, even without those sax or flute skills, you can still participate.

I'd not play in a concert band on a bet, but I'd play most Broadway shows in a heartbeat. Here, I except the following:

Pajama Game, L'l Abner, Carousel, 110° In The Shade, Barnum!


Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
I don't think it's possible to make a living as a saxophone player today without doubling. You have to play all styles, improvise acceptably, read well, and play as many other instruments as possible.

There are those who are basically entertainers who play only saxophone. Most of them sing well and have a great stage presence. And most of them couldn't play a modern saxophone gig.


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Down to the point and question, what is the main benefit of your doubling and why did you decide to start?
My reason for doubling was because I became the assistant to the director in a church orchestra/band slightly after I started playing bari -- and after 3-5 years of playing Bb and bass clarinets. The position essentially also meant "guy who covers whichever part isn't."

I like to think that I'm a very good vocalist (bass to tenor 2; I'm really a bass). I can play some piano, extremely bad. I've played some keyboard bass, quasi-ok.

I tend to approach the idea of doubling from the perspective of how bold you are: I might not necessarily be able to play all the notes in that 1st clarinet part, but I'm better than nothing.

One instrument that would have been good for me to double on is flute. Unfortunately, I pretty well suck at flute. I therefore concentrated on the things I used most (sax, clarinet, voice) and transposed flute to clarinet, as needed.