Welcome, this is the first in a series of videos dedicated to starting bassoonists and
also to the teachers who teach young bassoonists and even beginning adult bassoonists.
I hope that you will find it helpful. In this particular lesson we will be discussing the
care and maintenance of the bassoon reed and the bassoon, playing position, embouchure
position, and just a few basic fingerings. So, let's get started.
First off, with the bassoon reed I suggest that you soak it in tepid or luke-warm water.
Generally I find thirty seconds to a minute is fine for me, if it is a reed that I am
playing off and on everyday. If it is a reed that has not been played in quite a while
it may need as much as 5 minutes.
But once soaked the reed is ready to play. The bassoon embouchure is a very flexible
embouchure. Unlike the single reed instruments where the embouchure is fixed to the reed,
the bassoon reed will move in and out of mouth and the embouchure, especially the jaw, will
be moving throughout the ranges of the instrument and in fact our dynamics are changed by the
position of the jaw and the embouchure.
So it is important to realize that we use a very flexible embouchure on the bassoon.
One way in which to think about the position of the embouchure is to experiment with a
low whistle. The jaw is dropped. The embouchure is forming around the reed and with that low
whistle embouchure you take your finger and roll your lips in a little bit. You've got
a close approximation to a bassoon embouchure.
You can tell the proper bassoon embouchure particularly for the lower register of the
instrument by the way the reed plays or "crows." You put the bassoon reed in your mouth, again
with that embouchure.
Right now I am just getting a single higher pitch. If drop my jaw, loosen the embouchure
just a little bit I get the octave below it. You can hear how it is dropping in pitch.
Then if I loosen it even more you get what we call a "crow" on a bassoon reed.
The crow is [produced] with the very loosest embouchure. That is a type of embouchure that
would be particularly used in the low register. As you get higher and higher on the bassoon
your embouchure tends to tighten in order to get the higher notes. But for now for the
beginner it is good to have that looser embouchure. Play with a forte tone, a loud sound. You
use that as a reference then for the other embouchures. OK, so we are ready now that
you understand about the embouchure and things.
Oh, I have to talk to you a little bit about tonguing. We start each note on the bassoon
with the tongue on the reed, releasing the tongue. If this is the reed and this is your
the tongue, the air starts, the tongue is on the reed, you release it and the reed vibrates.
For now we can stop [the reed] with the tongue. We'll talk about articulation later on in
some of our other lessons. So give that a try. Start and stop with the tongue. I am
going to get a little be closer. I hope I don't "gross you out" with this. I am going
to show you the position I use with the tongue on the bassoon reed.
So if this is the bassoon reed and this is the tongue I find that bassoon reeds hits
just a little bit back from the tip of the tongue on the top of the tongue. And then
I release and go back and forth like that. All right, now we are ready to put together
the bassoon. I know that you are excited to put the bassoon together for the first time.
Well, here we have the bassoon case which we have just opened and our bassoon here.
I am going to instruct you now on the proper steps to put together the bassoon. First you
pick up the boot joint. You want to pick it up in such a way that you are not crushing
the keys or the key work.
So holding it from the sides is probably best. I position it with the pancake (or the E key)
here facing me. Next I pick up the the tenor joint. The tenor joint fits right into the
boot joint. The tenor joint will have a space such as this so that is right around the rim.
Now many bassoons (and in fact this is one of them) may come from the factory with a
line (I think you can see that on the video) inscribed. (Let me get the reflection right;
there you go. There you can see it.) You need to line those two [lines] up right like that.
And we are then set. That is in the proper place.
Next we put in the long joint. The long joint fits in like this. Push it down. Now most
bassoons at the top will have a locking mechanism and this one has the locking mechanism that
fits right in and closes over like that.
And last of all we put on the bell of the bassoon. To put on the bell of the bassoon
you need to hold down this pad so the key is up and you slip it on.
None of the joints should be overly tight. The bassoon should not fall apart when you
pick it up like this. You don't want to damage anything by forcing it together.
Now let's a discuss a little bit here some other aspects of the bassoon case. Here we
have our two bassoon bocals. It has these twists that you twist in order to get the
In this particular case here's our seat strap which we will be showing later. This case
has it's reeds in here, a reed case. You need to find a good place for the reeds. Now many
reeds you purchase will come in a small little tube like but this does not allow for enough
air circulation for the reed to dry out and it might mold. In fact this case as it is
probably needs some holes drilled in it just allow for a little more