LMC Monday: Five Elements of Beautiful Tone Production

Music Selections

America the Beautiful #26 from the Blue Moon Bassoon Songbook

Breathing: how we inhale and prepare to play

  • Relax shoulders and jaw, breathe calmly and deeply through the mouth
  • Breathe in a way that complements the music, create space to breathe
  • Anchor the reed one one lip to create a stable foundation and reset faster
  • Breathing exercises can slow your heart rate and reduce anxiety!
  • Exercise: Set metronome to 72, Do each line twice (In/Out) 
    • 3      6
    • 4      8
    • 5      10
    • 6      12
    • 3      15

Embouchure: how we connect our lips to the reed

  • Avoid north south pressure on the reed, use more east-west pressure
  • Lips are round, corners firm
  • Exercise: Play F on the Reed, Play C# on the Bocal

Support: pressurizing the air in a way that works for the register in which you are playing

  • Pressure = air speed, how fast is the air
  • Volume = air quantity, how much air
  • Low notes use big, slow, warm air
  • High notes use small, fast, cold air
  • Exercise: Play C# on the bocal, relax jaw and drop to C, use air to raise it up to C# again

Vowel: the shape of the inside of your mouth

  • "OO" -focused and "OH" - open are great for most notes
  • Use "EE" if you need to raise the pitch and faster air isn't enough
  • Use "AH" or "OH" to lower the pitch and for low notes
  • Changing the vowel can change the response and intonation of a note

Fingerings: the combinations of keys and fingers we use

  • Select fingerings that match other notes well, play in tune and work with your music
  • Use a good fingering chart
  • Half Hole G: Always use the resonance key!
  • E-flat: use the "long" fingering with left and right hands
  • A-flat/F-sharp: can be played with pinkies or thumbs. I typically use thumb for low F-sharp and pinky for half hole F-sharp but this depends on the notes around it. I always use pinky A-flat.

Exploration Questions

  1. What are the five elements of beautiful tone production on the bassoon?
  2. What is the difference between air pressure and volume?
  3. What is the bocalphone?