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Palen Music Center Quick Note

Monday, October 14, 2013


Palen Music Center is dedicated to helping children experience excellence, personal growth, and joy through involvement in music. We carry out this mission by supporting area band directors through weekly service, support, educational programs, and quality products. This weekly Quick Note newsletter strives to highlight topics that are immediately helpful in the classroom. Comments, suggestions, ideas, and articles are always welcome.


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It's Time To Add Some Double Reeds
by Amanda Meyer

Several band directors have mentioned to me that they have no double reed players in their program simply because they don’t know when or how to begin students.  Double reeds are very important to a balanced band sound and are easier to begin than many people think.  Here are some of the questions that I have been asked about the process.

When is the best time to switch students?
Now!! The very beginning of the year is very hectic.  Now that you are established with a classroom routine and you are past the point where students are switching schedules, it is the best time to initiate a change. 

How do I choose who to switch?
Students that are switching to a double reed instrument should have at least one year of experience on another woodwind instrument.  It is important to switch students that are already excelling at the instrument they are currently playing.  You also want a student that will be diligent about daily practice. 

What do I need to tell them to get started?
If you know nothing about double reeds then you need to get some help!  Consider asking someone to come in for a beginning clinic.  If you have a college nearby, see if they have a faculty member with double reed experience, or research articles on beginning double reeds.  Do not simply give the student and instrument and reed and tell them to figure it out.  For most students this will result in the student becoming very frustrated and end with them dropping out or becoming a very mediocre player.

What are the most important things to stress to beginning double reed players?

  1. Tuning – All beginning double reed players should play with a tuner.  They need to have their own and you must stress practicing with it daily. 
  2. Fingerings – The fingerings on oboe and bassoon (especially bassoon) are much more involved than the fingerings on any other woodwind instruments.  When beginning, students should keep their fingering chart on their stand as they practice and double check that they are fingering everything correctly.  Half holes, pinky keys, and thumb keys can easily overwhelm the beginning player, so have them take it slow!
Amanda Meyer serves as a educational consultant and road representative for Palen Music Center. Amanda Meyer graduated from Missouri State University with a Bachelor of Science in Music Education in 1997 and a Master of Science in Education in 2000. She taught 6-12 grade band for 14 years. Amanda was the assistant Band Director in Cassville for three years, and the Assistant Band Director at Nevada High School for eleven years. She has also maintained a very successful private studio teaching flute, oboe, bassoon, clarinet, and saxophone lessons for the last 14 years.  You can contact her by email at [email protected].

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