When teaching the bassoon, it quickly becomes obvious that the third space E flat is a lousy note! It is almost always out of tune, unstable and has a horrible tone quality. While there are acoustical reasons for this, we still must deal with this most troublesome pitch…in fact I refer to it as a “high maintenance” note.
To help tame this situation, one can simply add the second finger and thumb B flat key in the right hand. This will create a much more acceptable sound and intonation, as well as bring a smile back to the faces of the bassoonists and their band directors.
As an additional option, one can add the first finger and thumb B flat key in the right hand. This usually lowers the pitch further and brings stability to the sound. I believe it is important to be familiar with a number of special fingering options to gain the very best sound and intonation from our highly valued bassoonists. I hope this one simple tip will make your bassoon teaching all the more enjoyable!
Rod Ackmann has enjoyed a distinguished professional performance and education career ranging from elementary general music, middle school and high school band, and for the past 10 years in higher education. His performances have taken him to Italy, England, Armenia and the People’s Republic of China, in addition to many states across the US. Learn more about him here. This article was submitted as a part of the TMEA Preview series 2016.
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