Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Nasty Habits -- Air Leaking

With this post, I'm starting a new series on a topic I'll call "Nasty Habits".

Much of this blog is devoted to advice for students and young professionals. It is with this in mind that I commence this series.

Embouchure Leaking

The task of playing an instrument well can be so all-encompassing that certain aspects of playing get ignored after a while. Often it takes a teacher or trusted colleague to point out lapses in your technique or notice when you've developed a bad habit.

It's nearly impossible for a bassoonist to hear how she REALLY sounds while playing. What sounds right to the player doesn't usually match up completely with what sounds right to the listener. Since we play for an audience (real or imagined), it is the listener's perspective that the player must keep in mind at all times.

One of the worst habits that some bassoonists develop is the audible leaking of air around the reed from the embouchure. When it becomes habitual, often the player stops noticing it completely!

Telling an otherwise great bassoon player that he is leaking is a bit like telling someone he has bad breath! There is the embarrassment of bringing it up, but usually, the person is glad you did!

I hope we can all agree that the sound of air leaking from the embouchure should not be part of a great bassoon sound!

Here is an article from my website which provides background to the problem and some solutions for plugging the leak.

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