Essential Studies for Doublers

In preparing for an upcoming series of masterclasses that I am presenting for woodwind multi-instrumentalists, I realized that there were several study materials that I have used as a player and educator throughout my career which I have found essential. While I have compiled a huge grouping of appropriate woodwind studies in the Appendix of Woodwind Doubling for Saxophone, Clarinet, & Flute, I think it is important to recognize the most significant works which have served woodwind instrumentalists well for generations. Listed below are four works for each single reed with brief explanations of the benefits they afford as well as suggested publishers. In addition, there is also a list of Jazz Improvisation materials to aid the doubler in the art of improvising and interpreting non-classical rhythmic phrasing. However, no study material can take the place of hearing great artists perform live or on recordings as well as studying with wonderful teachers who demonstrate their concepts for their students. Rather, they serve as supplements in developing a more artistic and elegant form of musical expression.


1) Franz Wilhelm Ferling: Forty-Eight Studies for all Saxophones edited and enlarged by Marcel Mule (Alphonse Leduc)

These short, beautiful studies in all the major and minor keys have served as prime instruction material for oboists for over a century and for clarinetists by way of the Rose 32 Etudes. The legendary Marcel Mule set about to transcribe the original 48 Studies for Saxophone and added an additional 12 studies of his own in order to have the player engage with the enharmonic keys as well. These are necessary for any saxophonist regardless of what style of music they are most attracted to and this is the publication that needs to be purchased.

2) Luigi Bassi: Twenty-Seven Virtuoso Studies (Carl Fischer)

These studies, transcribed for the saxophone from the original oboe works by Gerald Iasilli, are tonal in nature and technically very demanding. As the title suggests, they require a great deal of technical wizardry to execute properly but should be within reach of all professional saxophonists. 19th century harmonies serve as the background for these studies and there is also a great emphasis put on cantabile expression throughout.

3) Sigfrid Karg-Elert: 25 Caprices and Sonata for solo saxophone, op.153 (Jeanné Music Publications)

Karg-Elert was a German composer of the early 20th Century who wrote interesting studies for saxophone, clarinet, and flute. These original caprices along with the atonal sonata for solo saxophone are among his last compositions. The caprices are tonal for the most past with some modal examples included and are challenging both technically and musically. They are interesting and will always provide a test for the accomplished performer. 

Author’s Note: Joe Allard introduced me to these works by telling me how much the late, great jazz saxophonist Steve Grossman (also a student of Allard’s) loved these caprices. That was enough to pique my interest and I am forever grateful.

4) Sigurd Rascher: Top-Tones for the Saxophone (Carl Fischer)

Sigurd Rascher was not only one of the great concert saxophonists of the 20thCentury, but he was also an influential teacher who authored numerous works to help saxophonists develop a greater technique and expression on their instrument. Top-Tones has been a fundamental resource since 1941 for learning to use overtones as well as improve resonance, tone, and flexibility throughout the entire range of the saxophone. 


1) Hyacinth Klosé: Celebrated Method for the Clarinet, edited by Stanley & Naomi Drucker (Carl Fischer)

The Klosé celebrated method has been the standard study for many clarinetists since the advent of the Boehm system. Klosé himself was a virtuoso clarinetist and professor of clarinet at the Paris Conservatoire in the 19th Century and Simeon Bellison revised it in the 20th Century. In recent times, Naomi & Stanley Drucker have revised and enlarged this method to include exercises from the Kroepsch Daily Studies as well as excerpts of the Rose 32 Etudes. (Rose was a student of Klosé) This complete method includes wonderful scale & arpeggio exercises, finger twisters that will challenge any advanced player, duets in all keys, original etudes, and characteristic studies with a mixture of interesting articulation patterns. This 352-page edition is spiral bound, making it easy to turn pages without having to break the binding as in other editions. 

2) Cyrille Rose: 40 Studies for Clarinet (Jeanné music publications)

Adapted from 19th Century violin studies of various composers, clarinet virtuoso and teacher Cyrille Rose created a body of work that has remained a necessary resource for clarinetists throughout the world for over 100 years. These works were part of Daniel Bonade’s required materials for anyone wishing to study with him. They emphasize beauty of phrasing, connection between registers, rhythmic precision, control throughout the horn, and clean articulations. Along with the 32 Etudes listed below, they are essential materials for any clarinetist and/or woodwind doubler. 

3) Cyrille Rose: 32 Études for Clarinet, edited by Larry Guy (RivernotePress)

The 32 Études follow the 40 Studies in the normal sequence of study and demand all the subtleties of the Studies plus a sense of elegance and style in their interpretation. Based on the Ferling Studies for oboe, Rose adapted these for clarinet magnificently so that all registers, keys, and instrumental difficulties are dealt with in these very tonal and melodic etudes. The wonderful clarinetist and teacher, Larry Guy, has made the recommended edition an essential purchase by reverting to the original edition of 1893 while offering a full page of performance suggestions prior to each etude. I have found these comments very helpful and  enjoy the quality of paper used along with the clarity and size of the publication.  This is THE EDITION to buy!

4) Paul JeanJean: “Vade-Mecum” du Clarinettiste (Alphonse Leduc)

The six standard studies that clarinetist and composer Paul JeanJean offers in his Vade-Mecum allows the clarinetist to address the fundamentals of finger movement, register connections, articulation, and embouchure development within a short span of time. (Many years ago, Ricardo Morales told me that he plays through this entire book in 20 minutes! For the rest of us mortals, count on an hour’s worth of work AFTER we have mastered all the studies.) After playing through these studies, one feels that any piece of music is playable. You will want to carry this edition around with your horn to be practiced at any time.


1) Taffanel & Gaubert: Méthod Complète de Flute (Alphonse Leduc)

Paul Taffanel was the most influential flutist and flute teacher in France in the 19thCentury. Along with the help of his most talented students, Louis Fleury and Philippe Gaubert, he created the Taffanel & Gaubert Method, one of the finest works written for any woodwind instrument. Many flutists purchase just the Daily Exercises portion of the Method but they are missing the wonderful 24 Progressive Etudes, 12 Etudes of Virtuosity, orchestral excerpts, and so much more that the complete edition offers. This work will continue to intrigue the serious student for a lifetime.

2) Marcel Moyse: De La Sonorité (Alphonse Leduc)

Marcel Moyse was not only one of the most important performers and disciples of Taffanel and the French School of playing in the 20th Century, but he was also a major influence as a teacher on generations of flutists worldwide including Geoffrey Gilbert, James Galway, William Bennett, Trevor Wye, etc. His numerous books have been used for over 75 years as the basis for developing a fine technique, intonation, expression, and stylistically appropriate phrasing. While it’s hard to recommend just one of his many fine works, I believe that every serious woodwind player should spend much time with De La Sonorité. This is the bible for tone development and flexibility on the flute!

3) André Maquarre: Daily Exercises for the Flûte (G. Schirmer)

André Maquarre was another student of Taffanel and Gaubert who played in several American orchestras (Boston, Philadelphia & Los Angeles) in the late 19th/early 20th Centuries. His Daily Exercises include six studies in all major & minor keys as well as a wonderful preparatory exercise. This book was used extensively by William Kincaid and his students were required to memorize all the exercises. These studies are very adaptable to any saxophone and I have used them on both instruments for 50 years. Buy this book and you will thank me.

4) Joachim Anderson: 24 Progressive Studies for Flute, Op. 33(International)

Anderson was a Danish musician who was a virtuoso flutist and composer. The vast majority of his compositions concern the flute, including 8 books of flute studies that have been used worldwide for over 100 years. Op. 33 is among the most studied of his works and was the favored book that renowned flutist/teacher Harold Bennett (former principal flute of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra) assigned his students. Anderson’s op. 33 touches every aspect of flute playing and the studies are musical and challenging to perform.

Improvisation Aids

Jamey Aebersold: Play-A-Longs (Jamey Aebersold Jazz)

Jerry Coker: How to Practice Jazz (Jamey Aebersold Jazz)

Greg Fishman: Jazz Saxophone Etudes, Vols. 1-3 (Fishman Jazz Studies)

Bob Mintzer: 14 Jazz and Funk Etudes (Warner Bros.)

Transcribed solos by great masters such as Charlie Parker, Sonny Stitt, Joe Henderson, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Stan Getz, Michael Brecker, etc. should also be studied. There are numerous publications with solos performed by these and many other artists available. However, the most valuable lessons will be learned by those who transcribe the solos themselves!


*Arthur Weisberg: The Art of Wind Playing (Meridith Music)

This is the finest book ever produced that discusses the essentials of woodwind playing. Arthur Weisberg was a fantastic bassoonist and conductor who understood the subtleties involved in performing music at a high level. In this book, he addresses all the fundamental concepts for developing a fine technique and style as well as improving one’s interpretation of music. He takes apart aspects of breathing, articulation, phrasing, etc. and vividly shows how to understand them in terms of graphs, descriptive analyses, as well as musical excerpts.


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