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.

It Ain’t Necessarily So

Incorrect Semantics & Alternative Woodwind Concepts

Throughout my 60 years of studying music and playing woodwinds, I have heard many thoughts on the Fundamentals of Woodwind Playing. Some have proven to be valuable truths while others were just “pie in the sky.” However, after recently reading a book on woodwind performance that had been a recommended source by an esteemed woodwind performer and teacher, I recognized numerous misconceptions that I have heard uttered repeatedly. This has inspired me to write this article in the hope of offering alternative views to many fundamental areas of woodwind playing and performance. I have tried to base my concepts on anatomical facts, science, the laws of nature, and common sense. Whether any one performer does or does not adhere to certain principles is not the purpose of this article. Talented individuals who relentlessly pursue their craft can overcome less than ideal approaches to instrumental performance and still sound wonderful. I am more concerned with understanding what are the forces involved when playing a single-reed woodwind; the use of correct terminology to impart the sensations one experiences when playing; and employing the ergonomically most efficient ways to create an artistic expression on our instruments.

William Kincaid and Marcel Moyse

Flutists Who Changed the World — by Thomas Wolf

This article was originally published in the Fall 2022 issue of the classical music online quarterly, Liner Notes. I have been given permission to reproduce it by the editor and founder of the magazine, Joe Moore.

With much appreciation to Joe, enjoy Thomas Wolf’s wonderful examination of the lives and careers of two of the most influential flutists of the 20th Century. Also, please consider subscribing to Liner Notes for only $20/year:

Equipment Reviews IV

The fourth review of woodwind equipment contains accessories that can be of tremendous value to any woodwind doubler or single-reed specialist. Like previous equipment review articles, I am not a paid endorsee or have any personal involvement with any of the companies whose products I recommend. The products are listed alphabetically.

Does Equipment Matter?

Having recently moved for the first time in 25 years, I became acutely aware of the inordinate amount of woodwind equipment that I had accumulated throughout my career. I know that I am not alone in this situation and that many woodwind musicians find themselves in the same situation. The multitude of horns, mouthpieces, headjoints, ligatures, saxophone straps, instrument stands and pegs, swabs, woodwind cases, reeds, reed tools, accessories, etc., was eye opening and somewhat distressing. (This does not include the thousands of sheet music works, LPs/CDs/cassette tapes/DVDs, etc. that I also came face-t0-face with!) It made me realize the extraordinary amount of time, money, and effort that I had spent in acquiring these materials. It helped raise the question: “Was all of this truly necessary?”

Equipment Reviews III

This third review of woodwind equipment contains accessories that can be of tremendous value to any woodwind doubler or single-reed specialist. Like previous equipment review articles, I am not an endorsee or have any personal involvement with any of the companies whose products I recommend. The products are listed in alphabetical order.

Orchestral Saxophone Recordings

I have found it continually frustrating throughout my years as a student and professional to be unable to identify the saxophonist(s) when listening to and studying orchestral recordings involving saxophone. During the LP and CD eras, there were virtually no recordings that credited the saxophonist(s) in these works. (An exception was the Berlin Philharmonic CD recording of the L’Arlésienne Suites conducted by Herbert von Karajan. The great French saxophonist Daniel Deffayet was listed prominently on the back cover.) Therefore, I have constructed a partial listing of recordings of some of the most familiar orchestral works involving saxophone and the artists who performed on them. The saxophonists are listed alphabetically, and it should be noted that this compilation is by no means the entire orchestral discography for any of these individuals. My objective is to provide the reader with a general overview of this sector of the industry highlighting a wide variety of saxophonists and compositions. Many of these recordings are still available and/or can be heard on YouTube.

Clarinet Tone by David Weber

Originally published in Woodwind Magazine (1952)
Edited by Ed Joffe

The problem of developing a good tone is a very controversial one largely because of disagreement over what or whose is a good sound. The first and most important step in producing any kind of tone is to have in your mind’s ear a clear conception of the tone that you want to reproduce. Without this important conception, all the books and articles giving technical advice lose most of their usefulness. This first step in deciding what tone he/she wants is of paramount importance. The decision can be reached very simply by listening to various players and determining what kind of sound is desired.

Steve Jobs—Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

The following is a transcription of Steve Jobs’ 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University. I believe it is the finest statement I’ve encountered on how to live life while pursuing one’s true passions. Given that this is the time of year for college graduations, I felt that it was particularly important to consider these words of advice from one of the most successful entrepreneurs in American history. It is especially relevant to the aspiring and seasoned professional musician.

-Ed Joffe

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.
I dropped out of Reed College after the first six months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another eighteen months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out? It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out, they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So, my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

The Golden Era of Clarinet Mouthpieces

Based largely on articles by Ramon Wodkowski & Brad Behn
Modified by Ed Joffe

The so-called “Golden Era” of French clarinet mouthpiece construction crystalized during the 1920s and 1930s. During that time, many mouthpieces were machined from high quality, super-resonant, Grade-A rod rubber. The best representations of that era were beautifully made hand-finished mouthpieces produced by the Chedeville and LeLandais companies. They existed alongside the more established Selmer, Buffet, Leblanc, and Vandoren factories as well as smaller manufacturers. The mere mention of a vintage Chedeville or Lelandais mouthpiece still manifests a sense of intrigue and excitement since they are truly prized possessions among woodwind aficionados.

A Guide to Being a Studio Musician

by John Yoakum

Minor editing by Ed Joffe

Here you are, after years of toiling in the practice room on scales, long tones, etudes, and anything else that your teacher puts in front of you. You hope to become proficient and move up the ladder to perfection and a career. Endless hours of repetition on the same phrases or intervals and you are finally ready to make a splash on the studio scene! Once you get to a “professional level” in your playing, what’s next?

Well, keep in mind that studio musicians are some of the best players in the world and there is a reason for that. It goes without saying that they are extremely proficient on their instrument(s) as well as being able to interpret almost any style. If you are at a comparable level, here are some things to consider that every studio player knows or should know.

Golf and Music

Musicians and athletes have much in common. There have been many famous musicians who were excellent athletes including Miles Davis, Benny Carter and Red Garland (boxing); Andy Fusco (football); Harold Wright (baseball); Julio Iglesias (soccer); and Kenny G (golf). Likewise, there have been many athletes who have been fine musicians. Basketball greats David Robinson (pianist) and Wayman Tisdale (bass player); baseball’s Bernie Williams and Bronson Arroyo (guitarists); and football’s Mike Reid (pianist/composer) are but a few of the many professional athletes with real musical ability.

The Dynamics of Breathing with Arnold Jacobs and David Cugell, M.D.

By Kevin Kelly

Originally printed in The Instrumentalist, December 1983
Edited by Ed Joffe

At some time, every student of a wind instru­ment is instructed in the “correct” method of breathing. If one studies with two or three different teachers, he/she probably learns two or three different methods, all presumably correct. I studied with six horn teachers and learned five breathing meth­ods, each slightly different and none especially helpful.

Equipment Reviews II

This second article on equipment describes eight products, listed alphabetically, that I have found beneficial in my woodwind work and practice. With the exception of the instrument case covers, the remainder concern reeds and reed-related products.

Equipment Reviews I

The enforced stay-at-home time brought about by the pandemic has allowed me to examine my approach to music-making, equipment, repertoire, etc. One of the results has been to re-evaluate products that I have been using as well as investigate various new woodwind accessories. Listed below are eight such items, listed alphabetically. This is the first of two articles devoted to woodwind equipment.

Pedagogical “Doubling”

The practice of borrowing and adapting musical materials has resulted in many of the very best pedagogical texts and works that have become standard repertoire for all musicians. When an exercise or composition is played on an instrument other than the one originally intended for, different combinations of intervals and fingerings emerge that can be quite demanding and educational in addition to the added benefit of playing an inspiring study or composition. There has been a long history of woodwind musicians performing works written for instruments other than their own. This article will examine several of the most popular woodwind treatises, formal compositions, and musical scenarios that have been created in this manner and suggest additional ones that are equally suitable for study by all woodwind instrumentalists. A brief list of other well-known works adapted for woodwind performance OR woodwind works that have been played by other instrumentalists are listed below.

Robert Marcellus’ Thoughts on Performing & Teaching

By James Gholson

Originally published in the Australian Clarinet and Saxophone Magazine, March 1999
Edited by Ed Joffe

Robert Marcellus, one of America’s greatest and most influential clarinetists and teachers, died on March 31, 1996. He was principal clarinetist of the Cleveland orchestra under George Szell from 1953-1973. During his tenure in Cleveland, he was head of the clarinet department at the Cleveland Institute. After his retirement from the orchestra, he was Professor of Clarinet at Northwestern University from 1974-1994. His week-long masterclasses held at Northwestern each summer from 1974-1987 were one of the highlights of his teaching career. This interview was conducted during one of those summer sessions and is part of a series of interviews with a number of prominent American clarinetists and teachers conducted by James Gholson, Professor of Clarinet at the University of Memphis.

Science in the Art of the Clarinet Sound

By Dr. Ron Odrich

An expanded version of an article in The Clarinet, September 2017
Minor editing by Ed Joffe

As woodwind players, we are all striving to find the best way to express ourselves musically. This means that the sound we produce must first inspire ourselves then hopefully those listening. To this end, there are as many pedagogical techniques as there are teachers. There are also as many unique mouths as there are students and performers and teachers. There are then many variables.

It is common to be exposed to a wide variety of rules to follow such as: “play with an open throat; support the column of air with the diaphragm; arch the tongue; blow like you’re blowing out a candle; hold the clarinet at this angle; push the jaw forward to meet the reed,” etc., etc., etc. A unique approach to producing the best quality sound for each player begins by applying scientific principles of fluid dynamics. This approach leads to a physical method that satisfies those scientific principles. Combining those principles with each player’s unique anatomic structures creates a specific “feel” that produces the best distinctive musical sound. Let’s see how.

Why Study Music?

Throughout much of the first half of the 20th Century, musical knowledge was considered one of the important disciplines in a learned individual’s education. Every student had mandatory general music courses in elementary, middle and high schools. More importantly, students had the opportunity to participate in a band, orchestra, or a choir in grades K—12. In fact, during the 1950s and into the 1960s when the U.S. was engaged in a Cold War with the Soviet Union, the Arts in our country were given great priority (funding) since we needed to demonstrate superiority in this sector in addition to military might, space exploration, athletics, etc. There were also numerous jobs in the music industry during this period. Steady work could be found in symphony orchestras, opera and ballet companies, musical theater, choirs, television and motion picture studio orchestras, society dance bands, jazz bands, Latin music ensembles, touring groups, freelance recordings, as well as composing and arranging gigs. However, today we find ourselves in a radically different environment.

Covid-19 and the Music Industry

Renowned pianist/composer/musical director Billy Stritch recently posted a listing of the many ways that the musical community has been adversely affected by the ongoing Covid-19 virus pandemic. Since the Arts are not a politically sexy topic to discuss on mass media, we have been largely forgotten. Over 12,000,000 people work in entertainment production—not an insignificant group. This industry survives by shared live experiences which needs to attract audiences at near capacity attendance levels. Therefore, by definition, we will be among the last industries to resume in any “normal” fashion.

Stan Getz Musings

By Mel Martin

Originally published in the Saxophone Journal, Winter 1986
Edited by Ed Joffe

Music critic/historian Irving Kolodin writes in the Introduction to “The Unconscious Beethoven” by Ernest Newman: “…music exists only as a succession of impressions that must be correlated sequentially if a total impression is eventually to be derived.” I believe that the improvisations of saxophonist Stan Getz epitomize this description. His endless flow of creative melodic lines weaved together in the most logical fashion offer the discerning listener a landscape of everlasting beauty. This interview provides a brief glimpse into the mind of Stan Getz.

Mel Martin: The one question that is most important to me when I think of you and your music is your sound. Could you fill us in on how you conceived your sound and how you actually developed this concept?

Stan Getz: I never consciously tried to conceive of what my sound should be. I never said, “I want this kind of sound!” I believe it was because of the bands I played with from the ages of 15 to 22. The first one was Jack Teagarden, who we all know played trombone. But his sound was so great, so…(pause) sort of legitimate, and effortless. I never tried to imitate anybody, but when you love somebody’s music, you’re influenced. Then I was with Benny Goodman when I was 18 and I believe his sound had an influence on me. Such a good sound that he had in those days. And, in-between I heard Lester Young of course. And it was a special kind of trip to hear someone like Lester, who sounded so good and almost classical in a warm way. He took so much of the reed out of the sound. I really don’t know how I developed my sound, but it comes from a combination of my musical conception and no doubt the basic shape of the oral cavity. I did always try to get as much of the reed out of the sound as I could.

MM: You mean, hear more of the reed?

Whip Up A Tone Palette

By Robert Bloom

Reprinted from Woodwind World, Jan/Feb 1959
Minor editing by Ed Joffe

“No, my dears, I am conscious of a flute and a bassoon. That’s not what I want. I want to hear a third instrument, the result of a happy marriage between the two.” The speaker is Arturo Toscanini and the phrase occurs in Debussy’s Iberia at the beginning of the third movement. Those few words of a great maestro contain the key to one of the secrets of fine solo and ensemble woodwind playing: the ability to vary the tonal color of one’s instrument at will for the purpose of blending with other instruments or voices. Many players think they are fulfilling their duty to music when they play with a pleasing tone, good intonation, finger dexterity, a good range of piano-forte, and a good feeling for rhythm. The foregoing is very necessary, but there are other important factors that distinguish the artist from the merely competent performer. Unfortunately, these other qualities are less tangible. They are difficult to teach and learn. Being closely allied with one’s personal talent and imagination, they belong in the category of aesthetics rather than mechanics.

The Art of Slurring

By Daniel Bonade

Reprinted from The Clarinet, No. 6 (Summer, 1951)
Minor editing by Ed Joffe

Slurring on the clarinet has always been, in my estimation, the greatest problem for the artist wishing to phrase and sing beautifully on his/her instrument. The root of this problem [for clarinetists and saxophonists] is the “single” reed vibrating against the hard surface of the lay of the mouthpiece. Anyone can notice that players of the oboe or bassoon have more facilities for sustaining the tone while playing a phrase, without distorting the real sound of their respective instruments. When an oboe plays forte it sounds like an oboe. When the clarinetist plays very loud, it takes a lot of skill and flexibility of embouchure to keep the quality of tone true as in a mezzo forte. The single reed is a great help in fast passages. The pressure of the teeth on the upper part of the mouthpiece gives a solid grip and consequently steadies the embouchure when the fast motion of the fingers would otherwise unbalance the instrument in the mouth. But when it comes to slow phrasing passages, the upper non-vibrating part is a handicap that a good clarinetist has to overcome with his/her own skill.

Lynn Harrell—Keep Going!

Lynn Harrell was one of the great musicians in American classical music over the past 55 years. Appointed as the principal cellist of the Cleveland Orchestra by George Szell when he was 20, he went on to have an illustrious career as a soloist who performed with every major world-class orchestra and as a chamber player. A multiple Grammy award winner, he was a prominent teacher at some of the world’s finest conservatories including The Juilliard School, The Cleveland Institute, USC and Rice. His recent passing on 4/27/20 at age 76 was a terrible loss for all lovers of music but it also recalled some of his great accomplishments. A friend sent me the following commencement speech that Mr. Harrell made some 26 years ago at The Cleveland Institute. In today’s pandemic world where the future of life and music feel in grave danger, the thoughts and observations he expressed back then resonate with greater importance today. I hope you feel inspired by the words of this master musician.

-Ed Joffe

The 20 Albums That Changed My Life

Shown below are the 20 albums that I owned during my first 20 years that influenced and inspired me to become a professional musician. They are shown in the categories that I was most drawn to during that period—jazz, classical instrumental, orchestral, and pop. There were many other artists that influenced me during this period that I heard on radio & tv or listened to on cassette tapes including Phil Woods, Buddy DeFranco, Charles McPherson, Jackie McClean, Dexter Gordon, Gene Ammons, Cannonball Adderley, The NY Philharmonic with Leonard Bernstein, The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, and The Beatles.

How to Approach a Lesson

Having taught privately for over 50 years, been involved in institutional music education for roughly 30 years, and a student of music for close to 60 years, I feel that I have a decent understanding of how to gain the most from a private music lesson. In this article, I will attempt to articulate an approach to taking a one-on-one music lesson that I have found most beneficial, both for the student and the instructor. While the intended student groups for this article are college music majors and young professionals, many of the suggestions presented here can be used at any level of study.

Intonation or In-tuneation?

In music, there remains a rule of thumb to tread very carefully before bringing up any pitch discrepancies within an ensemble performance. This would be the musical equivalent of asking a stranger on which side of the political spectrum they tend to vote. One’s pitch-playing ability is among the most sensitive issues for any musician. My experience as a professional musician has given me a perspective on this topic that I wish I’d had as a younger player. To fully explore the nature of this subject, it is crucial to understand the evolution of harmony and scales in Western European classical music.

Practicing on the Gig

In the late 1970s the great saxophonist and woodwind artist, Ray Beckenstein, took me into the pit of the hit Broadway musical, Sugar Babies. There I encountered another wonderful woodwind legend, Dave Tofani, and I proceeded to ask both of them how they could continue to play the same music every night without going crazy. (I had not done a Broadway show at that point.) One of Dave’s responses proved extremely helpful throughout my years of playing in the musical theater. He told me that in order not to get bored, he would try to mentally transcribe what the other musicians were playing and thereby re-imagine the orchestration. That little bit of advice led me to think about and uncover other ways to improve one’s musicianship when doing a steady Broadway musical.

Two Roads Diverged…

Robert Frost’s famous poem The Road Not Taken begins with the line: “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.” In the Fall of 2017 I interviewed multi-reed virtuoso Eddie Daniels as part of my Woodwind Legacy Series and that line occurred to me as we were conducting the interview. During the course of our conversation, Eddie said that he initially began studying flute so that he could play the flute parts on a Broadway show (Mame) and on studio recordings. However, as he got more involved with the flute, he realized that “I want more on this instrument.” The more proficient he became on the flute, the greater was his desire to sound like a flutist and not just a competent doubler. He then proceeded to study with great flute artists such as Harold Bennett and Tom Nyfenger. (His achievements on the flute can best be heard on his album, A Flower For All Seasons.)

Eddie’s “I want more” statement touched a nerve within me because it brought into perspective something that I have observed throughout my career—the difference between “part players” and those with loftier artistic goals—the two roads in Frost’s poem. While these two different approaches to music-making might seem worlds apart, I believe most players have moved back and forth between these two paths in their musical lives.

Subbing: The Hardest Job in the Music Industry

During the course of a music-performing career, one encounters a variety of jobs that vary in their musical orientation and degree of difficulty. The expectation of performing at a high level on any gig is often enough to cause stress in any musician’s life. However, nothing compares to the stress, anxiety, and nervousness that a concerned, sensitive musician experiences when subbing for a colleague on a job. Whether in a musical theater show, orchestral concert, chamber ensemble performance, cover band gig, recording date, rehearsal, or any other type of musical engagement, the position of the sub is unenviable. I consider it the hardest job in the music industry.

It’s Not Like Riding A Bike: The Need to Continue Studying

When I began to study music, it was much like other baby boomers—piano lessons during grade school years. Eventually, I chose clarinet, then saxophone, and finally flute as my principal instruments. During the course of studies that I embarked upon, I always worked privately with a variety of excellent teachers. Some of these mentors were associated with the schools that I attended, but most were individuals whose playing I admired and sought out to study with on a private basis. These studies occurred not only while I was a student, but also after I had finished my formal schooling and was working as a full-time player; while I was a professor at a university; and continue presently. In other words, I have never stopped studying. I have always found the help of an accomplished teacher to be inspiring while elevating my performance abilities and understanding of different musical genres. Throughout my years of study, the singular motivation was to improve, to learn more. I never picked a teacher because I thought he or she might “connect” me in the industry. Perhaps I was naïve, but that was the approach that felt right for me. It was verified for me during my college years when one of my woodwind heroes—Phil Woods—told me backstage after one of his performances, “If you’re good enough, they’ll (industry people) find you.”

Creating a Masters Degree in Woodwind Doubling

During my years as a professor, I had the good fortune to create a Masters degree in multiple woodwind performance (woodwind doubling). As someone who has been involved with this part of the music industry for most of my life, establishing this kind of an opportunity for talented students was a labor of love. It also was a pragmatic solution to finding a career path for talented students since the music industry of today offers very few career opportunities for woodwind performers. (By career, I refer to a forty-year period of employment that provides one with a steady livable wage, health benefits and pension.)

Institutions of higher education typically segregate their woodwind performance majors into categories such as “classical, “jazz,” “contemporary,” etc. And if there’s a “commercial” music component offered in a music department, it’s often

The Evolution of Commercial Woodwind Doubling

[This is a brief excerpt from Ed’s book: Woodwind Doubling for Saxophone, Clarinet & Flute. The article appeared in the December, 2016 publication of the Local 802 newspaper— ALLEGRO.]

Multi-tasking has become a staple of modern living and is certainly a requirement for surviving in today’s music industry. The contemporary saxophone doubler represents the greatest example of this characteristic in music. While most people believe that the origins of this discipline occurred with the Paul Whiteman Orchestras of the 1920s, woodwind multiple instrumental performance dates back several centuries.

In 16th century Vienna, consorts of wind instruments were used for ceremonial occasions, processions, and dances. The musicians changed from one instrument to another to avoid monotony of tone color and to accommodate a variety of musical forms.

Instrumental Performing Careers

I retired several years ago as a professor of music from a NJ State University after 24 years. This ended a 30-year career of institutional teaching that spanned 4th grade through graduate school. Having also been a full-time musician for the past 45 years while completing two Masters degrees and a DMA in music, I have a somewhat unique perspective of having lived inside the music industry as a performer, student and teacher simultaneously. While this article might be considered by some as biting the hand that once fed me and a means to vent frustration at a failing and out-of-touch educational system, I hope it will be taken as an honest look at the state of today’s music industry and a prescription for music programs to change in order to help aspiring instrumental music students prepare for the real world.

Seven Days to Reed Heaven

Excerpted from Woodwind Doubling for Saxophone, Clarinet & Flute

Day 1: Remove the reeds from their container(s) and let them sit belly up (the flat side facing the ceiling) on a flat surface for an hour. Do not play them or wet them. This allows the reeds to become acclimated to the temperature and humidity in which you will play them. Then, store them in a reed pouch with a 49% Boveda Reed Vitalizer pack.

Day 2: When you’re ready to begin the process of preparing the reeds to play, lightly rub the flat side (back end) of each reed in small circular motions on 3M polishing paper of 3000 grit until totally smooth. Be careful to apply light pressure with the 2nd/3rd/4th fingers of your hand above the stock (or bark) of the reed in order to move the reed over the polishing paper. This will help seal the flat side of the reed as well as correct any unevenness so that the reed can vibrate evenly on the mouthpiece table and side rails. The residue of the paper’s fibers fills in the spaces between the fibers of the reed. Put them back in the reed pouch with the 49% humidity pack. Do not play them yet!

Day 3: The next day, submerge the tips of the reeds into luke-warm water, making sure that the entire cut portion of the reed is wet. Be careful not to let the tips of the reeds touch any surface. Leave them in the water for no more than one minute. The reeds that are most porous may show that the water has reached the butt-end of the reed before the minute is up. When that occurs or when the minute is up, remove the reeds from the water and then briefly submerge the back ends of the reeds that had not been wet previously. Remove the reeds from the water and rub the excess moisture into the cut of the reed with your finger or a dull-edged metal object. This burnishing process will help seal the pores of the reeds. Wipe all remaining water from the reeds and lay them on their belly-side while allowing them to dry. After they have dried, repeat the process of rubbing the reeds on 3M polishing paper that you initiated in Day 2, but on 5000 grit this day. Put the reeds back in the reed pouch with the 49% humidity pack.

An Interview with Lew Tabackin

This interview was conducted by Ed Joffe on Saturday August 19, 2006 at Lew Tabackin’s upper westside townhouse, which he shares with his pianist/composer/arranger wife, Toshiko Akiyoshi. It was originally published in the November, 2006 issue of The New York Flute Club Newsletter.

Lew Tabackin has been a vital part of the New York music scene since 1965. A virtuoso on both the flute and tenor saxophone, he has enjoyed a diverse career as a sideman working with some of the great jazz legends (Elvin Jones, Shelley Manne, Tal Farlow, Donald Byrd, Attila Zoller); a featured soloist in a variety of big bands (Maynard Ferguson, Duke Pearson, Chuck Israels, Cab Calloway, Thad Jones & Mel Lewis, Clark Terry, Joe Henderson, and Toshiko Akiyoshi); a studio musician (Doc Severinsen’s Tonight Show Band and the Dick Cavett Show Orchestra); and as a leader of his own jazz groups. Beginning in the 1980s, he won both the Down Beat critic’s and reader’s poll awards as top jazz flutist. He continues to tour the world extensively as a soloist, performing in both clubs and jazz festivals. His biography, discography, and upcoming performances can be viewed on his website:

Repairmen Past & Present

Every professional musician owes part of their success to the talents of their repair technicians. The need to have one’s instrument in top performing shape for any job is self-evident but finding the right repairman is akin to finding the right medical doctor. It is more than just their abilities we seek; it’s also their understanding, creativity, flexibility and support that we need. One never knows when a pad or spring will break down at the 11th hour, a support post gets bent, reeds stop sealing on the mouthpiece, or the instrument has been jostled in the carrying case and suddenly doesn’t work as well. THAT’S WHEN WE REALLY NEED OUR REPAIRMEN!

There have always been many capable technicians available but in my career, I’ve experienced a few who went beyond that category who were also ARTISTS and enjoyed sharing their time, knowledge and experience with their customers. They were always there in case of a last minute emergency in addition to their regular appointments. Here are a few who made my life better, in alphabetical order.

America’s Musical Meltdown

The opening verses to two compositions that were both #1 hits, seventy-five years apart, are shown below. While both sets of lyrics describe unsettled relationships, I believe the difference in the sophistication of the lyrics mirrors the “dumbing down” of America’s musical culture over that span of time. It has been reported that the United States is forty-ninth in the world in literacy. This comes as no surprise to anyone who has been involved in education for any length of time. Yet, the plain truth is that we have slid equally far down the music cultural ladder.

How to Succeed as a Woodwind Multi–Instrumentalist

Excerpted from Woodwind Doubling for Saxophone, Clarinet & Flute

  1. Play each instrument because you love that particular instrument!
  2. Aspire to play each instrument as if it were the only one that you play.
  3. Set up a disciplined daily practice routine.
  4. Have a consistent set of warmups including tone, articulation and scale studies for each instrument.
  5. Listen to recordings of an assortment of great artists for each instrument on a daily basis. Focus intensively on one artist each year. Choose their greatest attributes to emphasize—tone, vibrato, articulation, phrasing, technique, etc.
  6. Study each instrument privately with teachers who have a similar philosophy with regard to breathing, phrasing, tone, etc. and are sensitive to a multi-instrumentalist’s role in the music industry.
  7. Study with only one teacher at a time on each instrument.
  8. Try to play in as many varied musical contexts as possible (especially helpful are saxophone quartets, woodwind quintets and jazz combo settings).
  9. Buy the best instruments possible (and all the major ones of each family of instruments).
  10. Buy instrument cases available that provide the best protection for each instrument and are ergonomically sound.
  11. Find an excellent repair technician for each instrument and cultivate that relationship. Make sure that you always have someone to go to in an emergency.
  12. Subscribe to all relevant professional journals and organizations.
  13. Attend concerts, masterclasses, and instrumental conventions as often as possible.
  14. Perform, rehearse and practice great music as often as possible.
  15. Become an excellent sight-reader on all of your instruments in all styles of music.
  16. *Developing an excellent sense of rhythm, pitch, stylistic knowledge and collegiality are essential for success in the music industry!

Information for High School Clarinetists

The following is a brief listing of notable soloists, recordings, and study materials with which a high school clarinetist should become familiar. This information will be particularly useful for those wishing to audition as music majors in college. In all cases, the young clarinetist should be encouraged to study with a professional clarinetist who also has formidable teaching experience. In addition, all clarinetists should become members of the International Clarinet Association.

Improving High School Jazz Ensemble Rehearsals

Set Up

While the traditional big band setup is desirable for most rehearsals, it is very useful to occasionally establish alternate seating formations, including a box formation and triangle formation. This allows the players hear the music in a different way and proves beneficial when they are reseated in their usual fashion.


The standard big band alignment calls for 5 saxophones (2 alto saxes, 2 tenor saxes and a baritone sax), 4 trumpets, 4 trombones (3 tenor trombones and a bass trombone), and a rhythm section (piano, bass, drums, and guitar). An additional trumpet can be added as well as Latin percussion instruments and a vocalist(s) and still maintain the traditional sound. There are also “flexible” arrangements published by Kendor (convertibles) and Smart Music that allow for reduced instrumentations that sound full. A typical reduced big band arrangement might include 4 saxophones, 3 trumpets, 2 trombones and 3 rhythm. Try to avoid doubling parts within the traditional alignment of instruments—i.e. having 2 alto saxophones play the lead part; having 2 bass players playing a bass part together; etc. There are numerous arrangements available from a variety of publishers for quartets—nonets if there are not enough instrumentalists for a full band program.

Developing the Total Saxophone Section

The following offers a list of historical big band arrangements that emphasize the saxophone section that can be used by high school jazz bands as well as college jazz ensembles. These charts will enhance the students understanding of different styles of big band orchestration as well as saxophone section performance. Also listed are a variety of materials that relate to saxophone ensemble playing, saxophone study and notable artists on the various saxophones.