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 Transition for Marching Band
Author: jobro912 
Date:   2008-08-11 11:46

Hopefully someone can help me out here. My son is a freshman in HS this year. He has played bassoon for 3 years. Two of those years he has been in All Region Band, and one in All Region Orchestra. He is a good player, and has All State potential.

Now our dilemma; Our HS band director will not march bassoons. Last week my son was handed a marching baritone, and basically it's sink or swim. He came home on Friday saying, "I have to play the fight song to get a marching position." Translated, there's no way I can pull this off in the time I have, so I'll be sitting in the stands.

The question: Any of you who have ever been in this position, or any with insight...What would be an instrument that would be an easy transition?


Frustrated dad, of frustrated bassoonist.

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 Re: Transition for Marching Band
Author: cairngorm 
Date:   2008-08-12 03:24

Did you son start out on the bassoon or did he transition from something else, as many of us did? I assume he did not play another instrument, or you would have just had him go back and re-learn his original instrument.

I would think as a woodwind player he would have an easier time doing another woodwind. It would also be good experience for him - he could add an important notch to his resume as a doubler on something like a clarinet. The sax might be easier to do in a month's time, however!

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 Re: Transition for Marching Band
Author: jobro912 
Date:   2008-08-13 02:09

He started on bassoon. They do that for some reason in our district. We've had alot of drama over this, but today his MS band director came by and worked with him...coming again tomorrow. He should be fine. He tried Tenor Sax last year, and really didn't like it. He is going to join our community band this fall so he can continue playing his bassoon during marching season.

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 Re: Transition for Marching Band
Author: lrooff 
Date:   2008-09-04 23:57

It's been four decades since I was in high school, but during marching season I switched to the bell lyre. Would have used my clarinet, but we had a zillion of them already and didn't need more. It's hard to be a double reed player during marching season.

On the other hand, I recently sold an antique bassoon with Army Quartermaster Corps markings that had a mounting bracket for the music holder (lyre) on the base of the bell. I can only imagine how many reeds and bocals they must have gone through each year...

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 Re: Transition for Marching Band
Author: Terry Stibal 
Date:   2008-09-06 22:47

Bassonnists marched in marching bands from the early years of the instrument to relatively recently. The infamous Berglaseri bands of the Italian Army (which march and play at the double time (a slow jog) even hand them prior to World War II.

However, with the penetration of the saxophone and the slow decline of military marching bands (every regiment once had one; now they are quite a bit more rare), the bassoon slipped from sight in the marching world. Not having a penetrating tone didn't help things either.

My son was in much the same position as your child. He was (and is) an excellent bassoonist who moved into high school and was told that he needed to a) switch to another instrument for half of the year, and b) attend some six weeks of band camp prior to the school year.

While the first may have killed the deal, the second slit its throat and gutted it down the middle, as he had three weeks of hockey camp up in Quebec City already bought and paid for before learning all of this. So much for band. (He still plays bassoon and sax when he has the time, which is not often these days.)

In short, marching band sucks, and it really sucks for bassoonists. You may be a team player by hefting a bell lyre for twelve weeks, but it doesn't do much for your musical ability.

leader of Houston's Sounds Of The South Dance Orchestra

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 Re: Transition for Marching Band
Author: Ian White 
Date:   2008-09-07 07:54

I've never been able to fathom this passion for playing while marching. Just the playing takes enough mental effort without adding more complications :)

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 Re: Transition for Marching Band
Author: lrooff 
Date:   2008-09-08 18:03

Terry wrote:
"In short, marching band sucks, and it really sucks for bassoonists. You may be a team player by hefting a bell lyre for twelve weeks, but it doesn't do much for your musical ability."

I agree that it does suck for double-reed players (trying to imagine marching an English Horn...), but it actually did provide some musical benefit by giving me the chance to learn another instrument. I would argue that unless someone is a guest soloist, we all need to be "team players" in a band or orchestra. That's why I don't mind switching among my various woodwinds for the community band as needed. It's not just about me, especially in smaller bands or smaller communities where every instrument isn't available in droves. Our other bassoonist switch-hits with piccolo and trombone.

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 Re: Transition for Marching Band
Author: concertmaster3 
Date:   2009-04-21 18:38

Tenor or Alto Sax would be a better fit for a Bassoonist to learn in my opinion. I've known a few bassoonists who marched Tenor Sax in their bands. My bassoon student here at the university marches Piccolo, as did I in High School (although I was primarily an oboist/violinist...go figure...)

Good luck! Asking if he could switch would be a good idea though.

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 Re: Transition for Marching Band
Author: judyperry 
Date:   2009-05-28 14:30

I have been out of school for over 20 years now, but I also went to school down in the Houston area. My band director went to the High School the same year I moved up into the 9th grade. I started on Bassoon in the 6th grade and was put on the cymbals during marching season in high school. That was a whole lot easier than trying to learn another instrument along with everything else a kid has going on entering high school.

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 Re: Transition for Marching Band
Author: runner 
Date:   2011-02-25 14:47

A terrific bassoonist from my Alma Mater played bass drum all four years in college.

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