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 Sit vs stand
Author: Jaysne 
Date:   2009-01-28 02:50

As a sax major, I first played bassoon in grad school about 10 years ago as part of a tech class so I could earn a teaching certificate. The teacher had us sit the entire time.

After years of it sitting in my closet, I took it up again last year and had lessons with a great teacher. Again, we always sat.

My question is, when do bassoonists ever stand? In what situation do they do so? And when they do, how difficult is it to get used to it after years of sitting? How different does it feel in terms of what your fingers have to do? Is there a special neckstrap you use that is actually comfortable?


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 Re: Sit vs stand
Author: Terry Stibal 
Date:   2009-01-31 03:49

In "The Old Days", bassoonists played in marching bands, carrying their instruments all over Europe during the campaigns of the Napoleonic Wars. Incredibly, the instruments were suspended from a button hole on their coats.

Since that time, people have gotten a bit more sensible, and the bassoon is usually excluded from any moving musical experience. Most players of my acquaintance have played with seat straps, although that neck strap ring is still there for all to see.

Most players does not include a guy that I know who went through UCLA playing sax and bassoon, and who has always played with a neck strap. And, there's nothing wrong with the way that he plays.

leader of Houston's Sounds Of The South Dance Orchestra

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 Re: Sit vs stand
Author: Caroline Smale 
Date:   2009-01-31 20:05

In my army days (over 40 years back) our double reed players never took their instruments on parade, usually being given the cymbals or similar on the march, however in recent years I have seen the bassoon (though not yet the oboe) being included in marching bands of several of our major Guards bands.
The first time I saw this some years ago I could see that the player had no reed on the march and was probably just filling a hole in the rank but in recent ceremonial for the annual war memorial ceremony the player was clearly playing his instrument albeit whilst stionary.
All the Bassoon concerto performances I have ever seen have always been played standing up and using I think a neck sling.

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 Re: Sit vs stand
Author: cairngorm 
Date:   2009-02-01 00:08

Your original question - when do bassoonists ever stand? - can be answered by one statement - "when they play solo in front of an orchestra or chamber group or other small group."

Having said that, however, I have had to stand on several occasions with my wind ensemble, either because there wasn't enough room for us to play in our normal "U" shape or because for some other reason I was behind some other players. I personally think it is a good idea not to get so attached to sitting that you can't play any other way. When I stand, I don't use a neck strap, though, as I find them uncomfortable and they don't give me a very secure feeling. I use a halter, and can play easily; it is very comfortable and the support feels very secure.

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 Re: Sit vs stand
Author: lrooff 
Date:   2009-02-01 16:09

I used to own an old Bettoney bassoon with Army quartermaster corps markings on it. One of several oddities was that it had a bracket for a lyre on it, suggesting that they did, indeed, march with it. I can only imagine how many reeds and bocals they went through each month...

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 Re: Sit vs stand
Author: Jaysne 
Date:   2009-02-02 22:24


What's a halter?

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 Re: Sit vs stand
Author: cairngorm 
Date:   2009-02-03 16:32

I probably should have called it a "harness," which is the more commonly used term. You can see a picture of one here:


The advantage of these things is that they don't show up much on black shirts. I think you can even get them in white if you want. Also, you don't have that heavy thing hanging on your neck.

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 Re: Sit vs stand
Author: aero145 
Date:   2009-02-15 15:40

I sit with a seat strap when I practice at home and when I play with orchestras, and stand with a harness when with my teacher, rehersing with an accompanist and when playing solos.

I’m from Iceland, and everbody uses a seat strap there (only about 10 bassoon players there, and I made the number even smaller =]), and very seldomly harnesses or neck straps.

I now am in Germany, and I’ve only seen people using harnesses here, sitting or standing.

I also noticed that the players of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra all have German bells with a metal ring, whereas all players I’ve seen in Germany have ivory rings

In the USA, I noticed also that very many people have got the setup like in Iceland.

Post Edited (2009-03-21 20:25)

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 Re: Sit vs stand
Author: Ian White 
Date:   2009-02-15 16:39

I only know of German (with plastic ring) & French (metal ring) bells. What is an Italian bell please?

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 Re: Sit vs stand
Author: FrankM 
Date:   2009-02-26 15:19

I played a show years ago, and if memory serves, the bassonn player had a stand which held the basson while she played. It seemed like a neat solution to how to hold a bassoon while seated.

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 Re: Sit vs stand
Author: aero145 
Date:   2009-03-21 20:24

@ Ian White:

It is not so simple. =)

A German bell with a metal ring is not a French bell, it’s simply a German bell with a metal ring - period. :o)

I am going to show you examples of French and Italian bells - on Heckel-type bassoons. I am sure you know how a German bell looks like =) :

On this photo, there are two bells - one low-Bb German with an ivory ring, and one low-A Italian with a metal ring. Notice that the width is the same all the way on the Italian:


On this photo, you see a French diveded long joint low-Bb bell with a metal ring:


So, there seem to be three types of bells:


with either ivory/plastic rings or metal rings.

Best regards,

PS: The real French bells on the bassons are different from the Heckel-type French bells of the bassoons of course.

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