Keyed Kontraptions Holiday Stream

Here is the holiday live stream! If you watch the video on youtube there is a program listing with time stamps in the description.

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Nomad Session – Cool Grey City

Nomad Session recently finished a large work that took place over multiple concerts. This was a commission from Nick Benavides  that he based on different landmarks aspects of San Francisco. The videography was done by Maggie Beidelman.

“What about San Francisco’s tucked away stair cases, community gardens, block sized patches of green and that one “quiet spot” in the neighborhood park with a great view that only a local can lead you to? These are the hidden spaces we are interested in and we believe that there is something more magical waiting to be discovered amidst all the fog that fills this city we call home”

“Gardens”

“Stairs”

“Landscapes”

 

Plastic Fantastic!

There is a new wave of music products that is aimed, not to be the very best, but to be accessible and affordable. There have been plastic woodwind instruments for many decades, and they are a more cost effective and durable choice for young players.

plastic bassoon oboe

Now there is a new wave of plastic instruments that are lower quality and don’t try to compete with the real wooden instruments. These instruments are mostly made in Asia, and are mostly made from injection mold plastic.

Pbone and Ptrumpet

ptrumpet

pbone

Tiger Brass

plastic trumpet plastic trombone plastic euphonium plastic tuba

Nuvo

plastic flute nuvo flute

Vibrato Sax

plastic sax

 

Practicing Difficult Passages

Sometimes as professional players we hit road blocks in our repertoire. As good as we think we are, and as prepared as we may be, there will always be a passage lurking out there which will require some work. So much of being a bassoon player is about playing in an appropriate and handsome way and blending with an orchestra. I have recently chosen a piece of music for an upcoming recital that is pushing my limits, I will be playing the Franck Cello Sonata on Contraforte. The recital is in about three months and I have in working on this piece for the last three weeks. At this point all of the “fun music” has been rehearsed as much as it needs to be and the technical passages now need to be “woodshed.”

 

Franck Cello Sonata(I had to repair some of the slurs)

I chose the Franck Cello Sonata because it really shows off the upper register of the Contraforte. I’m finding that I’m able to play extreme high note passages in an easier way than on the bassoon. This passage that I selected is one that I am finding to be particularly difficult to get up to tempo. It is getting better each day, but I think it is only due to switching up my practice techniques and thinking about the note groupings in new ways.

For this passage the beginning of measure 4 is a tricky spot, mostly this has to do with the fingering system on the Contraforte. These are the ways that I use to practice it:

Franck Sonata Franck Sonata Franck Sonata Franck Sonata Franck Sonata

These are the ways that I first use to learn a difficult spot of music. If after a few days the passage is still unplayable then I use a few different rhythms to add in. As a side note, I find practicing to be stressful. By micromanaging difficult passages like this, one can create “baby steps” that are achievable everyday. These rhythm studies are a way of taking the notes out of musical context and playing them as a mechanical technical exercise.

Franck Sonata Franck Sonata

This second set of excercises is designed to focus on the notes. These help me when I am having trouble concentrating, or am practicing in the morning and still half asleep. Playing staccato isolated notes is a memorization technique. The sixteenth slurred pattern isolates the finger movement between the notes, I try to have “lightening fast” fingers. Play the note full length and then move to the next fingering as fast and efficiently as possible.

Some other things that I try to keep in mind when I practice, in order to make my sessions as efficient as possible…

-Have a good reed

-Warm up with both long tone and technical exercises

-Have a tuner and metronome on whenever you are playing alone

-Don’t allow yourself to get away with cracked notes or sloppy fingers

Standing Peg for Contrabassoon, Contraforte, Bass Clarinet

Standing Contraforte

I have been jealous of bass clarinet players and contrabass flute players who are able to perform standing. It adds to the stage presence for certain pieces and is more visually interesting to watch.

  The parts that I used to make this standing peg cost under $10 and I bought it all at Home Depot.

Contra peg 2

For the Contraforte, the peg used is 3/8 inch so it was easy to find a match. I used an aluminum rod since it aluminum is easier to cut. I have my cordless reciprocating saw, Peg stock, black Duct Tape, a Rubber stopper. After cutting the peg to length based on my height, I wrapped the tape around an end to fit the rubber stop. 

Contra Peg