Yesterday I learned how to play the bassoon- my friend's little sister plays, so she let me use a reed and some old books and her instrument and fool around for about an hour. It was actually much easier than I was expecting, and so much fun. The reed was much less touchy than an oboe or even english horn reed, so I could get a not so bad tone out of it. I now have no sympathy for bassoonists' reed issues. Not that it's a topic I hear a lot about.
The fingerings on the other hand...insane. I have a lot more respect now for bassoonists who play anything fast. I don't, of course, play flute or clarinet, but I can easily conceive of playing quick passages on the instruments. Probably because either the fingerings or set-up, respectively, is quite similar. I can't, though, imagine being able to play quickly on a bassoon. I think a lot of this problem, for me, is the fact that I couldn't see my fingers when I was playing. They were tilted away from my body, and completely obscured by the instrument, so I was having to play by feel in a different way than on other instruments. I'm not quite sure how to describe the difference, though, because obviously when one is playing flute/oboe/clarinet one cannot actually look at one's fingers and play at the same time. I suppose it's just easier to go back and forth, or something like that.
Anyways, the bassoon has FAR too many thumb keys. And I kept getting confused by the fact that it has a lower rather than upper octave key. The fingerings are actually much more like clarinet than oboe or flute, also.
Still, I think I did rather well for playing for an hour. And it was so much less tiring than oboe, too. A much looser embouchure, especially in the lower jaw.
Today, I took all of the keys off of my English horn, so now I at least theoretically can repair either of my instruments. I also learned how to replace the cork on my bocal, and Lorrie made me a thumb rest pad out of foam and pieces from a leather glove. As she said, it was oboes as arts and crafts projects. I approve. She offered me an English horn reed, and I turned her down (first reed I've ever rejected from her). As I hear it, there are two schools of English horn playing, the cello-like school and the very reedy school. Lorrie plays very reedy reeds sometimes, and I just don't like the way they sound. I mean, obviously she sounds very musical, but sometimes I actually like my sound better. (gasp)
She's now trying to convince me to do music ed. Says I'd be a good teacher. I won't do it though, because I would be teaching as a back-up job, and I don't think that's fair to the kids.