. . . a common question often asked of bassoonists. In many cases, like mine, the answer is ‘We didn’t!’ It was chosen for us by a keen teacher with a spare school instrument because of our long fingers!
A keen recorder player at primary school, I decided very early on that the clarinet was the instrument for me. On moving to secondary school I was the first with my hand up to claim one of the two places vacant with the peripatetic clarinet teacher. I loved it from the beginning – still do! – and progressed well.
And I would have happily remained a full time clarinet player had not my visionary head of department had a mission to establish the biggest school band Essex had ever seen. Along with tubas, trombones and baritone saxes, he purchased an ancient bassoon and, on account of my long fingers, passed it over to me!
Some of my early bassoon sounds were interesting to say the least (ask my long suffering brother!) but, having learned other wind instruments previously, progress was swift. There followed a long stint with the Essex Youth Orchestra ( playing outside the White House on a tour of the USA remains a particularly fond memory) and opportunities galore to play throughout my university days and every day since.
In short, learning to play the bassoon is, without doubt, one of the best decisions I have ever made. Because of our rarity, we bassoonists have more playing opportunities than many other instrumentalists and youngsters get on those ladders earlier than their peers. They no longer have to wait until their fingers have grown because they can start on a mini instrument, progressing to short reach and full size instruments when they are ready.
Yes, the bassoon may originally have been chosen for me and maybe other bassoonists out there, but I doubt there’s a single one of us who has ever regretted it for a moment!
Waste no more time! Choose the bassoon for yourself! Come and join us!