Hints for Teaching the Bassoon


Keith Bowen, April 2012

Check the equipment and play the instrument. Make sure the support devices work and that there are  good swabs available. Check the case.

Teach the proper cleaning procedure:  Boot swabbed large to small rotated around c# trill. Wing swabbed large to small. Dust and polish outside. Vacuum clean the case.  Keep swabs outside of the bassoon compartment.

Show how the bassoon is set up concerning the tone hole system.  Open holes set up a C major scale starting on B natural. This one at a time opening is bent back on itself with the u-tube.  Covered holes provide most of the sharps and flats with the exception of Eb on the wing.  Octave vents start with the ½  open f hole and move up a, c, d vents, to the whisper key. Use only one vent at a time including the whisper key.

Show how the majority of the tone color is amplified in the Bell.  Show how after the first open hole, the lower energy air column acts as a resonator.


Tone color can be changed by re-configuring the resonance pipe.  Exchanging open and closed holes is used to change color and make small pitch changes.

The different bore designs have different pitch resistance results. It is useful to know your bore type and instrument’s tendencies.

Technician pitch adjustments are small and utilize resistance.  It is a difficult area and should be carefully approached.  Adjustments near the outside of the instrument create big changes and changes near the  bore create small changes.