When is the best time to get started on the Bassoon?
Updated: Jul 19, 2020
Some people have asked me, "When is the best time to start the Bassoon?" While a lot of bassoonists will have different answers and the ideal age could be different for everyone, in my opinion grades 5 through 7 are the best times to start if you're interested.
There are a few reasons why I think this! One reason is because the bassoon is not the easiest instrument to play, and so usually musicians who have already been playing an instrument for a few years might have an easier time (so they can focus on learning just the instrument, and not both the music and the instrument at the same time). Note: If you play the clarinet or bass clarinet, you may have a slightly easier time transitioning because some of the notes in an octave have exactly the same fingerings.
Another reason is because the bassoon is a rather large instrument (usually about 4.5 feet in length), and needs to be held in place by a seat strap and the musician's arm (so there is some arm strength that may take some getting used to). It also requires a certain hand size to be able to reach around the instrument in order to reach the thumb and other fingerings (which may be a challenge for younger musicians since they could have smaller hands.)
An additional reason is that once many young musicians have played another instrument for many years, I've noticed it can be more challenging to switch, simply because they've already invested so much time into their other instrument and it is so time consuming to learn a new and completely different instrument. The bassoon is unique, and so it is difficult to switch back and forth easily between the bassoon and other instruments.
One final reason not necessarily related to age, but perhaps more about maturity and patience, is that the reed of the bassoon can be very finicky (for all bassoonists, not just beginners, it is always tricky to find a good reed.) In addition to the double-reed being more challenging to play and get used to compared to single-reed instruments (such as a clarinet), bassoon reeds always feel and sound differently even if they are made in exactly the same way to the same specifications. Bassoonists are used to the fact that it is frustrating and they go through a lot of reeds, and a lot of their time is spent testing and adjusting their reeds (it's because of this reason, that many bassoonists actually decide to make their own reeds.) I know that when I am able to find a new reed that I can enjoy, that definitely is a very, very happy day for me!
Like a lot of best things in life, with just a little bit of patience and practice...you'll definitely discover some incredible things with your bassoon!