Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)
First Committee Member
Janis L. McKay
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Fourth Committee Member
Fifth Committee Member
Margot M. Colbert
Number of Pages
A wind instrumentalist typically begins music study in a school band or orchestra. The instructors for these classes normally use method books, scales, and large ensemble pieces to teach and refine technique and musicianship. Unless the student has a private teacher, it is unlikely that they will study or perform solo music except on rare occasions. The serious study of solo literature typically begins on the college level, when all students have access to a professional teacher and private lessons.
Solo literature is critical for the evaluation of a student’s performance level and ability, and it helps the instructor specifically address the student’s needs. It is particularly useful in developing musicianship, making real music out of notes on a page. Thus the study of solo music is central to advancing musical education.
A university instructor will likely have a list of repertoire that addresses performance expectations at each level. This repertoire list facilitates advancing technique and is often graded by year or semester of study. A guide such as this is an incredibly helpful resource for planning performances of recitals and juries.
No such guide exists for solo music at the middle school and early high school levels. Many times, students are unaware of solo material targeting these levels. Most performance opportunity is found through school. The most systematic way to teach a band or orchestra class, especially if there is only one teacher handling the program, is with the use of a method series, designed to teach everyone at once to meet the needs of the many. For less commonly played instruments such as the bassoon, method books fail to address challenges that are unique to that instrument and may not present the material in the most logical way.
In addition, writers of these books often assume a lowest common denominator. Bassoons are usually grouped automatically with all of the other low range instruments, such as trombone and tuba. These instruments almost never have the melody in a large ensemble, but instead provide harmonic support. Thus, the bassoon parts are typically composed of long, slow-moving notes that are not very interesting to play and may cause the student to become frustrated or bored--not an ideal scenario. The addition of well-chosen beginning solo works, along with the method books, may help alleviate these issues.
Solo music provides numerous unique educational opportunities for a bassoonist in the early years of study: it is often seen as “real music” and as more interesting than the method books. Comfortable range, appropriate technique, lyrical style, and focus on musicianship are just some of the benefits of performing solo music beyond etudes or large ensemble music. Solo performances might include talent shows, church services, or contests.
The problem at hand is that there is no list of solo music for the bassoon for the middle school and early high school years. Their band or orchestra directors, though willing to help, are usually less experienced on the double reed instruments in general, and especially the bassoon.
I have analyzed over three hundred beginner and intermediate bassoon solos, found individually and in collections, and have created such an annotated bibliography. This bibliography includes relevant information about the works: key or keys, range, meter, and rhythmic skills, as well as specific teaching points and unexpected details or technical challenges. Such challenges might include the use of enharmonic notes, notes outside the likely known range, new rhythms, complex meters, ornaments, modern skills, and new or difficult key signatures.
I have also ranked the chosen solos by difficulty and correlated them with the main method book used by all student bassoonists, The New Weissenborn Method for Bassoon updated and revised by Dr. Douglas E. Spaniol. Additionally, I have included sourcing options for locating these pieces and collections. The end product is an annotated list of suitable solo pieces for bassoon study in the early years of development, organized in ways that are useful to both students and their instructors.
band; bassoon; education; orchestra; secondary; Weissenborn
Education | Music
Chai, Kim Kehau, "An Annotated Bibliography of Beginning and Intermediate Solo Bassoon Literature" (2016). UNLV Theses, Dissertations, Professional Papers, and Capstones. 2651.