These tips are generally pointed toward doubling on clarinet, saxophone, and flute [my doubles]; however, I believe they also will be useful on double reeds. Further, I think the principles in the tips will generally be helpful on any instrument.
7 Woodwind Doubling Tips by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”
- Think Like a […….]. For example, if you are learning to double on the saxophone, “Think Like a Saxophonist.” This is the most important concept in learning to perform well on a new instrument. It is critical to learn how good performers on an instrument “think,” i.e. approach technical (and musical) issues, especially basics such as embouchure, posture, tonguing, etc. ClarinetMike says, “There’s nothing worse than hearing a clarinetist trying to play the saxophone like a clarinet!”
- Have a Goal. Having some kind of doubling goal (even if it’s flexible) will help you make decisions on how to spend your time practicing and studying a new instrument.
- Embouchure is Everything. It is difficult to overemphasize the importance of good embouchure and voicing. Check out my clarinet embouchure and related clarinet embouchure tips. (The embouchure and related tips owe a heavy debt to master woodwind doubler and teacher Joe Allard.)
- Basics are Fundamental. Along with embouchure, focus lots of time on important fundamentals such as relaxation, posture, air/breathing, hand position, tonguing, sound projection, etc. Even though some of these concepts may be similar on your main instrument, make sure you use versions that address the particular needs of your new instrument.
- Learn Instrument Specifics. This refers to things like brands of instruments, mouthpieces, ligatures, neckstraps, headjoints, instrument care, music, etc. An area of special consideration should be reeds (this goes double for double reeds!).
- Seek out Good Instruction. Find a good teacher (or a good book/video) to guide you. Take some private lessons. [During this time of pandemic, I suggest taking some Skype lessons with a good private teacher. If you can’t find someone or aren’t sure who to ask, sent me an email or text and I’ll help you find someone.]
- Listen. Listen to various great performers to give you a sense of how you’d like to sound.