One of the most perplexing, nagging questions I have regarding the bassoon has to do with swabs. I have 2 swabs in my case: a pull-through silk swab for the boot, and a pull-through silk swab for the tenor joint. Swabs scare the devil out of me. I am one of those unfortunate bassoonists who has had a stuck swab, and mine was BAD. It was stuck in the tenor joint, and I think it happened because of knotting in the string. (I no longer allow even the slightest knot to appear in either of my swabs!) I can't describe the procedure which finally extracted the swab because it was so traumatic, but it involved Herculean efforts on the parts of 4 people, one of whom was bassoon repairman Carl Sawicki who provided amazing telephone coaching.
Back to the question: I have never understood how the wet swabs could possibly dry out between swabbings. I always roll them up and place them back in the closed bassoon case after I swab. I would think that the swabs would have to be left out to air dry in order to really dry out, but I don't do that for fear of dust getting on them. (I have an obsessive fear of tiny particles getting under one of the bassoon's pads. During the Nutcracker ballet, there were a couple of times when a few tiny paper snowflakes came down into the orchestra pit during performances. Each time, I jumped out of my chair and ran out of the pit, with the bassoon, for fear of a wayward snowflake wrecking the instrument.)
I am curious about what other bassoonists do about drying out their swabs (or not). It's important, because running a moist swab through the boot can undoubtedly lead to problems since the wooden side is supposed to remain dry at all times. I drop the rubber weight of the swab through the wooden side first, so that the moist, lined side does not get the wooden side wet.
I mentioned Carl Sawicki who is my highly regarded repairman in Texas. I am curious about who else is highly regarded in bassoon repair. A good bassoon repairman is hard to find, and each of us should have a backup repairman in case our favorite becomes unavailable. So who do you use?
As I mentioned in an earlier post, August can be a great time to practice productively, free from the challenges related to learning specific orchestral parts. I have been spending a lot of time practicing in the high range- in fact, some days I only practice in the high range. (That's a good way to strengthen the embouchure, also.)
Ever since I received my new Heckel I have been trying to figure out the best possible fingerings for each of the high notes. It takes time to break in the high range, so the fingerings I chose at first are not currently the best. Now, I find that using the high D key is best for C4 and higher. On C#4, I no longer use both the C and D keys; I use only the D. I'd like to know which left thumb keys other bassoonists use for the high notes.
Do you have an opinion about types of seat straps? Some players prefer cup straps, which I'm using now, but some prefer hook straps. How about you? I've heard some bassoonists claim that the hook type can place too much stress on the U-tube, which seems odd to me.
OK, that's probably enough questions for one post. To consolidate my questions, here they are:
1. Do you dry out your swabs after swabbing?
2. Who is your repairman (or who have you heard positive comments about)?
3. Which left thumb keys do you use for high C4 and above?
4. What type of seat strap do you use?
Please either comment at the end of this post or email me at email@example.com. I will post the results, anonymously so that no names are attached to responses.
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