Spirited Wind Playing: The Performance Dimension

Spirited Wind Playing: The Performance Dimension

Spirited Wind Playing: The Performance Dimension

Spirited Wind Playing: The Performance Dimension


Peppered with tips, helpful hints, and personal anecdotes to illustrate real-life application, this performance guide is essential for any wind player interested in taking his or her virtuosity to the next level. Internationally renowned bassoonist Kim Walker has compiled into one book the teachings and exercises that have made her known as an expert on bassoon performance, practice, and instruction. From basics like posture, breathing techniques, and articulation to a survey of the performance practices of key woodwind and brass masters, Walker includes an analysis of each technique along with images and exercises that present the mechanics of each method.


When kim first asked me to write this foreword, I was unclear what to expect from her book. At first, I thought perhaps it would be a book based on the teaching of my father, Sol Schoenbach, her principal (but far from only) bassoon teacher. What she has achieved is far more than that in every sense. Her findings and suggestions not only are for bassoonists but will benefit any musician, instrumental or vocal. the book emphasizes a rich combination of factors that determine the preparation for a musical performer to succeed in a lifelong career: psychological, physiological, spiritual, intellectual, mechanical, and, above all, artistic.

Kim has benefited from a long and distinguished international career, which gave her the chance to live and work in Italy, Switzerland, and Australia and to travel extensively. She has performed as an orchestral, chamber, and solo performer on an instrument that offers a remarkable palette to the imaginative individual who is open to questioning the barriers that have traditionally limited its scope.

Her subtext, on the air, cited so often throughout, speaks to the healthful and expressive manner of addressing the artistic powers of the bassoon. She indicates a plethora of ways of avoiding the impedimenta that can constrain delivering the musical message, including posture, balance, and other issues, down to the use of memorization to remove the music and stand.

She has drawn from many philosophies, Eastern and Western, such as Alexander Technique, modern and historical dance, Shiatsu massage, and hara and Dō-In exercises, and sources in a multiplicity of languages. She varies her sources from Native American wisdom to ted talks, alternating between the yin, or meditative, and the yang, or active, approaches. Periods and styles are also addressed, with special attention to the relation of dances in early music.

Like the superb pedagogue that she is (with a long and distinguished career at Indiana University before assuming her most recent position as dean and principal in Australia at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music), Kim utilizes numerous illustrations, anecdotes, and quotations to assist the reader in understanding her recommendations. You have to appreciate the simile she uses, for instance, that our complex activity in concert is as exhilarating as “the near terror of driving the AutoRoute into Genoa and the Cinque Terra just as the summer season begins.” She does not shy away from trying to capture some of the ineffable qualities of chance taking in artistic collaboration that can achieve a greater whole than the sum of the parts.

She also uses analogies from the visual arts (citing my mother, Bertha) creating “varied, inimitable colors,” just as in nature. As a painter re-creates colors, Sol would vary the sound with more or less boldness or warmth, according to what he wished to express.

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