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Bassoon or cello?

(28 Posts)
horseymum Thu 19-Apr-18 08:48:41

Bit of a lurker on music thread but thought this was a separate question. Youngest is toying with which instrument to take up. She is nearly 8 and does piano lessons and recorder informally. She likes cello or bassoon for orchestral instrument and I know I should let her have free choice I can steer a bit! Pros of bassoon- her sister plays oboe with a fab teacher who comes to the house, he is actually a bassoon player anyway so would be very convenient. No other bassoon players in the area so easy to get into things . Which is also a con as no bassoon friends, but her sister copes with no oboe friends. Cons- v. expensive to buy ( might hire/ borrow) a lifetime of being a slave to reed issues! ( Just learning about this with sister!) Teacher had said it is possible to grow out of small instrument capabilities before growing into full size instrument, not sure how quickly she would progress so not sure if this would be an issue.
Cello pros - cheaper to start, may be able to get school lessons with great teacher ( but if not would have to find someone) size not a problem, easier maintenance?
I play double bass so would have a bit of a clue.
Cello cons - loads of good cellos around locally ( as food teacher in the schools!) so harder to get into things.
Anyone got any thoughts?

MidLifeCrisis007 Thu 19-Apr-18 09:45:35

If you know the price of a bassoon and are still considering cello or bassoon, then I'd definitely go for bassoon!

There are lots of opportunities for bassoon players in orchestras and ensembles given how few of them there are. And you have a teacher who comes to the house - it's so much better to learn at home as you get your full 30 minutes worth and aren't pulled out of lessons etc and can have 52 lessons a year rather than lessons just in term time...

Wafflenose Thu 19-Apr-18 09:47:55


horseymum Thu 19-Apr-18 10:11:06

Thanks! Am interested if anyone can comment on mini bassoon s/ tenoroons and how long they last as well . Her sisters teacher said they have limited capabilities and can end up frustrating, anyone have children who play? Money is obviously a consideration but I enjoy playing a more unusual instrument and the benefits it brings so happy to consider it. I think he will let her have a go next week if he can borrow a mini one.

TheHumanMothboy Thu 19-Apr-18 10:16:35

I think you've covered the cons well. What does DD like the sound of more, and is she a child that when small liked to have stuff in her mouth, or things in her fingers?
The reed issue would drive me doolally, as presumably you'll be forming them until she's old enough to manage?
But lugging a cello to school several times a week would be v off-putting, so do think about what her secondary school options are likely to be (my DD's school is quite distant for us, and a different direction from work, so I rarely drop-off/pick-up, so thank heavens she plays a smallish instrument!

horseymum Thu 19-Apr-18 11:10:34

She already plays recorder a bit and piano so not sure really! I think she needs to really have a go at each. She comes to lots of my concerts so hears them from a distance. High school wise she will go to the local one which is a 25 minute walk so I guess that is quite hard with a heavy instrument. Interesting that both are low instrument s so she must like that sound.

SDTGisAnEvilWolefGenius Thu 19-Apr-18 11:15:22

On purely practical grounds, I'd say bassoon. I learned the cello, as a teenager, and it was murder to get it to and from lessons/orchestra practice etc! It barely fitted in the boot of the car, and if I had to take it on the bus, it was really difficult to get on and off.

Plus it took up a lot of space at home, both for storage, and when I was practising it.

hapsburg Thu 19-Apr-18 12:50:16

Bassoon - definitely.

wellhonestly Thu 19-Apr-18 13:05:51

I second bassoon, for the practicality of transporting. Even if that's not an issue for you just now, it could be for her in the future when she's more independent of you.

boatyardblues Thu 19-Apr-18 13:09:17

Some local authority music services still loan out “endangered instruments” to encourage learners to take them up - you may find you can borrow/loan one.

On sheer portability grounds, a bassoon has to be a winner...

WhereShallWeGo Thu 19-Apr-18 13:18:41

Bassoon, bassoon and more bassoon grin

trixymalixy Thu 19-Apr-18 13:22:04

Bassoon without a doubt!!

Pythonesque Thu 19-Apr-18 14:05:13

A friend of my daughter's started bassoon when she was about that age. She was already seriously proficient on recorder and made rapid progress on bassoon. I think she only used a tenoroon for a couple of terms before she needed to go to a full bassoon. I saw her play in a festival once - her dad carried it on along with a support to hold the weight of it! But by having it angled well off vertical she seemed to be able to manage the keys fine.

Assuming your daughter is not as exceptional as that particular child was, I would imagine a tenoroon will last a little longer. And of course, once you get the bassoon, you are at full size so only quality upgrades would need a new instrument unlike cello! Given that you have one on reeds already then bassoon sounds an excellent choice.

(My violinist sister used to half-joke when their eldest was little that they would get her onto bassoon for the career options. In fact she now plays French Horn ...)

Good luck either way she'll have fun I'm sure!

AlexandraLeaving Thu 19-Apr-18 22:06:36

Bassoon. Unless she has a personal chauffeur.

JennyWren Thu 19-Apr-18 23:50:29

My DS is now 9.5 and he chose the bassoon. He learns with a peripatetic teacher through the county music service - he is currently the only child at his (small) primary school who learns a wind instrument at school, so the teacher comes to school just for him. he is loving it. He started when he had just turned 8 using a tenoroon, and switched at 9 to a short-reach bassoon - it is the same size as a full bassoon but has some elongated keys and differently angled holes so that he can reach all the holes; he also finds it more comfortable without the palm rest at the moment.

For us, learning through the county music service has been brilliant - not just because as an 'endangered instrument' we receive a discount on the lesson cost, but because we're able to hire the instrument from the music service. We did the same for our DD, who started on a 1/2 size violin and then a 3/4 size before reaching the 4/4. We bought her her own instrument once she reached the full size version, as we figured that by then she was committed to the lessons, and we'll do the same for DS when he is big enough to have a full size bassoon.

If he does decide on the bassoon, I would recommend looking at a chest harness. DS's bassoon came with a strap that he sat on, to take the weight of the bassoon, but he's a fidget and is kept slipping, so the bassoon was perpetually at the wrong height. He found a neck strap uncomfortable because the heavy bassoon pulled on his neck, but he loves the chest harness. Apparently they are intended for when you are playing standing up, but it is perfect for him and has really made a difference to his stamina.

boatyardblues Fri 20-Apr-18 00:17:05


I had no idea such a thing existed. I love MN. smile

crazygirlsmama Fri 20-Apr-18 10:19:56

Another vote for bassoon here! My DD is going to shortly be starting the bassoon. Her teacher isn't a fan of the tenoroons/minis - she prefers students to start on short-reach full size/full size bassoons when they're big enough. DD is going to be going straight onto a full size.
My DD also loves the sounds of both cello and bassoon, must be something about that rich, deep music.

2ndSopranos Fri 20-Apr-18 12:49:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

horseymum Mon 23-Apr-18 21:17:28

So, she got to try a mini bassoon today and loved it. So cute as well as it fitted her hands perfectly! Ithink the teachers only reservation is the growing out of its capabilities before growing into next size. I think we will leave it a few months and keep working on recorder and see how keen she is after the summer. It's such a huge financial commitment if we can't borrow one.

GrannyHaddock Sat 28-Apr-18 22:05:47

I'm a string player so I would have to say that the cello is very companiable and has a huge, wonderful repertoire that the bassoon can't match. However, a bassoonist will be welcome everywhere so if she loves it, go for it! Also, I don't think bassoonists stress about reeds to quite the same extent as oboists. They are more robust ( the reeds, I mean).

Doubleup Wed 23-May-18 22:15:00

DD2 (11) plays bassoon. She started on a mini bassoon when she had just turned 8, then swapped to a tenoroon 4 months later and on to a short reach bassoon after another 2 months. Took Grade 4 sixteen months after starting and Grade 7 last summer. She had only dabbled with recorder at school and played a bit of guitar, but needed to learn bass and tenor clef and the hideously complicated fingering; 10 keys for one thumb - who knew?!
Amazing teacher from the local music trust who Is very much a supporter of using the smaller instruments to get kids started on the bassoon path before they decide to play something else instead when they aren't big enough for a full size at a younger age. I think they can take exams up to Grade 3 on a tenoroon. Howarth of London do good mini bassoons/tenoroons.

horseymum Thu 24-May-18 14:51:14

Wow, that is amazing progress! The thought of progressing through four instrument s horrifies me though as our music service had no bassoon s at all so will be looking to borrow ( not sure where from!) or hire to start with! Not quite as easy as progressing through string instrument sizes as they can be pretty reasonable. The head of service is going to ask some colleagues and see if there are any in other councils nearby, we may get lucky! For now she keeps blowing a reed she was given by a bassoon player in my orchestra.

Broken11Girl Fri 25-May-18 08:32:04

I'm going to go against most people and say cello - to be different from her sister, both playing woodwind instruments and sharing a teacher might mean they get intocomparisons and being competitive.
Also much easier to find instruments, and cheaper! And 1/4, 1/2 etc size cellos are readily available.
Agree with pp that it's not always good to start young kids on large instruments. She can always take up the bassoon later.

claraschu Fri 25-May-18 08:45:46

If you are thinking only about being in an orchestral group, I can see why bassoon is attractive, as there are fewer bassoonists around, but the cello has the most beautiful range of sounds in the world, and the most varied and interesting repertoire. The bassoon creates a wonderful sound, but the cello creates an unending variety of wonderful sounds.

The cello has a repertoire which is so varied, and so beautiful! With a few exceptions, truly great chamber music includes a cello, and the parts always have the loveliest tunes. Compare the wind quintet repertoire with the string quartets of Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, Brahms, Bartok, etc...

As a cellist, your possibilities are endless!

ilovesushi Fri 25-May-18 10:08:32

I would say go with which ever one she loves the sound of. I played the bassoon as a child and teenager, but switched to the clarinet in my late teens because we couldn't afford to buy one and the hire option came to an end. I loved it as an instrument and was always in demand to play in various orchestras, but I have to say I always hankered after the cello. I just adore the sound.
By the way is she left handed? I only ask because I am and I recently read that left handed people perceive the lower notes differently - I think they stand out to us more. That made sense to me because I hear the higher registers as a kind of add on to the main event down in the bass clef!

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