Gordon Jacob's Four Sketches for Bassoon and Piano. Terry B. Ewell provides practice and performance suggestions for ensemble playing, style, and fingerings. Terry B. Ewell, bassoon, Elaine Ross, piano. BDP #313, www.2reed.net.

[music: Jacob, Fourth Sketch]

Hello, I am Terry Ewell, and I am pleased to present this video on Gordon Jacob’s Four Sketches for bassoon. Although the composition appears to be quite easy, it really is a fine study on three important aspects of bassoon playing. These aspects are ensemble playing or communication, providing character, and fingerings.
The first movement, “A Peaceful Piece,” provides excellent practice for the bassoon player to give a cut off at the end. This is needed so that both instruments end together. Notice that I need to indicate to the pianist when I will stop the note. 

So, I do that by a gesture with my instrument, with the bassoon bell. [demonstration] Now, notice that you have to be very careful [demonstration] that you are not moving the embouchure on the reed to give the cut off. So, I have to move my whole body together. I move my waist keeping everything fixed. [demonstration] No movement of the head there. Let’s see how this is done in the performance.

[music: ending of the 1st Sketch]

When you are performing with a live accompanist it is important you have the ability to communicate with them. Obviously, you can communicate through breaths and gestures, but you also need to open up the site lines. So, you can see your accompanist out of the corner of your eye. Typically, I would move a little bit further back if I was in a performance with an accompanist. I was in this position so that I could be closer to the microphone so that it could pick up the bassoon a little bit better. But when you perform with an accompanist and it is with a grand piano, you should probably be a little bit further into the place where the piano bends here

The second movement also must be performed with excellent communication between the pianist and bassoonist. Music is often a dialogue between instruments. You must be aware of the other instruments and communicate by listening and at times with visual cues. Here is a brief example from the 2nd movement, “A Little Waltz.”

[music: portion of the 2nd Sketch]

The third and fourth movements of the composition provide excellent illustrations about how to provide character or communicate moods and emotion through music. The third movement, “L’Après-Midi D’un Dinosaur,” should present a lumbering, plodding creature. Here it is in the music:

[music: portion of the 3rd Sketch]

However, in contrast the fourth movement, “Polka,” should be nimble, with shorter notes. Articulation is a very important way to communicate the mood of a composition.

[music: portion of the 4th Sketch]

Last of all, be sure to make use of proper fingerings in the movement. I find that many beginning students do not make proper use of the whisper key. The whisper key should be down for all notes below and including Ab3.
G3 absolutely should have the little finger Eb key depressed so that it is better in tune. This will lower the pitch. Last of all, make use of the flick or speaker keys for the tongued notes on A3, B3, and C4.

I have a free fingering chart that is available. Please consult the chart regularly!
It is very important for you to practice with accompaniments. I have made these available to you on 2reed.net. Let me show you how to access that. First off, “Graded Bassoon,” if you go to that link page, you will see all sorts of things in order. This is graded by the Maryland Solo and Ensemble, the Music Educators Association listing. It also coincides with many lists throughout the world including those of the Associated Board of Royal Schools of Music, etc. 

The easiest are Grade 1. The Gordon Jacob piece is actually a Grade 3. So, if you look at the Grade 3 solos. It is here and you can find where that is. Look down the list. 

You can see that I have a lot of things in Grade 3. There are lots of things you can be doing. There we are—Jacob, Four Sketches. You can see that I have tempos here for MIDI and mp3. Eventually I will be placing the link for the video here. Also, you can look up on 2reed.net the MIDI files by alphabet letter or the mp3 files. So, if you don’t know what level it is, you can simply go to J and very quickly find it that way. Here you go! Scroll down to Jacob and there it is, the Four Sketches.

Well, I hope you enjoy this wonderful collection of character pieces. Thank you, Mr. Jacob, for your compositional talents!

[music: Jacob, Fourth Sketch]