Dr. Kirsten Nelson

Return to Tips for Bassoon


by Dr. Kirsten Nelson
SFA Assistant Professor of Music
Bassoon & Theory
SFA School of Music
[email protected]



The chair should have a flat surface that is not too slick and does not have anything sticking out on the right side.

Sit up straight or lean slightly forward.  Face directly ahead and avoid twisting the upper part of the body or the head to either side.  Place the seat strap towards the middle or front of the chair and under the thighs.  To prevent the seat strap from sliding out from under a lighter person, place the strap diagonally from the back of the left-hand side of the chair to the right-hand side of the front of the chair.

Lean the Bassoon Across the Body

1. The boot joint should rest on the right thigh; the long joint rests on the palm-side of the 1st finger knuckle of the left hand.

2. The left thumb should be placed on the whisper key; then center the whisper key over the middle of the body.

3. Angle the bocal and the reed to come to the face (the reed should touch just below the lower lip).  If you have to stretch or twist your neck or lower your head to reach the reed, raise or lower the bassoon accordingly and re-adjust the reed and the bocal.

4. Read the music over the top of the bocal or to the right-hand side.  Do not read around the left side of the bell.

Hands and Arms

1. Guide keys for fingers - -the fingers should rest on these keys when not operating other keys.

a. LH pinky on low E-flat key
b. LH thumb on the whisper key
c. RH pinky on low F key
d. RH thumb on the low E (pancake) key

2. The arms should be in a straight line from the pinkies to the wrists to the elbows which should be out away from the body.  Avoid bending the wrists, especially the left one as it must support the weight of the bassoon.


The Texas School Music Project is a source for ideas and information concerning pedagogical practices in the music classroom or rehearsal hall.
The TSMP is a service provided to all music specialists by the faculty of the School of Music at Stephen F. Austin State University.

For questions about this site contact [email protected].

Copyright © 2002-2019, The School of Music at Stephen F. Austin State University