Introductory Chapters

Here are a few samples from the Introductory Chapters:

 Introduction and Instructions

Welcome to Teaching Woodwinds: A Guide for Students and Teachers

Teaching Woodwinds is a text designed to help readers learn how to teach the woodwind instruments. It is intended primarily for college-level woodwind methods classes although it can also be used by anyone who needs help with teaching a woodwind instrument. Teaching Woodwinds is also an excellent resource for directors who need strategies for solving woodwind issues in their ensembles.

Click Here for a video guide to using Teaching Woodwinds

In Teaching Woodwinds the authors may refer to notes in a specific octave (C4 as middle C, for example). The octaves are numbered from low to high as follows:


How to read the fingering charts

In the saxophone example below, the darkened circles indicate a closed fingering. For example, the fingering for B is the first finger on the left hand which closes the B key.


Throughout Teaching Woodwinds you will encounter icons which represent additional learning resources. To use the resource, simply click on the icon.

1. The Woodwind Family

All of the woodwinds were originally made of wood except the saxophone. Today they are made of wood, metal, plastic, or some combination. At the most basic level, the woodwind instruments are hollow tubes with a mouthpiece at one end, an open hole at the other end and many little holes along the body of the tube for the fingers. Woodwinds are played by blowing air through the mouthpiece and opening or closing holes with the fingers to change the pitch.

All woodwind instruments share these characteristics:

1. Various pitches are made on woodwind instruments by modifying the length of the vibrating air column inside the instrument. As a tone hole is covered, either by covering the actual hole with a finger or by closing a key, the air column inside (and correspondingly the length of the tube) gets longer and the pitch goes down. As tone holes are uncovered, the pitch goes up. The air goes in through the mouthpiece and reed for single reeds, the reed for double reeds, or through the embouchure hole for flute and forces the air inside to vibrate.

2. Quality tone production is a result of proper embouchure together with the movement of air. Each instrument has its own embouchure and uses the air in an instrument-specific way. One of the most important things you can do for your students is to demonstrate a good tone on the instrument, even if it’s only one good note.

3. All the woodwind instruments require knowing many different fingering combinations. Woodwind instruments are called upon to play a wide variety of musical styles including slow, lyrical melodies and fast, technical passages. Fast fingers, fast thinking, fast embouchure and a fast tongue are all required to be able to do this.