Hummel Exercises by Shawn Seguin

Hummel Exercises by Shawn Seguin

Hummel Exercises

by Shawn Seguin


A few weeks ago, I attended the first Let’s Talk Bassoon event, hosted by the Council of Canadian Bassoonists. Christopher Millard presented an outstanding masterclass on the concept of transposition and how we could utilize it to have a deeper understanding of the intricacies of how we prepare orchestral excerpts. Participants discussed how after practicing these transposed excerpts for a few days, they noticed that the original excerpt was more comfortable to perform.

This is a grossly simplified explanation of this masterclass; however, I was utterly fascinated with the idea and began working on the excerpts provided. After seeing a notable improvement myself, I decided to extend this practice to a solo work I was preparing:  the Grand Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra by J. N. Hummel.

Below are the exercises I created based on the first movement. As one would assume, many of these exercises are technically challenging. My goal was to present some of the more difficult sections and transpose them to make them more demanding than the original. I decided to only extend to a whole step above and below, as I found this to be the most beneficial.

I hope you enjoy these exercises!


Hummel Bassoon Concerto

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Rhythmic Displacement in the Study of Orchestral Excerpts – Nadina Mackie Jackson

Rhythmic Displacement in the Study of Orchestral Excerpts – Nadina Mackie Jackson

Talent Drills and Rhythmic Displacement (with a bonus transposition!)

Dedicated orchestrally-trained bassoonists spend thousands of hours refining and drilling orchestral passages for auditions and concerts. As Christopher Millard demonstrated on the first episode of Let’s Talk Bassoon, transposition is a wonderful way to explore the bassoon and all its tendencies by moving away from the original key. This has the effect of giving us new perspectives, new challenges and often make the original key seem so much more accessible once you return. It is more about exercising the mind which in turn, frees the power of the body to play the passage in the best way possible.

Likewise, you can use the concept of rhythmic displacement and different articulations to expose well-worn spots and tendencies for unevenness.  In each rhythmic permutation, eighth notes, triplets, sixteenths etc, we successively move the passage over by one unit. While this is initially disorienting, over time and with practice, we build flexibility, strength, and confidence. It is particularly valuable to move the strong beats to a weaker point in the bar and see if you can maintain evenness and musical direction. Add different articulations to enhance the challenge (see Figaro below). And in low register excerpts, leave the whisper key off to encourage steady and connected air supply.

Use your metronome, start slow, stay steady and over time, build each increment to concert tempo.

Take a look at the Talent Drills and give it a whirl!

For pdfs (best image quality) click on links:

Talent Drill Ravel Piano Concerto

Talent drills for Marriage of Figaro

Talent Drills for Beethoven Symphony no. 4


MILDE # 1, Opus 26 – Transposed

MILDE # 1, Opus 26 – Transposed

Ludwig Milde (1849-1913) Concert Study #1, originally in C Major, Opus 26

A gift from Christopher Millard, five scintillating transpositions of the familiar and beloved Study #1 from Milde’s  50 Concert Studies, Opus 26.. Transposition is a very useful way to develop fluency over the full range of the bassoon and these will give you hours of good fun. Next, change the clef or see if you can transpose by sight (just like the brass players!).

Milde Opus 26, #1 – Bb Major

Milde Opus 26, #1 – Eb major

Milde Opus 26, #1 – B Major

Milde Opus 26, #1 – Db Major

Milde Opus 26, #1 – D major