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Five reasons to pick up the bassoon right now

April 3rd, 2020

Five reasons to pick up the bassoon right now by Double Reed Ltd.

Five reasons to pick up the bassoon right now by Double Reed Ltd.

Article Author: Oliver Ludlow, In-House-Bassoon Specialist and Director at Double Reed Ltd. 

The sciences keep us alive, but the arts give us reason to live. This old adage rings true now more than ever, with millions across the globe quarantined in their homes, whilst doctors and scientists battle to keep us safe from the coronavirus.

Many in self-isolation are anxious. Many are disoriented from the loss of routine. Many are restless from the lack of activity. And most of us are bored. What better time to try something new, or re-start an old hobby? Playing an instrument, like the bassoon, could be ideal.

Here are five reasons to pick up the bassoon right now:

Bassooning to beat boredom

One of the perennial pleasures one gets from playing an instrument is the sense of achievement from learning something new. You can see (or hear) progress every single day, and you can test yourself and achieve new goals. Picking up your instrument again or learning from scratch can be a refreshing way to beat boredom under quarantine.

On top of this, the bassoon has an impressive repertoire of solo work, and it features prominently throughout orchestral music as a whole. From Vivaldi to Stravinsky, an aspiring bassoonist will find enough music to beat boredom for a lifetime.

Quarantine is an unprecedented opportunity to practise

Before quarantines became the norm, finding the time to be productive was an elusive luxury. But self-isolation provides an opportunity to learn. Time, coupled with boredom, can give us the focus we need to significantly improve our playing, so that we may come out of quarantine much more accomplished musicians. 

Having more time to practise shouldn’t necessarily mean we need to take longer to practise, though. We can practise effectively in short bursts, more frequently, and achieve greater results – to learn how, take a look at this article on the most effective way to practise your bassoon.

Protect your mental health

According to a study by the University of Sheffield, depression and anxiety in the UK spiked significantly following Boris Johnson’s announcement of a lockdown on 23rd March. On top of the obvious immediate stress-relieving impacts playing an instrument can have on your mood, studies have found that it is actually good for your brain. In 2016 The Guardian reported that “musical training can have a dramatic impact on your brain’s structure, enhancing your memory, spatial reasoning and language skills… It’s a strong cognitive stimulus that grows the brain in a way that nothing else does.”

Further studies have found that older adults who play instruments will have a 64% lower likelihood of developing dementia or a cognitive impairment, and others have found that musicians exhibit faster neural responses than their non-musical peers.

Learning to play an instrument is clearly very good for your cognitive and mental health, and can prove to be a well needed respite at times of stress.

Protect your physical health

In addition to the mental health benefits, there are also notable physical health benefits to playing an instrument like the bassoon. It has been found to increase coordination, and improve eyesight and hearing. The Music Making and Wellness Project even found that older people who played the keyboard had a 90% increase in levels of human growth hormone, a chemical which slows osteoporosis, aches and pains, and even wrinkling! The bassoon is a great instrument to play in this regard, as it requires all your fingers and thumbs.

In addition, the amount of breath involved in playing the bassoon really gives your lungs and heart a good workout, and with COVID-19 impacting the respiratory system, maintaining healthy lungs is now more important than ever.

Make friends when quarantine is over

If there is one thing isolation is teaching us as a society, it is the true value of social interaction - many of us are sorely missing the joys of playing with others in orchestras and ensembles. When the lockdown comes to an end, the extra practise will provide us with a fresh confidence, and a new desire to play in the groups that may have seemed daunting in the past.

Why not use the time you now have to research and contact local groups, orchestras and ensembles? That way you can get involved straight away once the quarantines are lifted. 

Now is also a great opportunity to plug into some of the online bassoon communities – Facebook groups, bassoon forums, and YouTube channels all have plenty of activity to get involved with. In fact, many bassoons teachers and groups are meeting online using apps like Skype and Zoom to play together and learn from one another.

If we use the quarantine as an opportunity to learn, then when this is all over we can use our new-found skills to entertain and connect with others in ways we may not have thought possible a just a few months before.

Get in touch for advice

At Double Reed we meet a significant number of people looking to take up the bassoon again, or start from the beginning. We are always happy to talk to you. To find out more, have a look through our News section where we have plenty of information for beginners, or take a look at our available bassoons to see if we have anything that could help you on your journey.

Article Author: Oliver Ludlow, In-House-Bassoon Specialist and Director at Double Reed Ltd.