Join the 61st Season of the National Youth Orchestra Online

This year will be an exciting new approach to the training program with the online components. This year there will be additional master classes with guest instructors. It will reach a much larger audience with being online and I’m really looking forward to collaborating with Michael Sundell & our talented group of bassoon students.

Faculty Bios

Kathleen McLean, Bassoon

Michael Sundell, Contrabassoon

About This Organization

Canada’s leading professional orchestral training institute for talented emerging musicians ages 16 to 28.

The National Youth Orchestra of Canada is a Canadian youth orchestra located in Waterloo, Ontario. The orchestra has given concert tours in every major Canadian city as well as trips to other countries, including the United States, Japan, China and countries in Europe. Wikipedia

Upcoming Performance – Master Classes & Performance at Glickman/Popkin Bassoon Camp in North Carolina

The Glickman/Popkin Bassoon Camp is a ten-day summer camp for bassoonists 18 years of age and above, of any skill level.

I’m looking forward to participating again this year at the camp. Last year, because of Covid-19, everything unfortunately had to be cancelled. It could still be cancelled but we are assuming that things are good to go. It’s going to be an exciting summer filled with lots of ideas and exchanges with bassoonists all over the United States & Canada.

A Beautiful Environment Settled Among the Blue Ridge Mountains at the Wildacres Retreat

Because this camp is for all levels, it’s a really great environment with little pressure. There are beautiful views of the Blue Ridge mountains. Not only are there bassoon master classes but there are also reed making instruction classes and multiple performances every night with guest artists & large ensembles.

The camp is located at the Wildacres Retreat in Little Switzerland, NC.

To learn more about the 2021 Glickman Popkin Bassoon Camp in North Carolina, please visit their Facebook page.

Bassoon Resource – Low Register Drill in All Minor Keys

This exercise is an excellent way to develop rapid technique in the low register. I would suggest slurring everything. Slur everything and after you have fluidity in that approach then vary your articulations to add another layer of challenge.

A 1 page PDF of Bassoon Low Register Drills

My Favorite Scale Warmup

This warmup I started on when I was 11 years old and I use it every morning. This is how I start warming up! The reason why I use this is that it condenses all of the scales within a short period of time while shifting chromatically one octave at a time allowing me to work on fluidity and changing keys rapidly.

This warmup I started on when I was 11 years old and I use it every morning. This is how I start warming up! The reason why I use this is because it condenses all of the scales within a short period of time while shiftly chromatically one octave at a time allowing me to work on fluidity and changing keys rapidly.

The document is in major scales but this can also be even more challenging by alternating between major and minor. This allows the musician an opportunity to not only work on the mechanics of playing the instrument but it also gives you a mental challenge so you are never playing “by rote” (playing without thinking). If you know your scales, this is no problem.

There are different levels you can take this exercise to. I like to apply this to my students depending on their level of study. We often do this in group sessions in a circle. Every student of mine will play alternating scales and we keep a circle going. It’s actually very fun!

McGill Bassoon Day 2020 in Montreal, Québec Canada

A great weekend working with some fine young bassoon students in Canada. I spent this Saturday giving a master class and performing a recital with colleagues from the Montreal Symphony and students at the McGill University.

Interview from WFIU – The Soul Of The Orchestra: Bassoonist Kathleen McLean

Associate professor of bassoon at the IU Jacobs School of Music, Kathleen McLean says, “People have always said the bassoon sounds like the human soul.”Listen Now: The Soul Of The Orchestra: Bassoonist Kathleen McLean-4:44

Read the full article here:

Exercise Based on “Tchaikovsky 6”

This is a technical exercise for bassoon that emphasizes the lower register.

It’s a really great exercise to develop 2nd bassoon playing in an orchestra. There is a lot of left thumb work and this pattern can go all the way up to the highest register as well. You are executing this pattern using all of the keys.

The order of notes can also be shuffled around within a small intervalic space similar to the Hanon Piano exercises (a wonderful resource for developing technique). Simon Kovar’s Bassoon book is also an excellent resource.

Download the exercise here

“The Split” in the three registers of the bassoon

This is a standard warm up for a lot of instruments. I’ve found it really helps build awareness of air flow as intervals increase and expand ascending and descending.

This is a good warm up for legato and sound production and how to negotiate the spin of the air stream.

This piece can also be played along with a drone and also on any starting note.

2019 Tour with the International Chamber Orchestra of Puerto Rico

After two weeks spent in Puerto Rico, The International Chamber Orchestra of Puerto Rico (ICOPR) completed 8 concerts, several master classes, and reached out to many students, young children, and adults with disabilities.

The local community we visited appeared fascinated because they had never seen classical music instruments before. At rehearsal breaks the children would be paraded around the orchestra to look at our instruments. It was funny and it was almost as if we were, “animals in a zoo”. They were delighted and in many cases the students came up and touched the instruments. It was sweet!

We also had a chance to see the developments after Hurricane Maria. The people were so kind and warm. We heard stories of people without phone and electricity for seven months! Some people had to sleep in their cars at night. The only thing they had was a car and gas. No phone and no computer for that long! (Maybe that would be good?) The gift of music to the Puerto Rico community was really appreciated.

Throughout the weeks the principal players of the orchestra were giving master classes to the young aspiring musicians of Puerto Rico at each city we performed in.

On the odd off day, we visited beaches throughout the territory of Puerto Rico. There was a gorgeous surfing resort town called Rincón where we saw some super interesting waves. Some of us rented paddle boards, enjoyed the beach, and enjoyed the local dives. The visit inspired me to think I may want to move here for part of the year.

Here are some photos from the trip: