Music Study – The Wood Wind

There is less reason for us to enlarge upon Wood-Wind Instruments, the study of which in fact is easier, except when we wish to attain exceptional virtuosity in them, in which case it offers as much difficulty as any others. By that I mean that given an equal amount of time, effort and aptitude, we more easily succeed in acquiring a fair degree of skill upon a wind-instrument than upon those that compose the String-Quartet. Wind-instruments are generally restricted in compass ; they can produce varieties of intensity only under certain conditions ; they never produce more than one note at a time ; with a few exceptions, with them the emission of tone is slower and less active. For all these reasons, and others besides, among which is the. scantiness of their repertory, it happens that the study of them is infinitely more limited. But these same reasons, which simplify and abridge the elementary study, render, as it is easy to understand, the finishing studies much more difficult and laborious, if we wish to rise above mediocrity and attain real excellence. When I say that these studies are not so difficult, it must be understood that only the inferior grades are meant; perfection in any of them is difficult to acquire.

A new factor here comes into play, one with which we have as yet had little to do, this is physical con-formation. We have indeed said that it is an ad-vantage for a violinist to have a large hand and for a harpist to have long arms, but practically every-body, except the one-armed, can play the violin or the harp ; a small hand and short arms are not absolutely prohibitory, constituting simply an extra small difficulty to vanquish. This is no longer the case here, and the requirements relating to the individual’s structure should be very seriously taken into consideration in the choice of an instrument ; for, by despising such precaution, we should expose ourselves to disaster, since nothing, not even the most intelligently directed and most obstinate labour, can conquer the invincible obstacles created by a native imperfection of the respiratory organs, or a disposition of the lips other than that which suits the instrument chosen. This is why, as each instrument is considered, we will state precisely the indispensable physiological conditions to be fulfilled, even at the risk of exposing our-selves to occasional repetitions, which are preferable to omissions.