Tips on Doubling by Chris Vadala
November 14, 2016 (No Comments) by Peter Westbrook
    Chris Vadala

Chris Vadala

Editor’s note: Woodwind artist Chris Vadala is currently Director of Jazz Studies and Saxophone Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park. See: As director of various large jazz ensembles, both at Maryland and around the US as part of his work as a Selmer clinician, Chris has, for many years, been very involved with training woodwind performers, which almost invariably involves doubling. As he puts it in his 1991 publication Improve Your Doubling: Advanced Studies for Doublers (Dorn Publications, 1991), “To be a woodwind artist in this day and age is to be a doubler.”

Chris will be helping us at Flute Journal to develop a regular column on woodwind doubling issues and techniques. He begins by reproducing some of the columns he wrote for the now-defunct publication Saxophone Journal. The article below, entitled “Tips on Doubling” appeared in the November/December 1992 edition:

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vadbookTo refer in passing to the introductory material in that initial article, and in the preface of my recent book titled Improve Your Doubling (Dorn Publications), doubling implies more than its literal meaning. It is a fact of life for many saxophonists in such venues as recording work, pit orchestras (theater work), and teaching positions. Versatility is a prime qualification! In order to succeed, one needs patience, persistence, con confidence, and sacrifice of time and expense.

Some of the advantages of becoming a successful doubler are:

  * Economic (profitable)

  * Explore additional literature on original instruments (Bach on flute, and Mozart on clarinet)

  * Study with different teachers, benefiting from a wider array of philosophies and ideas

  * A deeper understanding of the primary instruments; diligent study improves musicianship

  * Fun! Enjoyment of accomplishment! Recognition for success!

Some of the disadvantages are:

  * The time needed to learn new instruments

  * Expense of new equipment and lessons

  * Attitude of other instrumentalists that doublers have low standards of muscianship

  * Self-doubt (Can I really do it successfully?)

It has been my premise through this to help people standardize concepts and transfer principles from one instrument to another, while at the same time addressing the important differences between instruments, in order to avoid the development of bad habits. Accordingly, I’ve prepared the following synopsis, which I hope will be of benefit to performers and teachers alike. Click here for the chart Vadala-Tips-on-Doubling-Chart

Go to Tips for Doublers — Part 2, Extended Flute Techniques

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