The student played bassoon in 5th grade and got a good start, then switched to saxophone, and progressed well. Now is thinking about switching back to bassoon. He borrowed a bassoon and practiced in June and then attended a short music camp where he played entirely bassoon.

Suppose the school has a bassoon available for the student to play.

He has a cup strap and a harness, and the school bassoon comes with a crutch.

Will the purchase of reeds, and any other expenses involved, add up to significantly more expense, per year, for bassoon, than for, say, saxophone or percussion?

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    Why is this even a question? Lesson costs will outweigh all others except for the actual purchase of an instrument. Anyone who chooses an instrument based on cost rather than love will be sorry. – Carl Witthoft Aug 23 '17 at 11:31
  • @Carl Witthoft, it sounds like the school has a concert band, which will provide lessons for any band instrument (including percussion ensemble) for virtually free. I've been in 3 schools with such bands. – Dekkadeci Aug 23 '17 at 14:04
  • @Dekkadeci - That is correct. Even if it weren't, would bassoon lessons be more expensive than saxophone lessons? – aparente001 Aug 23 '17 at 23:36
  • @CarlWitthoft - The student in question was giving "extra expense" as a reason for flipflopping back to saxophone. I was just looking for the cold hard facts so we could have a rational discussion. It might seem like a stupid question to you, but in my experience it is helpful to get the answer to even a stupid question, to ground a difficult discussion with some objective facts. – aparente001 Aug 29 '17 at 14:28

A professionally made reed costs something like 12 to 15€ here, it should last 6 to 8 weeks if not played excessively. Mass products may be cheaper, but possibly not every one is fun to use.

Otherwise I would only recommend two microfibre pull-through swabs (one for boot, one for wing joint) instead of the wooden sticks with wool, which tend to put more dust into the instrument than they get humidity out of it, as well as some grease for the cork joints (should be the same as for saxophone). Since these last for years, they don't add to the costs significantly.

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In the experience of both husband and friends, the most expensive part of playing a reed instrument like the clarinet, sax, oboe, English horn, and bassoon is the purchase of reeds. Today, companies like Legere make synthetic reeds that have a much longer life and a less tedious process than cane reeds. My husband plays clarinet, two friends play, respectively, oboe and bassoon/contra bassoon professionally. All have been quite unhappy with the tedium of cane reeds, the fact that out of a box, maybe half are playable, the rest junk. Even when cutting their own reeds, both my oboist and bassoonist friends say the 50% ratio holds. The synthetic reeds last and, despite their cost, save significant amounts of money per year for all three of them. Of course, some players abhor synthetic reeds, but it might be something to try.

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  • Thanks. I think he has understood now that I'll support him with bassoon even if it's a bit more expensive than some other band instrument, and also that the cost difference isn't really that significant. // I will ask about synthetic reeds at our local music shop. – aparente001 Aug 25 '17 at 5:12
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    You're very welcome. BTW, bassoon players are scarce, especially these days. You'll find that, if you have a local university music school, they will welcome him for private lessons at a very reduced fee, if they even charge him. Grants and scholarships are also often provided when the student demonstrates natural talent, affinity, and willingness. – DLKeur Aug 25 '17 at 5:17

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