Saturday, January 26, 2013

Emergency Coat Hanger Surgery

While my newer Fox Model II has plastic push rods, many older Fox bassoons have wooden ones. On two different occasions I've had a student, and later a colleague, a pinch, about to perform, but finding their instrument nonfunctional. In both cases it was a broken, wooden push rod. Needing something the right diameter, sturdy, and cuttable, we turned to a standard wire coat hanger in both instances.

The story, as chronicled by our symphony tubist:

"Just prior to the downbeat of this afternoon's concert by the Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra, Sally's bassoon developed a problem. Elaine sort of diagnosed the issue and they tried to fiddle with it enough to free up the stuck push rod, but to no avail. Elaine and Sally had some basic tools in their cars, so exploratory surgery was performed by the Doctor upon the alter in the small chapel at Saint Andrew's Cathedral during intermission."

"It was determined that a push rod that travels through the body had been bent. It is made of plastic, so bending it back was not really an option. What to do, what to do...?"

"Elaine, Dave, Sally and I all discussed options and it was decided that a coat hanger could save the bassoon, this decision coming minutes from the beginning of the second half of our concert. Sally managed to locate a hanger, but it was not just some *random* coat hanger, but the personal properly of Starkey Morgan, Cellist Extrodinaire. So it was stolen and sacrificed to the cause. (Sorry, Starkey... ) (And yes, that IS a battered copy of Grout on the Holy Bassoon Alter. Eww, Grout! I hate that book... )"

"Elaine clipped the wire to the correct length and Dave filed the ends. Elaine installed the new push rod made from Starkey's erstwhile coat hanger. Sally tested it and IT WORKED PERFECTLY! HA!"

"I suggested that Sally put Starkey's now-ruined coat hanger back where she found it so we could see his reaction. Here he is, nonplussed, as he should be, since his coat hanger was stolen, mutilated, and now a working part in a bassoon key system. Thanks, Starkey! I'll buy you a brew to replace the hanger, man..."

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