Ben Hoadley

Ben Hoadley -What’s in your case?

Ben Hoadley has taught at the University of Auckland in New Zealand since 2007. He performs regularly in Australia with groups including the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, Sydney Symphony, Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Omega Ensemble.

Instrument – I play on  Heckel from the 1930’s. Before I bought it I had a newer Heckel, and then I tried every instrument I could get my hands on when I was living in the USA.  I just love the flexibility of this bassoon and knew immediately that it was “the one”. The story of how I ended up with it is a long one! 

Bocals –  A “pre-war” Heckel CC2 which is a great all rounder, and another pre-war CC1 that is my “secret weapon” for very high notes. It the ugliest bocal you’ve ever seen though as it was very badly made into a straight bend at some point. I also use a newer CD 1 as a back-up and for very soft playing, although I don’t usually have that in the case.  The CD has a thinner wall than the CC, and can work well with the older Heckels. Again, I’ve tried what seems like every bocal under the sun and am always searching. Selecting a bocal is an art in itself and requires experience. There are several “test notes” you can use to minimise confusion as a starting point, and response and intonation is the key. I always look for clean octaves, especially on the D’s and E’s, and an easy tenor register.

Reeds / Reed case – I have just bought one of Tanya’s beautiful reed cases which has already had a lot of great comments! I find a 4 reed box the perfect number for carrying around town. I have a larger 9 reed box also for when I am travelling, which is hopefully enough. I am known to live dangerously!

Case – A skinny Japanese made case bought in London about 12 years ago at huge expense, but it’s turned out to be the best investment and it’s still going strong! It’s a lovely design and sits nicely on it’s end when sitting on the train, etc. I had a shoulder strap added. 

The Lego name tag was a gift after I finished a week of sessions for “The Lego Movie” in Sydney. Always a good idea to also have your name/address permanently attached to the case somewhere else, say on a sticker on the inside shell under the case cover.

Other – I’m lost without my metronome/tuner although most people have that on their phone now, so there is no excuse for not using one! I don’t carry many reed tools as I like my case to be as light as possible (see above about living dangerously…). Ask any oboist I work with about my annoying requests to borrow pliers!

Comments – A cloth put between the long and wing joints just to minimise rubbing in the case.

Listen to – Radio NZ – Ben and the NZSO. Ben and the NZSO performing Alex Taylor’s bassoon Concerto – May 2017

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