William Short

William Short was appointed Principal Bassoon of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in 2012. He previously served in the same capacity with the Delaware Symphony Orchestra and has also performed with the Houston Symphony and the Philadelphia Orchestra. William has performed as soloist with the Vermont and Delaware Symphonies, as well as the New York Classical Players. He is the bassoonist in the Gotham Wind Quintet.

A dedicated teacher, William serves on the faculties of The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, and Temple University, as well as the Verbier Festival and Interlochen Arts Camp. He has presented classes at colleges and conservatories around the country and at conferences of the International Double Reed Society, for which he serves as an officer.

William has also performed and taught at the Lake Champlain, Lake Tahoe, Mostly Mozart, Stellenbosch (South Africa), Strings, and Twickenham Festivals. An occasional editor and composer, his works have been published by the Theodore Presser Company and TrevCo-Varner Music.

Committed to forging connections between audiences and performers, William's articles on the subject can be found on the MET Orchestra Musicians' website, which has been lauded not only by The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, but also by noted arts consultant Drew McManus and prolific cultural commentator Norman Lebrecht.

William received his Bachelor of Music from the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Daniel Matsukawa and Bernard Garfield, and his Master of Music at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where he studied with Benjamin Kamins. He attended festivals including the Music Academy of the West, Pacific Music Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, and the Verbier Festival. Additional major teachers have included Jeanine Attaway, Kristin Wolfe Jensen, and William Lewis.

Why Fundamentals?

Fundamentalsscales, long tones, and the likeare boring. OK, I don’t actually believe that, but it’s a pretty widely-held opinion. So why do we do them? Moreover, in a time when we often hear that today’s young musicians “can play the instrument better than ever, but just aren’t musical,” what’s the benefit to focusing on things that are, by nature, basically inexpressive?

In short, it’s all about the music. Ben Kamins is fond of pointing out that we don’t work toward perfect evenness in scales and etudes, obsessively poring over every tiny inconsistency, because that’s how we make music. We do it so that when we’re playing Tchaikovsky or Mozart or Verdi, it is not technical demands, but expressive goals that dictate our musical choices.

So we’re (hopefully) agreed that they’re important, but how can we keep fundamentals interesting? I think it boils down to a specific mindset: Fundamentals provide a tremendous opportunity for self-discovery.

Case in point: Recently, I decided that I needed to practice more long tones. I have never been particularly conscientious when it comes to long tones, because I’ve always found them to be discouragingly difficult. So, much like my longtime approach to reed-making, I just wouldn’t do them.

So here’s what I decided to do: I practiced them for five minutes. That’s it. Every day, I would add or subtract a minute, but I carefully kept my self-imposed time limit so reasonable that I had no reason not to do it. I knew that I wouldn’t attain “perfection,” but by putting in a consistent, measurable amount of work on a daily basis, I arrived at a satisfying substitute. The experience became about seeing how much I could learn in a finite amount of time. It became a journey of discovery, rather than perfectionand that is why we practice fundamentals.