Cornelius Boots is a master woodwind performer, innovator, composer and pedagogue.  He has been performing since 1986, teaching since 1996, earned 3 music degrees and a Japanese flute teaching license and been active in a wide variety of styles and contexts including rock, jazz, classical, Buddhist and experimental.  Out of these experiences he has created Wu Wei Woodwind Academy to embody and promote approaches, perspectives and methods that broaden, deepen, transform and inspire woodwind performers, students and audiences.

Breathe from the Heels: Tone, Alchemy and Inspiration

A rooted approach to effortless and powerful tone and an introduction to the wider implications of conscious and correct breathing, inside and outside of woodwind performance.

Mr. Boots will present the most valuable key elements of his breathing method for performers and instructors and open the floor for an enthusiastic discussion of this vital topic.

The second part of the class will connect conscious breathing and woodwind study/performance to the broader spheres of personal development, internal alchemy and the direct inspiration of your audiences and students.

The Return of “Breathe from the Heels”: Praxis and Dissolving Obstacles to a Fluid and Powerful Tone

This is the practical “lab” follow up to the Breathe from the Heels class wherein there is less talking and more physical movement.  Simple, safe kung fu stretches and some basic qi gong moves are introduced that promote flexibility and the dissolving of long-standing physical tensions.  Arms and hands are focused on, handouts will be provided, and participants will have an opportunity to share their own favorite stretches or exercises with the class.

Notes from Beyond the Edge of the Board: one version of a non-conformist’s woodwind career

With a performance career of 25 years and a teaching career of 15 years, reed renegade Cornelius Boots presents his entertaining, autobiographical tale in order to engender creative and inspiring discussion amongst participants.  Using his own education, career and endeavors as catalysts, the class as a whole will focus on the shadowy corners of the innovative, neglected or unheard-from corners of the clarinet world and speculate on a balanced, non-elitist, open-minded approach to clarinet education and performance.

Breath Wizard Etudes: new solo compositions prioritizing breath and tone awareness

The shakuhachi is a deceptively simple, end-blown, thick bamboo flute with 5 holes.  The primary repertoire (honkyoku) for it dates back 1000 years and consists of solo pieces from Zen Buddhist monasteries written as meditations on breath, nature, or esoteric Buddhist thought.  In 2010, after 10 years of studying the shakuhachi, Boots composed 27 pieces for a bass variant of the shakuhachi, called “Taimu.”  The best of these pieces have been adapted for Western wind instruments and notated in a new hybrid notation that combines aspects Western notation with the fluid, breath-oriented Japanese shakuhachi notation.  Although some players may utilize these pieces on a recital (a nice bass flute or meditative bassoon interlude, for example), the principal goal of studying these pieces is to have vehicles for creating a deeper awareness of and connection with the breath and the tone.  This is a constant goal with any piece: however, there are vital aspects of the design and intention of these compositions that force the player to focus on these things in a new and conscious way, over and above other musical facets such as rhythm, precision, speed, clarity or perfection.

In part one of the class, Boots will present the basics of shakuhachi, then introduce and demonstrate examples from both the traditional repertoire and his new compositions.  In part two, class participants will explore two contrasting pieces and discuss.

The Expanded Bass Clarinet: exploring sounds and techniques

Composing for the bass clarinet and bass clarinet-based ensembles since 1994, Boots has found a handful of so-called “extended techniques” very useful in expressing his musical ideas and textures as well as helping him to emulate sounds and techniques found in rock music.  When these “lesser used” sounds are mastered and treated with respect and discernment, they can add to the palette of the bass clarinetist in a way that creates an “expanded bass clarinet.”  Some of these include: circular breathing, throat harmonics, double-tonguing, demi-tonguing, slap-tonguing, flutter-tonguing, and growling/singing.

This class is primarily participant guided/determined and Boots will demonstrate and instruct and provide examples from his own compositions of the techniques that are of the most interest to the participants.