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Blaire Koerner image standing with bassoon

Photo by Anna Maxwell NSP Studios

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Bassoonist | Educator | Career Advisor


Dr. Blaire Koerner is an accomplished chamber and contemporary bassoonist, educator, and career advisor. She is co-founder of Hats+Heels, a bassoon and harp duo that focuses on interdisciplinary storytelling and commissioning. As a freelancer in upstate New York, she has performed with groups such as Ensemble Signal, Symphoria, and Broadway’s tour of My Fair Lady. As an educator, Dr. Koerner is adjunct bassoon professor at Syracuse University and instructor at Eastman Community Music School, where she received the Jack L. Frank Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2016. As the Associate Director of Eastman School of Music’s Institute for Music Leadership, Dr. Koerner instructs and advises musicians of all levels on developing knowledge, skill sets, and connections that will help them fulfill their dreams and career goals. Dr. Koerner has a Doctorate in Bassoon Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music.

Photo by JKShafer

Blaire sitting on rock wall



As a freelance bassoonist, Blaire has performed and collaborated with a variety of ensembles from local orchestra’s to Broadway tours. She is a returning artist for the June in Buffalo Festival and Slee Sinfonietta at the University at Buffalo. There she played with the New York group Ensemble Signal and renowned violinist Irvine Arditti. Blaire is also a substitute bassoonist for Syracuse’s Symphoria & Binghamton Philharmonic. In addition, Blaire has traveled internationally on her instrument including in Austria, Italy, Germany, France, and Switzerland.
Hats + Heels Logo


Blaire is a founding member of Hats + Heels, a quirky duo of bassoon and harp that focuses on storytelling. Their innovative performances are infused with a variety of art forms and technology that help them weave colorful tales ranging from comedic to heart-wrenching, educational to ludicrous, and exploratory to enlightening.  They aim to engage audiences through the universal intrigue of an entertaining story, incorporating words, images, fashion and movement, allowing space for individual interpretation.

Aiming to expand bassoon & harp repertoire, H+H commissions new works, encouraging composers to incorporate elements beyond the musical realm. Their album Women Are…, released in 2022, includes all new repertoire by women-identifying composers exploring women-related figures, characters, topics, or ideology to celebrate the 100th year since the passing of the 19th Amendment supporting women’s right to vote.

Hats + Heels Duo photo

  "Now THIS is an incredible demonstration of what the bassoon should sound like. So many different tone colors, but always with clarity, connection, and intent. Absolutely gorgeous.

Jaw dropping." 

Vinny LaMonica, bassoonist,

educator, and composer.

"Esther Swift's Alice in Wonderland Suite is another highlight. This four-movement work is haunting and highly imaginative. There is an edge of intensity in Koerner's lower register that works perfectly in contrast with her sweet sounding upper register..."

Dr. Ryan Reynolds, International

Double Reed Society

2023 Album Review

Women Are... album cover


Through my bassoon teaching, I strive to provide a sense of community. Oftentimes, young bassoonists find themselves alone in their section and have little familiarity with the instrument prior to starting their double-reed journey. Together, we explore the opportunities to connect with other players, listen to repertoire that demonstrate the power of the instrument, and discover fantastic professionals who have changed the landscape of the bassoon.

A key component of Dr. Koerner's teaching is the overarching mission of building self-sufficiency and independence in her students. A firm believer that learning is a never-ending, life-long process, she strives to give her students the skills necessary to become their own teachers. Her lessons and discussions include setting individual goals, determining outcomes, asking critical-thinking questions, directing student self-assessment, ultimately amassing a wealth of resources and connections.


These teaching practices have been integral to Dr. Koerner’s bassoon teaching for over a decade. Be it younger students, college-level or practicing adults, as adjunct bassoon instructor for Syracuse University's for Setnor School of Music, and instructor at the Eastman Community Music School (ECMS), Blaire encourages, guides, counsels and assists her students in every way she can.


In her chamber coachings, Dr. Koerner emphasizes the need for players to collaborate and rely on one another to guide rehearsals and improve as a group, focusing on providing constructive feedback, and developing acute listening skills. She has coached the ECMS Honors Wind Quintet, wind chamber groups for the Summer Classical Studies Camp at Summer@Eastman, and New Horizon chamber ensembles for adults.

Syracuse Bassoon Student

“I loved that we started the year by discussing what I wanted to learn about. It made the entire experience feel like my choice in my education. Many times, that element feels kind of lost, but in our lessons, I always felt that I was gaining knowledge in things I needed to learn in terms of bassoon and things that I wanted to learn, especially in reed making.”

Eastman Community Music

School Student

"Blaire is awesome! I Ioved interacting with her and I always looked forward to talking with her during our office hours!


She really helped me understand something when I wasn’t always getting it."

Honors Wind Quintet Member

“I just wanted to thank you for helping me with my applications for colleges. I have been accepted at Eastman, Juilliard, and Curtis!! I also wanted to thank you for all the guidance you provided in quintet rehearsals, and for sticking it out no matter how obnoxious we were… It was a blast and I really miss it!”

Blaire teaching a Reed Class at Luzerne
Studio Lesson image
Dr. Koerner addressing a class at Eastman Community School


As the Associate Director of the Institute for Music Leadership, at the Eastman School of Music, Dr. Koerner guides young artists on creating successful and fulfilling careers in the arts. Through curriculum development and 1-on-1 guidance, she supports musicians as they pursue their personal and professional goals.


Outside of Eastman, Dr. Koerner has been invited to present on topics such as majoring & minoring in music, networking, drafting application materials, and discovering career options. Higher education institutions where she has presented include The College of New Jersey, University of Oregon and Florida State University.  In addition, she has been invited to speak at summer programs and festivals including Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival, and Eastman Community Music School Summer Classical Studies Camp.

Eastman Student, D.M.A in Performance Literature, Piano

“I have worked with Blaire Koerner many times over the past twelve months, and while I have progressively fine-tuned my job application materials since the beginning, I am always amazed that her insight and constructive criticism never runs dry. She makes me feel confident with my submissions because she knows the field and how we measure up on paper. I’ve recommended Dr. Koerner to my fellow classmates because she is one of the best-kept secrets at Eastman, and one that I hope doesn’t remain a secret.” 


Blaire K.S.Koerner, Bassoonist | Educator | Career Advisor



Nevertheless by Megan Bledsoe Ward - Hats+Heels Duo

Nevertheless by Megan Bledsoe Ward - Hats+Heels Duo

East Coast Premiere performance of Megan Bledsoe Ward's Nevertheless Commissioned for BARP by Archipelago Collective Composer's Notes: Funding generously provided by the American Harp Society and the International Double Reed Society This piece was inspired by Elizabeth Warren, who in 2017 objected to the confirmation of Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General by reading a letter by Coretta Scott King that spoke to Sessions’ abuse of power in silencing minority voices and actively impeding social justice advocacy. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell objected to this letter being read on the senate floor, on the grounds that it impugned the conduct of a fellow senator. McConnell later spoke of the incident by stating that even though she was warned not to continue reading the letter, “Nevertheless, she persisted.” This line, “Nevertheless, she persisted,” has become a rallying cry for progressives, feminists, and social justice advocates across the country, and it was very inspiring to me in its idea that regardless of how powerful the opposition, we should persist in doing what we know to be right and just. So this piece is partially a reaction to the divisive state of our country and our world. Even though it feels dire, nevertheless, I think it is important, if not crucial, to continue making art. This is also an apt title for this particular piece, because I was writing for two instruments that are often misunderstood. We often think of the harp as being associated with angels and heaven, and yes it can play beautiful music, but it can do a lot of other things too. The bassoon often gets lumped into playing “oom-pas” or, like the cello, imitating the vocal quality of the human voice. And while these instruments can and often do fulfill these roles, I wanted to highlight how effective they can be in other scenarios, that might be more like funk beats or rock and distortion sounds. Most of all, I wanted this to be a really fun piece to listen to and to play. You’ll notice that I included some extended techniques on both instruments: the harpist will use a piece of paper woven between the strings to add a buzzing sound in the middle of the piece, while other sections highlight harmonics or playing close to the soundboard. The bassoonist will perform a glissando at times, slowly sliding from one note to the next, and will use flutter tongue for a growl to match the tone of the paper between the strings of the harp. Performed by Hats+Heels Duo Dr. Blaire Koerner - bassoon Dr. Rosanna Moore - harp Recorded by Marc Webster at Blue on Blue Recording, Rochester NY


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