• What to Pack for Your Audition

    Congratulations!  You’ve passed the CD round for a competition, made it past a preliminary round, got accepted to an honor band (or All State Band), got your audition time for your college audition, or sent in your application for the latest orchestra audition.  You know the obvious next steps – and if you don’t, take a look at my audition checklist.  As you pack and prepare for your audition, carefully read any correspondence for any specific instructions or directions.  Whether you are competing in a solo, orchestral, chamber, or any other kind of competition, don’t forget to bring these items with you: A bottle of water – The last thing you…

  • The Prepared Musician’s Guide to Planning for Auditions

    Every musician’s favorite time of year is quickly approaching…audition season! Whether you’re preparing for college auditions, conservatory auditions, All State auditions, summer festivals, solo competitions, or some other kind of audition, it can be hard to plan the logistics of getting to and from each place (let alone play well at each audition!) That’s where I can help. You see, I have a little problem – I am an obsessive list maker. Not always a bad thing, but it can easily get out of hand. I use the following list for every audition I take to make sure that I don’t forget anything in the pre-audition preparation frenzy. For each…

  • A Very Clarinet Thanksgiving

    Today is the day we should all take a moment to reflect on the things that make us grateful. After careful consideration, here are a few things I am thankful for this Thanksgiving: That Nielsen only wrote one clarinet concerto That the Mendelssohn “Scherzo” is only 92 (…or sometimes 88…) I’m not playing Daphnis & Chloe anytime soon I don’t play contrabass clarinet Or alto clarinet I don’t have to read alto clef (save that nonsense for the violas and bassoons!) I don’t have to worry about double reeds Or make my own reeds, for that matter I don’t have to memorize music (poor pianists!) Clarinets are not as heavy…

  • Quick Fix Friday: Be Happy

    We’ve all been there. A frustrating practice session where nothing seems to go right. Not wanting to even think about your instrument after a long day. Feeling doubt and wondering why you even bother anymore. Losing an audition. And a million other reasons being a musician ain’t for the weak. So why do it? Hopefully, you still enjoy playing your instrument. It can be so easy to get caught up in the details, competition, and drudgery that being a musician entails. Take a few moments each day to remind yourself what you love about your instrument. Or maybe you don’t love it anymore – life is too short to pursue…

  • Quick Fix Friday: Right Pinky

    Hello, and happy Friday the 13th! Today’s quick fix will help polish your technique and make technical passages so much easier, all in one fell swoop. The secret? When possible, use your right pinky to play low E, F, F#/Gb, and G#/Ab or middle B, C, C#/Db, and D#/Eb (aka the “pinky notes”). If you’re coming from or going to another pinky  note, this won’t work (Clarinet Commandment: Thou shalt never slide from one pinky note to another). But take a look at the final line of Cavallini’s “Adagio and Tarantella”: It is much easier to play B with your right pinky than your left (or with both pinkies). Keep…

  • Quick Fix Friday: Breath Attacks

    What I’m about to tell you is so incredibly simple, you’ll be mad you didn’t think of it on your own (unless you already know, in which case, carry on with your Friday). You don’t have to use your tongue to start a note. Mind blown? In beginning band, most wind instrumentalists are taught to tongue every note, and we do so diligently as we progress. (This is not an article on proper tonguing technique – that’s for another day). There is nothing wrong with tonguing every note, but by using a breath attack, you are able to get a more delicate response from your instrument. If you didn’t already…

  • Ways to Upcycle Your Plastic Reed Cases

    If you’re a single reed player (here’s looking at you clarinets and saxophones), you’ve probably hoarded enough plastic reed cases to build a small house for your cat.  These plastic sleeves are useful in safely delivering reeds straight from the factory to your awaiting mouthpieces, but after you move the reeds from their sleeves to your reed cases (or other preferred method of storage), what can you do with the plastic sleeves? What’s the difference between recycling and upcycling? Basically, recycling is when an object changes forms. For example, a recycled Coke can might become a bicycle or parts for an airplane. This is a great website on recycling and discovering…