• 30 Day Long Tone Challenge

    So now that you know all about long tones, it’s time to hit the practice room! The concept is simple: challenge yourself to play long tones every day for 30 days. First, choose which long tone level you are currently: Long tone newbie. You’re a beginner or younger student and have never practiced long tones before. Goal: Make long tones a regular part of your practice routine and find long tone exercises which you will practice consistently. Long tone frenemy. You have a love-hate relationship with long tones. You occasionally practice long tones, but you struggle with finding long tones that you like. Goal: Figure out how you can make long…

  • The Complete Guide to Long Tones

    You’ve probably heard your band director, private teacher, or other well-meaning music instructor tout the benefits of long tones at some point during your musical career. Maybe you’ve even been known to play a few long tones yourself (when the mood strikes). Better yet, maybe long tones are as integral to your daily routine as your morning coffee (#longtonesforlife). So what’s the big deal about long tones anyway? There’s a reason everybody keeps talking about long tones – they’re kind of a big deal for musicians. Whether you’re a long tone skeptic or believer, there’s no argument that long tones are super important for your musical growth and development. Much like…

  • Brymer Burns 🔥

    Celebrated English clarinetist Jack Brymer was not one to mince his words. While reading his book Clarinet, I’ve noted some of my favorite subtle critiques he offers, which I’ve dubbed “Brymer Burns.” Repertoire On the Bernstein Sonata: Possibly better to play than to hear, but makes its mark with audiences. On the Brahms sonatas: Little needs to be said about these two masterpieces except that they do belong to the clarinet and not to the viola. On the Antony Garlic Sonata for E flat clarinet: Modern, not difficult, and (dare one say?) highly flavoured. On the Saint-Saens Sonata. Slow movement is weak. On the Templeton Pocket Sized Sonatas: Should not…

  • The ABC’s of Famous Clarinetists

    The other night, I was having some trouble falling asleep. I tossed and turned, thoughts racing through my head. Most normal people (aka non-musicians) might count sheep or count backwards from 300 in increments of 3. What did my eternally dorky clarinet self do? I tried to name a famous clarinetist for every letter of the alphabet. I’ll admit, I had to stretch the rules a few times (using first names instead of last), but here are the names I used: Arrignon, Michel Baermann, Carl/Heinrich Cavallini, Ernesto Draper, Charles Eban, Eli Fröst, Martin Galper, Avrahm Hermstedt, Johann Ivy Benson Juler, Pauline Kell, Reginald Langenus, Gustave Marcellus, Robert Neidich, Charles Opperman,…

  • Quick Fix Friday: Breathe Like Kirby

    I love video games, especially when I can combine them with clarinet pedagogy. This week’s Quick Fix Friday is an analogy to help younger students (especially gamers) visualize proper breathing. I’ve taught dozens of beginner clarinetists over the years, and one of the most important fundamentals they must learn is air and breath support. Many younger students aren’t using enough air, and I can only say “More air!” so many times before we both get frustrated. Enter Kirby. He (or she??) is cute, cotton-candy pink…and a breathing machine! Anyone that’s ever underestimated Kirby in SSB (that’s Super Smash Bros., for any of my non-gamer readers) knows that his gale-force wind…

  • Quick Fix Friday: Head Position

    It’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted a Quick Fix Friday, so I’d thought I’d remedy that with a quick post on proper head position. You probably know not to slouch, cross your feet, or allow other poor posture habits into your practicing, but when was the last time you checked out your head position? An alarming number of clarinetists (student and professional) are guilty of dipping their heads towards their chests when they play. This is a no-no because it constricts your air flow, and we all know that bad air = bad sound. The quick fix? Check your head position in a mirror while you’re practicing to…