Let me preface this post by saying that the clarinet is a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of work. True progress comes from consistent practice efforts throughout many months, years, and decades.
That being said, there are a few quick and easy improvements you can make in under 10 seconds (yes, really!)
I’m excited to share even more ways you can become a better clarinetist in under 10 seconds. (If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the first blog post in this series – it was one of my first blog posts ever!)
Here are 10 more ways you can become a better clarinetist in 10 seconds or less:
- Take a good first breath. This simple act can contribute compounding effects throughout your entire performance. Take time to fully inhale to improve your tone, breathing, and more.
- Set your embouchure before playing. Many squeaks, popped attacks, and otherwise imperfect responses are the result of trying to simultaneously set your embouchure and produce a sound. Breathe, set embouchure, then release your air to avoid questionable attacks and improve your response.
- Release tension. Before you begin playing, take a few seconds to release tension from your jaw, neck, shoulders, arms, fingers, or anywhere else in your body holding on to tension.
- Bring the clarinet to you. Always bring the clarinet to your body instead of bringing your head, neck, shoulders, or upper body towards the instrument. If you do not bring the clarinet to you, this could create unnecessary tension or poor posture when you play.
- Make sure your music stand is set at a good height for you. Many musicians, especially those who share stands, are unknowingly sacrificing their posture to accommodate their stand partners. Make sure that your stand is raised to a comfortable level so that you are not playing with poor posture.
- Write in your music. I’ve seen too many people refuse to write anything in their music, and inevitably they will end up making the same mistakes. Use your pencil to notate accidentals, write instructions to yourself, or anything else that will help you prevent mistakes in the future. (Pro tip: The more specific, the better. Simply circling a note is a start, but it doesn’t give you enough information to remember why you circled it.)
- Play louder. I have a theory that the majority of mistakes are air-related. So, the next time you make a mistake, play louder. Playing louder forces you to use a larger quantity of faster air, which will probably help you improve the issue. If it does, you know that the issue was caused by improper air use. Once you’ve identified the culprit, you can troubleshoot other ways to customize the section according to dynamics.
- Slow it down. If you’re practicing a small section of music and keep making the same mistake, you’re probably playing it too fast. Musicians are guilty of playing passages too quickly too soon – there’s no shame in slow practice! Set the metronome back 10-20 clicks and work your way up gradually, playing the passage 3+ times in a row “perfectly” before increasing the speed.
- Practice with intention. Take a few seconds to evaluate your practicing – are you randomly repeating passages and hoping they magically improve, or are you creating specific goals and troubleshooting potential causes? Read more on my practice techniques to maximize your progress.
- Listen to your squeaks. If you listen carefully to what your squeaks are trying to tell you, you can correctly troubleshoot potential causes to fix these.
I hope these quick fixes help you along your path to consistent clarinet improvement!
If you’re looking for more clarinet quick fixes, check out my 100 Clarinet Quick Fixes digital download.