• 21-Day Clarinet Discovery Challenge

    If you’re like many clarinetists this past year, your motivation to practice probably experienced its fair share of ups and downs. While this is certainly understandable, it can be difficult to become motivated and inspired to begin practicing and trying to achieve your musical goals. This is why I’ve decided to create a 21-day clarinet discovery challenge – to help you discover (or rediscover) your favorite pieces, players, and other sources of musical inspiration. Each day, you’ll be given a new prompt to explore and research so you can learn more about the clarinet. Many of these challenges take place outside the practice room, but some challenges invite you to…

  • How to make your own clarinet thumb cushion

    Sometimes clarinet can be a pain in the…thumb! If your right thumb is sore from playing clarinet, you can use a thumb cushion on the thumb rest to alleviate some of the pain. (Note: If the weight of the instrument is causing pain or discomfort, you should consider using a neck strap). Although clarinet thumb rests are inexpensive and can be found online and in most music stores, you probably already have the materials to make your own! Here are a few options you can use to cushion your thumb: pencil grip – choose between foam and rubber grips, select your favorite color, and cut to size rubber tubing –…

  • Quick Fix Friday: Set Your Embouchure Before Playing

    Happy (almost) weekend! It’s been a while since I’ve written a Quick Fix Friday, and I thought I’d refresh this series with a small change that can make a big difference in your clarinet playing! Today’s quick fix deals with embouchure and helps you create a more even sound. If you suffer from popped, delayed, or otherwise imperfect attacks when you play a note, be sure your embouchure is set before playing. If you are trying to play while still putting your embouchure in place (firming the corners, flattening the chin, or any other movements), this can lead to inconsistent attacks. Before playing a note, set your embouchure as you…

  • How to prevent your clarinet from cracking

    Having lived in super cold environments these last few years (Québec, Iowa, and Manitoba), I’ve done a lot of research into ways clarinetists can protect their clarinet from extreme conditions and potential cracks. The good news is that there are some precautions you can take to prevent your clarinet from cracking. The bad news is that sometimes, no matter how well you care for your clarinet, cracks can still happen. Here are a few steps you can take to protect your clarinet: Make sure to break in your new clarinet. New clarinets are most prone to cracking, so make sure you break it in properly. Keep your clarinet in a…

  • What do clarinet and coffee have in common?

    Longtime readers of this blog probably know by now that I love coffee (and all other forms of caffeine). It dawned on me recently that a lot of the words we use to describe clarinet tone are also coffee buzzwords (pun intended): rich smooth dark velvety robust smooth and many more! While this is just a funny coincidence, there is a larger similarity I’d like to discuss. Just like you probably have your own unique coffee preferences (cream and sugar, cold brew, or however else you take your coffee), you also have your own unique clarinet preferences, in specific regards to equipment. Some clarinetists prefer mouthpieces with closer tip openings,…

  • The Science of Squeaking – What Your Squeaks are Trying to Tell You

    If you’re a clarinetist, you probably learned very quickly that squeaks are just a fact of life. Hopefully, as you improve and begin to develop your skills on the clarinet, your squeaks will become fewer and less frequent. But in the meantime, let’s talk about ways you can stop the squeaking. First of all, what is a squeak? (besides embarrassing, if you’re in band class) A squeak is simply an unexpected overtone. More simply put, a squeak is just a really high note that you played by accident. Here’s a bit of clarinet acoustic science: Whenever we play any note on the clarinet (called the fundamental), we are actually hearing…

  • 101 Clarinet Compositions Written by Women Composers

    Happy Women’s History Month! To celebrate, here are 101 clarinet compositions written by female composers. I know there are many more wonderful works than the ones I’ve included here, so I am planning on making this a multi-part series. Leave a comment below with your favorite piece(s) for me to include on the next part! By the way, if you want to learn more about female clarinet history, here are some other articles I’ve written you might be interested in reading: Famous Female Clarinetists Throughout History 100 Famous Female Clarinetists 100 More Famous Female Clarinetists Clarinet method and étude books written by women Without further ado, here are 101 clarinet compositions…

  • Clarinet Articulation Troubleshooting Guide

    Let’s talk about tonguing, shall we? For something so simple in theory, there are certainly quite a few variables which might impede your progress. Articulation on string instruments or the piano can clearly be seen, but it is much more difficult to identify potential articulation issues on wind instrument since we must rely only on what we hear. (Unless you go high-tech and film the inside of your mouth while playing.) If you aren’t satisfied with the quality of your articulation, ask yourself these questions below to see if you can identify possible problems. Most importantly, never neglect the quality of your articulation in pursuit of articulation speed. (You might…

  • Metronome Mistakes You Might Be Making

    Just like most people know they should be staying hydrated, sleeping more than 6 hours every night, and not subsisting on an abundance of caffeinated beverages, most musicians know that they should probably be using a metronome when they practice. My students already know that I’m a bit of a metronome fanatic. Not only does regular metronome use help you to develop stable rhythm, but this rhythmic stability in turns creates more precise technique. (imperfect rhythm leads to imperfect technique) If you’ve already embraced the power of the metronome (good for you!), make sure you aren’t making any of these mistakes which could diminish your progress. Metronome mistakes you might…

  • The Evolution of the Clarinet Choir

    The clarinet is #blessed to have so many members of its family, and amazing things happen when these instruments are combined together to create a clarinet choir. Despite the wide variety of clarinets in different keys throughout its history, the clarinet choir as we know it is a relatively new concept. Let’s start from the beginning. The clarinet was developed around the turn of the 18th century by Johann Christoph Denner in Nuremberg, Germany, and it quickly gained traction as both an ensemble and solo instrument. Early clarinets had very few keys, and as a result were not able to access all key signatures. For example, in order to perform…