• My Winter Clarinet Essentials

    Winter weather can wreak havoc on clarinets (and reeds) if you’re not careful, so here are a few of my winter essentials for clarinetists: protective case cover – Make sure your clarinet case is warm and well-insulated with a padded case cover. (You can even wrap a scarf or towel around the case inside for an added layer of protection.) humidifiers – These are important to have in both your clarinet and reed case to maintain a consistent humidity level. There are many different humidifiers available, and a few of my favorites are Oasis, Dampit (I use the violin one), Boveda, and sponges cut to fit inside a toothbrush holder.…

  • Music for clarinet and toy piano

    Longtime readers of Jenny Clarinet know that I have a fascination with lesser-known instruments (this blog post I wrote a few years ago even led to me learning how to play the theremin!). Even though I had heard of the toy piano, it wasn’t until I attended a Yann Tiersen concert in Paris a few years ago and heard Tiersen perform on the toy piano that I began to wonder if any music had ever been written for clarinet and toy piano. Spoiler alert: yes it has! (but as you might imagine, it’s not a long list) Here are some pieces I’ve stumbled upon which feature clarinet and toy piano:…

  • The Art of the Mock Audition

    New year, new auditions on the horizon! Even though 2022 just started, audition season is in full swing as musicians prepare for conservatory, university, orchestra, and other auditions. An essential component of any successful audition is the mock audition, which will help you build physical endurance and mental resilience to prepare for the real deal. Here’s everything you need to know: What is a mock audition? Auditioning is an art form, just like music. Just like you practice to prepare the required music and excerpts in hopes of playing your best, you should also practice taking auditions to develop the mental fortitude necessary to play well despite (completely normal) audition…

  • Joy to the World Holiday Scale Challenge

    Bring joy to the world, one scale at a time! Did you know that the opening melody to Joy to the World is just a descending major scale? Why not add some holiday cheer to your practice routine by practicing this tune in all major key signatures? Better yet, why not challenge yourself to playing this melody in all key signatures in under one minute? I’ve written out this melody in all 12 major key signatures, and you can download this for free here. If you’re up for the challenge, feel free to share your videos with me or tag me on social media! P.S. If you’re looking for other…

  • How to become better at clarinet transposition

    Clarinet is a pretty cool instrument, if I do say so myself. However, it would be nice if we didn’t have to transpose all the time! Making matters worse, the abundance of auxiliary clarinets also means an abundance of…transposition! First things first: What is transposition? If you asked every member of a band, orchestra, or other ensemble to play a C – their C on each individual instrument, also known as written pitch – the resulting cacophony would make you cover your ears. That’s because different instruments are pitched in different keys. The most common clarinet is pitched in Bb, pianos are pitched in C, and there are a variety…

  • Which historical clarinetist shares your astrological sign?

    Want to feel more connected to historical clarinetists? Look below and see which historical clarinetists share your astrological sign! Note: This is not a comprehensive list of historical clarinetists. We are #blessed to have so many incredible musicians throughout history, and this is just a small sample of historical clarinetists and their birthdays. Want to learn more about clarinet history? Check out my Clarinet History 101! Aquarius (January 21-February 18) Heinrich Baermann – February 14, 1784 Jack Brymer – January 27, 1915 (January 27 is also Mozart’s birthday!) Pisces (February 19-March 20) Jean-Xavier Lefèvre – March 6, 1763 Richard Mühlfeld – February 28, 1856 Aries (March 21-April 19) Frédéric Berr –…

  • How learning extended techniques can make you a better clarinetist

    Confession time! I used to have a complicated relationship with extended clarinet techniques. I used to think that double tonguing was just a technique so you didn’t have to work on polishing your single tonguing. I used to think that multiphonics were unnecessary. And circular breathing? It seemed too difficult to do well! But you know what? I was completely wrong! I’ll always enjoy listening to my beloved Brahms, Tchaikovsky, and other late-Romantic composers, but over the years I’ve developed quite an appreciation for contemporary music. And it wasn’t until I started playing contemporary music that I truly began to appreciate how much dimension extended techniques can add to music…

  • How to make an awesome audition recording

    It’s getting close to the end of the year, which means it’s time for… Audition recordings! Whether you’re auditioning for university, orchestras, or other opportunities, you want to create a polished and professional product to stand out from the crowd. Here’s some advice to help you make an awesome audition recording: Plan way in advance. The number one mistake I see students making is waiting until the last minute. I get second-hand anxiety when I know people record the week before a deadline (I’ve even had students tell me after the fact that they recorded hours before the deadline!). As soon as you find out the details and deadline, start…

  • How to make your clarinet articulation lighter

    In my opinion, one of the most difficult clarinet techniques to do with polish and pizzazz (and eventually speed) is articulation. Once you’ve gotten the hang of the basics (click here for my complete guide to clarinet articulation), a common complaint I hear is that the articulation is too heavy. Playing with heavy articulation presents a few problems: It lessens the musical effect of playing well in all styles of music (such as lyrical and expressive works). It seriously limits your maximum articulation speed. If you’ve already read my articulation troubleshooting guide and think your articulation is still too heavy, here are a few common causes and solutions: You aren’t…

  • Musical Phrenology and the Case of the Missing Composers’ Skulls

    Classical music lovers celebrate the life and legacy of titans such as Mozart, Bach, Brahms, Mahler, and many others by listening to and performing their music. We study their lives and musical legacies to try and learn more about their ideas and inspirations. Some people take other routes. Throughout history, people have tried to study the human body to learn more about how it works. As you might imagine, the bodies of famous people were considered highly valuable in hopes of learning more about their intellect. Which is what led to the theft and displacement of several skulls of classical musicians. Phrenology is the pseudoscience of studying human skulls in…