• 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…

  • Band directors: Should your clarinetists be double tonguing?

    Throughout the years, I’ve taught quite a few sectionals and have worked with many school clarinet programs, and a common question band directors ask is if their clarinetists should be double tonguing. There are no definitive answers because it depends on the ability level and repertoire of your band program, but here are my thoughts: (Disclaimer: These are my opinions as a clarinet performer, researcher, and pedagogue. Band directors reading this know the ability levels of their students and can make specific recommendations and decisions based on their musicians.) If I had to give a universal answer, I would say that no, clarinetists shouldn’t be expected to double tongue (at…

  • How to rock your virtual audition

    Another audition season is upon us, and this one will probably look a lot different than many of the previous auditions you’ve taken! Even if you know your way around Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, and the multitude of other essential platforms this past year, a virtual audition is a lot more pressure than your average class or meeting, which is why I’m here to help! I’ve performed and adjudicated several virtual auditions and interviews, and here are my top tips so you can focus on the music and rock your audition: Make sure you have the tech info. There are few things worse than frantically digging through your inbox before an…

  • How practicing is a lot like building a gingerbread house

    If you’ve ever built and decorated a gingerbread house, you know that there’s a process to achieving a festive, Instagram-worthy result. When you’re building a gingerbread house, you can’t expect all the pieces to come together at once – you have to start with a solid foundation, measure and create patterns for the walls, make sure the icing is the right consistency to hold all the pieces together, collect an assortment of candy decorations, and a plethora of other methodical steps to ensure a beautiful (and delicious) final result. When you’re building a gingerbread house, you might encounter bumps and bruises along the way – that’s just how the cookie…