• Secret Societies in Clarinet History

    In addition to the abundance of clarinet history’s unsolved mysteries, there is also evidence of secret societies in clarinet history. Most notably is Austrian clarinetist Anton Stadler (1752-1812), who is well-known as “Mozart’s clarinetist.” Mozart and Stadler became good friends and were both fellow Freemasons during the latter half of the 18th century. There are many rumors, mysteries, and even conspiracy theories surrounding Freemasons, but at its core, Freemasons were (and continue to be) a fraternal organization with the goals of enlightenment for its members. “Big deal, Mozart and Stadler hung out together in a fraternal group,” you might be thinking. You’re not wrong, but there are some interesting things…

  • How this famous composer of clarinet music inspired the Phantom of the Opera

    Did you know that one of clarinet history’s most celebrated composers might be responsible for partially inspiring Gaston Leroux’s novel The Phantom of the Opera? A bit of background: Even if you haven’t read the book, you’re probably familiar with the story of The Phantom of the Opera. A quick primer for anyone who’s unfamiliar: a mysterious phantom named Erik lives under the Paris Opera house, the Palais Garnier, in a subterranean lake. He falls in love with soprano Christine, much to the displeasure of her friend Raoul. As in most operas, drama, destruction, and diabolical plans ensue. Gaston Leroux was partially inspired by the rumors and unusual occurrences that…

  • Fun Encore Pieces for Clarinet

    The clarinet is #blessed with a large and varied repertoire of works, from solo pieces to chamber ensemble. There are several more “serious” works (looking at you Brahms) that are great for recitals, but it’s also nice to balance these with shorter and more lighthearted pieces to use as an encore. Here are a few fun encore pieces for clarinet: Guisganderie by Faustin Jeanjean Czardas by Vittorio Monti Flight of the Bumblebee by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov Clarinet on the Town by Ralph Herman Clarinet Candy by Leroy Anderson Carnival of Venice by Alamiro Giampieri Immer Kleiner by Adolf Schreiner Viktor’s Tale by John Williams Étude Caprice by Moritz Moszkowski Il Convegno…

  • 10 Ways to Create More Musical Phrases

    There comes a moment in every musician’s practice routine when they stare at a piece of music and think… “I have no idea how I want to play this!” Practicing the nuts and bolts of a piece (technique, rhythm, instrumental fundamentals) is relatively straightforward (most of the time, anyways), but musical interpretation opens up an entirely new realm of possibility. Phrasing choices and musical interpretation of a piece will depend greatly on the genre, style, era, and a multitude of other factors. Here are a few suggestions to help you experiment and create a more compelling phrase: Identify the phrases. It’s hard to build a better phrase if you don’t…

  • Beginning Clarinet Milestones Checklist

    Whether you’re just starting out on your clarinet journey or are teaching someone who is, there are many milestones you will encounter during the first year of playing! Although the clarinet is quite a popular instrument, there certainly are quite a few fundamentals, pieces of equipment, and countless other details to consider! This is why I created this checklist – to help both beginning clarinetists and their teachers stay organized and make sure you’re not missing any important musical milestones. Note: I have organized each category in a progressive sequence, but you should customize your learning/teaching strategy for each student to ensure they have optimal progress. (Want a downloadable version…

  • Equipment List for Beginning Clarinetists

    This post originally appeared on the Jellynote blog. Jellynote is a great website to find sheet music, articles, and other resources for musicians. I’ve enjoyed exploring their website using Jellynote Premium (which was generously gifted to me) the past few months, and I hope you’ll check out their website! Congratulations on beginning your journey to learn the clarinet! I might be a bit biased, but I think it’s the best instrument, and I’m so excited that you want to learn to play the clarinet. Before you start playing clarinet, you should check to make sure that you have everything you need so you can focus on music-making (instead of struggling to find a mouthpiece or…

  • Reed Advice for Beginning Clarinetists

    This post originally appeared on the Jellynote blog. Jellynote is a great website to find sheet music, articles, and other resources for musicians. I’ve enjoyed exploring their website using Jellynote Premium (which was generously gifted to me) the past few months, and I hope you’ll check out their website! The clarinet is a wonderful instrument, but it certainly does require several pieces of equipment, including reeds! For beginning clarinetists, selecting and caring for these reeds can be confusing, so here’s everything you need to know: Learn the lingo: Strength. Reed strength measures the flexibility of the cane, and this is typically measures in half or quarter strengths (generally ranging from…

  • Clarinet History Story Time: When Heinrich Bärmann was questioned by the police

    When clarinetists think of Heinrich Bärmann, the famous Weber clarinet concerti usually come to mind. But did you know that he once had an unfortunate encounter with a Venetian canal, a petty concert organizer, and the Venice Police? This tale is recounted in the English translation of Louis Spohr’s autobiography. This entry is from October 12, 1816, and this story was shared by the German musician Aiblinger who had been living in Venice for the past sixteen years: “Count Herizo, a very rich nobleman, who, during the winter, gives a concert at his house every week, to which he frequently invites as many as two hundred persons, besought Bärmann, through a third…