• 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…

  • Overcoming clarinet undertones

    Clarinet players everywhere are quite familiar with the dreaded squeak. But what about the squeak’s distant cousin, the undertone? Squeaks are easily identifiable – shrill, piercing, and distressing to any dogs in the nearby vicinity. An undertone is more subtle – it is the grunting, hollow sound that is literally under the tone you are trying to play. Undertones can happen in any register, but they are most common in the clarion and altissimo register. Just like squeaks, undertones are a completely normal part of being a clarinetist. However, if you notice that undertones are a recurring issue in the practice room, here are a few causes and how you…

  • What piece should you practice next based on your coffee order?

    It’s no secret by now that I’m a big fan of coffee and other caffeinated beverages. One day recently, I was waiting in line at a café trying to decide what drink I was going to order when I began to assign clarinet repertoire to coffee orders. (You can take the clarinet away from the clarinetist, but you can’t take the clarinetists away from the clarinet.) Here are a few suggestions I came up with for repertoire to practice next based on your coffee order (with a few cheeky comments for each suggestion): Espresso – Nielsen Concerto, Op. 57 – You’ll probably need a few espressos to power through this…

  • Trill and Tremolo Tips for Clarinetists

    Confession time: I’m not a big fan of trills and tremolos. Something about seeing them brings me right back to middle school, when it was often a competition to see who could fit the most notes into the designated amount of time. Thankfully, my technique today is much better than it was in middle school, and I’ve also developed a few tips to help make trills and tremolos easier and dare I say…fun? First things first – what’s the difference between a trill and a tremolo? A trill moves between two stepwise notes (half or whole steps), and a tremolo moves between any two notes (not stepwise). Now that we’ve…

  • 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…