• The Complete Guide to Clarinet Pinky Fingerings

    When you first picked up a clarinet, you probably noticed that it has quite a lot of keys (especially if we compare it to a trumpet or trombone)! Even though there are a lot of keys on the clarinet, each finger has its designated place, and the mechanics of the clarinet are relatively straightforward until you get to the pinky keys (we’ll save the side and throat tone keys for another day). The pinky keys (as many clarinetists call them) are controlled by the pinky finger on the left and right hand. It’s ironic that our weakest finger is in charge of controlling four keys on each pinky! (Note: This…

  • The Complete Guide to Crossing the Break on the Clarinet

    One of the most difficult fundamentals on the clarinet is crossing the break (which I abbreviate CTB). For such a small interval, it can certainly pose a multitude of problems. Here’s everything players and teachers should know to cross the break with confidence! What is the break? The break is the transition from the chalumeau (low) register to the clarion (middle) register. (There is also the upper break, when you transition from the clarion to the altissimo register, but we’ll save that for another article.) When clarinetists first cross the break, they are probably moving from a throat tone (open G, G#/Ab, A, or Bb) to the middle of the…

  • Clarinet Double Lip Embouchure: Overview, History, and Significance

    To double lip, or not to double lip, that is the question (at least for many clarinetists)! There are few topics of debate which spark such spirited discussion among clarinetists as the decision to use a single or double lip embouchure. If you don’t already know, a single lip embouchure is one in which the lower lip covers the lower teeth, and the upper teeth make contact with the top of the mouthpiece. In a double lip embouchure, both lips (upper and lower) are curled over the teeth (again, both upper and lower), and the lips – not the teeth – make contact with the mouthpiece. This embouchure is like…

  • How to relearn the clarinet after an extended break

    One of the great parts about playing clarinet is that it seems like everyone you talk to knows somebody who plays or played the clarinet. Once others discover that someone plays clarinet, they’ll usually reply, “Oh, my mom/dad/sibling/aunt/uncle/grandparent/–insert relative or friend– played clarinet!” The problem is that many of these clarinetists discontinue their studies when life gets in the way. I realize that not everyone is training to become the next superstar clarinetist (is that even a thing?), but it seems like such a shame to give up a fun hobby which can be a great outlet for self-expression and even cardio activity! I know most of us are stuck…

  • The Complete Guide to Becoming a Musicpreneur: Using Networking, Social Media, and Digital Marketing to Enhance Your Career

    This blog post was originally presented as a live lecture on February 29, 2020 at Brandon University (Manitoba, Canada) during the 10th annual Brandon University Clarinet Festival hosted by Catherine Wood. What is a musicpreneur? A musicpreneur (musical entrepreneur) is a musician who can turn their skills, expertise, and opportunities into successful business ventures which can enhance their careers and from which others can benefit. What key qualities should a musicpreneur have? Ability to think outside the box. There are countless negative headlines claiming that there is no future for classical music. This isn’t true – there are more opportunities for musicians than ever, but careers are changing and look…

  • The Musician’s Guide to Studying Abroad: How to Turn Your Dreams Into Reality

    Many musicians dream of one day studying abroad – to study with a certain teacher, experience different pedagogy, become fluent in another language, learn more about another culture, or just broaden their musical perspectives. But dreaming about studying abroad is where it ends for most people. I’m here to tell you how to turn your study abroad dreams into a reality. I’m an American clarinetist, and I’ve lived in 3 different countries and visited 30 countries (and counting!). I moved to Paris in August 2015 to study with Philippe Cuper at the Versailles Conservatory, where I received my master’s degree in Musique, interprétation et patrimoine (musical interpretation and cultural heritage).…

  • The Complete Guide to Developing Great Technique

    Ask any musician one thing they wished they could improve, and chances are most will respond with technique. Whether you’re trying to play faster, lighter, or more comfortably, technique is the vehicle that allows us to more comfortably express our musical voices. The secret to developing great technique is to think of technique-building as musical muscle training. Musicians are athletes, but we train our micro muscles (embouchure, fingers, wrists) instead of our macro muscles. Think of yourself as an athlete in training – listen to your body and don’t push yourself too much too soon. Keep this in mind as you embark on your journey to better technique. Once you’ve…

  • My First Solo: A Complete Guide to Choosing & Practicing Clarinet Repertoire

    The clarinet is #blessed with a wide variety of repertoire written in all styles and for all skill levels, with a scope from beginner to extremely advanced. This can be overwhelming when you’re making the leap from method and etude books to your first full-blown solo, concerto, sonata, or other serious repertoire.* Here’s everything you need to know to select, prepare, and perform your first clarinet solo: *Note: I am referring to solos of the clarinet repertoire – not one-page solos found in method books or simple arrangements of pieces for other instruments. When should I play my first solo? There is no correct age or years of experience, but…

  • The Complete Guide to Buying Your First A Clarinet

      There comes a time in every serious clarinetist’s life when transposing (or playing Mozart on B-flat) just doesn’t cut it anymore – you need to buy a A clarinet. Here’s everything you need to know before you make your purchase: What’s the difference between the A and B-flat clarinet? Historically, clarinets have been created in every key signature except F# and C#. In the olden days, primitive key work prevented any single clarinet from easily accessing every key signature, so performing a piece in D major required use of a D clarinet. Over time as clarinet manufacturers improved the clarinet, the need for a clarinet army diminished. However, certain…

  • The Beginner’s Guide to Orchestral Excerpts

    If you’re a musician, you’ve probably crossed paths with a few orchestral excerpts throughout the years. For such short snippets of symphonic literature, you’d think excerpts would be more manageable and less stressful…but unfortunately, that’s not the case. For the uninitiated, what are orchestral excerpts and what’s the big deal? I remember my first experience with an orchestral excerpt. I was asked to record an excerpt from the Brahms 3rd Symphony for an audition in early high school. Having been raised as your typical band geek, I was well-versed in the ways of marching band tunes, patriotic pep songs, and other school band toe-tappers, but I had had little knowledge…