• Advice for recent music school graduates

    Congratulations on your graduation from music school! Whatever diploma or degree you received, I’m so proud of all of your hard work, dedication, and commitment to music. I know you’re probably experiencing a whirlwind of emotions right now – excitement, apprehension, fatigue (yay for final recitals, juries, exams, and projects!), uncertainty, and whatever else you’re feeling. All of these are completely normal, and they will help guide you along your future musical path. So, what next? After you’ve celebrated your graduation, you need to figure out what the next step is for your musical career. In addition to navigating my own post-diploma journey, I’ve also helped dozens of students prepare…

  • Self-care tips for music educators teaching online

      This post also appeared on the Music Under Quarantine blog. Each person around the world is facing their own unique challenges in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the challenges many educators are facing is maintaining motivation and positivity, which is essential to help students stay engaged as we finish the school year. One of the unofficial job descriptions for music educators is to embrace your role as a cheerleader and motivator. A good teacher must be knowledgeable and skilled at their craft, but they must also inspire creativity and enthusiasm from their students. But it can be challenging to motivate others when you’re feeling anxious or uninspired…

  • Questions for Musical Introspection

    This blog post originally appeared as a digital clarinet studio lecture for the Iowa State University clarinetists. The last few months have been a whirlwind of emotions for everybody. I’ve been feeling a bit introspective lately (and I’m sure I’m not alone), so I thought I’d share some of the questions I’ve been asking myself and my students. While the world feels like it’s temporarily on pause, now is a great time to take a step back and consider your role as a musician and how you can use your music and your experiences going forward. Here are a few questions I’ve been musing over the last several weeks. Feel free…

  • Practicing Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

    By now, you’ve undoubtedly learned that there’s no substitute for consistent and focused practice. But what if no matter how much you’re practicing, the results never seem to last? Here are some common practicing pitfalls and why these might be sabotaging your practicing efforts: Not using a metronome. For the love of Mozart (feel free to insert your favorite composer here), use a metronome! If you’re not using a metronome, you have no barometer to measure your progress. Using a metronome will vastly improve your rhythmic accuracy and help you keep track of your improvement over time. Playing things too fast too soon. Technique is built slowly and steadily (emphasis…

  • The Last Time You Ever Play a Piece of Music

    When I was going through my music library to decide which pieces to take with me to Iowa, I came across Robert Muczynski’s Time Pieces for clarinet and piano. I had performed this piece countless times around ten years ago, and I started flipping through the pages and remembering this piece’s significant role in my repertoire. It went with me to several competitions, including Astral Artists and Concert Artists Guild, where I performed it from memory, and I played it dozens of other times in recitals and other venues. As I read through my cues and margin notes, I realized that at some point in our musical journey, we put…

  • Playing Clarinet with Asthma

    Clarinetists know that one of the most important elements of clarinet-playing is, well….air. So, what can asthmatic clarinetists do to overcome respiratory difficulties when playing the clarinet? Asthma doesn’t have to stand in the way of your clarinet goals! The good news is that many studies have shown that playing a wind instrument “has the potential of being a long-term therapeutic agent for asthmatics” (you can read a few studies here and here). Here is some advice for clarinetists suffering from asthma to maximize their respiratory potential: DISCLAIMER: I am a clarinetist – not a qualified medical expert. Please consult your doctor before incorporating any of these into your practice routine.…

  • 10 Lists to Get You Organized and Inspired for the New Decade

    Happy New Year! There has always been something magical about the feeling of new years and new beginnings – a chance for newly invigorated ideas and goals. It should come as no surprise to longtime readers of Jenny Clarinet that I’m a huge fan of lists, so I thought I’d share a few of my favourite lists to get you motivated to make this decade your best yet! For each list, make sure you are thorough and detailed to reap the maximum benefits. (Note: the primary focus of each list is the last ten years, but feel free to expand to any timeline you want.) So, grab a pen and…

  • An End of Term Note of Encouragement for Musicians

    Whether you are currently a music student, teacher, freelancer, or any other type of musician, you are probably feeling the stress as another year comes to a close. Compounding that anxiety is the realization that we are about to enter another decade! I’m here to reassure you that you are so close to finishing this hurdle in your musical journey. I know that many of you reading this right now are probably burnt out and feeling uninspired. There never seem to be enough hours in the day to finish what you have to do, let alone what you want to do. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by everything, and you…

  • How to Play Well When You’re Feeling Under the Weather

    It’s that time of year again – and I’m not talking about the holiday cheer! Stress is high, immune systems are weak, and many of us are battling the unfortunate realities of cold and flu season. Unfortunately, the music doesn’t always stop when we’re feeling under the weather. As we all know, the show must go on, even if you’re not feeling 100%. If you are sick but have to perform, I’ve created a few tips to help you get through your performance. These are intended for performing – not practicing – while you’re sick. If at all possible, you should take a few days off practicing to fully recover.…

  • How to Identify Counterfeit Clarinet Equipment

    In recent years, there has been a noticeable increase in the amount of counterfeit musical instruments and accessories on the market. With the ease of online shopping, musicians can research a variety of options, compare prices, and read reviews. The downside to this is that many consumers unintentionally fall victim to purchasing counterfeit products. I spoke with François Kloc, President & CEO of Buffet Crampon USA about the rise of counterfeit clarinet products and red flags to avoid. Here are a few warning signs he mentioned which could indicate a counterfeit product: Be cautious of suspiciously low prices. This is the number one red flag for counterfeit products. Fakes will…