• A Musician’s Guide to Fighting Imposter Syndrome

    Have you ever had a nagging feeling that despite all your years of hard work, dedication, and accolades, you still aren’t good enough to be a “real” musician? Maybe you won an audition, got a teaching position, or some other awesome post (congratulations!) but feel like your colleagues might think you don’t deserve to be there. Perhaps you chalk up your success to mere luck or factors beyond your control. That, my friend, is called the imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome can happen to anyone, but musicians seem especially prone to this phenomenon. Perhaps it’s all those years of ingrained sky-high expectations and fierce competition for opportunities. Whatever the reason, this…

  • How to Focus on Your Own Musical Progress and Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

    One of my favorite aspects of being a musician is all the wonderful friendships that have developed throughout my musical journey. I’m so #blessed to have met and performed with people from around the globe, and it’s so awe-inspiring to think that music is what brought us all together. Thanks to the powers of social media, it’s easy to stay in touch with my music friends. The downside of this is that it can be all too easy to get caught up in comparing your musical progress with the progress of your friends. Musicians embark on a multitude of different paths, and there is no universal journey – so why…

  • Why You Should Create Practice Rituals to Boost Motivation & Productivity

    Musicians sign a lifetime contract to commit to practicing consistently. Oftentimes, the hardest part is simply opening the case and committing to practicing – which is why you should embrace the power of rituals to increase motivation. Although you might not be able to practice at the same time or in the same place every day, you can build tiny rituals that signal to your brain it’s time to switch to practice mode. Scientific studies have proven that rituals can provide us with a sense of control and can even improve confidence – both of which are beneficial for a productive practice session. Here are a few suggestions to build…

  • Why You Should Cultivate a Fulfilling Life Outside of the Practice Room

    I used to think that everything I did should serve the clarinet and my musical growth. In addition to practicing unhealthy amounts each day, I would devour books on musicianship and artistry. I agonized about my slow progress from mere clarinetist to musical artist with compelling yet unique interpretations. I would wake up every morning at 5am to practice before class, and I would stay up late to do some score study and learn new repertoire. Even my exercise routine was tailored with lots of cardio to maximize my lung capacity when I played clarinet. I tried to live a lifestyle where everything was related to the clarinet. If I…

  • Why You Should Treat Long Tones Like Musical Meditation

    Over the past year, I’ve started exploring musical mindfulness and intentionality. I’ve been practicing yoga and meditation and noticing the parallels they share with music, and these have greatly benefited me as a musician. Meditation and mindfulness can mean different things to different people. For me, they are a chance to focus on the present moment without worrying about the past or future. They are also a chance to focus on breathing and connecting with your body. During this journey, I came across this profound realization: Long tones are meditation in a musical form.  I am a firm believer in the power of long tones, but too often they are…

  • 30 Day Self Care Challenge for Musicians

    Backpacks are filled, pencils are sharpened, and coffee is copiously consumed – that can only mean one thing… It’s time for another school year to begin! I hope everyone is settling nicely into their back to school routines. With so many new classes to take, people to meet, and subjects to learn, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of another academic year. It’s also just as easy to succumb to the stress and anxiety of exams, juries, recitals, auditions, jobs, and other real-world stresses. Mental health is always an important subject, but especially at the beginning of school when emotions run high. I’ve shared some mental health…

  • How and Why You Should Do an Annual Clarinet Checkup

    Life is busy. I get it. One day you start playing clarinet, and before you know it, ten, twenty, thirty, plus years have passed. Once you find your groove, it’s easy to coast along on autopilot without always making conscious decisions (or efforts) like you used to. It’s important to take some time every year to stop, re-evaluate, and make sure that you and your clarinet are both performing at optimal levels. I like to call this a clarinet checkup.  Here’s a checklist so you can schedule your own clarinet checkup: Is all my equipment still performing at the highest level? I’m not a big gear-head or equipment junkie –…

  • How to create a great recital program (and how it’s similar to planning a dinner party)

    Potentially unpopular opinion: I love creating recital programs. I have lists with ideas for future recital themes and programs, and it continues to grow with each new piece I discover. There is an art to choosing a great recital program – it should be well-balanced but also interesting for both audience and performer. Once you choose the program, you have to decide on a guest list of friends, family, and colleagues to invite. Then choose the date, find a venue, plan your outfit, etc, etc. If you think about it, planning a recital is oddly similar to hosting a dinner party. Selecting repertoire for a program is a lot like…

  • Sneaky Air Saboteurs

    When something goes wrong, clarinetists have a lot we can point the finger at – reeds, mouthpieces, ligatures, slippery hands…the list is endless! But the majority of the time clarinetists encounter problems, it’s usually the same culprit – air! Air is the driving force behind everything we do, and there are many sneaky air saboteurs which can impede your progress. Here are a few to be aware of while you practice: Improper chin position. Your chin should be parallel to the floor when you play. If you dip your head too low or raise it too high, you are obstructing air flow. Taking teacup breaths. Imagine you’re at a fancy…

  • Common Clarinet Emergencies and How to Fix Them

    Picture this: you’re having a productive practice session. Things are going smoothly, you’re feeling great, you’re even having a good reed day, and then… Emergency strikes! Clarinet players are bound to cross certain inevitable problems. Don’t panic! Here are a few common clarinet emergencies and how you can fix them: My swab got stuck inside my clarinet! This is usually caused by the material wadding up inside the tube. Twist the pull several times to decrease the size of the material and carefully try to pull out. If it won’t budge, don’t go all Hulk on it – take it to a certified clarinet technician. Avoid this happening again by…