• Random acts of kindness ideas for musicians

    The world can always use more kindness, and musicians can offer a unique type of kindness to others. In addition to using your music as a tool to spread happiness and good cheer, you can also use your platform and community to make someone else’s day a bit brighter. Here are a few random acts of kindness ideas for musicians: Leave a complimentary and encouraging comment on another musician’s video, recording, post or other type of content Send a DM to tell someone what their music means to you Like, share, retweet, or promote the work of another musician or artist Reach out to musicians you haven’t spoken to in…

  • 13 Productive musical activities for summer vacation (that aren’t practicing)

    Even though summer just officially began, it might feel like it’s been forever since your last semester ended. If you want to maximize your time you have until school begins again, here are a few ideas to get you motivated: Update your CV. Take a walk down memory lane and record all of the cool concerts, events, outreach, teaching, and other activities you’ve done this past year (or since you last updated your CV). Make a repertoire list. Repertoire lists are important documents to have for applications and auditions, so it’s important to create or update your list while you have some extra time. Make a musical bucket list. This…

  • How to assemble a clarinet

    The clarinet certainly does have its fair share of pieces, equipment, and accessories. Here’s everything you need to know to properly assemble your clarinet: Parts of a clarinet from top to bottom Mouthpiece (with ligature and reed) Barrel Upper joint Lower joint Bell Steps to assembling a clarinet Lay the case on a stable, flat surface and ensure that the case is not upside down before opening Attach the bell to the lower joint, being careful not to press any keys (silver parts) Attach the upper joint to the lower joint, being careful to not press any keys with excess pressure Make sure the bridge key is aligned (this connects…

  • How to break in a new clarinet

    If you are the proud owner of a new clarinet, congratulations! I wish you and your new clarinet a happy future filled with many wonderful musical memories. To increase the longevity and quality of your clarinet, here are a few tips to help you properly break in your new clarinet: Is it a plastic clarinet? If so, you don’t have to follow any formal break-in process. Break in processes are only necessary for wooden instruments to help the material adjust to its new environment. Is your wooden clarinet used? Hopefully, its previous owner already broke in the clarinet, but it never hurts to break it in if you aren’t sure…

  • Should clarinetists use a neck strap?

    Chances are, if you’re a clarinetist (especially one who watches videos of other clarinetists on YouTube or social media), you’ve probably seen comments regarding someone’s decision whether or not to use a neck strap. So, should clarinetists be using neck straps? Are neck straps a sign of weakness (as I’ve seen many comments suggesting)? Spoiler alert: Each clarinetist gets to form their personal opinion about whether or not they choose to use a neck strap. Here are a few things to consider before making (or re-evaluating) your choice: Have you ever experienced upper extremity pain while practicing? Many clarinetists have chosen to use a neck strap to alleviate pain resulting…

  • The Curse of the Yellow Clarinet

    Longtime Jenny Clarinet readers know that nothing fascinates me more than the dark, strange, or creepy history of the clarinet (like the clarinet curse or the bizarre deaths of historical clarinetists.) While researching an entirely unrelated subject, I stumbled upon an old book which mentions a superstition involving a yellow clarinet. This book, written in 1899 by Leon Mead, is titled The Bow-legged Ghost, and Other Stories: A Book of Humorous Sketches, Verses, Dialogues, and Facetious Paragraphs. According to this book, “There is a peculiar superstition among certain theatrical people that an old-fashioned yellow clarinet in the orchestra is a sure omen of bad luck or misfortune to them.” This…

  • 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…

  • The T3 Warm-up Routine

    One of the questions I’m asked most frequently is how to create a proper warm-up routine. Your warm-up routine sets the tone (both literally and figuratively) for the rest of your practice session, so it’s essential to create a regimen to help you succeed. While each musician’s warm-up routine should be personalized to fit their musical goals and upcoming performance obligations, there are three components which should be included in all warm-ups – I call these T3: The T3 stands for tone, technique, and tonguing – the trinity of any well-balanced warm-up routine. Here’s a brief description of each component with a few ideas to help you incorporate them into…

  • The Complete Guide to Clarinet Articulation

    There are more than a few…controversial…clarinet topics. Once you learn the basics, you learn that nothing is really as basic as it first appears. One of these hot topics? Articulation and tonguing. This is why I’ve waited so long to publish this complete guide. I’ve done guides on tuning, resonance fingerings, long tones, and other clarinet fundamentals, but discussing articulation to an audience of predominantly clarinetists seemed a bit ambitious, to say the least. Please note: Before we dive into this complete guide, I want to make it very clear that there are many different articulation beliefs, philosophies, fundamentals, and concepts in the clarinet world. Ask a room full of…