• The Contemporary Clarinetist: A Resource List to Develop and Improve Extended Techniques

    Even though the clarinet has only been in existence for just over 300 years, it has certainly come a long way in this time. It has captured audience’s imaginations through its cantabile vocal qualities and virtuosic capabilities, and more recently, its slowly increasing lyrical and technical possibilities. During the last century, performers and composers have expanded the sound spectrums the clarinet can create by using extended techniques. Extended techniques are simply skills used outside of the traditional repertoire. Here are a few of the most commonly used clarinet extended techniques: Multiphonics Microtonality Circular breathing Double tonguing Slap tonguing Flutter tonguing Pitch bending and glissandi singing while playing key clicks If…

  • 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…

  • Let’s Talk About Ligatures: The Complete Guide

    For such a simple piece of clarinet equipment, there certainly are quite a few options! Let’s talk about ligatures for a bit. Sometimes, they’re overshadowed by the almighty mouthpiece (for good reason – we’ll discuss mouthpieces in another blog post). While the humble clarinet ligature may be tiny, it’s absolutely essential for clarinetists, even beyond its primary function of holding the reed on the mouthpiece. Before we get into the specifics, it’s time to dispel a common myth – ligatures absolutely make a difference in your sound and response. Many clarinetists believe that ligatures won’t make a discernible difference in sound, but this isn’t the case. Although ligatures will not…

  • The Vegan Clarinet

    A few years ago, I was talking to someone at a clarinet conference when they began discussing their search for vegan clarinet products. Even though I’ve been a vegetarian since 2004, I had never before considered this subject. According to Forbes, the number of people pursuing a vegan and vegetarian lifestyle is increasing. Even though vegans and vegetarians still comprise just a small percentage of the total population, there is an increased demand for eco-friendly products and transparency for ingredients and manufacturing methods. The clarinet is not naturally vegan, but it’s very easy to switch products and make adjustments to create a vegan clarinet. (And before anyone can beat me…

  • Clarinet Method Books to Help Develop Diverse Musical Genres and Styles

    It’s no secret by now that I love method books (as witnessed by my slowly increasing number of clarinet boot camps). Can’t get enough of ’em! I have a few favorite method books which are never too far from my music stand, but I do like to spice things up occasionally. I’ve worked through most of the standard books at this point – Baermann, Jettel, Klosé, Rose, Kell, Jeanjean, etc – and I thought it would be nice to explore a more diverse range of genres and styles for a change of musical pace. The clarinet is such a versatile instrument and can play music from a diverse repertoire, including…

  • 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…

  • The Clarinet Compositions of Meyer Kupferman

    Meyer Kupferman playing clarinet (image from milkenarchive.org) …the modern clarinetist may well be represented as our new hero or musical superman – our true 20th century ‘challenger’! He is not only our new soloist, our new chamber music leader but in many ways our new entertainer or magician…By now all of us realize the clarinet is capable of an impressive spectrum of sonorities. Composers who understand its dramatic arsenal of dynamics, attacks, its huge range and its exquisite legato – can create a plethora of design suitable for any musical gesture. To well disciplined fingers the clarinet’s fluent Boehm system keyboard lends itself to the most remarkable feats of virtuosity.…

  • 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…

  • The Clarinetist’s Companion to Daphnis et Chloé

    If you’re on the orchestral clarinet audition circuit, chances are you’ve encountered the second orchestral suite from Daphnis et Chloé. This suite is from the one-act ballet (or choreographic symphony, as Ravel himself described it) premiered at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris in 1912, and it has haunted challenged clarinetists ever since. The original ballet is about an hour long, but Ravel created two orchestral suites which can be performed with our without a chorus. The second suite, our topic of discussion today, is more commonly performed and features the recognizable “Danse générale.” Without further ado, let’s dive into some tips and tricks to help you prepare this challenging excerpt!…

  • 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…