• 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 Clarinetist’s Guide to Braces

    Braces can do wonders to help create the perfect smile, but let’s face it – they’re a real pain in the…mouth. The majority of people will have braces at some point in their life. A common age to get braces is during the preteen or early teen years, which is coincidentally around the time many clarinetists begin their musical journey! Fear not – braces don’t have to put an end to your clarinet career! Here’s everything you need to know about playing the clarinet with braces, whether you’ve already played for a while or are planning to start after you get braces. Can you play clarinet with braces? Yes, although…

  • Alabama All State Audition Boot Camp for Clarinetists

    Happy November! The air’s getting colder as marching band comes to a close for another season, which can only mean one thing… All State auditions are just around the corner! That’s right, it’s time to dust off those scales and polish those etudes, because auditions will be here before you know it! Lucky for you, I’ve created a free 8-week boot camp for clarinetists of all ages to prepare for their All State audition, whether it’s your first time or you have a few auditions under your belt. I’m a veteran of the Alabama All State Band system, having made 1st chair in the Red Band multiple times, and I…

  • 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…

  • So You Want to Play an Auxiliary Clarinet?

    One of the great things about the clarinet is that it has quite the extended family. From the mighty contra-bass clarinet to the wailing E-flat clarinet, there is a veritable orchestra of clarinets at our disposal. Although each clarinet uses basically the same fingerings and similar fundamentals, each auxiliary clarinet presents its own unique challenges. Here’s everything you need to known about playing an auxiliary clarinet: Why should you play an auxiliary clarinet? To become more marketable. More clarinets = more gigs. Your band director or ensemble conductor asked you to double or switch. Most importantly: because clarinets are cool and you want to learn an auxiliary clarinet! Which auxiliary…

  • The Complete Guide to Long Tones

    You’ve probably heard your band director, private teacher, or other well-meaning music instructor tout the benefits of long tones at some point during your musical career. Maybe you’ve even been known to play a few long tones yourself (when the mood strikes). Better yet, maybe long tones are as integral to your daily routine as your morning coffee (#longtonesforlife). So what’s the big deal about long tones anyway? There’s a reason everybody keeps talking about long tones – they’re kind of a big deal for musicians. Whether you’re a long tone skeptic or believer, there’s no argument that long tones are super important for your musical growth and development. Much like…

  • The Musician’s Guide to Overcoming Burnout and Amotivation

    Being a musician is pretty awesome most of the time. You get to work with talented colleagues, play amazing repertoire, and share your art with audiences. But then there are those times when being a musician is stressful, invalidating, and downright lonely. Musicians can experience crippling anxiety, self-doubt, and constant pressure from listeners. But usually, this pressure comes from within. I’ve gotten quite a few private messages on social media the last few weeks from people who are lacking motivation and feeling burnt out: “The fire is gone.” “I’m struggling to find the same drive I had when I first started getting serious about music.” If this sounds all too…

  • The Complete Guide to the Clarinet Altissimo Register

    The clarinet is blessed with the largest range of the entire woodwind family. But Voltaire (and Peter Parker) were right when they warned us, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Our responsibility? To perfect the altissimo register so we don’t burst nearby eardrums or alarm any dogs in the nearby vicinity. The clarinet follows a logical fingering and keywork system. Once you’ve mastered crossing the break from the throat tone to the clarion register, all is fine and dandy until you start inching higher away from the staff. Things quickly turn from straightforward to clunky and confusing once clarinetists venture above the upper break (above high C) into altissimo-land. Then…

  • Upgrading From Plastic to Wood Clarinets: A Guide for Band Parents

    Clarinet parents have to put up with a lot – unrelenting squeaks, endless requests for more reeds, and seemingly never-ending equipment upgrades. The biggest and most daunting upgrade is when and how you should switch from a plastic to a wood clarinet. Unless you have previously gone through this process, upgrading from a plastic to wood clarinet can be stressful and confusing. You want the best for your child, but it’s tricky when there are so many brands, models, price ranges, retailers, and other factors to consider. Let’s start with the basics. Plastic clarinets vs. wood clarinets Plastic clarinets are great for beginners. Plastic is a resilient and durable material,…