• Back to Basics Boot Camp

    The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on all of us in many different ways. One of the most common refrains I’m hearing and seeing from so many musicians is that their practicing schedules are completely out of whack. That’s why I’ve created my Back to Basics Boot Camp. I developed this boot camp to help clarinetists get back in the swing of things in the practice room. During this 15-day boot camp, you’ll rebuild your embouchure and physical endurance, regain technical abilities including articulation, and improve your musicality and phrasing. This boot camp is completely free, and I hope it’s the impetus many musicians need to get back in…

  • The Wind Player’s Guide to Building and Increasing Endurance

    If you’re like most musicians, you’ve probably taken an extended break from time to time. While the break is usually much-needed and well-deserved, it can be challenging to regain and extend physical endurance once you start practicing again. Here are a few tips for wind players to help you increase your endurance. Disclaimer: No matter how musically in-shape you are, it is always important to take regular breaks during your practice sessions to avoid injury. I take a 10-15 minute break every 45 or 50 minutes, but feel free to adjust this to your routine. Go slow. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your embouchure or overall…

  • 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 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…

  • Jettel Boot Camp

    By now, dedicated readers of Jenny Clarinet should know about my love for scales. I could practice them all day, every day without ever getting bored, and my scale book of choice was Baermann…until I discovered the Jettel scale exercises! Don’t get me wrong – there will always be a special place in my heart for Baermann, but the Jettel scales offer a wider variety of patterns (including both melodic and harmonic minors) and are devilishly difficult. I’ve worked on a few isolated scale patterns and exercises, but it’s much more fun when we all suffer work through the Jettel together! I’ve created the Jettel Boot Camp for September 2019,…

  • 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…

  • My Winter Warm-Up Routine For Cold Days

      Move over Black Friday, it’s time for Blue Monday! According to some studies, Blue Monday is supposedly the most depressing day of the year. Even though we made it past Blue Monday 2019 (which fell on January 21), spring still seems so far away amidst this bleak winter. To combat the interminable winter and protect your clarinet from harsh winter environments, here is my winter warm-up routine (both literally and musically) I use to beat the winter blahs: Start early. No, I don’t necessarily mean you should practice early (although I secretly believe morning people rule the world). Arrive to rehearsal in advance so your clarinet has time to…

  • International Day of Baermann

    ūüď£Calling all clarinetists!ūüď£ Last October, I created the Baermann Boot Camp, a practice plan which allows you to complete Carl Baermann’s eponymous scale book in one month. Clarinetists from around the world bonded over torturous key signatures and those dreadful octaves, and we emerged stronger and more technically proficient after an intensive month of scales. A lot of people probably thought I was crazy for cramming so much music into just 31 days. Well, I’m about to share an even more ambitious idea. I’d like to introduce the inaugural International¬†Day of Baermann on October 24, in honor of the 208th birthday of our patron saint of scales.¬†To celebrate, we’ll be…

  • 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…

  • Quick Fix Friday: Head Position

    It’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted a Quick Fix Friday, so I’d thought I’d remedy that with a quick post on proper head position. You probably know not to slouch, cross your feet, or allow other poor posture habits into your practicing, but when was the last time you checked out your head position? An alarming number of clarinetists (student and professional) are guilty of dipping their heads towards their chests when they play. This is a no-no because it constricts your air flow, and we all know that bad air = bad sound. The quick fix? Check your head position in a mirror while you’re practicing to…