• 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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 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.…

  • 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…

  • 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…