• How to use the Pomodoro Technique in the Practice Room

    If you’ve never heard of the Pomodoro Technique, it’s a time management skill used by people around the world. This technique utilizes specifically timed intervals (traditionally 25 minutes) called pomodoros, which is the Italian word for tomato. Why tomato? This is the design of the kitchen timer Pomodoro Technique creator Francesco Cirillo used while in university. During each pomodoro, you focus your attention to work on one task. Once the time is up, you move on to another task. After completing a few pomodoros, you are allowed to take a break. There are many more specific rules which you can discover on the official Pomodoro Technique website. The reason that…

  • Ways to reduce lower lip pain when playing clarinet

    Sometimes, playing clarinet can be a pain in the….lips. Some clarinetists may experience pain in their lower lip due to extended pressure and contact with the lower teeth. Although this is normal, you don’t have to play with pain. You’ll be happy to know that there are several ways to help alleviate this pain while you play clarinet. Here are a few of my favorite products that can help reduce lower lip pain in clarinetists: (I have personally tried items marked *. I have researched and collected several different products to share with you, and I strongly suggest trying different products until you find the best solution to reduce your…

  • The Clarinetist’s Tool Kit

    During my teaching these past few years, I’ve developed an analogy I like to call the clarinetist’s tool kit. I’m not referring to the literal tools a clarinetist might need such as pliers, screwdriver, or alcohol lamp (we’ll save that for another article). Instead, I refer to skills a clarinetist should develop to be ready for any musical situation. If you have an actual tool kit, there are probably a lot of tools you rarely or never use. You probably keep these because one day you might need them. This is true for the clarinetist’s tool kit. A clarinetist must develop a myriad of tools, some of which they might…

  • 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…

  • 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.…