• 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 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!…

  • Musical Inspiration from Leonard Bernstein

    This blog post originally appeared as a digital clarinet studio lecture for the Iowa State University clarinetists. For this week’s studio class, I would like to share one of my greatest musical inspirations with you all. Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) was a true Renaissance man – conductor, composer, pedagogue, author, and cultural icon. He made classical music accessible to the general public and used it to promote peace and break down barriers around the world. Here are a few of my favorite videos of him discussing teaching, classical music, and many other subjects which are still relevant today. Teachers & Teaching Young People’s Concerts – What Does Music Mean (Part 1…

  • The great singers (and how singing can help your clarinet playing)

    This blog post originally appeared as a digital clarinet studio lecture for the Iowa State University clarinetists. Singing is one of the most natural forms of music-making (and also one of the oldest). When you sing, you have no instrument, reeds, mouthpieces, ligatures, or any unnecessary equipment to bog you down. Granted, it takes a well-trained set of lungs and other specific vocal skills which can take many years to perfect, so singing is not quite as easy as many people seem to believe. I believe that listening to great singers and incorporating singing into your personal practice is an important part of any instrumental pedagogy. Singing can help you…

  • Virtual clarinet scavenger hunt

    This blog post originally appeared as a digital clarinet studio lecture for the Iowa State University clarinetists. Now that you’ve explored some diverse repertoire in our last virtual scavenger hunt, it’s time for another challenge. We’re going to broaden our focus to help you discover many things this week in the wonderful, wide world of clarinet. I would like for you to browse the internet to find the following people, places, and things (all new-to-you): clarinetist historical clarinetist chamber ensemble with clarinet clarinet brand and/or model reed brand and/or cut terrible stock photo of a clarinetist clarinet website, blog, forum, or newsletter book about the clarinet clarinet method, étude, scale,…

  • 33 Fun musical challenges to keep you motivated while you’re at home

    For everyone out there who is stuck at home for the unforeseeable future, here are some fun challenges and ideas to keep you occupied and motivated until you can return to your normal schedule: Listen to all Mahler symphonies in a single day Listen/watch Wagner’s entire Ring Cycle (Der Ring des Nibelungen, WWV 86) Have a photo shoot with your instrument (hello, new DIY headshots!) Make a carrot clarinet (or see what other vegetables work well) Write a chronological list of your instrument’s major works (bonus points if you do it from memory) Tour music museums virtually Take advantage of all the free concerts online Make an arrangement of your…

  • Practice with purpose: stop wasting your time!

    This blog post was originally presented as a live lecture on March 7, 2020 at Texas Lutheran University during the ClariNETWORKS festival hosted by Paula Corley. If you feel like you are never making any progress no matter how long you practice, here are some tips to help you practice with purpose and stop wasting your time in the practice room: Organize your music space. You can’t have a productive practice session if you’re constantly having to stop and search for music, equipment, and accessories. Have a plan before you open the case. Keep a practice  journal with goals, tips, inspiration, and advice to help you stay on track throughout…

  • 31 Clarinet Compositions Written by Female Composers

    In celebration of Women’s History Month, I’ve created a list of 31 pieces for clarinet written by female composers, one for every day this month. By no means is this list comprehensive, but I hope this serves as nice introduction to the wide variety of wonderful music for clarinet by women composers. I have arranged this list alphabetically by composer’s last name. Please note that many of these composers have written several works featuring the clarinet. Unsuk Chin Concerto Yi Chen Chinese Ancient Dances Yvonne Desportes Trois petits contes Marie Félicie Clémence de Grandval Deux Pièces Sarah Feigin Fantasy for clarinet and piano Keiko Fujiie 3 Pieces, Op. 5 Ida Gotkovsky…

  • How to store your reeds to optimize performance and longevity

    Over the last few weeks, I’ve been hearing reed complaints from several of my clarinet students and friends from around the world. Specific problems have run the gamut – warpage, inconsistency, fluctuations in resistance – you name it, and someone has complained about it. Despite the wide variety of reed problems it seems everyone has been experiencing, there is crucial step all reed players must take to protect their reeds – proper storage. Think of it like this – reeds are essentially plants. Like most other plants, reed cane (Arundo donax if you want to be more scientific) does not like being exposed to drastic changes in environment. Just like…

  • 100 More Famous Female Clarinetists Throughout History

    Last year, I wrote a list of 100 famous female clarinetists throughout history (I also wrote a more in-depth article on historical female clarinetists). Obviously, 100 is barely breaking the surface of all the wonderfully talented female clarinetists from around the world (past, present, and future), so here is the much-awaited sequel to this list. As always, this list is not meant to be comprehensive. I intend to make this a multi-part series, so please comment below with other female clarinetists who you would like to see featured on subsequent installments. Juliette Adam Deborah Andrus Anaïde Apelian Arngunnur Árnadóttir Emily Bernstein Joséphine Besançon Marie Billotte Betty Bley Anne Boeykens Carmen…