• 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…

  • 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!…

  • How to relearn the clarinet after an extended break

    One of the great parts about playing clarinet is that it seems like everyone you talk to knows somebody who plays or played the clarinet. Once others discover that someone plays clarinet, they’ll usually reply, “Oh, my mom/dad/sibling/aunt/uncle/grandparent/–insert relative or friend– played clarinet!” The problem is that many of these clarinetists discontinue their studies when life gets in the way. I realize that not everyone is training to become the next superstar clarinetist (is that even a thing?), but it seems like such a shame to give up a fun hobby which can be a great outlet for self-expression and even cardio activity! I know most of us are stuck…

  • The Complete Guide to Clarinet Articulation

    There are more than a few…controversial…clarinet topics. Once you learn the basics, you learn that nothing is really as basic as it first appears. One of these hot topics? Articulation and tonguing. This is why I’ve waited so long to publish this complete guide. I’ve done guides on tuning, resonance fingerings, long tones, and other clarinet fundamentals, but discussing articulation to an audience of predominantly clarinetists seemed a bit ambitious, to say the least. Please note: Before we dive into this complete guide, I want to make it very clear that there are many different articulation beliefs, philosophies, fundamentals, and concepts in the clarinet world. Ask a room full of…

  • Top tips to maximize remote clarinet education (for teachers and students)

    As music educators around the world make the switch to online lesson and course content, I would like to share several of my top tips for teaching clarinet virtually. Although it can be hard to replace face-to-face lessons, there are several cool features and ideas you can utilize during the next few weeks. I have been teaching Skype clarinet lessons for several years now, and here are my top tips to help your clarinet students with online lessons: Logistics Choose your platform. There are so many different options to choose from for online lessons. I like Skype and Zoom, but you can also try Google Duo, Facebook Messenger, or any…

  • 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…

  • Practicing Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

    By now, you’ve undoubtedly learned that there’s no substitute for consistent and focused practice. But what if no matter how much you’re practicing, the results never seem to last? Here are some common practicing pitfalls and why these might be sabotaging your practicing efforts: Not using a metronome. For the love of Mozart (feel free to insert your favorite composer here), use a metronome! If you’re not using a metronome, you have no barometer to measure your progress. Using a metronome will vastly improve your rhythmic accuracy and help you keep track of your improvement over time. Playing things too fast too soon. Technique is built slowly and steadily (emphasis…

  • The Last Time You Ever Play a Piece of Music

    When I was going through my music library to decide which pieces to take with me to Iowa, I came across Robert Muczynski’s Time Pieces for clarinet and piano. I had performed this piece countless times around ten years ago, and I started flipping through the pages and remembering this piece’s significant role in my repertoire. It went with me to several competitions, including Astral Artists and Concert Artists Guild, where I performed it from memory, and I played it dozens of other times in recitals and other venues. As I read through my cues and margin notes, I realized that at some point in our musical journey, we put…

  • 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…

  • How Musicians Can Avoid Becoming A Grinch This Holiday Season

    December is a busy time of year, but it’s especially hectic if you are a musician. It’s easy to become a bit Grinch-like if you’re running from gig to gig, consisting of caffeine and adrenaline, and trying to enjoy your family and friends at the same time. Here are a few ways musicians can avoid turning into a Grinch and regain some holiday cheer: Be selective about which gigs you commit to. Gigs are great, but being so overcommitted that you barely have any time to enjoy your family or friends defeats the purpose of the holidays. Try to be selective and prioritize the most important gigs this season so…