• 10 Quick Tips to Help Band Directors Improve Your Clarinet Section

    Band directors are kind of like musical superheroes – they have to maintain a working knowledge of all common (and sometimes not-so-common) band instruments. Not only this, but they have to share it in an easy-to-understand format with multiple students every day. Let’s hear it for band directors! Although I’ve never been a band director, I’ve worked in hundreds of band classes around North America, specifically with woodwind and clarinet sections. I’d like to share a few quick tips with big payoffs to all the band directors out there to share with your clarinet sections: And here are a few bonus clarinet care tips to help avoid accidents and broken…

  • What do rhythm and baking cookies have in common?

    I’m a stickler for good rhythm (ask any of my students!), which is why I use a lot of teaching analogies to discuss rhythm. One of them is baking. As a self-proclaimed novice baker, I know just how important the measurements are to achieve the perfect consistency of cookie (preferably a bit chewy IMHO), or whatever else you’re trying to create. Rhythm is no different – if you mess up the “measurement” or ratio of each beat/measure, your rhythm is off. Let’s take one of the most commonly mistaken rhythms – the dotted eighth/sixteenth combo, as seen below: If we convert the rhythm to a ratio, the dotted eighth note…

  • Clarinet method and √©tude books written by women

    This article was inspired by Dr. Victor Chavez, clarinet professor at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, who is having a Women Composers Festival for his studio this semester. Here is a list of clarinet method and √©tude books written by women (listed alphabetically by last name). I hope this will be a valuable resource for anyone who is trying to curate a more diverse repertoire collection. This is not meant to be comprehensive, so please let me know of any books I have omitted and I will add this to the list. Note: The following list is just clarinet method and √©tude books. If you’re looking for solo repertoire, check out my…

  • Common Clarinet Tuning Mistakes

    How do you tune a clarinet? No, this isn’t the start of a band joke (although I’d love to hear your punchlines if it were). Learning how to properly tune any instrument takes time – time to train your ears, time to learn how equipment responds to adjustments, time to listen and adjust to others, and many other variables. If you’re new to clarinet tuning, you should start by reading my complete guide on clarinet tuning to learn more about how the instrument works and factors which can affect tuning. Once you’ve got the basics, make sure you aren’t making any of these common clarinet tuning mistakes: Tuning before you…

  • 9 Educational and Engaging Ideas for Zoom Studio Classes

    Although teaching online will never replace in-person lessons, digital platforms like Zoom can present many opportunities to explore new methods to teach and share information. Here are a few ideas to shake things up at your next Zoom studio class: Organize a listening quiz. Create a playlist and use screen share to see how many students can correctly identify each piece. (Make sure to allow sharing of computer audio so students can actually hear the music, and make sure to hide the names of each piece.) Compete in a trivia challenge. You can use Zoom’s poll features to quiz students on repertoire, history, theory, pedagogy, and other important fundamentals. Host…

  • 9 Questions to ask yourself for more effective practicing

    Have you ever had one of those days in the practice room that feels like whatever you do, nothing seems to help you improve? If so, you might be asking yourself the wrong questions (or using ineffective internal talk). One of my biggest goals as a teacher is to help teach my students how to practice effectively. After all, I only get to see my students for 30-60 minutes each week, and the rest of the time they’re on their own in the practice room. Here are some targeted questions which will help create a more effective and productive practice session: What am I trying to improve? This sounds super…

  • Searching for universal clarinet truths

    Since I’ve committed to writing and publishing a daily blog this month, I thought this would also be a nice opportunity to explore some different topics and formats than I’ve done in the past. Instead of a pedagogical post, I thought I’d get a bit philosophical today. A few months ago, I was giving a lecture on musicpreneurship in Manitoba, Canada. (Little did I know that this would be one of my last live performances and lectures for the foreseeable future!). During this lecture, I made an innocuous remark about how there is no universal clarinet truth. I used this as a quick example to show how there are many…

  • The Importance of Musical Prompts

    One of the challenges in performance or audition situations is transitioning smoothly from one piece to another. It can be difficult to instantly switch from one style or musical character to another, so how you can practice these changes before you perform? By using musical prompts. If you’ve ever given a presentation, you’ve probably used cue cards. Instead of printing your entire speech on each card and robotically reading from them, you choose succinct prompts to help you streamline your thoughts. Or, if you’re an actor, you think of prompts or other cues to help you quickly get into character. Creating musical prompts is the same kind of idea. For…

  • Unsolved mysteries of clarinet history

    If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, it should come as no surprise to learn that I love clarinet history. I love learning about the people, places, and things that make the clarinet so great, and I especially enjoy learning about some of the more unusual bits of clarinet history. Although we certainly know quite a bit about the clarinet, there are several unresolved mysteries of clarinet history! Here are just a few: What other unsolved mysteries of clarinet history do you know?

  • 10 mistakes you might be making in the practice room

    Which do you want first, the good news or the bad news? The bad news is that even if you’ve mustered up the motivation to practice, you might still be losing out on those practice session gains if you’re not practicing effectively. The good news is that I’m here today to share 10 of the most common mistakes I’ve seen musicians make in the practice room which can hinder their progress. Quality of practice is always more important than quantity, so here are 10 suggestions to improve your practice room progress: Turn off your phone or set it to do not disturb mode. Let’s be honest here – how many…