• 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…

  • Create a clarinet time capsule

    Maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t it seem like this year has felt like an eternity? I know that time will eventually pass, so I thought it would be a fun idea to create a clarinet time capsule to look back upon in the future. If you’ve never made a time capsule, it’s super simple! All you have to do is collect items or other memorabilia from the present and put it away for a set amount of time. (Just make sure you keep your time capsule somewhere you’re not tempted to peek before you’re supposed to!) You can add whatever you like to your clarinet time capsule, but here…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 21 Clarinet Compositions from the 21st Century

    The clarinet has quite an extensive list of amazing repertoire spanning across a multitude of styles and genres. We have our beloved masterpieces by Mozart, Weber, Brahms, and many more, but what about some more recent repertoire? Over the last few years, I’ve become more and more interested in modern clarinet compositions. Here are a few of my favourites from the 21st century. (By no means is this list meant to be comprehensive, so I suggest doing some research of your own to discover more of these wonderful pieces!) *pieces listed alphabetically by composer’s last name* Samuel Adler – Beyond the Pale (2002) Ofer-Ben Amots – Klezmer Concerto (2006) Nicolas…

  • 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…

  • 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 Curse of the Yellow Clarinet

    Longtime Jenny Clarinet readers know that nothing fascinates me more than the dark, strange, or creepy history of the clarinet (like the clarinet curse or the bizarre deaths of historical clarinetists.) While researching an entirely unrelated subject, I stumbled upon an old book which mentions a superstition involving a yellow clarinet. This book, written in 1899 by Leon Mead, is titled The Bow-legged Ghost, and Other Stories: A Book of Humorous Sketches, Verses, Dialogues, and Facetious Paragraphs. According to this book, “There is a peculiar superstition among certain theatrical people that an old-fashioned yellow clarinet in the orchestra is a sure omen of bad luck or misfortune to them.” This…

  • 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…