• Back to Basics Boot Camp

    The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on all of us in many different ways. One of the most common refrains I’m hearing and seeing from so many musicians is that their practicing schedules are completely out of whack. That’s why I’ve created my Back to Basics Boot Camp. I developed this boot camp to help clarinetists get back in the swing of things in the practice room. During this 15-day boot camp, you’ll rebuild your embouchure and physical endurance, regain technical abilities including articulation, and improve your musicality and phrasing. This boot camp is completely free, and I hope it’s the impetus many musicians need to get back in…

  • Self-care tips for music educators teaching online

      This post also appeared on the Music Under Quarantine blog. Each person around the world is facing their own unique challenges in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the challenges many educators are facing is maintaining motivation and positivity, which is essential to help students stay engaged as we finish the school year. One of the unofficial job descriptions for music educators is to embrace your role as a cheerleader and motivator. A good teacher must be knowledgeable and skilled at their craft, but they must also inspire creativity and enthusiasm from their students. But it can be challenging to motivate others when you’re feeling anxious or uninspired…

  • 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…

  • Clarinet Double Lip Embouchure: Overview, History, and Significance

    To double lip, or not to double lip, that is the question (at least for many clarinetists)! There are few topics of debate which spark such spirited discussion among clarinetists as the decision to use a single or double lip embouchure. If you don’t already know, a single lip embouchure is one in which the lower lip covers the lower teeth, and the upper teeth make contact with the top of the mouthpiece. In a double lip embouchure, both lips (upper and lower) are curled over the teeth (again, both upper and lower), and the lips – not the teeth – make contact with the mouthpiece. This embouchure is like…

  • 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…

  • Keeping Time: A Short History of the Metronome

    I am a self-proclaimed metronome maniac. You’ll always find a metronome clicking methodically away throughout my practicing routine, used both as a speedometer and as the rhythm police. It helps me keep time and gain speed as I learn new pieces, and I feel strange when I practice without it. Long story short, I love metronomes. Even though I love music history, I’ve never given much thought to the origins of my trusty practice companion. Imagine my surprise when one of my students told me that the “inventor” of the metronome actually stole the design from someone else! Obviously, I had to investigate this sordid history… If we’re being quite…

  • 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…