2013-05-04 [Clarinet] Thumbs Up! (your left one, this time...)

[Clarinet] Thumbs Up! (your left one, this time...) Sent Saturday, May 4, 2013 View as plaintext

Clarinet Mentors
For clarinetists who want to perform more easily and beautifully
In This Issue                                           May 3, 2013                       
  • A Note From Michelle Anderson - Cantando Festival in Whistler
  • Free Training - Improve finger technic by changing your left thumb position
  • Michelle Recommends - The International Clarinet Organization
  • Clarinet Is Easy - Step-by-step video lessons to help you improve your clarinet playing and save you a lot of time and frustration
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(You can also view information-filled past issues of the Clarinet Mentors newsletter at the link above.) 
A Note from Michelle Anderson

Hello Everyone!

I hope your springtime is going well (if you are in the northern hemisphere, otherwise, I hope autumn is going well). Vancouver is in full bloom, which is beautiful. I am looking forward to taking part in the Cantando Music Festival in Whistler BC this weekend. One of my favourite groups (which I am lucky enough to play with), the Pacific Symphonic Wind Ensemble, is performing two headline concerts on Saturday evening, each to about 1000 school band students. I love the energy of a student audience. I will also have the pleasure of leading some clarinet masterclasses with some of the students while I am in Whistler. I think ski season is nearly over, but it is always nice to stroll through Whistler village and see where so many events took place during the 2010 Winter Olympics. It was a very festive time for our part of the world. I am looking forward to some good music, and good company with my musical colleagues.

Another highlight of my week was seeing one of my students perform a very exciting piece called Black Dog - Scott McAllister. This piece is written for clarinet soloist and wind ensemble, and is based upon some rock guitar licks found in the Led Zepplin piece by the same name. It features some very high altissimo notes, some fast fingerings with unusual alternate fingerings, and it is very fun. This particular student is in his last year of high school, and had won a competition at his high school to be the featured graduating soloist at his school band concert. This is a very competitive school, with a superb music program, and he worked very hard to win this honour. Watching his progress, was inspirational to me, and reminded me of some valuable things. He had his last lesson with me about 5 days before the performance, and he asked me if he needed any more. I said "No - you are totally ready to perform this piece." He looked startled. In all of the years that he has studied with me, I always had some little piece of feedback to make it a bit better. In this case, he had worked so hard, and so thoroughly, that I honestly believed he just needed to go out and enjoy the fruits of his labour. I think he was quite pleased that we had declared it "done". He then made a comment (quite sincerely) that the piece really was not so hard after all. This is where I had my revelation. If you listen to Black Dog (check out Johathan Cohler's excellent performance at  http://youtu.be/v4XVow4gT-0 ), I do not think that anyone would ever declare it to be "not so hard". What my student had done, and what any one of us can do, is simply worked at one bar at a time until each bar felt easy. He put in many hours, and he persisted until he knew it. At that time, the piece truly did feel "easy" to him. I laughed, and told him that if I recorded his comment today and played it back to an earlier version of himself (say two months ago), he likely would not have believed that anyone could consider this piece to be easy. I pointed out that he had earned this position by taking 4,815 (or so) small, and thorough steps, to learn the whole piece. He sounded fabulous, and gave a performance that many students and parents will remember for years to come. I hope that we can all realize that learning any instrument is really just a whole bunch of little steps that happen one after another, until we can play something that is "not so hard". 

If you are new to the Clarinet Mentors community,  I welcome you to this newsletter. It comes out every two weeks, usually on Wednesday,  and contains some of my favorite clarinet pointers and ideas for you.


Enjoy your clarinet this week, and thanks for being a part of my community!


Free Training - Faster Fingers by Focusing on a Thumb
Do You Want to Cross the Break More Easily?
Have You Ever Paid Much Attention to Your Left Thumb? (You should...)
I have seen several students this past week who were able to identify short sections within their music that were giving their fingers trouble. They just couldn't quite play it quickly enough, or smoothly enough, or evenly enough. The interesting common factor among these players was that their troubles mostly originated with how they used their left thumb. Earlier in this newsletter, I mentioned that one type of success simply comes from doing one small detail well, and then doing a whole bunch of small details well until we have great big success. 
Today's free training is about one small thing - your left thumb. I have recorded a video with a lot of detail about one small thing. However, I have seen firsthand how changing this one small thing can lead to much more ease of fingering for many players. It is definitely worth trying. There is a worksheet to accompany this video which you can download here:
You can use the finger patterns on this worksheet, and I also recommend that you create your own patterns based upon whatever music is currently challenging you.  I encourage you to try this for two weeks, and see if you notice a difference in your overall technic.
Please add your comments and questions to the YouTube comments section below the video. I enjoy hearing from you, and I do check in to answer those comments a couple of times a week.
Click on the image above to view this video. I have more videos currently in production. If there are topics that you would like help with, please send me some suggestions. If you are on Facebook, you can post your comments at: http://www.facebook.com/ClarinetMentors
Michelle Recommends - The International Clarinet Association
In their own wordsThe International Clarinet Association  is a community of clarinetists and clarinet enthusiasts that supports projects that will benefit clarinet performance; provides opportunities for the exchange of ideas, materials, and information among its members; fosters the composition, publication, recording, and distribution of music for the clarinet; encourages the research and manufacture of a more definitive clarinet; avoids commercialism in any form while encouraging communication and cooperation among clarinetists and the music industry; and encourages and promotes the performance and teaching of a wide variety of repertoire for the clarinet.
They have a quarterly magazine, The Clarinet, that is full of interesting clarinet-related articles. If you sign up as a member, you will receive the next issue in June. There is also a huge clarinet festival every summer that is a gathering of all things "clarinet". I highly recommend that you look at all of the resources available at:


Clarinet Is Easy - Your Step-by-Step Beginner Course - Now Available! (Also enjoyed by many intermediate level players)
How To Solve Your Common Clarinet Frustrations and Play Clarinet More Easily
I firmly believe that if anyone has the "recipe" for how to play clarinet, things are really relatively easy to do. Most of our frustrations come from inadvertently learning bad habits along the way. With that in mind, I have created for you a 10-lesson comprehensive course for beginners (and self-taught intermediate players) that gives you the tools to truly learn the clarinet easily, while avoiding all of the most common frustrations that can plague us. I believe that these lessons can save you hours of grief by giving you the best practise systems that have worked for hundreds of clarinetists. The lessons have great content, and are presented in a video format so that you can watch them again and again. If you would like to play with more ease and have a clear understanding of the fundamentals of clarinet playing, you can get more information on the Clarinet Is Easy course here (including some free preview videos):
If you are curious about this, you can also try the first lesson with a 100% Money-Back Guarantee. If it is not the right style for you, you get your tuition refunded, no problem.
About Michelle Anderson
Michelle Anderson, the founder of Clarinet Mentors,  is a professional clarinetist and teacher who currently lives in Vancouver BC. Her professional career spans  30 years and she currently plays regularly with the Vancouver Opera Orchestra, the Pacific Symphonic Wind Ensemble and the West Coast Chamber Music series. She has performed with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the CBC Vancouver Orchestra, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Touring Orchestra and many other groups. Michelle currently specializes in teaching adults to play clarinet more easily and quickly through online resources, and conducts the Vancouver Clarinet Choir.
Thanks for reading this biweekly newsletter. If you think a friend would enjoy this, please feel free to forward it. If they want to  enrol in the Clarinet Mentors Community, they can go to www.learnclarinetnow.com.
Helping you to find success on your instrument with sound teaching techniques, and useful learning systems.

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