Enjoy scales (really...)

Sent Friday, September 21, 2012


For clarinetists who want to perform more easily and beautifully

In This Issue
  • A Note From Michelle Anderson - Happy Equinox
  • Clarinet Tips - An introduction to the "harder" scales
  • Free Training - One system to make hard scales feel easy
  • Michelle Recommends - Martin Frost

A Note from Michelle Anderson

Hello Everyone,

A big welcome to all of you who are reading the Clarinet Mentors newsletter for the first time. My hope is to continually share pointers and tips with you that help you to play the clarinet more easily.

I am reminded of how much music creates community as fall approaches. The wind ensemble that I have performed with for over 20 years resumed rehearsals last week. Like most community bands, the members of this group are not only my colleagues, they are great friends. I conduct an adult clarinet choir that is made of people like yourselves - enthusiastic adult performers who love to play. Some members of that group have performed together for over 10 years now. Music brings us together. If you are currently playing all by yourself, you may want to look for a community band in your neighbourhood.

My young son is having a birthday party this weekend that includes friends from age two to over 80. I asked him if there was an activity that he could think of that could include all ages of friends in our lives, and he came up with the idea of a community drum circle. There is a wonderful drum circle leader named Lyle Povah here in Vancouver who has a truckful of hand drums, and leads very dynamic, interactive drum circles. People love it. There is huge excitement about this birthday party, and I know that playing music together will be one of the funnest things we could all do.

I have a favour to ask of all of you. I am currently preparing a list of topics for the next few months of the Clarinet Mentors newsletter, and I am also completing my much more extensive online clarinet courses. I would love more input from you. I have created a very short online survey that basically asks you what you would most like help with in your clarinet performance. It takes about two minutes to fill out (more if you choose to write in your own comments). As a bonus to anyone who takes the time to fill this out, you will have access to a special video on How To Play High Notes - Part 3. This adds further pointers to the altissimo register that didn't fit into my last video. This will eventually get published on my website, but those of you who do the survey now, will get exclusive, advance viewing privileges. When you complete the survey, you'll see your private link to this video.

Go to the survey by clicking here: (survey closed) http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PKWSBRP

Happy Equinox!


Clarinet Tips

How To Play "Hard Stuff" More Easily

There are many ways to practise clarinet to make hard things feel easier. The more tricks we have for creating an efficient practise session, the more quickly we will improve as players. I will be sharing many of these tricks through these free newsletters, and the upcoming clarinet courses.

Today, I want to give you an exercise that I often give to my beginning students after about two months of playing. I figure if they don't know that playing in five sharps is supposed to be hard, it won't be. In fact, it really isn't, if you have a good system for learning it. Today's pointers are aimed at beginning to intermediate level players.

"The Scale Thing" introduces you to a new way of learning scales that is pretty quick and easy. This introductory exercise is good for players of all levels. If you are new to these scales, you will want to start here. If you have already learned these, you can try this technique on harder passages, or you can simply expand this exercise by playing more octaves, or playing faster.

I recommend that you download the pdf file here which has these scales printed out for you. The basic premise is that we are going to learn each major scale in one octave, and in one direction. This is a good introduction to all of the scales. It also makes a great warm-up pattern for our fingers when we put it all together. Of course, once you master this, you will want to expand it further.

For any scale that feels difficult, (and this could just as easily apply to a tough bar of any music), we are simply going to play half of the scale, or 4 notes, until that pattern feels easy. For most people, if we just play 4 notes about 5 - 10 times, it starts to feel pretty easy. If we do this three days in a row, we can figure out what we are having for lunch while our fingers review these patterns. (I'm not advocating that you think about your lunch while you practise, but I am advocating getting finger patterns to move into the "auto-pilot" part of your brain.) Once a pattern is easy, then we link it to other patterns to create a new, bigger pattern - a whole scale, and then 2 scales, and then 4. Finally, the entire Scale Thing becomes one, easy pattern for your fingers. This will make your sight-reading much better in harder keys. The video below demonstrates this for you. I think you could learn the entire pattern in 1 - 3 weeks.

Free Training

Clarinet Gym - The Scale Thing!

Impress yourself with how easy it can be to learn some of those key signatures that are filled with sharps and flats. First, download the worksheet: https://www.clarinetmentors.com/resources/ClarinetGymScaleThing.pdf

Then, watch the video for directions on how you can feel more comfortable with these scales in a short time. This is a beginning to intermediate level warm-up from the upcoming Clarinet Gym series.    
Link to YouTube video Scales made easy for beginning to intermediate players

Free Training Video:  [ https://youtu.be/wtoN8e6T4VE ]

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: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Clarinet-Mentors/237380966382664

Michelle Recommends

Martin Frost

I have many favourite performers. One that I especially like these days is Martin Frost. He records a variety of clarinet repertoire, and is a very dynamic performer. Here is a sample of some of his playing.

I recommend that you listen to some of his recordings as well. I especially enjoy his chamber music playing. He is very expressive, but also interacts very well with other musicians. I hope you enjoy listening to his recordings.

Martin Frost You Tube video performance

About Michelle Anderson

Michelle Anderson is a professional clarinetist and teacher who currently lives in Vancouver BC. She has been a professional performer for 30 years and 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, and conducts the Vancouver Clarinet Choir.

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