Get rid of those pesky finger slips!

Sent Thursday, June 13, 2013

Clarinet Mentors
For clarinetists who want to perform more easily and beautifully
In This Issue                                           June 13, 2013            
  • A Note From Michelle Anderson - Ahhh! - the last regular season concert
  • Free Training - Focus On Fingers
  • Michelle Recommends -  A Practise Routine for you
A Note from Michelle Anderson

Hello Everyone!

Welcome to the Clarinet Mentors bi-weekly newsletter. I welcome over 200 new clarinetists since the last newsletter. I hope you find great value in the clarinet pointers and videos that come with these newsletters every two weeks. Feel free to comment on any of the videos on the YouTube page, or by sending me an email.

I just finished my last regular concert season program on the weekend with a fabulous wind ensemble concert under the superb direction of conductor Evan Mitchell. There is nothing more fun for me than playing with 40 friends in a program of challenging music. One of our pieces, "and the mountains rising nowhere" by Schwantner, uses fewer clarinets than usual, and many more percussionists than usual. I volunteered to help out in the percussion section, and ended up having my first performance on the chimes. (Does that make me a chimist? a chimer?) If you have ever seen the Far Side comic of a crash cymbal player counting 500 bars of rest chanting "I won't screw up, I won't screw up" (as he holds only one cymbal in his hand), you'll get a sense of how I felt. I had to count lots of bizarre time signature rests, and then come in with a really loud chime note. If I had hit it at the wrong time, everybody would've noticed. Good thing my last newsletter featured lots of great pointers on how to reduce performance anxiety for musicians! I definitely felt out of my comfort zone since this is not my usual instrument. It made me realize that hitting things in the back of the room is much harder than it looks (and I always greatly appreciate my friends in the percussion section).

If you have been considering purchasing the Clarinet Is Easy course, notice that I am offering right now a special free Skype or (FaceTime or Google Hangout) lesson with me if you order by June 15th. This is in honour of my concert season wrapping up, and that I have a bit of time in the next month to meet some of you "live" over the internet. You can also contact me if you just want to arrange a Skype or FaceTime lesson without the course.

As a gift to you during the month of June, anyone who emails me this month with the subject line: "Sign Me Up For Lesson One" will get a free membership to the first lesson of the course. Lesson One is designed for beginners, but it also reinforces some great habits for intermediate players. (You'll still need to sign up for the full course by June 15th to qualify for the free personal Skype lesson.)

Have a great week, and thanks for being a part of my community!

Free Training - Focus On Fingers
Do your fingers ever have a mind of their own?
Are there sections in your music that you just can't quite play?
This week, I've seen many students grapple with technical passages that their fingers have not quite mastered. There are many ways to improve finger technic, and I do have a few videos  already dedicated to this on the YouTube channel. Today's video training focuses solely on fingers. I find that once we train our bodies to truly hold our fingers in the correct position, and move them in the best way, our technic will automatically improve across the board. To do that, we need to work on those challenging sections in a systematic way that helps us to focus on creating good habits. We also need to allow some time in our practise routine for exercises that provide focused training. You will find some useful exercises in the handout/exercise sheet which you can download at: 
You will find a quick review on how to hold your hands and fingers properly, which I have covered before, and then an introduction to how to move your fingers properly, in more detail than previous videos. There is also an exercise on how to coordinate your tongue and fingers if they are out of sync. I encourage you to add exercises like this to your regular practise routine.
Please add your comments and questions about this video 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.
Please click the video image below to view this week's training 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:
Michelle Recommends - Practise Routines
If you are familiar with my teachings, you will notice that I place a big emphasis on creating good habits in our body and mind. The way that we practise should in every way encourage good habits, and seek out and correct bad ones. If you haven't seen my video on The Five Best Habits to Practise Your Way To Clarinet Success, you can review it by clicking on the video image below.
I believe that adding some time into our practise routine where we are just focusing on good habits is crucial to training our bodies to use these habits while we play other music. It is hard to think about how we hold our fingers when our brain is simply trying to figure out what all the little notes on the page are! If we have already set our body up to hold our fingers properly through a mindful warm-up routine, they may just end up in the right position while our brain is occupied with all of those little black dots. That is our goal. Here is one outline for a practise routine that you might consider:
1) Mindful air/embouchure warm-up - Long Tones, or easy notes where your total focus is superb air support and tone
2) Mindful finger warm-up - Slow moving notes/intervals/scales where your total focus is how you hold your hands and move your fingers for smooth note connections (such as those in today's worksheet)
3) Mindful articulation warm-up - Articulation patterns, easy tongued scales, tonguing patterns with a metronome, again, with the total focus on how your tongue is touching the reed and creating consistency. 
(As a guideline, these "mindful" warm-ups should represent about a third of your practise time.)
4) After all of that, then there may be some "technic builders" to do. These are patterns that we want to learn so well that we can play them on "auto-pilot". For fingers, this would include scales, arpeggios, thirds, octaves, etc... For articulation, this would include etudes with fast tonguing, or difficult articulation patterns. Hopefully, the good habits that you started with carry over somewhat as we focus on the challenging things. Ideally, we want to combine those first three good habits into everything else. If you find rhythm is a challenge, then this part of your routine would include clapping and counting some rhythm patterns.
5) Now that your body has been focusing on great habits, and you have added a couple of patterns into your brain's "clarinet toolbox", it is a good time to work on the music and repertoire that you want to practise. All too often, we tend to jump into this "urgent" part of our practise time, without developing the other habits first. 
6) After you work on the "stuff that you want to learn", it is a great idea to simply do some sight-reading. Find a great book of music that looks interesting, and just try a new piece each day. This will help improve your sight-reading, and you may find something that you want to put into category '5' (repertoire to learn) the next time your practise.
I look forward to your thoughts on this. Even if you add one of these pointers to your practise routine, you will see positive results. Try it, and let me know how it goes.
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):
Click here for the free preview videos to Clarinet Is Easy
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.
***SPECIAL UNTIL JUNE 15, 2013***
Order the Clarinet Is Easy course by June 15th, and you will receive a special bonus of a 30-minute Skype or FaceTime video lesson with Michelle. This is a great way to get personal feedback on any of your clarinet issues. If you also want to just peek at Lesson One (great for beginners), send me an email in June with the heading "Sign Me Up For Lesson One" , and I'll give you a free membership to the many videos in Lesson One. (You will need to purchase the entire course by June 15th to qualify for the complimentary Skype lesson, however.)
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.
Michelle Anderson, Clarinet
Thanks for reading this biweekly newsletter.
Helping you to find success on your instrument with sound teaching techniques, and useful learning systems.


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