A big welcome to all of you who are reading the Clarinet Mentors newsletter for the first time. I really enjoy sharing clarinet news with all of you.
This week, I look forward to starting rehearsals for La Boehme with the Vancouver Opera. I wasn't much of an opera fan originally, but now that I play operas regularly, I can really appreciate the expressiveness and beauty of this genre. Singers generally are masters of phrasing, and I have learned how to play clarinet better by listening to them. I know that I learn by listening to skilled clarinetists, and especially by playing with them. However, sometimes when I perform with other instrumentalists (or singers), I learn the most. I think that I enjoy the challenge of hearing a great musical phrase performed by a string instrument, or a singer, and then trying to figure out how I could create a similar effect upon the clarinet. It is not always intuitive, but it is fun to try and make the clarinet "sing".
I have been enjoying reading the comments from many of you on our Facebook page as well as through email messages. My hope is that these videos and newsletters are helping you with some aspects of your clarinet playing. For those of you who would appreciate more extensive and thorough learning systems, I have two new products coming out soon. The first one, Clarinet Is Easy, is designed to help beginners, or players who are reviewing the basics, to learn every important clarinet technic with the most thorough and easy systems. I am a firm believer that an adult who is new to the clarinet can learn to play very well, very quickly, if they have clear step-by-step systems to help them. My experience with adults has radically changed how I teach clarinet, and the results have been quite amazing with my adult students over the past few years. I now teach very sophisticated concepts right from the beginning, because adults have the capacity to see the big picture, and strive for great results. I invite you to try this out if you would appreciate having a detailed "recipe" for the many aspects of clarinet playing that we all use - tone, air, tonguing, fingers, phrasing and more. I'll be sending out details of this course when it is ready to go.
This weekend is Thanksgiving in Canada, a good time to gather with friends and family, and to feel appreciative. I am grateful for many things, and one of those is the great community of musicians in my life. Thanks for being part of the Clarinet Mentors community.
A Very Quick and Useful Reed Pointer
We all use reeds. Sometimes they work great - often they don't. I have already published two videos related to reeds. One teaches you a technic for moving your reeds around on the mouthpiece for optimum performance. It really does make a difference. The other one discusses ways to alter the reed to have it perform better.
This week's tip is one other small pointer to improve the performance of a reed. You won't need to use this one often, but when you do it can give an old reed new life. You will only need to watch this 3 minute video once, and then you will know what to do if you ever end up with the "ripply-tip" reed (which happens to all of us).
Clarinet Lesson: Quick, Useful, Reed Tip: https://youtu.be/-_XqxkCitJY
Free Training Video: [ https://youtu.be/-_XqxkCitJY ]
Play a duet with me!
One of the best ways to improve our skills as a musician is to perform with others. This can include larger groups, such as an orchestra or band, or smaller groups (duets, trios etc) which we call chamber music. I love playing chamber music, because I experience the challenges of ensemble playing - tuning, balance, blend, matching styles with other players, dynamics and staying together. I also have similar challenges to solo playing, because in chamber music, nobody else is doubling my part the way they might in band. It is a nice combination.
I wanted to find a way to play duets with you. Since you aren't in my studio with me, we'll try the next best thing. I am including a duet here for those of you who perform at an intermediate (to advanced) level. If you like the concept of online duets, please let me know, and I can upload duets at various difficulty levels in the future. I already have some very easy duets recorded, and I would like to expand to other levels.
Here, I have recorded each part, of the Rondo alla Pollacca by Kuhlau. You can play along with me in unison as you learn the parts, and you can also play the duet part along with me if you play one part, while I play the other. Of course, nothing beats playing chamber music together with a live person, so if you can find a friend to play with, try it with them.
Full score: You can download the music by clicking here.
|This first video is the 1st clarinet part & presents a fun clarinet duet to perform with the video here, or to simply download and perform with another clarinetist live.|
|This second video is the 2nd clarinet part of the Rondo alla Pollacca by Kuhlau >|
Free Training Video, 1st clarinet: [ https://youtu.be/9q4SkGzPUFM ]
Free Training Video, 2nd clarinet: [ https://youtu.be/rdrrViTQmvw ]
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
Thank you so much to everyone who gave me input on what clarinet skills you would most like to improve. I am reading that feedback, and already planning more videos and lessons to help you with these issues. The interesting thing was that there was not one overwhelming universal issue that everyone wanted help with. Your requests were quite varied. That reinforces what I see in my adult students. We all have some skills that come quite naturally, and others that we need to train our bodies to do. With that in mind, I will continue to publish a variety of training sessions, and hopefully, I will hit some of your big ones soon.
If you missed your opportunity to give me feedback, I have an online survey at: (survey closed) http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PKWSBRP
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 improving 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.
Zoom H2 Digital Recorder
I Highly Recommend Recording yourself as a regular part of your practise routine.
I Highly Recommend Recording yourself as a regular part of your practise routine. (No, that is not a typo, I just wanted to seem really emphatic...)
Nowadays there are many easy ways to record yourself. Most smart phones and computers make recordings that give us a pretty good idea of how we actually sound. If you want to take it one step higher, there are some great digital recorders that record with excellent quality, and are very easy to upload to a computer. I have not done an exhaustive comparison by any means, and since my recorder is two years old, it is probably obsolete. However, I am going to recommend it to you because I love using it. The newer version likely has what I like in this one with more modern stuff added in.
This has a good quality microphone, and you can set it to record a small group, or expand the range to a larger group. You can even put it in the middle of a group and activate a mic on both sides for a surround sound effect. It records onto memory cards, and can be as high fidelity as a CD (remember those?), or a lower quality, smaller memory version if you are just recording a lecture. I have been in professional groups where we have recorded rehearsals on one of these recorders, and then made the files available on line to all participants to analyze how we sound. It is a great way for people to listen at home, and prepare their own parts better for the next rehearsal. I also use it to record my individual work. I hear things very differently "live" from the recorded playback.
Any kind of recording device helps. If you want a good portable upgrade to your current recorders, check this H2 Zoom Recorder out.
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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