Thumbs Up! (or maybe down...)

Sent Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Clarinet Mentors
For clarinetists who want to perform more easily and beautifully
In This Issue                                           March 20, 2013        
  • A Note From Michelle Anderson - Performing with Singers
  • Free Training - How to position your right hand and thumb
  • Clarinet Mentors Community Member Videos - get your own feedback from Michelle
  • Michelle Recommends - Clarinet Neck Straps
  • Clarinet Is Easy - Step-by-step video lessons to help you improve your clarinet playing and save you a lot of time and frustration
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.  Thanks for joining this community, and I hope you find great value here for your own clarinet playing! These newsletters are sent to the Clarinet Mentors community every two weeks, usually on Wednesdays, and are designed to help you play the clarinet more easily.

I have enjoyed an amazing beginning to spring. Easter weekend found me playing Elijah, by Mendelssohn, which features fantastic soloists, choir and orchestra.  We also hosted an Easter egg hunt with 11 children, all eagerly running through the bushes to find treasures.  What fun! This week, I will enjoy playing with Lions Gate Sinfonia, and the BC Boy's Choir.  it seems to be my season to perform with choirs. I believe that wind players can learn a lot from singers. The voice is one of the most natural outlets for musical expression. I often have my students sing their clarinet music during a lesson. This is the easiest way for me to hear what their inner musical expression is. Sometimes, it does not come out of the clarinet, the way we want it to. If we can sing it, our job is to find a way to have that music play through our instrument. I am constantly looking for ways to make this process easier. I know that we all love it when we feel like the music is flowing from us to the listener. If you do not do this in your practise routine, I highly recommend that you add singing. It is one of the best ways to help us to figure out how we want the music to develop. It does not matter what your voice sounds like, what matters is your expression of your music! 

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

Free Training - Spring Cleaning For Your Embouchure
Does Your Right Hand/Thumb Ever Get Tired?
Do You Find That Crossing the Break Is Not Smooth?
It may be that your right hand is out of position. I am a big believer in having all clarinetists develop great habits to make playing the instrument feel easier. It is important that our fingers are arched, curved, and stay very close to the keys on the clarinet.  There are a couple of common bad habits that I see among my students  in relation to the right hand.  Often, people will tilt their right hand fingers so that they end up touching the keys on the side of the upper joint. This habit, often makes it difficult for our ring finger to cover the bottom hole of the right hand. The fingers on our right hand should make a 90° angle to the clarinet.
Many people do not know how to properly adjust the thumb rest on the clarinet.  Everybody's hand has a natural position for how the thumb should sit in relation to our other fingers. Today's video  gives you a simple technique to discover where your thumb will be most comfortable for your hand.  This position is very different from person to person.  if you have an adjustable thumb rest, this video will really help you to choose the optimal position for your hand.  if you do not have an adjustable thumb rest, this video will help you to determine if your thumb rest  is in a good position for you. If it is not, you may decide to upgrade to one that will fit your hand better.
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:
Would you like free feedback from Michelle on your clarinet-related questions?

Modern technology is so great. It allows us to communicate world-wide, in ways that we couldn't imagine previously. I'd like to start a mini video-lesson page at the Clarinet Mentors website that stars YOU.  Here's how it works. I would like you to think of one area of your clarinet playing that you would like help with. This could be general, such as "better tone", or very specific such as "playing the C-F altissimo combination in Stars and Stripes". You record a brief (under 3 minutes) video of yourself demonstrating your challenge, and I will give you personal feedback on how to improve it. Don't be shy! One of the ways that we best learn is by watching others go through and overcome the same challenges that we have ourselves.

How do you do this? The simplest way is to just record yourself on your smart phone, tablet or computer, and then go to the link below to upload your video. If you have the option to save it as "web-ready" it will be a smaller file, and will load more quickly. Go to this webpage, and simply load your video.

Be brave! You'll get great feedback from me, and I guarantee you that your challenges are not unique. We can all learn from other's challenges. As soon as I get a few videos, I'll post responses where the Clarinet Mentors community can share ideas. I look forward to creating a mini learning centre with many of you participating.

Michelle Recommends - Using a Clarinet Neck Strap
As the Clarinet Mentors video above recommends, I really appreciate using a clarinet neck strap.  I find that it takes much of the weight of the instrument off of my right hand and thumb. It also helps me to keep my right hand fingers in the proper position. Many of my students, who find it tricky to cover the holes on the right hand smoothly, have also benefited from using a neck strap.  I have not found any downside to using one, and plenty of benefits. (I will admit, that some people do consider this to be very wimpy. You do run the risk of being branded a Clarinet Wimp.  You will be in very good company, and personally I think it is a sign of high intelligence.)
There are two clarinet next straps that I really like. One is made by BG, and the other by Neotech.  Both of these feature comfortable padding where the strap sits on your neck and shoulders, and they have an adapter that will fit all kinds of thumb rests. [ ]
A neck strap is one of the best ways to reduce any pain in your right hand. I suggest you try one, and join the ranks of the Clarinet Wimps of the world.  You might look wimpy, but your technic will be great, and your hand will feel great too.
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 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.
Michelle Anderson, Clarinet
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Helping you to find success on your instrument with sound teaching techniques, and useful learning systems.


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