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Thanks for visiting! Currently, I’m in the middle of reorganizing this web site. I’m also looking for contributors. If you have info you’d like to add, or know of some great resources that could be featured here, please let me know. There’s a contact form right here. Thank you!

Cleartune

I’m constantly forgetting my tuner at rehearsals. This has become a pain, because I leave it at home on my music stand, then rush out the door without checking. So, I’ve started looking for a tuner app for my iPhone. Cleartune is my app of choice. It’s amazing! This is the best tuner I’ve come across for the iPhone. It’s about $3.99, but I must say that the free ones aren’t exactly what I was looking for. This one has adjustment settings just like an actual tuner. This was also the easiest to use. Read all about it here.

Hand Position

This post describes the best way to place your hands when playing clarinet. This is a great check-up for anyone who’s put the instrument down for a while, or if you’re just starting to play clarinet for the first time.

  • KEEP FINGERS CURVED: Hang your hand down to your side, let your fingers relax. Use that relaxed curve to place your fingers over the tone holes of the clarinet.
  • RIGHT ANGLES: First three fingers should make a right angle (slightly leaning so that you can hit the side keys easily – see the picture to the left).
  • EXTRA KEYS: There are many more keys on the clarinet than just the 6 holes we’ve covered. Make sure you have a good angle to hit these keys, such as the 2 keys above your left hand and the 4 above your right (see picture to the left).

Right Thumb Placement


This thumb is used to hold the instrument up in place. The correct spot to place the thumbrest is the line where the nail and finger meet. Work on keeping the thumbrest in this spot. Your fingers will bunch up and have trouble covering holes & other keys if your thumb isn’t in the right spot.

Left Thumb Placement


Place thumb at an angle so that you can cover the thumbhole and the register key at the same time. When you’re not using it, the thumb should float instead of resting below the tone hole. You won’t be able to play very fast and can develop uncomfortable habits if this is not done properly.

Special Notes:

Follow these suggestions! Incorrect hand positions can lead to serious injury! It may not be as comfortable at first, but remember that your hands are going to get bigger as you get older. The more you try to follow these guidelines, the better (and easier) your playing will be over time.

How to Keep That Gig

“One bad apple spoils the bunch.” We’ve all been in an environment where one person seemed to always be a naysayer. They’re either a hot-head, a know-it-all, or the passive-aggressive type who mumbles under their breath about how things should be done. This is the exact opposite of what needs to happen in any group in order for it to be successful. We all work hard to get where we are. When you finally get that gig, there’s an etiquette you should follow in order to stay on your fellow musicians’ and conductor’s good side.
Know Your Stuff
It may not be quite obvious, but once you land a job, you must keep up with your practice time. Remember how hard you worked for that audition; you must keep up that stamina. Be prepared for the upcoming concerts by researching the music as soon as you hear about what’s to be on the next performance. Practice. Look up the composer(s). Practice. Listen to recordings. Practice. Research the history on the pieces to be played. Practice. If you can find a score, review it so you know how your part fits with others. Practice. Never ever show up to a rehearsal unprepared. Oh, and don’t forget to practice.
Be Reliable
The best way to get on your conductor’s good side is to show up early and show up often. Make your rehearsals a priority, because in any orchestra, each instrument being present is integral to the rehearsal being a success. Start missing rehearsals, and they may decide they don’t want to miss you anymore.
Be Respectful
Like you, everyone is there for the same reason: to make music. Also like you, everyone is trying to do their best. Keep that in mind when you’re passing judgment on someone else’s playing ability. You don’t know their backstory or how their day may have affected their performance attitude. If it happens once in a blue moon, don’t sweat it. If it’s habitual, be proactive and positive. Go after the path that helps improve the group, not the one that singles out someone with an issue. If they have skills lacking in certain areas, you won’t be the only one who notices. Remember, be a team player, and support each other.
Be Professional
Before you show up to rehearsal or a performance, be prepared. As was mentioned before, keep up the same stamina and practice level that makes you continue to be competitive, but don’t be a threat. You may have been hired because your abilities were above the others who tried for the same position, but you’re now part of a group. Strive for improvement in everything you do; that includes everything beyond being a musician, including history on the piece, research on equipment, even dress: comfort for rehearsal, comfortable and professional black for performances.
Be Constructive
What any ensemble really needs is for the channels of communication to be followed. If you have a concern, talk to your section leader. If you’re the section leader, talk to the next person up the ladder. If that’s the conductor, find time to talk to him/her outside of the rehearsal, not at a time when everyone would be an audience.
Know When to Fold ‘Em
There may come a time when you’ve had enough. Either things aren’t going the way you want them to, administration is behaving in a way that is less than desirable, you don’t feel like a part of the team anymore, or maybe you just plain don’t feel inspired to do your best. If you find yourself dreading work, it’s time to move on. Don’t stick around out of a feeling of responsibility; chances are you may start to bring others down with you. It’s always good to keep lines of communication open, but

Evolution of the Clarinet 1600-1800

The so-called chalumeaux may be allowed to voice their somewhat howling symphony of an evening, perhaps in June or July and from a distance, but never in January at a serenade on the water.1

With the stream of negative comments like the one above found throughout writings of the 16th and 17th centuries, it is a wonder how the early clarinet, known as the chalumeau, survived to become the instrument we all know today. Surely Mozart would not have written his Concerto for Clarinet for an instrument described as having such a harsh and intolerable sound. While listening to the slow and tender second movement, it is evident that this version of the clarinet was not the instrument he had in mind to play that piece. It is also safe to assume that this early clarinet is not the same as the one chosen for the modern-day orchestra; it would most likely draw the wrong kind of attention to itself and not blend within the rest of the woodwind section. Continue reading “Evolution of the Clarinet 1600-1800”

Nielsen's Woodwind Quintet, Op. 43

Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) was a Danish composer known for his use of a wide range of styles. His music mimics the time period in which he lived, with some pieces containing movements that would easily belong in the Classical Period alongside contemporary sections very typical of 20th century writing. Though he is most well-known for his symphonies, Nielsen wrote many chamber works, of which his Woodwind Quintet being the most famous. Continue reading “Nielsen's Woodwind Quintet, Op. 43”

Benny Goodman at Carnegie Hall

Recently posted by Carnegie Hall on Twitter, here are links to photos and videos from Benny Goodman’s premiere at Carnegie Hall, which took place today in 1938. View the photos here.
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