- Check out posts by a small army of bloggers documenting ClarinetFest® 2017.
- David Wells is working on collecting the Paris Conservatoire bassoon contest pieces.
- Woodwind doubler Ed Joffe encourages continuing your musical studies beyond school
- Saxophonist Roxy Coss discusses women as an under-represented group in jazz music.
- David Mankin shares a fascinating story about oboists Robert Bloom and Engelbert Brenner in a remarkable recording session.
- Clarinetist Jeremy Wohletz explains the importance of aural training.
- Saxophonist Sam Newsome identifies some issues that lead to rhythm problems (particularly in improvised music).
- Flutist Tammy Evans Yonce explains how she approaches a new repertoire piece.
- Saxophonist Ben Britton catalogs some methods of dealing with sticky G-sharp keys.
- Eryn Oft outlines the history of Heckel bassoons.
- Nicole Riner offers suggestions on making first contact with a potential college flute teacher. (Applicable to other instruments, too.)
- Jenny Maclay dives deep on clarinet resonance fingerings.
The concept of “articulation” in woodwind playing is really a bunch of concepts mashed together. Suppose one of my students comes in for a lesson and I tell them their “articulation” needs work. Do I mean they should: Continue reading “Aspects of articulation”
“Record yourself when you practice” is common advice, and good advice. I frequently recommend it to my students, but few of them do it. I think it can seem overwhelming. Recording seems like a big production: getting the material to performance level, using complicated and expensive equipment, playing beginning to end, doing cruelly thorough analysis followed by self-flagellation and sadness.
Here’s a simple, effective, low-stress approach that I use: Continue reading “Recording your practicing”
How exciting to try out new instruments (or mouthpieces or headjoints or barrels or…) and to find one that really has a great sound! It’s a rite of passage for the young woodwind player, trying out a parade of shiny new possibilities, surrounded by parents, a private teacher, friends, and a salesperson with dollar signs in their eyes. “That one has such beautiful tone!” everybody will sigh.
I suggest that you do not buy that one.
“Good” tone is a fluid, fleeting thing. That clarinet might have better tone than a half-dozen of the same model because its pads currently leak less than the others. That mouthpiece might sound like a winner because the reed you brought with you happens to mate with it better at the moment.
And your tone will shift as you adapt to your purchases. That new piece of gear might make you sound like somebody else right now, but as you get accustomed to it you’ll start to sound like you again. (Don’t like sounding like you? Develop your tone concept.)
Rather than splitting hairs about tone, break out a chromatic tuner, or, better, a drone, and pick out the one that is easiest to play in tune. Bring along a teacher or professional colleague who has high-level proficiency on the instrument, and have them listen and watch the tuner while you play, then play while you listen and watch the tuner. (This is especially crucial if you are a student-level player!)
An instrument or accessory with great tone but poor pitch will be a constant exhausting struggle to play in tune, and its problems are harder to fix in the repair shop. Gear with rock-solid pitch will do a fair amount of the work for you, and “its” tone (your tone) will improve with practice, listening, and some TLC from a good technician. Shop with your priorities in order, and you will get an instrument that will serve you well for many years.