David Erato on his clarinet “journey”

April 10, 2011

David Erato, a Wisconsin-based woodwind doubler and teacher, describes the motivation behind his year-long “journey” to improve his clarinet chops:

The idea as a “doubler” is to make whatever instrument is in your hand not feel like a foreign object. One should really study the instrument as if it is the only instrument you play. Practice the same method books, etudes, solos, as a clarinetist in a symphony once did.

David devised a plan to work his way through a book of technical etudes, and carried it out. His plan was based on the a similar system he had used as a university saxophone student. The result?

I can say after all of that, I really do feel like I’ve taken my technique game up several notches on clarinet.  It may be hard to believe, but about half way through the book I felt more connected to the instrument.  Even though I was in more difficult keys, larger interval jumps became easier than when I started.  By the end of it, I didn’t have to think much about playing 4ths in the key of D# harmonic minor.

It’s worth reading the whole thing. There’s one key point from David’s story that I’ve discussed here before, but which is worth restating: as a woodwind doubler, you have to be a beginner on each instrument. David had already completed a technique-building regimen on the saxophone, prescribed by a good saxophone teacher, but hadn’t done so yet on the clarinet. Many of us make the mistake of thinking that such things transfer automatically. They don’t!

I know that many of my readers are college students and/or educators, and may have some discretionary time coming up when the spring semester ends. What fundamental techniques can you spend the summer shoring up?

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