Posts tagged “finger technique”

December 10, 2018

Things beginning band directors say to clarinet sections

Tough love for teachers of beginning clarinetists.

October 24, 2014

Isolating problem spots

Earlier this month I posted about a fundamental practicing concept that sometimes escapes my less-experienced students. Here is another: Me: Play your D melodic minor scale. Student: [Begins D minor scale, plays a wrong note in the second octave.] Me: Whoops, remember to play B-natural. Student: Okay. [Starts over, makes same mistake.] Me: Please start ...

October 10, 2014

Slowing down

I can’t tell you how often I have had this happen in lessons, especially with my younger students: Me: Play your E-flat major scale. Student: [Begins scale at breakneck speed, plays 3-4 notes, makes a mistake, stops. Begins again at the same speed, makes a different mistake, stops.] Me: Wait— Student: [Begins again at breakneck ...

June 16, 2013

Learning fingerings as shapes

I observe that many woodwind players, when learning a new fingering—whether a beginner learning a standard fingering or an advanced student learning a new alternate fingering—tend to think of them as sequences: “This finger plus this finger and this finger and this key over here.” Sometimes my students even want to recite the fingering aloud ...

May 8, 2013

The magical properties of air

Good breath support, besides helping tone production in obvious ways, can have a surprising (and positive) impact on other aspects of woodwind playing.

February 25, 2013

Crossing the break on the clarinet is easy

The following is a comprehensive list of what clarinetists need to do to successfully Cross the Dreaded Break: Put the correct fingers in the correct places at the correct time. That is all. I frequently meet young clarinetists who have been taught that a successful Crossing of the Dreaded Break requires many other things, including ...

July 10, 2012

Staying connected to the clarinet

In general, I’m not that concerned about keeping fingers close to instrument keys. A lot of woodwind players and teachers seem to believe that “close” fingers mean more speed, which I haven’t found necessarily to be the case. To me, a much larger factor is tension: if my fingers are tense (because, for example, I’m ...

June 17, 2012

Woodwind doubling and “similar” fingerings

Some of the questions I am most frequently asked about woodwind doubling involve the similarities in fingerings between the instruments: “You play all those instruments? Well, I guess the fingerings must be pretty much the same, right?” “I play the oboe, and I would like to learn the saxophone. How close are the fingerings?” There ...

May 20, 2012

Getting an “outsider” opinion

Photo, Pirate Scott Saxophones, more than many other instruments, have a tendency toward mechanical noise: clicks and clanks are a hazard of the relatively large keys and articulated mechanisms and of the relative popularity of “vintage” instruments. Much of the noisiness can be solved by a good technician, but it’s sometimes surprising how much key ...

March 18, 2012

Rediscovering the clarinet’s left-hand sliver key

I think for many doublers the clarinet’s left-hand “sliver” key seems useless or problematic. For example, the sliver key is easy to press by mistake when intending to cover the middle and/or ring finger holes. And even when reaching for the sliver on purpose, it’s easy to accidentally cover part of the ring finger hole, ...
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