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Studio Articles

A Brief History of the Clarinet Choir

by Prof. Mitchell Estrin

Tribute-David Hite

by Prof. Mitchell Estrin

All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth

by Heidi Schultheis

Performing Arts Medicine

by Erin Willette

Evolution of the Clarinet
(MS Word file)

by Megan Machnik

Just Breathe

by Kathryn Shelton

Playing In the Panhandle

by Eric Lubarsky

 An American in Paris

by Abby Goldstein

My Alto Playing Blues

by Eric Lubarsky

A Trip to New Orleans

by Erick Stallings

 

 

 

   

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CLARINET CHOIR

The father of the clarinet choir was Gustave Poncelet (1844-1903).  In the late nineteenth century he formed the first true clarinet choir at the Brussels Conservatiore.   Today, more than a century later, clarinet choirs performing around the world celebrate his musical legacy.   It was from hearing Poncelet’s ensemble in 1896 that the great German composer, Richard Strauss became acquainted and enamored with all of the members of the clarinet family. As a result, Strauss used large and diverse clarinet sections in many of his large scale orchestral works and operas.

Several of Poncelet’s students came to the United States at the turn of the 20th century and began forming clarinet choirs.   The most famous clarinet choir in America was the Bellison Clarinet Ensemble founded in 1927 by the great Simeon Bellison, who was principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic.  Bellison’s choir was 75 players strong and often performed in Carnegie Hall.  In addition to a huge complement of each member of the clarinet family, his instrumentation often included trumpet, harp, concertino, piano, guitar, organ, and percussion.  The group played its final concert in 1938.

In 1950, a movement started in the U.S. that began the golden age of the clarinet choir.   This movement was started and promoted by a number of prominent clarinet performers and educators including James DeJesu, Harold Palmer, Lucien Cailliet, David Hite, Donald McCathren, Alfred Reed, Russell Howland, and Harvey Hermann.   The movement was further stimulated by music educators who were trying to improve their ever-expanding clarinet sections.  This inspired many new compositions and arrangements for the clarinet choir.  During this era, most major university and high school music programs boasted large clarinet choirs.  Some notable examples were the choirs at the University of Illinois, Iowa State University, Fresno State College, Montana State University, Duquesne University, and Lebanon Valley College.  Strong support for the clarinet choir movement was given by all of the leading instrument manufacturers of the time.  Clarinet choirs were often featured at state, regional, and national music conferences, which often included the formation of conference mass choirs.

Due to a number of factors including dwindling music school enrollments, lack of adequate budgets to purchase and maintain instruments, and a great deal of  out-of- print repertoire, the clarinet choir has been relatively silent since the 1970’s. 

I am strongly committed to a revival of the clarinet choir in the U.S.  The recent Buffet Crampon Vandoren Clarinet Choir Festival is a shining example of this resurgence.  The festival brought together 10 clarinet choirs from the southeastern United States for a two-day musical celebration in Atlanta, Georgia.  Thanks to the generous support of sponsors like Buffet Crampon and Vandoren, we can all participate in writing a new chapter in the history of the American clarinet choir.

 

Tribute – David Hite

 

It is with great sadness that I mourn the loss of my friend, David Hite, who passed away on January 18, 2004 at the age of 80.  For over six decades, David was one of the great forces in the world of clarinetistry.  He was a superb performer, teacher, conductor, arranger, instrument technician, but perhaps will be best remembered as a brilliant mouthpiece craftsman and editor of clarinet music for Southern Music Company.  Above all, David was a kind, warm, and generous person who was always ready to assist fellow clarinetists in the pursuit of musical excellence.  He was extremely knowledgeable in so many topics related to the clarinet and was always willing and eager to share this knowledge with his students and colleagues. 

 

Born September 25, 1923 in New Straitsville Ohio, David devoted his life to the study and mastery of the clarinet.  He studied with Fred Weaver of Columbus, Daniel Bonade of New York, and Anthony Gigliotti of Philadelphia.  After moving with his family to Columbus in 1941, he enrolled in the Ohio State University School of Music where he subsequently earned Bachelor and Master of Arts Degrees in Music.  During WWII, he joined the US Army, serving in Guam and Okinawa as a band musician.  Upon discharge, he returned to play in the Columbus Philharmonic Orchestra and in the Berkshire Music Festival Orchestra at Tanglewood, Massachusetts.  In 1954, David joined the music faculty of Capital University where he taught for over 20 years.  After leaving Columbus in 1983, he moved to the New York City area, working with artist clarinet and saxophone players in custom servicing instruments and mouthpieces.  In 1986, he settled in Florida where, with his wife Jean, he won international recognition for the design and production of J & D Hite clarinet and saxophone mouthpieces.  He also worked to expand the clarinet music literature, publishing many new editions and arrangements with Southern Music Company.

 

I had the good fortune to meet David in the late 1970’s when he and Jean would make the trek to New York City to meet with players for mouthpiece consultations.  They would stay at the old Empire Hotel across the street from Lincoln Center.  I called David in Ohio to make an appointment and asked him to make an E-flat clarinet mouthpiece for me, as that year I had been invited by the New York Philharmonic to perform as second–E-flat clarinet in a Mahler Symphony next to the great E-Flat clarinet artist, Peter Simenauer.  I had been using a serviceable mouthpiece but wanted to “upgrade” to a world-class setup.  David made several mouthpieces for me to test, and although they all played well, one stood out above the rest.  I still use this mouthpiece today and always with great affection and admiration for its maker.  Several years later, I decided to buy a new E-flat clarinet as I was playing the instrument on a fairly regular basis at the Philharmonic and on outside jobs.   In those days, it was not easy to find many new Buffet R-13 E-flat clarinets.  I found three to try that were “fresh off the boat” from France.  I journeyed out to Tolchin Music in Long Island, to try the instruments.  One had a very special tone quality and I bought it immediately.  As I learned the new instrument, it became apparent that there were a couple of notes that posed immense intonation challenges.  I discussed this with David and he encouraged me to come over to his house in Englewood, New Jersey, and he would straighten out these problems for me.   We spent about half a day, working slowly and painstakingly (and with the help of the old Conn Strobotuner), testing, undercutting, re-testing, lowering this pad, raising that pad, etc.  The end result was phenomenal.  The scale of the instrument was totally even and none of the special quality of the instrument had been compromised.   This was the work of a great master.

 

We kept in touch sporadically through the ensuing years and, when I accepted my current position at the University of Florida in 1999, we began communicating regularly.  David was extraordinarily helpful to me during the establishment of the University of Florida Clarinet Ensemble.  He provided invaluable information regarding equipment, repertoire, ensemble balance, and, of course, encouragement. 

 

One of my dreams was to have David and Jean come to UF and meet my students, perform, present a masterclass, and share in person the spirit of the program I created in Gainesville. I offered David an open invitation and simply told him to let me know when he wanted to come.  The largest obstacle was the Hite dogs!   Jean and David loved their dogs and would not have considered leaving them, even for a few days.  In November 2003, I received an email from David saying that old Sparky had finally passed away and the Hite’s were ready for a road trip.  I arranged for them to come to Gainesville on February 1-2, 2004.  They were going to perform and discuss French repertoire, specifically the Solo de Concours genre.  David’s studies with Daniel Bonade contributed to his passion for the French repertoire and also gave his interpretations a certain authenticity. 

 

I will not have the opportunity to welcome my friend to Gainesville, but will always remember his friendship, artistry, and craftsmanship with great affection.  I will miss you David. 

 

 

All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth   

As musicians, many of us will earn at least part of our living through teaching our craft.  This is not because we are not proficient performers, but because we have developed a desirable skill through years of practice.  We all have to start teaching music somehow--whether its helping a younger sibling start a band instrument or being paid to teach someone who has always loved music in order for them to find an outlet to express himself.  

You are a college sophomore.  Through a friend, you have received a call from a parent about starting clarinet lessons for her 8 year-old son.  They have already bought an instrument and the boy cannot wait to start!  You have never had a private student before, but you could use the experience, not to mention the cash.  You cannot set up the first lesson fast enough.  In your excitement, you forget to ask some key questions about the situation.  What kind of instrument did they buy and where did they get it from?  Does the student have any musical experience (i.e. piano lessons, etc…)?  Did you remind them to get reeds?  Did you ask about a band book?  Do you even know which band book you want to teach out of?  These are just a few of the questions you should ask yourself and your new student in order to start forming a game plan for his/her instruction.  

You are now a private teacher--congratulations!  Now what?!  You are responsible for the musical education of a young mind and you have to figure out what you’re going to teach them and when.  A good thing to start with is explaining the parts of the instrument to the student and the parent if the student is very young.  Explain the virtues of cork grease (but to use a moderate amount of it and not to use it as chap stick).  Show the parent and student how to properly assemble and disassemble the instrument.  Make sure the student is capable of doing this himself in your presence.  Next, show them the reed and how to properly attach it to the mouthpiece.  (It might be a good idea to show them how to attach it without putting the ligature over the top of the reed. This prevents reeds from breaking by mistake.)  By the end of the first lesson, make sure the student can make a sound on their new instrument.  It may take a little while to figure it out on their part, but when they are successful, it will encourage them to keep trying until the next lesson.

The day of the lesson arrives and you have prepared the aforementioned plan and you are ready to teach.  You catch the first glimpse of your new student and you can hardly believe your eyes!  Your first student is the smallest 8 year-old you have ever seen!  He’s got to be only a little longer than a clarinet himself!  What are you going to do now?  Was all of your planning for nothing?  Will he be able to play?  Are his hands big enough to cover the holes?  You go to make the first introduction and your student shyly hides behind his mother.  The lesson begins.  

In the case of a very young student, it is always a good idea to have a parent present in the first lesson (if not subsequent ones).  The parent will be the one to help your student to practice and help them on specifics they may have forgotten between your first two lessons.  You decide to go ahead with your original plan to teach the instrument and how to assemble and disassemble it, making sure the parent and the student understand how it is done.  You demonstrate how to attach the reed and allow your student to show his newly found expertise on the subject.  He is successful after the first try!  For the first time during the lesson he turns to you and smiles--revealing two perfect tooth sized holes in an otherwise toothy grin.  

This story is based very loosely on my own personal experience.  The moral of this story is that no matter how much you can prepare for a lesson, the student will always find a way to throw a wrench into your well laid plans whether they mean to or not.  

Learning to teach something that each of us has taken for common knowledge for so long presents a challenge for many musicians.  We have to reach back into our memories and try to think like a 10 year- old (who are sometimes not the most mature of people).  Things that may not seem important to us can make all the difference to a young student--the screws on the ligature go on the right side of the mouthpiece, the left hand goes on the top joint and the right goes on the bottom one.  The student should take the reed off of the mouthpiece after they are done playing and that it is generally not a good idea to play in the sand with your bell--not matter how fun it is (true story).  Anything you can think of is extremely valuable information to a beginner.  

The more you teach, the more you learn and come to expect common questions and problems.  By teaching you truly find out if you understand the material you are teaching because you are forced to teach the same thing many different ways.  You might have to teach rhythm to a child who has no internal pulse or way of communication.  You might have to find interesting new techniques that take the instrument away to teach the concept  (i.e. beating time with drum sticks on the floor with the student’s favorite CD playing).  You have to know how to explain breathing--what exactly is a diaphragm and how do you use it?  How do you know you are doing it right?  There are a million other topics you have never thought about that your students will ask.  

Only by teaching can you develop your own teaching style and learn to expect and anticipate questions from your students.  The more time that goes by and the more students you teach, the easier it will get.  What do you do with an 8 year old clarinet student who has lost their two front teeth?  I taught mine recorder. J

 

Performing Arts Medicine

Playing an instrument can produce injuries similar to tennis elbow, and weightlifters can experience the same vocal injuries as professional singers. 

For all musicians, a healthy voice, hands and ears are vital to performing lives. Unfortunately, all too often, musicians do not recognize or acknowledge the seriousness of a problem until it is too late. Not just singers, but professional voice users such as teachers, broadcasters or cheerleaders as well, sustain injuries to the voice. Vocal abuse, such as inefficient and incorrect practicing, is one of the most common reasons for vocal injuries. “It is a very common problem, especially among untrained singers,” said Dr. Brenda Smith, Assistant Professor of Voice at the University of Florida. Smith said characteristic symptoms of a vocal injury include hoarseness, loss of range and the accumulation of phlegm. By focusing on posture, breath support and resonance, anyone could avoid injury, Smith said. She also suggested voice-users warm up and drink lots of water. “Have someone find a way for you to efficiently use your voice,” she said. 

Voice abuse is not the only cause of vocal injury. Allergies and reflux both affect vocal output. “Singers suffering from reflux have any one or all of the following symptoms,” Smith said in an e-mail. “Loss of range, difficulty sustaining notes, lack of resonance. The physical manifestations are halitosis, burning sensation in the throat, sluggish onset of speech and singing sound and the need to cough.” 

From a rock star to an orchestra member, hearing loss is yet another occupational hazard. Loud amplifiers can damage a rock musician’s ears; orchestra members and conductors can experience hearing loss from the brass section. Violinists generally lose the hearing in their left ear, the ear that rests against the body of the violin. Percussionists are especially vulnerable to hearing loss. “All drummers are going to experience some sort of hearing loss unless they are wearing ear plugs from the day they start to the day they stop, which normally doesn’t happen,” said Chip Birkner, a graduate assistant in bands and percussion. Birkner said most earplugs only cut out certain frequencies rather than actually lowering the volume, which impairs tuning capabilities and hinders the ability to blend in an ensemble. Still, he stressed the importance of earplugs, especially in marching band. “So drummers are supposed to use ear plugs all the time, but are sometimes reluctant to because it changes the way they hear themselves and the way they can fit within a line,” he said. 

Hand injuries are another job hazard for instrumentalists, ranging from mild muscle strains and tendonitis to carpal tunnel and the overuse syndrome. The overuse syndrome is where constant repetitive use of a specific muscle group leads to pain. Muscular injuries are considered treatable either through ice and heat therapy, physical therapy or in extreme cases, surgery. Musicians usually have to stop playing for an extended amount of time to help treat their condition. 

Sometimes the symptoms that characterize the more typical injuries mask a more serious, albeit less diagnosed, disorder. Focal dystonia is found in about 10 percent of musicians who seek professional medical help, said Glen Estrin, co-founder of Musicians with Dystonia and former professional French horn player. He has been diagnosed with focal dystonia. Dystonia is a neurological disorder that causes involuntary muscle contractions, and in the case of a musician, most typically the hand or mouth. For musicians, it usually means a loss of control over technical passages and the instrument itself. “People won’t realize they are having a spasm; they will just feel a lack of control,” Estrin said. He said the muscle spasms occur only while a musician performs on his or her instrument, classifying the disorder as task-specific. Focal dystonia can affect people in other occupations, as well. “Chefs, surgeons, dentists, golfers, it can happen to anyone,” he said. He stressed that anyone who constantly repeats a fine motor skill can suddenly develop the disorder, as there is no warning and no way to prevent it. What further complicates the disorder is that it is not a muscular or nerve complication, but rather is contained to the motor control section of the brain.           

Although today there is no cure for dystonia, there are treatments available. Botulinum Toxin, Botox, has treated dystonia for 15 years. Although it is the number one course of therapy right now, it only relieves 20-30% of the symptoms for the vast majority of people, said Estrin. Unfortunately, Botox cannot help musicians regain their former high standard of playing. “I have a severe case, I really couldn’t continue my playing,” he said. “The worst kind because there is no prevention, no therapy and no cure.”

 

Just Breathe

One of the most important aspects of playing any instrument is tone production.  Good articulation and the ability to execute difficult passages are also important, but without a good tone, music is not truly created.  The most essential part of good tone production is being able to breathe correctly.  To be able to master this, the physics of proper breathing must be understood. 

The diaphragm plays an important role in inhalation.  The diaphragm contracts and pulls the lungs down, causing a decrease in atmospheric pressure inside the lungs.  Air rushes into the lungs through the nose and/or mouth to equalize the pressure.  Contrary to what many musicians are taught, the diaphragm plays only a small role in exhalation.  Because the diaphragm contracts to inhale, an opposing set of muscles is required to allow it to relax.  Thus, the abdominal muscles are used to push the diaphragm and lungs back up. The abdominal muscles compress the air inside the lungs, making the atmosphere pressure greater in the lungs than outside.  The air moving out equalizes the pressure once again.            

After learning the physics of breathing, instrumentalists must next master proper posture in order to execute this process.  When sitting, the heels, buttocks, shoulders, and the back of the head should be vertically aligned.  The back should be held straight; when sitting this is usually done by sitting somewhat forward in the chair to keep the body from being constricted.  When standing the body should be relaxed and natural, but with the back still straight, standing with the feet slightly apart.  The chest and chin should always be kept high, which in turn keeps the shoulders from slouching. 

The next step is to know how to take in a breath.  Assuming that the musician is maintaining proper posture, it shouldn’t be very hard to do.  The most important thing to keep in mind is to fill the lungs from the bottom up.  Filling from the top ruins the posture by making raising the shoulders too high and it keeps the performer from being able to completely fill the lungs with air.  It also tenses up the muscles in the arms, hands, and fingers, making technical passages more difficult.  A steady air column is also needed to produce a good sound.  A consistent sound is produced by the isotonic muscle contraction of the abdominal muscles.  This means that the muscles should be contracted with continual movement, allowing pressure to be added when needed.  This allows the throat to be kept open; another important aspect of breathing that is often ignored. 

Once a breath has been taken in it is important not to close the throat.  Air should never be started or stopped by the opening and closing of the throat.  Instead, the throat should be made as open and round as possible to allow warm air to flow through.  Many musicians like to make the “haa” syllable when blowing air through the instrument.  Others prefer “oh” and believe it to be better because it moves the tongue out of the way and allows a rounder stream of air to pass through the horn.  Inspiratory muscles should be used to keep the air in suspension.  This keeps the throat open but also allows the musician to stop the airflow.  For shorter notes the tongue may be used to stop the flow of air. At the end of a phrase, a breath should be taken to allow the sound to properly release.  This works especially well for notes in the altissimo register, which are harder to play with an open throat. 

Some musicians are not aware that their throats are closing prior to starting a note.  There is a way to test it, however.  A breath should be taken in, with the posture and support as described above.  Hold the breath in and form the correct embouchure with the lips closed.  Then try to breath in small amounts of air through the nose.  If this cannot be done, then the throat is not completely open.            

There are several aspects of proper breathing that must be understood before it can be done properly.  Correct posture and the openness of the throat are the two most important things to remember when playing an instrument.  Proper breathing is, of course, the most important part of what every musician desires to achieve - a beautiful tone.

 

Playing In The Panhandle

After a semester of hard work the clarinet choir took a much needed and well-deserved break from higher education before the school jumped into the madness known as exam week.  We traveled westward to the Florida Panhandle, where among other things we gave three standout performances and got to experience the myriad of characters and images that give Pensacola its unique charm.

The events began on Friday, April 12, when the local classical music station of Pensacola interviewed Professor Estrin.  From 9-10 that morning he was the special guest of WUWF.  They played selections from some of his various CDs, and also discussed his new endeavors as a teacher. Our next stop was Pensacola Jr. College where Professor Estrin gave a master class from 4-6. After an already busy day, that night was spent taking a little R&R, while seeing some of the beautiful gulf coast scenery and enjoying some of the local eateries. 

The next day began at Schmidt’s Music where an all day ClarinetFest was being held.  They had on hand a large display of Buffet Clarinets, along with reeds, ligatures, and other clarinet paraphernalia for people to come and try.  Some younger students were even given instruction by our studio members and by Professor Estrin.  At 7:30 that evening, the UF Clarinet Ensemble gave a concert at UWF upon the invitation of Richard Glaze, Professor of Clarinet and former teacher of the studio’s Graduate Assistant Deanna Roose.  The first half of our concert was chamber music featuring a diverse program with works by Crusell, Poulenc, and Uhl.  This half also featured a special performance by “The Panhandle Quartet,” which is made up of studio members who are native to the area.  The second half of the concert featured the entire Clarinet Choir performing works by Haydn, Weber, Ravel and Mendelssohn.  The first two pieces were conducted by graduate student Erick Stallings, and included a performance of Weber’s Concertino with Professor Estrin playing the solo part.  Professor Estrin then retook his spot as conductor to finish the program.  After a standing ovation and two encores, the choir was quite exhausted and hungry. We were all treated to pizza from O-zone, a local bar and restaurant, by Schmidt’s Music.

Sunday was spent relaxing and exploring the area after our stellar performance the night before.  In my group, we traveled to the National Seashore and to the Boardwalk, to amuse ourselves with beautiful imagery and a round mini-golf.  Others relaxed by going to the movies. On Monday morning, the Clarinet Ensemble made the rounds to Gulf Breeze Middle School and to Gulf Breeze High School, where we performed a shorter version of our earlier program for the band students.  After these last two performances we all began the long journey back to Gainesville, well rested and ready to rejoin the world of academia. 

 

An American in Paris

This past summer was one I will never forget. It all began in early October, 2000, when I asked Professor Estrin if he knew of anything interesting involving music that I could participate in during the summer. After some thought and a few e-mails to colleagues, it was confirmed. I was going to be the first American to ever train in repair at the Buffet Crampon factory in Mantes la Ville, France.

On May 28, 2001, I began working about 40 miles outside of Paris in the factory of the world's leading clarinet manufacturer. At the end of my first day, I had already learned the methods of taking off and putting
on the keys. In my 320 hours of training, I met many great repairmen and famous musicians in France, and learned a great deal about the mechanics and technical aspects of the clarinet. Aside from learning about the general production of clarinets, I was also fortunate, as a chemistry major, to be able to learn about the formation and plating of the keys and the different chemicals that are used in the factory.

I was also involved in "customer service" at the factory! After training for nearly a month, I was called upon to give a tour of the factory for a group of Americans. Being that I was one of five people who spoke English in the city of Mantes, I was excited to do it! This was this first of four tours that I directed through the premises. On June 15, 2001, I participated in a huge scavenger hunt that involved all of the workers in the factory. The dinner party that followed was a great celebration of the 175th anniversary of Buffet  Crampon. I was also able to take advantage of the opportunity to take a lesson with Michel Arrignon, the clarinet professor at the Conservatoire National de Musique de Paris.

In addition to training at Buffet, I was able to visit Vandoren in Paris. I played on every mouthpiece that they currently manufacture, and bought many pieces of music from the Vandoren music collection, which is
one of the largest in the world.  

Overall, I had a wonderful time sightseeing in Paris and working in the Buffet factory. I will never forget all of the wonderful people I worked with and learned from at Buffet, and all of the famous musicians I was
able to meet and work with.  

 

My Alto Playing Blues

It is the first day of classes, and Professor Estrin asks if there are any volunteers to play the auxiliary clarinets in our ensemble.  Hands shoot up across the board, and I, the naïve freshman, do not want to seem contrary or unyielding. Tentatively my hand goes up.  The professor asks each of us which horn we would like to play, and I choose the alto clarinet because it is the only no one else has yet to pick.  I should have known I was in trouble when Professor Estrin stops and asks the studio to applaud me for my bravery.  I thought to myself, “I’ve played the alto saxophone; it’s the same key and even the same reeds.  This can’t be too bad.

On the first day of clarinet ensemble, I sat down with the case on my lap, opened it up, and just looked at this strange, new instrument.  I put it together and carefully lined my fingers upon the keys.  While the rest of the choir flew up and down scales and arpeggios to warm up, I sat there just trying to get the feel of the horn under my fingers.  I knew, however, that beginners never have a good tone and never use enough air.  So with the confidence that I was going to sound terrible, I play a honking “G” that was probably a quartertone sharp.  I went through the rest of the rehearsal just trying to play some sounds in time with the rest of the group.  I knew I had some quality time in the practice room ahead of me.

When I sat down to practice, I thought back to my time playing the alto saxophone, because these two seem pretty comparable in both size and even timbre.  I remember being told to “surround” the mouthpiece with your mouth in a loose “O” shape, instead of the sharp and angular shape used for soprano clarinet.  I also remembered being told to use “fat, warm air,” again something contrary to the soprano.  Finally, I thought to myself that everything should be loose and relaxed.  Keeping all these things in mind, I began to play, but the horn still was not responding well.  I was greatly disheartened.

I stopped for a moment out of exasperation and noticed how some of the keys seemed to move underneath my fingers.  I then found that one of the rods had come completely unscrewed from its post.  Once I reconnected it, the horn worked wonderfully and I was off and running.  I would play anything I could find.  At one point I was playing through the good parts of the Weber Concertino, just because it was there.  I figured that I would go back to clarinet choir next class and wow them all with my new found skill.

I still do not know what happened exactly, (hubris maybe) but in class I was back to square one.  At all the exposed alto parts, I was nowhere to be found—or heard.  As any band director I have ever had told me, just play with confidence.  Obviously though, it is a lesson I am still learning.  By the end of rehearsal, I was playing louder and supporting better, but my performance was nothing compared to the accomplishment I fantasized of in the practice room.  From it all I think I have come to realize that confidence paired with quality practice time truly are the keys to success.  However, confidence that comes and goes can only add to ones frustration.

 

A Trip to New Orleans

On August 15, 2001, Professor Estrin and ten of the UF clarinet studio’s present and former members met in New Orleans for ClarinetFest 2001, an event by the International Clarinet Association.  The events that would happen during those days would be ones that would make memories for a lifetime. 

 We attended masterclasses, recitals, and lectures by such clarinet masters as Ricardo Morales, Larry Combs, Karl Leister, Pete Fountain, Michel Arrignon, Frank Cohen, Mark Nuccio, and many others.  What a privilege it was to actually be in the same room as some of these great players, not to mention having the opportunity to hear them play!  For instance, there was a concert the first night with Michel Arrignon, Ricardo Morales, and Seiji Yokokawa. 

 Besides listening to concerts, many hours of mine were spent browsing through the exhibit area.  Exhibitors included all major clarinet manufacturers and reed companies, several music supply stores, major mouthpiece makers, sheet music stores, as well as others that might have had new clarinet innovations to share.  After the sounds of ICA clarinets stopped, we ventured out to enjoy the sights and sounds of New Orleans with some great jazz and jambalaya. 

 Any time you have the chance to attend an event like this, you should.  One shouldn’t miss seeing and hearing many of the top players in the world as well as getting to see old friends and make new ones, all with a common bond--the clarinet. 

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