and Performance Tips
a Single Goal in Mind
reeds that are appropriate for your mouthpiece and blowing
your reeds in water. The enzymes and acids in saliva are
detrimental to the cane.
try too many reeds at one time.
Your lip will desensitize and you will not get
an accurate impression of the reeds.
in new reeds slowly. Play
them for a few minutes each day.
Playing on a new reed for too long before it has been
broken in properly will shorten its useful life.
playing excessively in the altissimo register on a reed that is
not broken in. Allow
the reed to “set” first.
reeds in water when you are finished playing on them.
reeds with a clean, soft cloth before putting them away.
reeds on glass. This
will help to prevent warping.
have several playable reeds ready to go.
an ample supply of unopened boxes of reeds on hand.
You never know when you might need them!
regularly on reeds for the best results.
Make it part of your weekly routine.
best way to learn how to adjust reeds is through trial and error.
Work on all of the apparent “unusable” reeds in every
box. See if you can
make them more playable.
in the proper tools for reed adjustment. This is a minimal
monetary investment that will reap you large rewards.
TOOLS FOR REED
Reed knife (beveled edge or double hollow
ground.) This is a
must. (If you are left-handed, you must order a left-handed knife.)
Reed rush (sometimes called Dutch rush)
Waterproof silicon carbide paper, wet/dry
finishing grades 320, 400, & 600
Beveled piece of glass (approx. 3” long
Reed clipper (Cordier)
A large wastebasket
You have been practicing
your college audition repertoire for many weeks now and it is really starting to
sound good. Then that fateful day arrives and although you feel ready, you
are a bit nervous. You realize that how you perform during those difficult
few minutes will probably determine the course of your life for the next few years.
This is the school you want to attend.
This is the scenario
facing hundreds of music students each year, as they prepare to audition for the
colleges on their short list. Many will be successful and be accepted into
their first choice school, but many others will endure the disappointment of a
rejection. Although discouraged, one must remember that Michael Jordan was
cut from his high school basketball team and went on to become the greatest
player in basketball history.
Here are ten tips for preparing
your audition material and on how to decide which school is the right choice for
KNOW YOUR SCALES!! Major, minor and chromatic. Be prepared to play
them from memory at the auditions.
AUDITION REPERTOIRE CAREFULLY. Review the audition repertoire requirements
of your targeted schools. Play as close to the same program as is
feasible at each school. Pick two or three pieces and focus in on them.
Do the same for your etudes. Standard pieces are always good
choices. (Mozart Concerto, Weber Concertino or Concerti, Rose etudes, etc.)
START PREPARING A YEAR IN ADVANCE. Make a planning calendar with
attainable goals. (I'll have the first movement learned by this
date, I'll complete and send in my applications by this date,
EACH PROSPECTIVE SCHOOL to meet and take a lesson with the professor.
Try to get to know the professor before making your decision as to
where to attend. Contact them by email and see if you receive a
timely response with good information. Talk to their students
about the course of study and about day to day life at the school.
MAKE A LIST OF QUESTIONS to ask each professor. Ask the same
questions at each school.
FOR SEVERAL SCHOOLS. Don't limit your options exclusively to
your number one choice. You never know how many openings a
particular school will have in a given year.
DON'T BE AFRAID TO AUDITION FOR A PRESTIGIOUS SCHOOL. Again,
you never know how many openings a particular school will have that
year. Each professor listens for different things when hearing
auditions by prospective students. Example: You may have exactly
the tone or style that is most desirable to that professor, even
though your technique is not as fast as some of the other auditionees.
PLAY MOCK AUDITIONS in front of other people before going to your
auditions. Try to choose people to play for whose opinions you
respect (your teacher, band director, local professionals, fellow
students, etc.) and ask them for feedback.
TAPE YOURSELF regularly during the entire preparation process. Listen
for your progress. Ask yourself: Is my rhythm accurate?
Am I playing with contrasting dynamics? Is my interpretation musical
and stylistically appropriate? What can I do to sound better?
Once you have learned your repertoire, the hardest part is over.
Remember that everyone is nervous at the auditions and you can
expect to feel those butterflies in your stomach. Sometimes that
extra adrenaline rush can actually make you play better!
One of the most frequently asked
questions that I encounter from my students is " how can I do better on
In reflecting back on my own
musical development, there were many factors that contributed to my learning to
excel at sightreading. As with any other aspect of musical
performance, in order to become successful at sightreading it must be practiced
. My high school band in Chicago was one of the best in the state,
and we constantly sightread all different kinds of music. This included
transcriptions of the "old warhorses", a great deal of contemporary
wind ensemble literature, show tunes, and chamber music. I also
played in a woodwind quintet, and often played duets with other clarinet
players. At Juilliard, the students who sightread well would often place
highest in the auditions for the school's performing ensembles. Everyone played
their prepared repertoire well! I knew that if I honed my sightreading
skills further, I would have a big advantage at the auditions.
This lesson paid great dividends
for me in the years that followed. In addition to my orchestral playing
with the New York Philharmonic, I was in demand as a studio musician in New York
City. Studio musicians must be expert sightreaders. Whether
recording a motion picture soundtrack or a television commercial, the musicians
never see the music before the recording session. Often times, the music
is written and/or finished at the very last minute. Therefore, excellent
sightreading ability is paramount to the success of a studio musician.
Stop to consider your favorite motion picture soundtrack, and how exceptional
the musicians sound. They were all sightreading!
Here is the key to being able to
sightread well: STAY WITH THE BASICS!
Look at the time signature, key signature and tempo indications first.
Then quickly look over the music you are about to play. Ask yourself these
Are there any repeats, D.C. or
Are there any tempo changes?
Are there any modulations? (key changes)
Are there any patterns, either rhythmic or melodic?
What are the difficulties, if any?
Do I need to employ any alternate fingerings? (left C, right B, etc.)
What are the dynamic indications?
What is the style of the piece?
What is the mood/character of the piece?
Other factors to consider:
If the piece is fast, take a
conservative tempo! (unless being conducted)
Keep your place no matter what, even if it means missing notes and/or
rhythms. Go for an overall effect.
Don't have unrealistic expectations.
Don't be tentative. Play convincingly, like you know what you're doing (even if
Etudes are particularly useful as
sightreading practice material. Select an etude and play it through from
beginning to end without stopping (No matter what happens!). Read duets
and other chamber music as often as possible. Play duets with your teacher
and other musicians whose abilities are above yours. Remember, experience
is the best teacher!
most basic and perhaps most important part of practicing is warming up. How you go about doing this is essential to your
success on the clarinet. Use your time
wisely to achieve the maximum results in the minimum amount of time. Structure your warm-up carefully and follow these
three steps to a great warm-up:
tones- Start out
your practice with five to ten minutes of long tones.
Start in the chalumeau register and gradually work your way up to the middle
register. Pay careful attention to your tone
quality, especially when playing at a soft dynamic level.
Take full breaths and always use maximum breath support.
2) Scales- Scales are the
single most important musical element for a clarinetist to practice. One should strive for a thorough knowledge,
understanding and flawless execution of all scales. This
means major scales, minor scales, chromatic scales, whole tone scales, thirds, dominant
sevenths, diminished sevenths, and all related arpeggios. The Baermann Third Division
is an excellent book to use for scale practice. I
also like the Stievenard Practical Study of the Scales for Clarinet.
3) Articulation- The
third part if your warm-up should focus on articulation practice. The Kell 17 Staccato Studies is my favorite
book to use for both teaching and practicing. Strive
for symmetry of your articulation, particularly on repeated notes. Dont only focus on increasing the speed of
your articulation, but on the quality of your sound while articulating. Tape yourself and compare your tone quality when
playing both legato and staccato at all dynamic levels. Make sure they are the same.
If you follow these three steps when warming up, you should notice a
big improvement in your playing. Good luck!
-- Professor Estrin
of the studio
a Single Goal in Mind
Strive to improve from todays baseline
Its rare that you pick up where you left off the day before. It may take anywhere from five to twenty minutes
to get yourself warmed up and back in touch with your previous practice session. There will come days when your most diligent
efforts will fail to elevate you to the level of the previous days accomplishments. Your achievements wont always follow a
straight line and your improvements wont always come at a steady rate. Simply strive to improve from your starting
Warm Up on Technique
As you practice a piece of music, your attention span gets spread
over several tasks: reading notes,
interpreting the timing, trying to play at a steady pace, creating good tone, playing in
tune, accenting, and the list goes on
In the process, youre likely to lose track of your technique
(the details of how you control your instrument, including posture, hand position, and
relaxation). Its essential that you
practice on technique during your warm-up period, otherwise, you may fail to get the most
out of your practice. However, if you
practice technique first, theres a good chance that some of the accomplishments will
carry throughout the rest of your practice session. If
the proper techniques are applied then you will see a large improvement in your playing.
The clarinet embouchure is a critical, and often overlooked, aspect
of performing. The proper technique involves
coordination between the upper lip, lower lip, teeth, and chin. To start out, the jaw must be slightly dropped in
order to create a streamlined look at the chin; and
this is where the coordination begins. As the
jaw slightly drops, the lower lip MUST come up and tuck over the teeth. These two actions combined cause the skin along
the chin to conform to the bone structure; the resulted tautness helps to amplify the
clarinetists sound. If the skin is left
loose, or the lower lip has a tendency to unfold, the clarinets timbre becomes more
closed and pinched rather than the desired open and clear sound. (There is, however, a limit to how taut the skin
should become. If the skin is stretched too
tightly, it has the same disastrous effects as loose skin.)
From here, the upper lip now joins the group.
This lips primary goal is to seal the lips around the mouthpiece, or
to keep air from escaping. About 3/8 of an
inch of the mouthpiece should actually be inserted into the mouth, and the upper teeth
should have a firm grasp on the mouthpiece.