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Welcome!

Interested in improving your music reading and performance skills?

Are you looking for a specific piece of clarinet music?

Maybe you’re searching for a specific type of clarinet music?

How about something new?

Are you shopping for music within your playing level?

Perhaps you would just like some tips on becoming better at the clarinet?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you are in the right place!

My goal is to provide you with relevant information to assist you in finding the right clarinet music to suit your needs or interests. I have included other helpful information to guide you in the right direction as well.  I am open to feedback, so feel free to post a comment below or you can email me your questions or concerns at erika@clarinetshopper.com

Phrasing: Making sense of the music

Carl Nielsen’s Clarinet Concerto Op. 57 can be a daunting endeavor to learn, and even listen to! Despite several listenings and attempts to learn the piece myself, the music just never seemed to make any sense and I lost interest in the midst of my frustrations. My disdain for this piece of music was changed to utter delight and satisfaction the night I had the pleasure of hearing it performed at a concert by Anthony McGill, the principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic (2016). For the first time, the Nielsen Concerto made sense.  It was clear that Mr. McGill understood this music to its fullest and was able to communicate clearly with his audience. It was so refreshing to finally understand the complexity of this music, all because the complex phrases were formed into a cohesive message by this fine performer.

Phrasing music is so important to master! Without clearly defined phrases and ideas, the music loses its essence and reason for being and is little more than noise. Without clearly defined phrases, music is like a poorly delivered speech in which you hear the words and sentences, but the message is unclear and confusing. The audience is lost and your efforts have become fruitless. Continue reading “Phrasing: Making sense of the music”

Music Jokes

I have been cleaning out my house and found a list of some music jokes that I thought of once upon a time and wrote down.  I decided that since we all need a laugh here and there–even if the jokes are dumb–I’d go ahead and post them here.  Some are best when said out loud.

Enjoy!

Q: Why did the student get kicked out of orchestra rehearsal?
A: He didn’t know how to conduct himself.

Q: What do musicians build their houses with?
A: Tuba-fours!

Q: How did the musician get across the ocean?
A: He flute.

Q: How do you talk long-distance to a musician?
A: Euphonium

Q: What do you call a naked note?
A: A baritone

Q: What instrument do skeletons play?
A: The trombone

Q: What do you call a cucumber who sings bass?
A: A piccolo.

Q: When playing cards, what will a musician do when he can’t follow a suit?
A: He’ll trumpet.

Q: How do you capture a drummer?
A: With a snare.

Q: What kind of music do fish like to play?
A: Scales

Q: What do musicians use when they brush their teeth?
A: A tuba toothpaste

Q: What happens when musicians play too many scales?
A: They get keyboard.

Q: What did the tuba player get kicked out of rehearsal?
A: He was a treble-maker.

Q: What do you call a trombone player who hits a home run?
A: A bass-runner.

This one’s not mine (but a favorite):
Q: Why do chickens say “Bock?”
A: Because they cannot say “Beethoven”

Extra corny jokes.

Q: Why doesn’t corn like to read music?
A: It would rather play by ear.

Q: What part of the music does corn like to play?
A: The hominy

Cornstalk 1: “Have you ever played this tune before? I don’t know how it goes?”
Cornstalk 2: “Nope, but no worries.  I’m sure we can just play it by ear.”

Books for Musicians

Playing a Woodwind Instrument by Clara Net

Double-reed Frustrations by Macon A. Reid

Keeping the Beat by Tim Poe

Marching Techniques by Mark Tyme

Skipping Over the Scales by Art Pedgio

Play it Louder! by Chris Shindoe

Fast Tunes for Good Moods by Al Legro

 

I hope I was successful in making you laugh (and roll your eyes).

I would love to hear your silly jokes if you have any.  Share in the comments below!

 

 

 

Music Spotlight: Rhapsody by Willson Osborne

One of the great unaccompanied clarinet solos is Rhapsody by Willson Osborne. The difficulty is rated medium to medium difficult (grade 4-5), and is definitely approachable by a high school player. Osborne keeps the music very interesting and there is plenty of opportunity for expressive and technical playing.

The Rhapsody is very enjoyable to play and listen to. At only 4 1/2 minutes in length, it works well as a recital piece and it is a good audition piece as well. It is written for the B-flat clarinet.

I’m going to talk through the piece in detail, giving some advice on how to approach some of the tricky spots.  If you don’t already own this piece, you will have difficulty following what I am talking about in the analysis. Make sure you have your music handy for full understanding! If you don’t yet own a copy, you can click on the link below and purchase it.

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Rhapsody For Clarinet
Composed by Willson Osborne. For Bb clarinet (unaccompanied). 20th Century. Difficulty: medium to medium-difficult. Clarinet solo single. 4 pages. Duration 4.5 minutes. Edition Peters #EP6006. Published by Edition Peters (PE.P06006).

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Continue reading “Music Spotlight: Rhapsody by Willson Osborne”

Uniquely Clarinet: The Clarinet Family

The clarinet family is the largest of all instrument families, presently with 14 sizes of clarinets, and a few cousins that have strong similarities to the clarinet, but are distinctly different. Why so many sizes? Read on to find out!

I have had the pleasure of playing many of the clarinets in the clarinet family, each having its own unique set of challenges! Here, I will briefly cover each of the clarinets, including some more history.

Clarinet History

Although I covered some of the history in my last post, I would like to go into a bit more detail about the clarinet’s development. However, this is still a brief history, as there is much more detail that I will not be including. My point is to give you a little insight and an idea of how the clarinet came to be.
Continue reading “Uniquely Clarinet: The Clarinet Family”

Music Spotlight: “Five Bagatelles” by Gerald Finzi

One of my favorite composers is Gerald Finzi. He writes the most beautiful melodies and his phrasing is superb. I find that his music is never boring and that every phrase is a new adventure of sorts. Although Finzi is best known for his vocal music, his output also includes a piece for oboe and string quartet, a violin concerto, a cello concerto, and two works for the clarinet.

With his primary output being vocal and choral music, it seems to make sense that he wrote for the clarinet since the clarinet is the closest instrument to the human voice! Finzi’s experience as a composer for vocals is very apparent in the style of his clarinet compositions. The lines are some of the most lyrical ones in the clarinet repertoire. You may find that the melodies in the slower movements of the Five Bagatelles lend themselves well to singing.

Finzi’s music tends to be thickly scored and complex. He also explores plenty of key signatures and meters. There are no boring moments in his writing and he apparently enjoyed playing with his ideas.

Five Bagatelles is a wonderful work with five contrasting movements:
I. Prelude
II. Romance
III. Carol
IV. Forlana
V. Fughetta

Approximate duration is 14 minutes.

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Five Bagatelles, Op. 23 (Clarinet and Piano)
(Clarinet and Piano). Composed by Gerald Finzi (1901-1956). For Clarinet, Piano (Clarinet). Boosey & Hawkes Chamber Music. Classical. Set of performance parts. 21 pages. Boosey & Hawkes #M060030253. Published by Boosey & Hawkes (HL.48009725).

Continue reading “Music Spotlight: “Five Bagatelles” by Gerald Finzi”

Preparing for an Audition

Auditions

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face-sad-sweating-300pxDoes this word scream “opportunity” to you? Or does it signify a time of fear and a few moments of sheer terror? Does the word excite you or make you sweat?

If you have ever prepared for an audition for anything, you know how terrifying it can be. Whether it’s for a chair audition in your school band or orchestra, or a higher stakes audition to get into a certain college or to advance in a competition, or even make it into a symphony orchestra, auditions are a big deal.

The good news is that auditions don’t have to be scary! In fact, with the right preparation, they can be a satisfying experience, even if you don’t make it to the number one spot.

Experience

The more experience you have doing something, the more comfortable you tend to be with the process.  Continue reading “Preparing for an Audition”

Correct embouchure.

Back to Basics: Embouchure, Part 2

In my last post about clarinet embouchure, you learned about visible part of your face when you make a correct or incorrect embouchure. There are a few things that you still need to know about the part of the embouchure that you cannot see: the unique clarinet tongue position and the shape of the throat.  Since I am without X-ray photos and and live MRI videos, you will have to take my words and use your mind’s eye to figure this out. Hopefully, the short audio examples at the end will give you a bit more understanding.

First, I’d like to start by mentioning something I left out in my previous post.IMG_0522

Puffing cheeks. 

I didn’t even mention it.  After all the photos you saw, I hope that you noticed that the cheeks were never puffed out. Continue reading “Back to Basics: Embouchure, Part 2”