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 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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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”