I talk a little more in this one. Weber’s Concertino is a major staple of the clarinet repertoire. When it’s done right, it’s so much fun to listen to/watch. Even practicing this is a lot of fun. It’ll be nice when this piece sounds better.
Kay Ryan’s imagery has always made me think. I’ve enjoyed her poetry, and she knows how to describe the human experience. And then her poems become a part of the human experience. She’s definitely made my life more robust.
I just finished a book of poems by Joy Harjo, called An American Sunrise. She adds commentary to her poem “Story Wheel”: “Until the passage of the Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978, . . . to write or create as a Native person was essentially illegal.”
Sometimes I work on passages of various clarinet pieces.
I’m thinking of starting a video series that includes my playing clarinet and talking about poems. This is the pilot, haha. Unfocused, yes. But two things I love.
Today’s the 50th day in a row that I’ve blogged. Not that a lot of those posts actually said anything important. But it seems significant to form a thought and write it down. Real action. Sort of. Whether those thoughts develop into something more substantial is a different story, but looking back at the past 50 days, all those posts had potential to become more. It’s encouraging to see the potential in things.
I can’t decide whether the past 50 days passed slowly or quickly.
The next 50 days are summer days.
Should be interesting enough.
Ten minutes left in the day. Cutting it close.
Here’s another clarinet video. Still in the mood for cheesy love songs. I’m a real sucker for those.
Not a whole lot to write for this post, but I’m putting this up as a document to refer to as I improve my staccato at various speeds. I mean, this was fun (and sorta funny), but I’ll keep working on technique in addition to musicality.
I’m in the middle of breaking in some new reeds. And I’ve just been working on a staccato exercise quartet. I’ve recorded it before, but I didn’t push the tempo. This time I’ve been practicing this cute little 3/8 piece with three eighth notes = 144 beats/minute. It feels good to play it at that speed. We’ll see if it sounds good.
Here is the next repair project, which arrived this afternoon:
The tarnish on this clarinet looks really cool, so I probably won’t polish it. The instrument doesn’t play, though. After an initial tinkering around, it looks like a total take-apart job. Replacing pads and springs. The whole thing is leaky.
This evening I also watched this discussion between Peter Cigleris and Michelle Anderson, clarinetists who play on Backun clarinets.
Cigleris uncovered a bunch of unperformed early British clarinet music and recorded an album:
It sounds really lovely. And during this discussion Cigleri pointed out a lot of the composers were women, which is really cool.
Clarinets have become somewhat of an obsession of mine during the pandemic. Last week I found a nice intermediate model of an A clarinet. According to wikipedia:
In modern times, the most common clarinet is the B♭ clarinet. However, the clarinet in A, pitched a semitone lower, is regularly used in orchestral, chamber and solo music. An orchestral clarinetist must own both a clarinet in A and B♭ since the repertoire is divided fairly evenly between the two.
I’ve noodled around a bit on the A, breaking it in slowly. The tone is really nice. In this photo, the A clarinet is on the left and the B♭ is on the right. You’ll see the A is a little bit bigger–longer body, wider bell. Because the brand is different, the pinky keys are situated a little differently, but the response is just as quick as the B♭.
Practicing Piece 1 of Stravinsky’s Three Pieces has been way fun. Since I’ve been practicing on the B♭ up to now, I’ve gotten used to hearing this work pitched in a particular way. As I’ve been practicing on the A, hearing the music a half-tone lower was a bit weird at first, but i’m getting used to it. I’ll post two different practice sessions here: First the B♭, and then the A. And as I mentioned on Instagram regarding these sessions: Similar tempos. Some different approaches/attacks of notes. Different areas needing smoother transitions between notes. And more dynamics. Still quite a bit of work to do.
After a few weeks, I have finally gotten to where I can play the piece all the way through without any huge flubs. This is a big deal, because my fingers now understand what they’re supposed to do, and I can work on musicality. Still need to clean up some fingerings; tone needs more focus in some areas; still need more breath support for lower notes; phrasings and dynamics need polishing. But yeah, here we are. I recorded this two nights ago:
Progress is progress. I’ll take what I can get. Yay!
Maybe a month into the pandemic (April-ish, 2020), I decided to pick up my clarinet again. The student level model I’ve had since 7th grade. After about 2 months of playing, I bit the bullet and bought an intermediate level clarinet from my local music store.
So I’ve been spending a lot of my inside time recording clarinet ensemble pieces with myself. I like the challenge of keeping time with the metronome and staying in tune with myself. Which is so weird, because different registers on the clarinet can be a little off-tune with the other registers.
But a few weeks ago I broke out some sheet music that I wasn’t very interested in a long time ago. Looked super hard. Stravinsky’s Three Pieces for Clarinet Solo. Like, it didn’t sound pretty. Melodies I didn’t really get. And the notes were high, and I was unfamiliar with those fingerings, and my all-around chops were not up to snuff.
To offset some of the intimidation, I’ve been listening to Annelien van Wauwe’s recording here:
Many other recordings from different artists exist, but I’ve taken to this one for now. I’ve been listening to it every day, psychologically working up to meet a standard I’ve established for myself.
Two weeks ago, I tried tackling the first half of Piece 1:
Got to clean up any transitions that involve that left C#Db pinky. Also need to create phrases to make the piece make sense.
Then this past week I looked at the second half of Piece 1:
A lot of the same criticisms. Overall this needs to be smoother. It would be nice to decide on a tempo, since Stravinsky’s instructions are to “strictly adhere to” metronome markings (quarter note=52), breath marks, and accents.
This is coming along. I’d like to spend another month on this to get it under my fingers. It’s fun.