Below are the lecture notes I am using this fall in my All-State Clarinet Clinics for the Texas ATSSB (Association of Texas Small School Bands) soprano clarinet all-state audition in high schools. For my other clarinet all-state lecture notes go HERE and HERE.
Texas ATSSB All-State Soprano Clarinet Clinic
Lecture Notes 2013-2014
- Get quality equipment. My set up: Buffet R13, M13 Lyre/Rico Reserve XO, Vandoren V12 3.5/Rico Reserve Classic 3.5, BG Revelation or Super Revelation, metronome/tuner, silk swab, BG Pad Dryer, etc.
- Find a good private teacher. [Don’t just copy a recording. Learn to count!]
- Genuine Excellence = Talent × Practice Time × Practice Quality.
- Power of Habit. Work on Basics (ARTC) & Scales, along with the All-State Music in a Practice Routine.
- Slow, Careful Practice = Speedy, Confident Performance. The Tortoise and the Hare – Be a Turtle! Loading & Unloading, etc. – See Frank R. Wilson.
- Focus on what you control: Preparation & Effort. Success, John Wooden, etc.
- It’s Always about the MUSIC. Musical Style and Phrasing, esp. Romantic style.
General Prep Tips
- Practice on and perform with good reeds.
- Use a metronome and tuner.
- Record yourself – check out phone apps!
- Sound Projection & Dynamics.
- Plan and mark breathing carefully
- Understand music terms, notation, ornaments, etc.
- Create a cheat sheet. Write each etude’s scales and arpeggios in the upper corner.
- Clap and sing the music.
- Check out additional Practice Tips.
Scale Prep Tips
- Prepare your scales as if they are etudes or solos. Don’t run through them quickly and thoughtlessly. The required etudes are built on scales, as is almost all music. Therefore, careful preparation of scales with good fundamentals (relaxation, tone, counting, etc.) will pay big rewards on the etudes & all the music you play.
- Don’t forget to work on cleanly going over the break! This is often neglected and results in a lack of smoothness in the playing. The finger combinations for going over the break are tricky and must be addressed daily by all clarinetists at every level.
- DO NOT use throat tone resonance fingers (keeping right hand down, etc.) when doing scales. This will slow down the technique.
- Make sure you have good tone, relaxed body position, good breathing, etc. as you learn the scales. Otherwise, you will be memorizing flaws that will be harder to fix later.
- See Internet links above.
- Listen to style on youtube.com.
- Check out documents, videos, etc. on www.clarinetmike.com and www.clarinetmike.wordpress.com
- Link to Official ATSSB Audition Information
Etude Prep Template (Specifics Below)
- Overview on composer and musical style.
- Key(s) and Tempo(s).
- Scale and Arpeggio Cheat Sheet
- Technical Issues (articulation, rhythms, fingerings, etc.).
- Problem Passages.
- Sections, Phrases, and Musical Issues.
- Breathe Marks.
- Suggested Listening
Etude 1 Adagio non troppo, Page 59, Rose 32 Etudes #13. Artistic Studies, Book 1-From the French School, David Hite, Southern Music. Tempo: Quarter note = 54-63; Play: Play from the beginning to the quarter rest in measure 16.
- Overview on composer and musical style. These Rose etudes are based on etudes by court oboist Franz Wilhelm Ferling (1796-1874). Ferling may have been influenced by the great violin virtuoso Paganini as this etude is similar to the slow movement of a sonata or concerto. Cyrille Rose (1830-1902) was a very important clarinet teacher at the Paris Conservatory and 1st clarinetist with the Paris opera orchestra. Rose adapted and enhanced this Ferling etude for the clarinet. He also added a number of measures. The original Ferling etude was likely marked Adagio con espressione. So play expressively like a great virtuoso with lots of romantic emotion and pathos!
- Key(s) and Tempo(s). D Major. I Suggest Eight Note = 88-92. Learn in 6 and perform in 6. It is ok to perform in 3, but only if you are super duper secure in everything (FYI, I would play it in 6.)
- Scale and Arpeggio Cheat Sheet. D major scale and arpeggio.
- Technical Issues (articulation, rhythms, fingerings, etc.). Romantic phrasing. Some counting spots. Slur/Dots Tonguing. Finger slide.
- Problem Passages. M6 requires some kind of finger slide. I suggest doing it between the first 2 notes of the measure. There are 3 ways to do it. 1. Slide right pinky off D# to B. 2. Shorten the D# a little and jump to B with right pinky in the small silence. 3. Start B natural with left pinky and quickly switch to right pinky B without breaking the sound. I prefer 3. – practice this super slow at first.
- Sections, Phrases, and Musical Issues. MM5-6 are open to interpretation on the Slur/Dots – try them lightly tongued with, and then without, separation to see what you like. Exaggerate dynamics.
- Breath Marks. Relate them to phrasing as much as possible.
- Other. Don’t use too much rubato on an audition. Rely on dynamics and tone shading.
- Suggested Listening: Listen to slow movements of romantic era sonatas – e.g. Beethoven Piano Sonatas (Mvt. 2 of “Pathetique” Sonata, etc.)
Etude 2 Allegro moderato, Page 58, Rose 32 Etudes #12. Tempo: Quarter note = 88; Play: Play from the beginning through the end of measure 16.
- Overview on composer and musical style. These Rose etudes are based on etudes by court oboist Franz Wilhelm Ferling (1796-1874). Ferling was likely influenced by the great violin virtuoso Paganini when he wrote this etude in the style of a Toccata. Cyrille Rose (1830-1902) was a very important clarinet teacher at the Paris Conservatory and 1st clarinetist with the Paris opera orchestra. Rose adapted and enhanced this Ferling etude for clarinet. This original Ferling etude was likely marked Allegretto risoluto. So be resolute and play like a virtuoso with some romantic fire!
- Key(s) and Tempo(s). D minor and Quarter note = 76-88. Learn in 6, perform in 3. [Accuracy over speed!]
- Scale and Arpeggio Cheat Sheet. D minor scale and esp. arpeggio. Chromatic scale. Arpeggios: A, A7, E7, Bb, Eb, C# Fully Diminished Seventh (C#, E, G, Bb)
- Technical Issues (articulation, rhythms, fingerings, etc.). Tonguing – Use BTE, “Betty” (Basic Tonguing Exercise); Don’t gap between tongue-slur and tongue-slur, i.e. smooth tee-eee, tee-eee, etc. Staccato = Separated, not short. Learn slow and long, perform fast and short. Don’t rush off first sixteenth in four-sixteenth patterns
- Problem Passages. Repeated tongues are tricky, go slow and be patient. The ¾ time turns you around, so know where beat 1 is.
- Sections, Phrases, and Musical Issues. Notice dynamics, accents, crescendos etc. carefully. Learn these while preparing notes and rhythms, DO NOT WAIT UNTIL LATER!
- Breath Marks. While learning in 6, breathe wherever needed – NO TENSION. However, plan early in the preparation where you will breathe when you play in 3 (be mindful of this while you learn etude in 6).
- Other. Don’t play too fast! Notice suggested tempo. Play with FIRE, yet ALWAYS with a beautiful tone!
- Suggested Listening: Listen to J.S. Bach’s Violin Works and his Toccatas and Fugues. Also his Partitas.