Below are my clinic notes on Etude No. 1 from this year’s Texas TMEA All-State Soprano Clarinet Etudes. Watch for my notes on Etudes 2 and 3 coming soon!
ClarinetMike’s Texas TMEA All-State Clarinet Clinic 2019-2020
Soprano Clarinet Preparation Tips: Etude No. 1
Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”
“Building Great Clarinetists”
Clarinet Performing, Teaching and Consulting
Hurst, Texas, USA * 682-888-7639
clarinetmike.com * firstname.lastname@example.org
Etude Book: David Hite editor, Artistic Studies, Book 1 – From the French School [Rose Etudes] Published by Southern Music Co.
Note: Cyrille Rose (1830-1902) was a very important clarinet teacher at the Paris Conservatory and 1st clarinetist with the Paris Opera orchestra for 34 years. Rose did not compose these etudes, but he adapted and enhanced etudes written for other instruments. He “clarinetized” them.
Etude 1 Allegro furioso, Page 71. Etude Title: 32 Etudes, 26. Quarter note = 100-120. Play from Beginning to end. Errata: check carefully-see here.
Composer and Style: This Rose etude is based on an etude by court oboist Franz Wilhelm Ferling (1796-1874) – to view the original etude, click HERE and go to Etude #12. Ferling was possibly influenced by the great violin virtuoso Paganini when he wrote this etude in the style of a Toccata. (cite). A “Toccata (from Italian toccare, literally, “to touch”) is a virtuoso piece of music typically for a keyboard or plucked string instrument featuring fast-moving, lightly fingered or otherwise virtuosic passages or sections…generally emphasizing the dexterity of the performer’s fingers.” (cite) So, play like a Romantic Era Virtuoso with lots of life, but keep your touch light and relaxed!
Overview: This etude has 3 main issues, Arpeggios, Even Sixteenths, and Tonguing. Make sure to always practice and perform with great tone!
Phrases and Sections: Etude has 3 sections: S1 = m1-m12, S2 = m13-m20, and S3 = m21 to end.
Tempo: Quarter note = 100-120. (But as someone said, “Don’t play it faster than you can play it!”)
Musical Issues: At the start of the etude, the editor of our version, David Hite, added the words, duramente e frettolosamente “with hardness, firmly and hurried, hurriedly.” I have taken my pencil and scratched these out. [I’m not changing the Bible here, just adjusting David Hite’s unfortunate tendency to overedit!] As suggested above, play like a virtuoso with lots of life, but keep your touch light and relaxed. Note carefully the marked dynamics – remember, this is a work of music not a math problem. Be sure to learn dynamics as you learn the rhythm and notes. Adding dynamics later does NOT work very well: ClarinetMike says, “If you learn it at Mezzo-Nothing, you’ll play it at Mezzo-Nothing.”
Scale and Arpeggio Cheat Sheet: C minor scale and esp. arpeggio. Lots of Chromatic scale. All three fully diminished 7ths are present.
Arpeggios: C- = C Eb G, G(7) = G B D (F), F- = F Ab C, Eb = Eb G Bb, E Fully Dim 7th = E G Bb Db, F Fully Dim 7th = F Ab B D, F# Fully Dim 7th = F# A C Eb,
Bb7 = Bb D F Ab, C = C E G
Technical Issues: Keep the sixteenths rhythmically even with every note getting ¼ of a beat. DO NOT rush off the first sixteenth of each set of 4. Move grace note in m17 to last half of final note of m16 – i.e. change last note in m16 to a 32nd and make grace note also a 32nd after it. To be clear, 4th beat of m16 should be 3 sixteenths and then 2 thirtyseconds. In m16-m18 focus on lower notes while performing the passage. I suggest playing the first note in m26 as an A natural as written unlike what is suggested elsewhere. Hite’s use of A natural here is musically and technically better.
Tonguing: Articulation is very important in this etude. Here’s a ClarinetMike Trick: In the slow preparation of any fast staccato type passage, DO NOT practice it slowly with the staccatos short. In other words, when you practice slowly, play the articulation with a normal or regular tongue stroke with not much, if any, separation. As you go faster over time and the passage becomes ingrained and learned, it will be easy to adjust the length of the articulation to the desired shortness. Be sure to use your ears to help you decide how short to play the notes.
Fingerings: Carefully consider your choices of fingerings for this etude. Be sure to use left C before and after fourth space Eb’s as in m2, m3, m10, etc. I suggest using the fork fingering for high Eb in m3 and m34. I also like using the fork fingering for the B’s in m5. Unlike what is suggested elsewhere, I suggest flipping to first finger F# in m4, m27, m28, and m36 and not using the side key F# chromatic fingering. Further, I advocate first finger F# as the standard fingering in the chromatic scale, instead of the alternate side key F#. Learning to “flip” quickly between first space F and first finger F# is an important skill for a clarinetist.
Breathing: Breathe as marked and as needed. In a work like this where there are few good spots to breathe, you have to make do as best you can. This will likely mean that a breath disrupts the pulse a little at times. This is unfortunate, but necessary. Be sure to stay in balance and try to keep the pulse as steady as possible even with small rhythmic disruptions for breathing.
Suggested Listening: Listen to J.S. Bach’s Toccatas and Fugues – also his Partitas. Check out this over-the-top version of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, CLICK HERE. Here’s a Toccata by the great piano virtuoso Franz Liszt, CLICK HERE. Also, watch this video depiction of Paganini [but don’t live your life like him!] CLICK HERE.