Inside ClarinetMike’s Studio: A few years ago, one of my bright-eyed junior high students, Ian, came to a lesson and played music that he was preparing for a contest. He did an excellent performance of the notes; however, the rhythms were less than great [i.e. bad!]. He told me that he had not worked much (or any) on the rhythms during his practicing at home. This in spite of the fact that I always emphasize rhythm using clapping and other counting techniques during lessons. So, as seen in Ian’s own handwriting above, I went sorta Old School on him and made him write, “I will clap the music every day” five times.* The next week Ian came to his lesson and played the music brilliantly! He told me he clapped the music every day in his practicing at home!
One of my favorite maxims is, “If you can’t clap it, you can’t play it.”
*FYI, I do NOT advocate the old idea of writing a sentence 100’s of times on a blackboard as punishment – making a student’s hand hurt seems a terrible idea to me as a musician….