Thursday, May 7, 2009

Clarinet Masterclasses

I am going to stray a bit from the 'masterclass blog' and simply share some thoughts.  I have very recently given a couple of masterclasses; one at Emporia State University Woodwind Day - thank you Dr McConkie!! - and one at the University of Miami Clarinet Choir Day - thank you Mr Piccinelli and the All Broward Clarinet Choir! (By the way, Dr McConkie and Mr Piccinelli are both UM alumni and former members of the UM Clarinet Studio!)

As I prepared for these events, I thought quite a bit about what young clarinetists need in order to grow as clarinetists and blossom as musicians. The answer is quite simple: they need to grow as a clarinetist and blossom as a musician! What I mean by that is that we all (regardless of level) need to constantly strive to maintain a balance between skills and art; more specifically between those skills required to play the clarinet and those involved in music-making. These are two separate areas and both need attention to thrive.

In order to grow as a clarinetist we need to attend to details involved in playing the instrument; tone production, technique, articulation, range, etc. This is a means to an end however, not a final goal in and of itself. These skills are the foundation that allow us to make music, our ultimate goal. The clarinet is the vehicle we have chosen for this amazing experience of music-making. (Well chosen, I might add! An exquisitely beautiful instrument it is!)

Herein lies the challenge - balancing skills practice with practicing music. It is surprisingly easy to lean decidedly one way or the other. We must constantly evaluate the structure, balance and efficiency of our practice time to be sure we are attending to all our needs; those needed to play the clarinet as well as those needed to turn a beautiful phrase.

Just some food for thought - I welcome discussion!

As always, I wish you all good health and good reeds!!
Dr D

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