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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000178.txt from 2002/05

From: "Gary Smith" <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Speak!
Date: Tue, 7 May 2002 11:38:47 -0400


I'm hoping that what you mean is that some teacher in your past did all
these things, not the current college-level instructor. Some of what you're
describing sounds more like POW interrogation than a clarinet lesson.

I can relate -- I had a rather agressive teacher once. I was paying him out
of my own pocket as an adult getting back into the game, and he still
treated me like an idiot - and I guess I was, since I kept paying him.
Finally gave him the left hand of fellowship and moved on, but I know it's
not that easy as a kid (or even a first year college student, if it was that

Unfortunately, the negative impact that this teacher had on you could be
profound, esp. if he/she used memorization work as punishment. There are
many things that need to be memorized as a clarinetist, such as scales and
arpeggios in as many patterns as you have time for. Doing this shouldn't be
punishment -- it should be presented in such a way that it's fun, or at
least an understandable task that makes playing music more fun. If he or she
was this far out, then he probably wasn't very helpful in other respects.

However, congratulate yourself on having made it this far without quitting,
which is what most people would have done. Pour that resiliance into forging
better technique with a new instructor who sounds more enlightened, and move
on. I would encourage the new instructor to *not* dwell on the past, either.
There is a temptation, as a teacher, to dwell on the mistakes of the
previous ones -- it gets you off the hook for the problems of your student,
and it makes you feel superior as well. In short, it's a cop-out. You as a
student have a right to ask him or her to focus on the page of music at hand
and how to do better *now*.

So forget the past, look forward to enjoying the future. It's never too late
to correct mistakes, such as using the wrong fingerings, not learning
certain core techniques early, or even laying the horn down for a time. I've
done all of the above, and recovered from it all.

To answer your questions from the last paragraph, I started in 7th, and
didn't take lessons until 9th grade, as I recall. My h.s. private instructor
was a freelance teacher from the community with a background as a military
band player who also played a lot of jobs in the community. A very nice man
who set me on the right road, and I had a lot of success in high school. I
wish I had started earlier, but again you have to look forward, not
backwards. I think ideally children should start somewhere around grade 5 or
6 (that's usually somwhere around age 9-10, for you global listers), when
their hands get big enough for the instrument. Lessons should start
immediately, in an ideal environment, but it's not a disaster if they start
in a good band with a teacher who at least has enough time to show them the
fundamentals first for maybe a year. (I know I've just provided enough
debate material to last *two* years, so let loose the hounds of klarinet!)

Good luck. May your college years be good ones - you're probably paying
enough to insist on it, so start taking charge of the process so as to get
what you want.

>Subject: Re: [kl] Speak!
>Date: Tue, 7 May 2002 00:40:43 -0500
>My name is Jean Marie, I'm a college student in my second year. And I to
>am new to this list.
>My teacher this year has talked a lot about my very first lesson teacher
>and a lot of tihings he may have done wrong. Like tap the beat on me
>harder and harder if I couldn't keep time, or make me feel ashamed if my
>lesson wasn't prefect in a week and punish me with memorization work. And
>he's been trying to figure out to what extent this may have impacted me.
>And I'm wondering what your first teachers were like. And what age did
>you start lessons, I started in sixth grade, and had been playing since
>Thanks, Jean Marie
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