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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000311.txt from 2002/06

Subj: RE: [kl] Majoring in Clarinet Performance
Date: Mon, 10 Jun 2002 10:11:05 -0400

I have been reading this long thread with some interest and am surprised
that with ex military musicians on this list that this has not been
suggested as another possible way of becoming a professional clarinetist.

Granted, it is not an orchestral setting, but it was a viable alternative to
me and even though I did not stay in the military and make it my career, I
know several clarinetist that did and were generally happy. The principal
clarinet in our band had a DMA from Michigan State University and studied
under Keith Stein. This is where he learned his embouchure that I have
described on this list and how I learned it also.

Like any job, it has it pluses and minuses. You have to adjust to a military
way of doing things and the lifestyle involved, but once you get past that,
there are many benefits to be counted. Job security is one.

The biggest reason I decided not to stay in the military and make it my
career? I became burned out after three years on non-stop performing and
needed a break. I wanted to attend university full time also.

The routine does get boring, so you always are looking for ways to liven
things up. Musicians can be a peculiar bunch.

I personally got tired of always having to work when everyone else was off.
That meant nights, weekends, and most all holidays. What time you do get off
is usually during the week at odd hours. This can get old pretty fast. If
you have visions of practicing during those time offs, forget it. Usually by
the time you have any time off you are too tired of playing to want to
practice like you used to. After playing 5-6 hours a day, you learn to
practice while you play. Generally, I would only practice if I had a part
that was giving me trouble or if I was working up something for a lesson.

On the positive side, I enjoyed all the travel, but I think the older you
get, the more boring that would become as well, or at least inconvenient.

Raising a family is another issue, and unless you can take your family on
tour with you this also presents a problem. Family can tend to be neglected.
For a single person though I though it was an ideal life style.

Another thing about military bands is that there are different levels of
bands. Most people are aware of the bands in D.C. which have very high
standards and are indeed quite difficult to get into.

However, there are many different bands in the various services and they are
stationed all over the world.

I was stationed in Heidelberg, Germany which was like living in a post card
setting. While not the top band in the Army, it was the top band in all of
Europe and as such we got all the choice gigs that came along.

I traveled all over Europe at Uncle Sam's expense and in my spare time I
joined a German youth orchestra and got some orchestral experience. My
biggest regret in not learning more German or becoming fluent in speaking

So I thought I would present this as another alternative to those wanting to
find out what playing professionally is like. Generally, you only have to
make the minimum commitment which is between 3-5 years depending on the
service branch and when you get out you have money for college as well.

By the way, I was even able to attend night classes at a branch of the
University of Maryland there in Heidelberg, taught at the American campus on
base and this was even paid for by Uncle Sam as well.

Granted, my experience is dated, and I'm sure many things have changed, but
just because you don't think you will be accepted in the D.C. band does not
mean you can not have a music career in the Military.

Tom Henson


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