Klarinet Archive - Posting 000060.txt from 2004/10
From: "Forest Aten" <forestaten@-----.net>
Subj: RE: [kl] Clarinet popularity was: [kl] Re: Another Clarinet Faculty Vacancy
Date: Mon, 4 Oct 2004 13:02:43 -0400
It is very true that we are awash in clarinet players. The average
technical facility is staggering compared to what was considered virtuostic
one hundred years ago.
I'm not so sure about this....
We are awash in clarinet players, I'm not so sure we're awash in musicians.
I find it very difficult to find clarinet players who can play a melody
with true beauty.
Where are you looking?
It seems more likely melody has become unimportant to people who aspire to
play the clarinet more than they aspire to play music and then wonder why
they can play all the notes of the Nielsen Clarinet Concerto but can't get
past the first round of an audition. This may just have something to do
with the problems facing symphony orchestras - conductors more interested
in conducting rather than playing music. And, of course, the problems
facing symphony orchestras directly relate to the lack of jobs for clarinet
While I agree that there has always been a group of musicians hell
bent on acquiring technique at the expense of "musical" skill, I don't find
that this group of players 'always' prevail at auditions....and certainly
not always in the real world....(job).
It's also interesting to note that, despite all these virtuoso players, I
know of a least a few auditions for major orchestra where the ultimate
decision was either no one was qualified or the person chosen couldn't cut
And....knowing many of the fine players "no selected" I'd say that
there are plenty of politics involved in the selection process. Players are
often hired conditionally and many factors lead to an orchestra and player
not matching up in the end. Very rarely is a player, selected through
audition, let go because they "couldn't cut it".
It is hard to compare this to the "old days" because back then, as you
well know, conductors could hire and fire players at will.
Those were very "old days" indeed.
We now live in an era of professional audition takers, many of which can
play their excerpts blindfolded with one hand tied behind their back but
don't have the slightest ability to function in a professional performance
This may be true for a few players....but not the majority...at
least in my experience.
You have to be a professional audition taker to get the job and a
professional musician to keep the job. Quite overwhelming, if you ask me.
This is very true. A professional is a professional is a
professional...whether taking auditions or performing after winning an
audition. I talked to Bud Wright about this many times. He swore to me that
if he had to go on the current audition circuit today, that he would never
have gotten his position in Boston. (or in his first jobs as well). After
serving on years of audition committees he knew what he would face. He told
me many times that he learned how to play clarinet "on the job". I believe
this to be true but only to a certain point. He was an extraordinary
musician and would have certainly prevailed in the fiercely competitive
orchestral audition world today as well as been a constant in the orchestra
he played after selection.
Regarding teaching both clarinet and saxophone. If there were enough
students for two separate full-time studios, they would have to have two
separate full-time professors. They certainly aren't going to pay full-time
professors to teach only part-time. So either they have one full-time
professor teach both or two part-time professors. In a certain sense the
latter creates more jobs, but not really.
Many times the colleges and universities work out a scheme to fill
these positions spending the fewest dollars possible. Part time adjuncts are
often the cheapest way to go because they don't receive benefits that full
time educators would be entitled to in most settings.
So many notes, so little music,
I know a lot of very good music with a lot of notes. I don't think
you can exclude music with technical demand from the list of quality music.
We might individually be limited with what we can perform well...but that
doesn't make technically oriented music bad music.
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