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 Wind Ensemble Audition
Author: runner 
Date:   2010-05-24 14:31

I've taught a clarinet student on-an-off for two years. She did not make her school's top band as a 9th grader and is motivated to do whatever it takes to make wind ensemble (one of the best in Ohio). Tone quality is her main obstacle. She recently bought a new mouthpiece which her mother said makes her sound much better (rounder?).
I am thinking of requiring her to practice a scale regimen similar to what I did in college. For me doing a cycle of all majors , 3 forms of minor and arpeggios (45 minutes worth) made a huge improvement.
Not sure if I can convince her to do a similar routine (abbreviated) that would take 10-15 minutes each day would work? What do you think. Plus what solos would fatten up her tone?

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 Re: Wind Ensemble Audition
Author: Bob Phillips 
Date:   2010-05-24 14:56

If she can hear effectively, playing with a better sounding clarinetist (duos), and recording the work (and having the patience to listen to the recordings) could go a long way to motivating her. Also, it would give her a model for her own sound.

I'm looking forward to hearing how one teaches tone quality.

Bob Phillips

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 Re: Wind Ensemble Audition
Author: JJAlbrecht 
Date:   2010-05-24 15:14

Scale work will improve her technical proficiancy, but do little for tone production. Have you worked with her on long tones and voicing?


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 Re: Wind Ensemble Audition
Author: Ed Palanker 
Date:   2010-05-24 15:19

If you're looking for a 10-15 minute scale - chord regiment I might suggest using the Albert Scale exercises. You can choose several for her to use and perhaps even memorize.
As far as teaching tone goes, that's more of a long term program. If she's willing to take a few minutes each day and really concentrate the exercise doing 12ths properly is a very good one to do. Of course she has to have a good embouchure as well as proper breathing and tongue position to obtain a good tone. Having the proper reed strength and type goes a long way as well and even though she has a new mouthpiece you have to make sure it's good for her. It's always a good idea to play a duet at her lesson each week as well so she get's to hear you and work on playing in tune and with precise rhythm. ESP http://eddiesclarinet.com

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 Re: Wind Ensemble Audition
Author: grifffinity 
Date:   2010-05-24 20:48

I agree with the duet suggestions and also playing for the student in lessons in general. My studio consists of middle and HS students and I often use duets and unison playing to assist the younger kids. These are great tools to reinforce sight reading basics while also giving the student an opportunity to work on intonation and tone production.

We develop speech at a young age through listening, not talking about the position of the tongue, etc. I find with younger kids, assuming they aren't doing anything extreme with their tongue position or embouchure, benefit most from hearing the teacher (assuming you have a good tone) in lessons. Instead of making tone so technical for younger kids, make it more of a game - "can you match my sound?"

A 9th grader isn't so young that you can't talk specifically about technique, but I'm always cautious of getting too technically wordy with kids without a proper example to support my words.

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 Re: Wind Ensemble Audition
Author: clarinetist04 
Date:   2010-05-25 03:16

The Slooooow Rose etudes. Working on voicing, phrasing, long tones, and making music instead of playing notes. Those, along with proper posturing did a world of difference for me.

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 Re: Wind Ensemble Audition
Author: Lelia Loban 2017
Date:   2010-05-25 12:51

>>Not sure if I can convince her to do a similar routine (abbreviated) that would take 10-15 minutes each day would work?

One way to help convince her: Assume she might enjoy practicing scales and other technical exercises. Don't give her a self-fulfilling prophecy by assuming she'll hate scales. I never had a private clarinet teacher, but bought exercise books and practiced them on my own as a child and teenager, because my piano teacher was strong on music theory and I found the subject as fascinating as any other puzzle game. Not all kids regard scales or other technical exercises as drudgery.

I also think that scales can help improve tone, as long as they're *long* scales -- her full range on the instrument. That way, if she's got a decent ear, she can tell when (or whether) her tone quality and intonation sound reasonably consistent through her range. Real music has so many variables in literally every bar that we quite rightly pay more attention to making the music *sound musical* than anything else. Tone quality is only one aspect of what we think about when we're making music. But if we're making scales, we can devote our whole attention to one aspect of the scale at a time, such as how to produce one type of tone or how to keep the tone quality even.

To hear the audio, click on the "Scorch Plug-In" box above the score.

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 Re: Wind Ensemble Audition
Author: William 
Date:   2010-05-25 15:01

Practicing 10 hours a day will do no good without a concept of tone quality as a goal. And that is simply listening--to other "good" clarinet sounds and to your own, until you think it is acceptable.

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 Re: Wind Ensemble Audition
Author: clarinetcase 
Date:   2010-05-25 21:44

I agree with William and FWI I've found students around that age really don't know what they sound like or what they could sound like. Have her record, even if it isn't very good, and listen to herself. Have her listen to clarinet recordings and play along with them. This has had worked for me. It helps if she has a good idea of what she's supposed to sound like. She may start noticing things that she's missed and start asking good questions.

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 Re: Wind Ensemble Audition
Author: runner 
Date:   2010-06-02 16:32

Lots of great ideas here. Thanks everyone.

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 Re: Wind Ensemble Audition
Author: Plonk 
Date:   2010-06-02 18:47

I'd echo the above about recording yourself playing. And ask her which of the notes she can play she likes the sound of best, (everyone likes their C above middle C tone, surely?!) and then work towards improving the worst notes.

It's worth teaching how she can improve throat tones by covering lower holes, if you haven't done that already.

None of my teachers played much in my lessons (pity). I used to listen to a lot of tapes and records back in those days (the 80s/90s). These days, we have the magic of Youtube! I would get her to do some constructive listening using a selection of videos you've chosen yourself - maybe 3 or 4 excellent performances of the same piece to see if she can pinpoint any differences in tone, and also watching the noobs playing their grade 1 pieces to compare a bad tone with the good.

It's all very well working on embouchure, investing in new kit etc, but unless you've got a good idea in your brain about how you WANT to sound, you won't achieve it.

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 Re: Wind Ensemble Audition
Author: Bassie 
Date:   2010-06-03 06:20

Small ensemble work: duos, trios, quartets. You can't hear yourself comparatively in band or solo. It's amazing how people's playing responds to small ensemble.

May be time to start some reed experimentation, it's important to get this right for good tone. This is not an excuse to blame the equipment, just an observation based on personal experience: the 'right' reed can make it easier to find good tone, and you can try and listen for the differences between different designs. I can play on the 'wrong' reed, but it's harder work, right?

Tone is also an embouchure thing (isn't everything? ;D).

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 Re: Wind Ensemble Audition
Author: Hank Lehrer 
Date:   2010-06-03 12:04


Yes, the slow Rose etudes or studies. I took some lesson from Fred Cohen at Kent State in the 1960s and we spend weeks on one page. Slow, listen, graceful fingers, etc. Too many people concentrate on technique at the expense of the music.


PS I used to teach at Falls Music Center while I was a band director at Talmadge as well as Springfield Twp. during the same period I took lessons from Fred (a Bonade student BTW)..

Post Edited (2010-06-03 13:05)

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 Re: Wind Ensemble Audition
Author: A Brady 
Date:   2010-06-03 20:10

I will never forget the first time I heard a beautiful clarinet sound: I was in 9th Grade, and went to a local production of South Pacific. The clarinetist was a local middle-school teacher (who left shortly thereafter to take a performance job, before I had a chance to study with him), and his sound, full, rich with harmonics, and flexibly expressive, still reverberates in my ears.

Two years later, I was fortunate enough to study with a wonderful player with another beautiful, yet different sound, and I still hear and feel his influence in my own tone, many years later.

No specific exercises or piece of equipment will produce a beautiful sound unassisted: the sound must be heard, then assimilated into the players consciousness in order to be produced. Recordings of master performers, and live exposure to a great sound are the only real answers to this question.

The sound must be HEARD in the players head, then the actual production will follow naturally through proper practice techniques.


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