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 Where have all the etudes gone?
Author: Dan Oberlin 2017
Date:   2018-03-05 20:18

When I was in high school and college, my teachers had me spend a lot of time with (post Rose) studies and etudes: Kroepsch, Jeanjean, Polatscheck, Sarlit, and Jettel. My daughter was a clarinet (and math) major as an undergraduate. She studied a lot of solo clarinet literature but was never exposed to etudes like these. I'm wondering what is the place of these and similar etudes in the course of study of today's clarinet students.



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 Re: Where have all the etudes gone?
Author: Brad Behn 
Date:   2018-03-06 00:43

Hi Dan,

It is sad to me to know that etudes are being usurped by solo rep. My teacher Robert Marcellus taught his pedagogy through etudes, and only discussed solo rep at times when I brought it in for recital prep.

Dan, you are an expert math-man? How did your daughter's math studies compare to your math studies as a student? I expect much of the fundamental foundational stuff was similar? Much like music, the foundation remains ever important, and unchanging. Please correct me if I am wrong.

Etudes offer such a great opportunity for students to learn precise elements of clarinet pedagogy, technique, musicianship, articulation, etc. under the magnification a single page etude can impart. For example:

Marcellus called Rose 40, No. 1 "The hardest etude in the world." And that statement would of course set the student's mind aflutter, as on first glance it doesn't look especially hard.

So the process would unfold, a discussion, questions, discovery, insights into Marcellus' mind - as to why he would say such, and so forth.

And of course the great thing in his teaching approach was to create an atmosphere of discovery. Let the student find out on his/her own how, what, and why.

Flash forward 32 years, and I respectfully share Marcellus' statements with my students, "...the hardest etude in the world." And the conversation repeats. A good conversation for sure...although surely I can't "conver-splain" it with as much poignance. Indeed Marcellus was an elegant communicator.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Brad Behn
http://www.clarinetmouthpiece.com

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 Re: Where have all the etudes gone?
Author: Philip Caron 
Date:   2018-03-06 02:13

Fascinating. I just grabbed Rose 40 and looked at #1, a scoff ready on my lips, but then gazing through it I thought some more. C major is an underrated key in terms of difficulty, and thinking about smoothness across breaks, evenness of tone, accurate intonation, etc., maybe I can start to imagine what some of the discussion would be about. Thanks for the post Ben.

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 Re: Where have all the etudes gone?
Author: Brad Behn 
Date:   2018-03-06 02:46

Hi Philip,

I am delighted by your fascination. Thanks for taking time to explore.

And here is a thought to add difficulty to the already difficult nature of the etude. Try playing it slow. Perhaps the 8th note = 72.

In a conversation with my dear friend Ronnie Reuben, I remember him recalling his frustration with the famous conductor Ormandy. When the Philadelphia orchestra played Bolero, Ormandy liked to do it at a very slow tempo of 52 beats per minute.

Yikes, that makes it so much more difficult. To play in the pocket within the snare's precise time at such a slow tempo requires everything. Great wind control, speed of air, and lung capacity, Intonation. flexibility, impeccable response, fluid fingers, warm and rich legato, rich expressiveness, even and fluid control crossing the break. And at such a slow tempo, an already extremely exposed solo within the transparent texture becomes the more difficult.

Interesting how difficult things become, the slower things get!

That sort of precise, under the magnifying glass perspective, and analytical thinking is perhaps what made the Philadelphia Orchestra pull of the piece off at such a slow tempo. A wonderful group for sure.

And no doubt, the Rose 40, no. 1 will be on my desk the week I have to perform Bolero...

Brad Behn
http://www.clarinetmouthpiece.com

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 Re: Where have all the etudes gone?
Author: brycon 
Date:   2018-03-06 06:09

Quote:

When I was in high school and college, my teachers had me spend a lot of time with (post Rose) studies and etudes: Kroepsch, Jeanjean, Polatscheck, Sarlit, and Jettel. My daughter was a clarinet (and math) major as an undergraduate. She studied a lot of solo clarinet literature but was never exposed to etudes like these. I'm wondering what is the place of these and similar etudes in the course of study of today's clarinet students.


I usually do Rose and JeanJean etudes with my students--the JeanJeans because they're often nice music and the Roses simply because they're such a part of American pedagogy and are required at a lot of universities and conservatories.

But to push back against the "in my day, we had to walk 10 miles in the snow..." idea you seem to invoke with regard to etudes, you have to admit that today's young clarinetists, on the whole, are more technically advanced than any other generation.

Maybe the disappearance of etudes (if it actually exists--you seem to be using a very small sample size) only correlates with current students' technical achievement. But for myself, and I'm relatively young, I did Rose and JeanJean in high school and then moved on to Nielsen, Francaix, Copland, etc. as I entered college. Perhaps if I got bogged down going through Kroepsch, Polatscheck, Sarlit, Jettel, Uhl, etc. before getting to "real" music, my technical abilities might not have advanced so quickly. Or perhaps I might have quit clarinet because I would have been stuck playing a bunch of crappy music.

Is it possible, then, that as we've become smarter about practicing, we've simultaneously made a move away from breadth of study and toward depth of study--that is to say, doing well only a few etude books versus doing many etude books? Or maybe we've found repertoire that fills the role of etudes? I myself often practice and assign the Bach violin sonatas and partitas in place Rose etudes; they focus your attention on many of the same issues and, of course, have more music in a single phrase than both the Rose books combined.



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 Re: Where have all the etudes gone?
Author: Ed Palanker 2017
Date:   2018-03-06 18:04

Well I'm a retired pro player and clarinet teacher,BSO, Towson University and Peabody Conservatory as well as a private teacher. I always used both, several etudes books at one time as well as a solo work and orchestral etudes. Of course my choices were dependent on the level and interest of the student based on their needs at the time. Etudes are so important to all aspects of a students development.

ESP eddiesclarinet.com

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 Re: Where have all the etudes gone?
Author: Dan Oberlin 2017
Date:   2018-03-06 21:15

Hi Brad: There have been changes in the way math is taught in high school and at the lower undergraduate level. But at the upper undergraduate and graduate levels mathematics education at serious institutions is not much different from what I experienced (in the late 60's and early 70's).

Bryan: I didn't mean to imply that "things were better in the old days". I also understand that a sample size of one is not enough to draw a conclusion. In fact, my curiosity about current practices is why I asked. And of course students back in my day studied the solo literature - I played the Nielsen at my (unsuccessful) Curtis audition. The Francaix hadn't been written yet :). Good point about breadth versus depth: certain aspects of American educational practice have been described as being "a mile wide and an inch deep", with no compliment intended.

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 Re: Where have all the etudes gone?
Author: Ed 
Date:   2018-03-07 07:30

A number of years ago Bill Blount wrote an article in Windplayer Magazine about the importance of using etudes to teach style and interpretation. His argument was that many young players ignore etudes or merely use them as technical studies, giving them little attention in favor of solo repertoire.

Many of these works are very musical and vital in gaining the understanding to accurately play in the appropriate genre. Being able to play Cavallini and Labanchi gives great insight into playing in the Italian bel canto style. In a similar way, Jean Jean gives one a good foundation to play the many demands of french impressionistic music. The many works of both Baermanns would prepare a player for performing German repertoire.

I think he makes some really great points. These etudes should not be treated as merely studies, but as vital in gaining complete technical as well as musical mastery.

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 Re: Where have all the etudes gone?
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2018-03-07 20:16

>>Marcellus called Rose 40, No. 1 "The hardest etude in the world."

And this makes it even more difficult;

**Middle of the page, play the second printing of the opening theme pianissimo. A common musical 'echo effect' of the theme.
**Crescendo into the next forte
**Last sixteenth notes, decrescendo and ritard to the half note, hold and decrescendo down to silence.

This is all musically valid - and much more difficult.



Post Edited (2018-03-07 20:18)

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 Re: Where have all the etudes gone?
Author: MSK 
Date:   2018-03-08 02:45

My son is a very good, but not elite high school clarinet student (high school and county honor band first chair, makes All-State). His private teacher still uses etudes every week. It's not Rose or Klose, but he does work from multiple other books. He also still does old fashioned scales, arpeggios, and the like. He actually spends more time on etudes and less time on repertoire than I did 35 years earlier. A great deal of time is spent on honor band audition pieces though. The audition pieces are typically transcriptions of solos written for other instruments -- usually by less well known composers. My son is not intending to major in music at university so his experiences may be different than a more serious student

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