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 Music Education
Author: EbClarinet 
Date:   2019-09-06 00:53

When I was in band in public school, my junior high and high school band directors put weak clarinet players on bass. My junior high band director is a flautist and my high school band director is trombone player. I sat at the top of the clarinet section from 6th through 11th. My high school band director wanted to put me on bass my freshman year because he thought I had a poor embouchure (never mind I sat 2nd chair). I didn't let him ruin that for me but I had a poor audition for college band because I wasn't in band my senior year of high school. The college band director automatically put me on bass clarinet for 5 academic years and I sat 1st chair. My question to all of you is why do band directors put weak clarinet players on bass clarinet? The orchestra director at the university wouldn't let me play in orchestra because he thought the same. I expected more from him because he has an Eastmen education. So you see that a LOT of people in music education think that bass clarinet players are weak clarinet players and I was strong on both. I loved playing bass on a collegiate level because the band director forced us to be excellent on our instruments. The level of music we played required that we have control of our instruments. Do any of you music educator feel as though these people I've shared here? Why or why don't you feel this way? I'm expecting to hear from some experienced bass clarinet players.

https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/mbtldsongministry/

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 Re: Music Education
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2019-09-06 03:59

My guess is Ed Palanker will pop in so I won't say much other than for you to enjoy both, the clarinet and the bass clarinet. The bass clarinet often has some really wonderful solos that stand out. Sometimes if you are not the solo clarinetist you can spend years hoping to play a solo. I don't think this is right. I love solo work. I live for this. Life is too short. If you want to be a section player that's fine. If you want the solo life go for it and don't let anyone stop you. Some players don't like the pressure of solo performances. That's just fine! Music is still a wonderful world. There are so many gifted players who could have great careers in major symphonies but chose to teach and were/are extremely gifted at it.

At one point in my career I worked at a reed company. I was able to play all of the saxes and all of the clarinets. But I didn't play the alto clarinet nor the bari sax, someone else did. It was a lot of fun playing and designing all of these reeds and I liked some of the difficult Eb clarinet solos and the sound of a good sop sax reed on the Selmer Mark 6. A sweet horn. The Eb clarinet was also a Selmer.


Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces


Yamaha Artist 2015




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 Re: Music Education
Author: Ed Palanker 2017
Date:   2019-09-07 17:00

That's a good question you're asking and I'm not sure I have an answer why some band directors do that but I'll try. I didn't take up the bass clarinet until my third year in conservatory, mainly because I wanted to be able to audition for all positions when i graduated so i bought an Eb and Bass clarinet and practiced the orchestral excerpts along with my regular clarinet lessons. I only played a little bass in HS in the Jr. Band for a short time while I learned the Oboe in my senior year free period and challenged the 1st player and beat him out. I was the co-principal clarinet in our senior band as well. At the time I wanted to be a WW doubler alreading playing sax and clarinet and later the flute. OK, here's my theory.
Years ago most school band arrangement had "easy" bass parts, i don't know if that changed over the years. So a band director put his weaker players on bass thinking they can't play more difficult parts or being on bass they won't be heard and can't do any damage to the higher more vocal parts. So that's only my guess that that way of thinking continued instead of challenging the "weaker" player and either giving that student a little private time to help them or suggest they take private lessons. A low bass part in ensemble won't be heard as say an out of tune Bb part. I do believe the bass clarinet has come into it's own in the past few decades with many solo players and music being written for the instrument. Of course orchestral parts are often very challenging. Can you imagine putting your weakest players on orchestral Strauss, Wagner, Shostakovich or Stravinsky parts? And some contemporay music parts, oh my. MTW, learning the bass was the best decision I ever made, I sold my sax to help pay for it, sold my flute to play for the Eb clarinet. :-)

ESP eddiesclarinet.com

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 Re: Music Education
Author: Ralph Katz 
Date:   2019-09-07 22:39

I agree with Mr. Palanker. This is a sad story because it is a common one. It is easier to make this judgement than it is to assume that some clarinet players need more help than others, and then provide that help. Some of the best bass clarinet players in the current talent pool started on soprano clarinet but were drawn to the low sounds, which is a better strategy.

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 Re: Music Education
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2019-09-08 02:43

Well in a previous post this is why I might have been a bit angry at your teacher.

Ed Palanker said it best and Ralph Katz also totally agreed. I waited to hear his response knowing he would say something wonderful after so many years with the BSO and at Peabody.

Ralph, yes it is a sad story. I'm sure happy you posted too. I'm glad we have people such as Ed to guide players in the right direction. Jobs are so hard to find sometimes, such as symphonies not even posting jobs and just inviting selected musicians to audition, yet there is knowingly so much talent throughout world.


Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces


Yamaha Artist 2015




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 Re: Music Education
Author: Ed Palanker 2017
Date:   2019-09-08 16:36

Once a player joins the musicians union they will receive a monthly news magazine that also lists all orchestral and military band openings for all instruments. I assume all music schools post them like Peabody did, they should if they don't on a job board. The union even prints many international openings. I assume, but don't know, if there's a job opening place on the internet these days. For the past several decades most orchestra auditions are opened but because the large number of applicants most limit how many they accept by screening resumes and some by requiring a tape before inviting people. I've been involved on several audition committee's while in the BSO for a few different woodwinds and they were all fair because as most orchestras do today, everything is done behind a screen today until the finals in most cases, some times the semi finals. Usually the conductor is not even involved until the semi or only the finals. That's not to say that there aren't some instances someplace that everything is not on the up and up. It was a lot different years ago but things have changed over the years. I hope this helps you understand. It's still very difficult to get a job because of so few openings each year and so many qualified applicants applying. It's not uncommon to have over a hundred applications.

ESP eddiesclarinet.com

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 Re: Music Education
Author: EbClarinet 
Date:   2019-09-09 05:01

I like Ed's original post. With modern composers and the historical 1s he mentioned, you have to be GOOD on bass to make those parts sound. Another reason I didn't want to play bass in high school is because I didn't want to be bored. I'm sure parts on a high school level have changed in the last 40 years. The reason I posted this thread is because the bass clarinet parts in college were challenging. I really feel that those parts and contemporary music prepared me for orchestral auditions on bass clarinet. I had a hard nosed band director (college) that demanded excellence from us and that required that I master the instrument (bass clarinet). Once my studies were done, I felt proficient on bass clarinet. We played grade 4 and 5 music and music that was on a collegiate level. So that made me good on bass clarinet.

https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/mbtldsongministry/

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