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Author: Kerri 
Date:   1999-12-13 11:50

Hi everyone,
well, i'm currently working on the Concertino (26) by Von Weber for NJ region auditions. It's actually going pretty well but i can't play the sixteenth and eightth note runs that fast and even. Can anyone suggest how i can increase my speed and be even at the same time.

 RE: concertino
Author: Dee 
Date:   1999-12-13 12:28

To increase speed:

1. Play it many times slowly first until all the notes are securely "in your fingers" and even at slow tempos.
2. Play the first measure and work on speeding it up. Once it is fast and even, add the second measure. And so on.
3. Check the synchronization of your tongue and fingers. This is a very frequent problem. If they are out of sync, the steps 1 and 2 should help.

Work both with and without a metronome.

 RE: concertino
Author: William 
Date:   1999-12-13 13:43

Dee's advice is excellant!! When I first started working on the Concertino, my teacher made me learn it a section a week, and I remember having to "repeat" the sixteenth note sections for two or three weeks because they were difficult for me at that time. I worked each section slowly until I learned ALL the notes, and then gradually increased the tempos. Time frame--it took me about six months to be able to make it through the entire solo with the accompaniment at reasonable tempos. Bottom line is: don't try to play up to tempo (too fast) too soon. Be patient and learn the notes first--then increasing the tempos will be easier.

 RE: concertino
Author: Dave Blumberg 
Date:   1999-12-13 14:59

Kerri - Where in N.J. are you located? I live right outside Phila (Western Suburbs near I 95/476), and have students who come here from N.J. (went to Governors school). I'd be willing to fit you in for a couple of extra lessons if you want to - Contact me offlist at
I'm totally full schedule wise, but during the Christmas break my schedule lightens a bit.

David Blumberg

 RE: concertino
Author: Kevin Bowman 
Date:   1999-12-13 15:06

The 16th note runs in the Concertino are, for the most part, scale and arpeggio based. Practice them as you would practice scales. Slowly at first - painfully slow - with a metronome. Make sure you are moving your fingers in precise rhythm, even at the slow tempo. Take the metronome to the next notch only when you are able to play the passage several times _perfectly_ at the slower tempo. The idea is that "perfect practice makes perfect".

Also, practice the runs in different aticulations - slur 2 tongue 2, tongue 1 slur 2 tongue 1, etc. I wouldn't worry _too_ much about the articulation of these runs though - I usually just have my students slur the tough stuff until the notes are under their fingers.

Finally - the slow sections of this work are a great opportunity to "sing" musically. Don't neglect the opening Adagio and the Midle Lento.

Have fun and good luck

Kevin Bowman

 RE: concertino
Author: Mike 
Date:   1999-12-13 16:46

Ahh, my favorite topic. Everyone has made great comment especially then ones who said slow things down and use a metrenome. In addition I recommend 5 note scales. You see, even playing a chromatic scale evenly can be alot harder than one thinks. Some combonations of notes just happen easier than others. So here is how to do 5 note scales. Take any note to start with and and slur up four chromatically adjacent notes then back down. Once you master that 5 note scale start on the next highest note chromatically. Work these at 40, 50, 60, ... and perfect them. Then add in articulation. Then, you can use the same pattern with you major and minor scales. Just remember to play the five note scale in the key of the first note of the scale. This has DRAMATICALLY changed my playing. I now use my fingers in a much more percusive fashion. Give it a shot and see if it helps you.

 RE: concertino
Author: tree 
Date:   1999-12-13 20:41

I am constantly told that if you play the passgage under tempo by a cople beats, and very even, then the passage will sound faster than if you were to play it fast and uneven. Judges like to hear consistency in technique before they care about playing everything the exact speed that is indicated. Good luck and have fun!~*tree

 RE: concertino
Author: col 
Date:   1999-12-14 01:33

hi there
sorry don't have time to read all the other messages to see if someone has said this but here goes anyway.
try using a dotted rhythm across the technical runs and slowly build the speed with this rhythm, then change back to the straight rhythm ----- this really works well


 RE: concertino
Author: Tim2 
Date:   1999-12-14 03:37

col wrote:

try using a dotted rhythm across the technical runs and slowly build the speed with this rhythm, then change back to the straight rhythm ----- this really works well


I'd like to reiterate this. Col's right on. Putting the 16th runs into dotted rhythms is the best thing to do to make smooth out notes. I take a run much slower, trying to concentrate on making the short notes precise and short as possible while broadening the long notes. It teaches the fingers to be quick and in control on one half of the notes. It's assumed you will do long short, long short....

I go one step further and reverse the dotted rhythm to short long, short long.... again, concentrating on the shortness and precision of the short note and broadening the long notes.

Ones you've spent some time on one, spend some time on the other, then do one and then the other and then the other and then the other... Your fingers will become independent. It is worth the time and energy.

Work slow at the start. You will want to work on many difficult things using this method. Good luck. It's a wonderful piece of music. So full of life.

 RE: concertino
Author: Aaron Hayden 
Date:   1999-12-14 18:26

Practicing sixteen runs to play then evenly can be quite challenging if not practiced correctly. If a metronome is used(which is highly recommend)use it to your advantage. If you practice using the metronome at a MM=100(quarter note) then you would have to fit 4 sixteenths evenly within

 RE: concertino
Author: Aaron Hayden 
Date:   1999-12-14 18:32

Practicing sixteen runs to play then evenly can be quite challenging if not practiced correctly. If a metronome is used(which is highly recommend)use it to your advantage. If you practice using the metronome at a MM=100(quarter note) then you would have to fit 4 sixteenths evenly within 1 beat(or 2 per half beat). This method can be very fustrating and most of the time you will not realize that you are playing unevenly. The best way to practice is to set your metronome to a speed that will allow you to make each click a sixteen note. This will force your fingers to be precise. Once you get comfortable with that speed adjust the metronome 2 notches faster each time. This technique can also be used to speed up tonguing.

 RE: concertino
Author: Ken Shaw 
Date:   1999-12-15 00:02

Kerri wrote:
Hi everyone,
well, i'm currently working on the Concertino (26) by Von Weber for NJ region auditions. It's actually going pretty well but i can't play the sixteenth and eightth note runs that fast and even. Can anyone suggest how i can increase my speed and be even at the same time.


Kerri -

Ahh, the Concertino. My very first high school solo and ensemble competition piece, and one of the great ones.

First, get a good recording and listen to how it goes, ideally. The Jon Manassee recording is my favorite. I think it is still in print on the Xclent label.

How to Smooth Out the Fast Passages

The problem you are having with the fast passages is that sometimes moving from one note to the next involves just 1 finger (say, low C to low D), and sometimes it involves many fingers in contrary motion (as in going over the break). The more complex movements tend to take more time, and it's also hard to keep them as clean as the easy ones.

Therefore, you need to single out the hard finger movements and clean them up. As you have found, you do *not* achieve this by just running through a passage over and over. The following method isolates each interval and lets you work on it individually.

Beginning *very* slowly, play the passage in pairs of quadruple-dotted 16ths and 128ths, repeating each pair until you have it clean and snappy. At the beginning, play just the first note; stop and take a small breath; then "snap" from the second to the third notes as quickly as possible, repeating until it is clean; stop and take a small breath; then "snap" from the 4th to the 5th note, and so on. Then leave out the breaths and work up gradually to close to performance tempo. Notice that you are working on the transition between notes 2 and 3, then 4 and 5 and so on.

Then begin again with a 128th followed by a quadruple-dotted 16th. This isolates the transitions you skipped, between notes 1 and 2, 3 and 4, and so on.

Work up both versions slurred and tongued.

When you finish, you will have isolated and cleaned up the transition between each note and the next. Then, go back to straight 16ths, which will be almost magically smooth.

(A tough but effective way to perfect your technique is to work this exercise through all the scales, chords and other patterns in Part 3 of the Baermann method. It's a big mountain to climb, but all professionals have done it.)


Now, let's make some music.

Working out the notes is only one-third of the work of preparing the Concertino. You also have to be aware of and show two other important things to your audience.

Variation Form - The Theme Must Always Be Heard

The Concertino is a theme and variations. That means that you must always be aware of where the notes of the theme appear in each variation. Take a pencil and go through each variation, marking each theme note where it appears among all the decoration. Then, when you perform, you must "pick out" each theme note, for yourself and the audience. The theme is like the skeleton, and the rest of the notes are like the muscles and skin. The shape of the notes is determined by the skeleton. If that's not there, the piece collapses into a shapeless mess.

By the way, parts of the theme also appear in the transitional passages, such as the fast passage after the initial statement of the theme and before the triplet variation marked "Variation 1" and also the transitional passage between Variation 2 and the slow Variation 3.

Bring Out the Changes of Mood

The Concertino has constant changes of mood, which it is your job to bring out. Your first entrance must be as soft as possible, but also intense. This long note (clarion Bb) calls for "messa di voce" (a crescendo and then decrescendo). It's your calling card. You let the audience know you're there. It's more than just a crescendo and decrescendo. In addition to getting louder, your sound must also get bigger, warmer and more colorful. Weber was primarily a composer of operas, and the effect he is looking for is like an opera singer starting a note softly and "closed in" and then opening the tone up like a flower, showing it to the audience, and then closing it back up. This isn't easy to imitate on clarinet, but you need to do something. Add some vibrato. Make the sound brighter as well as louder, by pointing the tip of your chin down and pulling your lower lip out from over your teeth, so that at least half of the red part is outside your teeth. An opera singer will face to one side and then swing slowly to the other, to give all parts of the audience the chance to hear his/her beautiful voice. Raise the bell up to get more sound out, and do the swing yourself with the instrument. You can't afford to be timid or embarrassed. This is your chance to shine.

The rest of the introduction is about quick changes in color, contrasting high and low notes, then building up to a climax on the ascending chain of trills, and relaxing to a mysterious ending on the lowest notes of the instrument.

So, the introduction is about contrasts and short episodes. The theme is completely different. It must be jaunty, attractive and uncomplicated. The second half becomes more legato. Play it smoothly, so that when the jaunty beginning part comes back, the difference is obvious.

Next comes the furious transitional passage, where you show off your technique for the first time. Don't push it too hard. If you play it perfectly even, it will sound much faster than it is.

The first variation (in triplets) is another change in mood -- smooth and rather serious, in contrast to the jaunty theme and the furious transition. Remember to pick out the notes of the theme and "drape" the other notes over the theme. Another way to think about it is that the notes of the theme are trees and the notes in between are vines, on which you swing like Tarzan. You have the advantage that triplets are easier to swing on than duplets.

The second variation, in 16ths, stays fairly smooth but is vigorous and virtuosic. I prefer not to tongue every note, but instead to slur 2 and tongue 2, but your teacher may disagree. The main thing here is to be brilliant but under control. Don't crescendo much on the rising passages. You will sound louder automatically as you get higher. It's like a wave rising and falling. Ride over the top of the wave as part of a continuous motion.

The harmony gets more complex in the following transitional passage. Don't try to do too much with it, and play through the high Eb to the F# below. The trill on G calls for another messa di voce. Be sure to crescendo and then decrescendo, and slow down the trill a little at the end. Be sure to add the little "eingang" at the end (a 1-cycle trill from F to G), followed by a tiny breath.

The next transitional passage (which you do not play) winds down the energy to prepare for the low, minor key variation. (Every set of variations has at least one variation in the minor.)

Your entry on the low F must be full but not loud. The mood is one of mystery. Remember to bring out the notes of the theme (even though some of them are missing). The mood brightens in the second section, but that happens automatically when you go to the clarion register. Think moonlight, not sunlight. Keep the tone dark and covered. Let a tiny amount more lower lip come in over your teeth (but not enough to muffle the sound). Pucker your lips (it's almost essential to play double lip here) and make an "ooo" vowel (as in "brood"). If you play this with orchestra, you will get a lot of help from the horn section, which Weber used better than any other composer to produce an air of mystery.

At the short transition passage that follows, you play two solo notes (B-C), answered softly by the accompaniment, and then repeat the pattern (on F-E). These are appoggiaturas -- that is, a non-harmonic tone (B and F, over a C-seventh chord), resolving to a harmonic tone (C and E). Give a slow breath accent on the first note of each pair, which emphasizes the dissonance with the underlying harmony, and then relax to the resolution. This transition passage breaks the mysterious mood and prepares the audience for the fireworks to follow.

The 6/8 variation and finale begins with pairs of notes, similar to the ones you just played in the transition passage. However, they are off the beat this time. The accompaniment plays the equivalent of a pizzicatto bass note, and you play the second and third notes as if you were playing a waltz -- Oom Pa Pa, Oom Pa Pa. This is one place where you can't get it right by simply playing your part. You have to work off of the downbeat played by someone else. Start a little slow, and get the waltz "swing" feeling. Then you can bring the tempo up, but not too much. There's plenty of fireworks later. In the first part, you establish a light-hearted, easy swinging style.

There's a difficult spot a couple of bars in, where you play the repeated B-D-F-D-A-F figure. It's hard to get the F to B descending interval to speak where the figure starts over. To get the right feeling, work on it as a simple up-and-down arpeggio, B-D-F-A-F-D. Then keep that smooth and easy feeling on the actual notes.

The level of technical virtuosity increases from there up to the big bang on the descending diminished seventh arpeggio, the big sweep up and the arpeggio down again. When you see disminished seventh harmony, you know the music is modulating to another key. The diminished seventh chord is all minor thirds, and so cuts the music loose from its tonal center and lets a different one be established. Thus the musical mood is automatically agitated and unsettled, which you emphasize by the big technical show.

The next section is much smoother. It corresponds to the second section of the theme, which is also more lyrical than the first part. (You have been marking out the theme notes, haven't you? If not, go back and do it. Where the original theme is smooth, each variation is also smooth; where the original is jaunty, the variation is jaunty, and so on. The easiest way to keep this in mind is to lay out the structure of each variation by marking the music.)

Weber then works another variation on the two-note figure. You toss descending third figures back and forth with the orchestra/piano. As before, you can't learn this practicing alone, but only with the accompaniment. Notice that the first pair is in D minor (F-D, A-D), but the second pair is a minor third (A-F#) and then a tritone(C-F#), which everyone in Weber's time would recognize as a violent clash -- "the devil in music." Actually, it's the diminished seventh coming back to facilitate the modulation back into the tonic key of (on the clarinet) F. At the very end of this before the final section, Weber brings back the horns, this time brassy instead of mysterious. They light the fuse that sets off an orchestral explosion, and that propels you into the final section.

Keep a steady tempo the first time through the rising arpeggios at the beginning of the final section. Then you have the chance to push the tempo a little the second time through. Don't hurry it too much, though, because the harmonic rhythm (the changes from one chord to the next) occurs at irregular intervals, and the audience can't hear that if you play too fast or fail to bring it out.

Then comes the change from 16ths and 8ths to continuous 16ths, with the harmony changing regularly and predictably as you swing up and down on the appeggios. At the beginning of this section, you can drive the tempo faster on the rising diminished seventh arpeggio (throat A-C-F#-A-C, etc.) and then take giant steps, sweeping up and down like a roller coaster, 6 notes to the beat. This propels you into the final ascending runs from the bottom to the top of the instrument.

After the big display on the three rising rips, drop down as soft as you dare, and then do your messa di voce on the repeated figures. Play the trill on the G no louder than single forte. Then do the final sweep and trill to finish in your most brilliant manner. I like to start all the ascending runs slightly under tempo and push the tempo as I get higher. However, it can seem mannered, and the final one I do all at the same furious speed. However, I do hold the high E a moment, start the trill slowly for a shake or two and then speed it up.

The final E-F trill is difficult to play quickly with the little finger. Starting the trill slowly lets you use an alternate fingering. Play the first couple of shakes with the little finger, and then switch to the top trill key. Then at the very end, switch back to the standard fingering for a shake or two, put on the essential eingang D (E-F-E-F-E-D-E-F) to end the trill neatly.

Don't let the orchestra/piano slow down at all at the very end. If anything, they speed up, so that the final two chords are exactly in tempo. This produces a thrilling ending to one of the great display pieces.

SO. More than you bargained for. Now go home and practice.

Good luck.

Ken Shaw

 RE: concertino
Author: Dave Blumberg 
Date:   1999-12-15 12:53

I vote that we add that post to Sneezy in the notes on (study) area. Nice job Ken!!!
(I didn't know that messages that long would fit on the bulletin board.) ;)


 RE: concertino
Author: Mark Charette 
Date:   1999-12-15 13:37

Actually - I was thinking of asking Ken privately if we could start a "Ken's Comments" section on Sneezy to make sure that Ken's long & thoughtful posts don't stay buried in the BBoard - but since you asked publically, I will too!

 RE: concertino
Author: Ken Shaw 
Date:   1999-12-15 18:31

Mark Charette wrote:
Actually - I was thinking of asking Ken privately if we could start a "Ken's Comments" section on Sneezy to make sure that Ken's long & thoughtful posts don't stay buried in the BBoard - but since you asked publically, I will too!

Mark -

Fine by me. I'm very flattered.

Ken Shaw

 RE: concertino
Author: sylvan selig 
Date:   1999-12-22 07:09

Its actually really simple. Just remember, you can't play it fast if you can't play it slow. Use a metronome and start slow. No faster than you can play it perfect. From there, play the run 100 times a day. Increase speed gradually, very gradually, until your fingers know what to do. If you honestly stick to the 100 times a day for each speed practiced, it will come pretty quick.

 RE: concertino (kens post)
Author: Leigh 
Date:   1999-12-23 02:50

Wow Ken, your post was so informative, too bad I'm not playing the Concertino this year!!!
Do you have any comments On Premiere Rhapsody? I'd love it!

 RE: concertino
Author: Gretchen 
Date:   2003-03-18 03:30

Hi Kerri!

Good luck in your audition! I'm in college now, but i did NJ regions and all state when i was in HS and did the concertino. what region are you in? is this for next year? cause wouldn't regions be really late in the year if they were now?

I found that slowing the sixteenth notes down a bit to a more comfortable tempo and playing them purposely uneven helped a lot. Here's what you do: pick a rhythm that would be a dotten eighth and sixteenthnote and play the notes to that rhythm...then reverse it...pick any other rhythm and play every note to every'll figure out where you're rushing and dragging since your fingers will have to be comfortable with every note no matter what the rhythm...and once you've mastered the weird rhythm...putting even sixteenthnotes back should be a sinch...this will take a bit of time to really fix, but it'll help a lot...i guarantee it. (sorry if this was not clear).

Good luck!


 Re: concertino
Author: Jim E. 
Date:   2003-03-18 03:49

Gretchen, check the dates, this is a very old thread, you're the first poster in 3 years, 3 months!

If you were in these auditions during the 1999-2000 school year, you may well have competed with Kerri. My son competed in these, he was a sophomore then, he's a freshman in college now!

 Re: concertino
Author: Ken Shaw 2017
Date:   2003-03-18 15:11

For ideas on on the Debussy, see my summary of Charles Neidich's master class at Clarinet Day at Mannes.

Best regards.

Ken Shaw

 Re: concertino
Author: Dee 
Date:   2003-03-18 16:17

By the way, the posting by "Dee" is someone else (apparently new to this board?). I always include my email so that would be one way you can tell us apart.

 Re: concertino
Author: Mark Charette 2017
Date:   2003-03-18 21:31

Dee wrote:

> By the way, the posting by "Dee" is someone else (apparently
> new to this board?). I always include my email so that would
> be one way you can tell us apart.

Look at the date, Dee ;^)

The new bboard doesn't allow duplicate screen names, so that problem is now gone, but the old entries are still carried over and are a bit confusing when they pop up after being over 3 years old.

 Re: concertino
Author: Dee 
Date:   2003-03-18 23:22

Mark Charette wrote:

> [snip] but the old entries are still carried over
> and are a bit confusing when they pop up after being over 3
> years old.

I see that now. It's amazing that anyone would read back far enough to pick up a 3 year old thread and respond to it.

 Re: concertino
Author: ALOMARvelous12 
Date:   2003-03-19 01:30

I don't think anybody's reading back at posts three years ago. This thread has been restarted because it contains probably the most refered post on the BB.

 Re: concertino
Author: Hiroshi 
Date:   2003-03-19 15:26

Too much evenness will appear monotonous to the listeners.........
At least the first note of a sequence should be very slightly lengthened to let it sound like ....the first note(auftakt note?). IMHO.

 Re: concertino
Author: D Dow 
Date:   2003-03-20 13:09

tHE WEBER concertino is one of those pieces that tends to drive players nuts...with some certainty I can say i played it with piano or as solist about 10 times and always find it is a piece that must be performed as a miniature Opera. From the opening with its definite minor key aria intro which must played with as wide a dynamic contrast as possible. The danger of the middle parts is to follow the usual mold.

When Weber indicates crescendo it should be intense and even violent! All of the intensity can relax in the duo between horns towards the end, and this should be heaven like and with very little vibrato.....or none.

I studied it under David Glazer piece and he always felt too many plaers just hack it to pieces. Charles Neidich has recently done a very interesting version, and so has Tony Pay who plays it on original instruments! All of these approaches are very valid, because the essential chamelon like nature of this operatic piece....

The worst thing is to play this piece all smoothy and glossy. It not. It really a romping good time, and if your not enjoying it the audience certainly won't.

I also reccommend the original Reginald Kell Decca recording from the 30s. His technique is unbelievable!!!

The triplet section should be as legato as possible. In a few spots where the triplets return to the tune a slight ritardando is permitted. It is more like the feeling of rit rather than outright slowing down. This can be overdone to the pint of vulgarity....however if you're the solist its your baby. But you gotta make sure the ACCOMPANIAMENT can follow you clearly, and that you make sure to perform rits predictablly or with good visual indication. ie. with the bell used as a baton.....

Good luck

David Dow

 Re: concertino
Author: Ken Shaw 2017
Date:   2003-03-20 14:00

David -

Thanks for the excellent performance notes.

Kell's recording has been reissued on CD. It's extremely lyrical and smooth. As always, his technique was perfect. For my taste, the tempos are too slow, though. I learned the piece from my high school teacher and then from the Gigliotti recording, which is a bravura display. I don't think it has ever been reissued. On CD, Sabine Meyer and Jon Manasse are my favorites.

Best regards.

Ken Shaw

 Re: concertino
Author: D Dow 
Date:   2003-03-20 14:52

Dear Ken: There are two performances he made on record. One in the 40s and one in the 30s on British Columbia. the early one is pretty volatile.

David Dow

 Re: concertino
Author: Ken Shaw 2017
Date:   2003-03-20 18:33

David -

Please contact me offline about this,

 RE: concertino
Author: JellyJazz 
Date:   2003-05-24 20:21

ooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh dear.......................... you lot make this piece seem sooooo hard i'm playing it for my grade 7. im quite scared now! i'm only 16 too!!!! please tell me something good about it!!!

Jelly Jazz

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