University of Arkansas Clarinet Day 2016

This past Monday, Nophachai Cholthitchanta from the University of Arkansas hosted a Clarinet Day for young clarinetists to have the opportunity to take master classes and watch recitals from world-class players. Over 100 students from junior high to college levels came to participate in the event. This years guests  were Andrew Simon’s, the Principle Clarinetist of the Hong Kong Philharmonic and Wolfgang Lohf from Lohff & Pfeiffer USA.

Opening Concert

The event began with an opening concert performed by Nophachai’s Clarinet Studio and… well me. For our performance we played Percy Grainger’s Molly on the Shore and Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor. Video is coming soon.

History of Clarinet Lecture

After the studio performance, Nophachai gave a lecture on the history of clarinets. I could write an entire post on his lecture and his collection of over 400 clarinets but to sum it up, we leaned to determine the difference between German, French, and English clarinet models and listened to him play Sonata No. 1 for Clarinet and bass on a 6 key boxwood clarinet:

Andrew Simon’s Recital #1

Andrew Simon blew me away in both of his performances, but I was particularly excited for his first recital because he was playing the International Clarinet Associations clarinet competition repertoire(indicated with an *). He and his pianist, Tomaoko Kashiwagi played:

Cantilene for Clarinet and Piano by Louis Cahuzac

Sonata for Clarinet and Piano by Camile Saint-Saens

I. Allegretto

II. Allegro animato

III. Lento

IV. Molto allegro- Allegretto

Sonata for Clarinet and Piano by Francis Poulenc

I. Allegro tristamente

II. Romanza*

III. Allegro con fuoco

Suit for “Carmen” trans. Richard Stolzman by George Bizet

Sequidilla

Gypsy Dance

Each piece was a unique and amazing experience. I am so grateful for the opportunity to listen to him play classical french clarinet repertoire.

Master Classes

After Nophachai’s performance and lecture, everyone divided up to participate in their master classes. Their were master classes for Junior High Students, High School Students, All State Qualifiers, and a master class on customized clarinets led by Wolfgang Lohf. I participated in the All State Qualifiers Master Class led by Nophachai.

In the All State Master Class, we worked on applying different rhythms to better practice our c minor thirds and played our etude. Their were about 25 people in the master class from across Arkansas and each of us played one life of the etude and were given tips on how to better execute the piece. A lot of us got comments on air. With out strong air, you wont sound confident or have a good tone. Confidence and tone are key to a perfect audition.

Andrew Simon’s Master Class

After our lunch break, Andrew Simon gave a series of master classes to University clarinetist from the University of Arkansas, the University of Central Arkansas, and Arkansas Tech University.

Clarinet Day, University of Arkansas, Clarinet, clarinet, andrew simon
Andrew Simon and Madison Smith

While watching these master classes I learned a lot about breathing, phrasing, and throat tones. Andrew Simon made lots of comments on the importance of understanding breath marks in reference to rhythms and phrasing. If you breath at the wrong time you can be changing rhythms and breaking up a phrase. I had never really thought about how taking breaths in music can actually change the way it sounds, but through listening to him play the same phrase 3 times and breathing at different spots, I was amazed to hear that ir really did change the feel and phrasing of the excerpt. Throat tones are just another beast all together. I find that no matter what I do, my throat tones never sound they way I want them to. Andrew Simon addressed several things in reference to throat tones. One was to be sure to not over blow the notes in an attempt to correct them because it will have the opposite effect and make the notes sound even worse. He also noted to be sure that you aren’t covering the F key with your left thumb while playing B Flat with the register key because it will affect the pitch. To avoid this, he suggested to exaggerate your fingerings and or get your key rings adjusted. But I think the most important thing he stressed in his master classes was playing your etudes and pieces all the way through at the end of each of your practice sessions. This allows you to find the parts that are still tripping you up so that you know what to practice next time, and makes sure that the first time you play the piece all the way through isn’t the day you are performing it on stage or in the audition room.

Andrew Simon’s Recital #2

At the end of the day, Andrew Simon performed a second recital including:

Introduction, Theme and Variations bu Gioachino Rossini

Sonata for Clarinet and Piano by Malcolm Arnold

A Set for Clarinet by Donald Martino

Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in Eflat by Johannes Brahms

I. Allegro con brio

II. Andantino

III. Furioso

Diversions on a Familiar Theme by Joseph Horovitz

Andrew Simon never ceased to impress me. But m favorite pieces he played were not in the program. I loved his two encore pieces. He played some classic New  York Jazz music for his encore that blew me away. Luckily for you I have uploaded his entire second recital you YouTube that you can watch here  or on my videos page.

Overall I had an amazing time performing with the clarinet studio, taking master classes, meeting Andrew Simon, and of course getting out of school.  I highly recommend that you look into finding events near you that are free and go learn and have fun. If you are interested in attending Clarinet Day next year, check out the University of Arkansas web page here.

Clarineat Podcast Review and Interview with Sean Perrin

I discovered the Clarineat Podcast at Clarinetfest this fall and have been listening to Sean Perrin’s interviews and product reviews ever sense.  I am so excited to get the opportunity to talk with Sean Perrin and share my thoughts on the podcast.  Sean has  interviewed many artists including some of my favorites: Martin Fröst, Michael Lowenstern, Harry Sparnaay, and Michael Norsworthy.

Clarineat Podcast, clarineat podcast, Clarineat podcast

I chose to do a post on the Clarineat Podcast because I am very impressed with all of the work Sean is doing to bring “all that’s new and neat for clarinet” to his listeners all over the world.

How the Clarineat Podcast Came to Be

When asked why he decided to start his podcasts, Sean responded saying:

“In late 2015 I was listening to a lot of podcasts, as I always do, but I was becoming bored of the shows that I typically listened to. So I decided to search for something clarinet related iTunes, but there was nothing. Every month I kept checking back with no success, and I started to get a little impatient.

Then one day I got carried away chatting with Peter Spriggs on the phone for over an hour. He was sharing some great stories, and we were having such a great conversation. Suddenly it hit me: this was exactly the kind of conversation I wanted to hear on a clarinet podcast! Why couldn’t I try and make the very show I had been searching for?

After this “Eureka moment” I got to work right away, and I’m sure glad I did!”

Sean Perrin

How He Decides Who to interview

Sean interviews a wide range of performers(not all clarinetists), teachers, manufacturers along with giving his own opinion on products. He has a new topic of discussion for each of his interviews that makes each of them unique. When asked how he picked his guests for his podcasts, Sean explained that:

“I tried to select guests that are not only great clarinetists (ex. Martin Fröst and Michael Lowenstern), but also people who are interesting and meaningful to the community in an indirect way (ex. Etymotic Research, Daryl Caswell). In fact, I have found some of the most valuable conversations have actually been with non-clarinetists because their perspective is so different.

Looking back at the first season, it seems that I subconsciously focused on guests and topics who I really wanted to talk to (contemporary music, freelancing, technology, etc.). This is fine, of course, because it is important that I’m engaged with the guests and knowledgeable about the topic.”

He even gives some insight into what we can look forward to this year and how you can get involved if you have any suggestions for episode topics:

“However, I think for the second season I’m going to intentionally step outside of my comfort zone. I’m looking to include a wide variety of orchestral players, klezmer musicians, educators, manufacturers, and more.

In fact, I’m open to suggestions! If anyone would like to apply to be a guest, or send requests my way, I would encourage them to please get in touch at feedback@clarineat.com.”

Advice from Sean

Concerning careers in music, Sean is a very knowledgeable and experienced. I’m sure he could talk about the do’s and don’ts of how to succeed but here is a quick summary he offered for us:

1) It’s important that you take responsibility for your career. It may be hard to hear this, but the fact of the matter is that nobody really, truly cares if you succeed or fail except for YOU. You will have to decide what it is the really want to do, and then find a way to get there. If you don’t, you won’t. And not deciding, is deciding not to.

2) Spend some time outside the practice room learning some basic business, marketing, and networking skills. Then use them! Being good at your instrument is simply not enough these days (if it ever even was). Gigs might be perfected in the practice room, but they are never found there. Ever.

3) Nothing is more compelling than someone who is truly different. But nothing is more boring than someone who is different simply for the sake. Different doesn’t mean better. This brings to mind another quote:

My Personal Thoughts and Favorites

As I said before, I have been very excited to write this post not only because it is my first review, but because I have enjoyed listening to the podcast and my conversations with Sean. One of my favorite parts of the Clarineat podcasts are his interviews with Micheal Norsworthy of the Boston Conservatory. I personally have been looking into both the Berklee College of Music and the Boston Conservatory for possible options for graduate school. Listening to Mr. Norsworthy talk about his own experiences with his lessons teachers  was very entertaining. I also enjoyed listening to Ryan Pereira of 3D Clarinet Innovations .  I first came across Pereira 3D at the 2016 Clarinet Festival hosted by the International Clarinet Association. I was very interested in how the 3D printing worked and how it effected the sound of the clarinet. I was very excited to see that Sean had already done all the work for me and all I had to do was sit and listen. These were the first two podcasts I listened to, but they were by far my two favorites. I personally prefer the interviews of musicians to the product reviews, but it has all been very interesting.

I am so glad that Sean Perrin has taken on the task of bringing the Clarineat podcast to life. Its a lot of work for one person, but he is doing a magnificent job and has many supporters. I encourage you to listen to his podcast on itunes or on his website here.

 

 

How to Survive Auditions

It seems ironic to be writing this the week of my own audition, but maybe this time I’ll take my own advice. Every tryout has different music, judges, location, and scoring  process. But the most important difference is how well you prepared for the tryout.

Audition

MONTHS BEFORE THE AUDITION

Be sure you are practicing the right materials. You don’t want to show up to an audition and realize that you spent months practicing the Junior High material instead of the Senior High  material.

After you know you have the right material, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. Don’t forget to use a METronome. I know they get annoying and that it gets frustrating, but the MET will be your best friend and keep you on track for the rest of your career as a  musician.

BEFORE YOU LEAVE

Make sure you know the time and address of your audition and be sure to be there not on time, but early. This is band: to be on time is to be late, and to be late is to be dead.

Make sure you don’t leave anything behind:

  • music
  • stand
  • headphones or earplugs
  • tuner and metronome
  • water
  • instrument

Leaving your instrument behind might seem impossible, but I promise it’s happened before. Don’t be that person… please.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Upon arriving at the location, find your tryout room, the practice room, the commons area, and the bathroom. Yes, the bathroom can be very crucial to the tryout process, especially if you suffer from nerves or need to escape the chaos of the practice rooms.

Performing well in an audition or tryout is a game and all you can do to get better is practice playing over and over again. The good players know how to make you nervous in hopes that you will mess up your etudes or scales. So be careful how you spend your time before your scheduled time, you don’t want to make yourself panic by paying too close of attention to the other musicians practice.

IN THE PRACTICE ROOM

This is where the earplugs come in. Nothing is more intimidating than listening to people play the etude better than you can. The practice room is going to be full of all different kinds of people playing constant loud music. Some people will spend the entire time practicing, but that may not be the best idea for you. I find that the more time I spend practicing, the more nervous I get. Warming up with the posted scales and running through the cuts 2-5 times is enough to be warmed up and ready to perform well. DO NOT WEAR YOURSELF OUT.

IN THE AUDITION ROOM

If you’ve never tried out for anything before, you should know what kind of tryout you are walking into. There are two types of auditions: live and blind. Most of the tryouts I have been to have been blind. This means you will be performing your prepared pieces to a block sheet instead of a visible judge. This process ensures that there are no biased scores or placements.

In the audition room it is important to stay calm because if you make a mistake in there it will reflect on your score,  and no matter what, DO NOT TALK. If you talk, and the judges believe that it caused your judges to give you a bias score, your score could be eliminated, or you could have to tryout again.

When your judge or room monitor tells you to play a scale or etude, you are allowed to play one note before you begin. If you choose to do so, I advise playing the first note of the excerpt. TAKE YOUR TIME. Auditions normally run ahead of schedule because people begin playing the second the judge tells them to go. But you can take all the time you need. Before you play take a deep breath and pick a solid slow tempo. When I am nervous I tend to pick a faster tempo that will lead me to make more mistakes. Slow down and pick a comfortable tempo even if it isn’t the tempo marking on the piece.

AFTER THE AUDITION

Breathe. Relax. Don’t sit around waiting for a phone call or email, and don’t stand by the wall were results are being posted. Go have your fun.

But when results are posted remember that the biggest differences between auditions are the people your’e up against and the people judging you. You may get a really high score and get a low placement, or you could get a really low score and get first chair. Everything is situational and all you can do is work hard, learn the music, and perform.

Feel free to ask any questions about auditions or just let me know how yours went. I’d love to hear from you. Good Luck