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.

 

 

2017 All Region Clinic

Every year, hundreds of High School students spend long months, weeks, days, and hours with machines on their faces to get a chance to spend our weekend at a school sitting in a chair. This is really strange behavior for high school students. But each and every one of them are band kids. But the truth is band kids are weird. ( I can say that because I am one of them)I have been in the Region VII All Region band for the past three years, But this year has been my all time favorite. This year, I made 1st band and qualified for All State, but even if I hadn’t qualified, the clinic still would have been very memorable.

Region Band, All Region

THE CLINICIAN

This years clinician, Dr. Daniel Belongia, the Director of Bands at Arkansas Tech was a truly inspiring and intelligent. During the first hour of rehearsals I decided I could sit there and l decided I could spend all day listening to him talk about music (oh wait… that is exactly what I did) and I enjoyed every moment of it. There wasn’t a single thing Dr. Belongia said that was not profound ( I actually took notes on the back of my music while he was talking). I could write a whole post on all of the things Dr. Belongia spoke of from the Moth Fable, the importance  of having musical heroes, and the truth about dynamics.

THE MUSIC

The piece River Town Jubilee was written by Steve Danyew, a friend of Dr. Belongia who played with him in a few honors band and who went off to school for music and eventually began to compose music. This particular piece was commissioned by the Dardanelle High School Wind Ensemble in 2015. Dardanelle is located near Russellville and is right on the Arkansas River, hence the name “River Town Jubilee”.

The second piece we played, Moment, was different from anything I’ve played. The composer, Alex Shapiro, composes pieces for wind bands and many of them include electronic tracks. Shapiro lives in the San Juan Islands where her composing studio faces the shore where she gets her inspiration for both her musical compositions and her photography. Her piece Moment was composed in 2016 and is described as a “Pensive and emotional, the unusual, textural music of MOMENT offers reflection and stillness in an often frenetic world. Repeating notes and haunting, lyrical lines give musicians the opportunity to explore expression through subtlety. Evocative sounds conjure fleeting, contrasting images, as the wind band creates a seamless fabric woven from the union of their instruments, their chant-like voices, and the ghostly echoes of a wistful accompaniment soundtrack.” During our performance, I felt that the electric track was too loud and covered up the band. It was a very hard piece to play because of the constant changing of the time signature and the lack of the key. But playing with a track was a new and interesting experience.

The third piece of our concert was a unique arrangement Amazing Grace by William Himes and Luis Maldonado. This piece was unique in that it was never published. A similar arrangement of Amazing Grace was published by William Himes, but before it could be published, all of Luis Maldonado ‘s contributions had to be removed due to his untimely and unfortunate death. Playing this piece in our rehearsals was very moving at one point, Dr. Belongia had us all get up and move to another seat in the band so that we would be able to hear everyone else’s parts. As a clarinet player, my first thought was to move to the back middle of the band where the horns and trombones normally sit. This gave me the opportunity to listen closely to the horn section that sits across the band and played the same 8th notes lines that the clarinets do.  This arrangement of Amazing Grace starts with a beautiful trumpet choir playing the traditional melody and new melody takes over with the clarinet and horn entrance. The melody returns throughout the piece in small bits until the end wear it is passed around the band until it fades into nothing. Such a beautiful piece was an honor to play and a special opportunity to play a piece that has never been published.

The final piece in the program was by far my favorite. David Maslanka‘s Illumination.  Illumination is a very energetic piece published in 2013. It was commissioned for the  Horace Mann Middle School in Franklin, Massachusetts and was the first piece played in their new performing arts center. Maslanka wrote the piece to capture the light and energy of youth. Maslanka said, “composing music for young people that allows them a vibrant experience of their own creative energy. A powerful experience of this sort stays in the heart and mind as a channel for creative energy, no matter what the life path. Music shared in community brings this vital force to everyone. Illumination is an open and cheerful piece in a quick tempo, with a very direct A-B-A song form.” about his work in the program notes. This is a very accurate description of the piece as a whole and it was incredibly fun to play with the best high school band across the region.

THE CLINIC

Over the course of the two days at all region, I spent a total of 15 hours sitting down and playing my instrument. During that time, I didn’t just learn the 4 pieces in our program, but I also learned some very valuable lessons from Dr. Belongia about music and life. Before we played each piece, Dr. Belongia told us a little bit about each of the composers who had written them that gave us some background on why the piece was written and what it is about. I always love learning more about the composers whose piece’s I play is a very important aspect of being  a musician. If you don’t understand where the piece came from or what it represents, you can not make a connection with the piece or play it the way it was intended to be played.  A musician’s job is to play a composer’s piece accurately so that the audience can appreciate both the composer’s work and the musician’s playing. It is easy to forget about the composer when playing a piece of music because you are focused on your own playing, but a listener will only see the composer’s name if they read the program. This was the first clinic that I have been to that the have not jumped back and forth between the pieces. Instead, Dr. Belongia did not move on until we had completely read through them. It was very effective and made the transitions in the piece more solid and fluid rather than only playing the pieces in small bits and segments until the day of the concert.

THE SPRINGDALE ALL REGION BAND CONCERT

This years concert went smoothly, but not without imperfections. Before the concert, Dr. Belongia spoke about concerts and how important concerts and live performances of all kinds are. He compared them to lighting a match that lasts for only a short while and provides heat and beauty that can only be experienced by those who light it and those who get the chance to see it and feel its warmth. We lit our match on stage together and it seemed to burn out too quickly. But every match burns out at a different speed. With today’s technology, every piece of published music can be found and played at a push of a button, the imperfections of a live performance is what is keeping the performing arts. Each performance has their own unique style whether it be differences in tone and dynamics of musicians or the lines and costumes of a play, each is a new experience that cannot be recreated.

Performing this concert with the best of the best high school students who also endured long, frustrating hours of practice and private lessons to be there was very encouraging. Not all of us will go on to become professional musicians or composers, but no matter what we do, music has touched our lives and will never leave us. In winter, All Region Clinic brings students from school districts across the who spend the fall months on opposite sides of football fields competing together to work together as a team. Not many sports do that. One of the most profound statements Dr. Belongia made this week was that band is the only true team because it’s not about winning or losing. No single player can support the whole band, each and every member must play to their fullest potential in order for the band to be successful. This weekend we were successful and I am so very proud of my team event if we will never get the chance to join together and play again.

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