Originally published in The Clarinet 49/3 (June 2022).
Printed copies of The Clarinet are available for ICA members.
What is the best clarinet advice
you’ve heard or received?
by Jenny Maclay
In February, we turned to social media and invited followers to share the best clarinet advice they’ve heard or received. Here are some of the responses:
(Note: Some submissions may have been shortened.)
Spyros Marinis: The clarinet should be an extension of your body. One should interpret music as if singing, for better phrasing and musicality!
Mark Arritola: Kalman Opperman said … “Time is your most precious commodity.”
Donald Nicholls (@clarinetdon): The quality of your inhalation will influence your exhalation, and thus your sound.
Matthew Rygelski (@bflatnblue_music): Always play your long tones!
Keiichi Shide: Professor Jacques Lancelot told me: “Try to be a good person before being a good musician. Personality appears in music.”
Daniela Massano: Trust in the process!
Jaime Trevino Jr: Practice progress and not perfection. Give yourself grace!
Diane Barger: Frank Kowalsky gave me this note in 1985 before I went off to play at the Robert Marcellus Summer Masterclass. I keep that (poorly laminated by me) piece of paper in my clarinet case at all times. It reads: “Remember: if you allow yourself to be fallible you will play more successfully and enjoy it more.” #truth
Thomas Piercy: Very early on in my lessons with Gervase de Peyer, he told me to write something down. He said this advice was important for my playing: “Say Something. Do Something. Don’t be Predictable.” I still have that note and try to live up to these words every time I play.
Jenny Ziefel: Find the magic note on your instrument, usually somewhere around a clarion F, and match the tone of all other notes to that one. It’s a wonderful listening exercise and the best way to play with a consistent and beautiful tone that I have found. From Thomas Masse.
Shannon Thompson: As a doctoral student at the University of Texas, I practiced several hours each day on music for New Music Ensemble and barely made any progress. Bob Duke advised me to limit my practice on that music to a set period of only one hour per day. I improved immensely during that hour, because I had to practice intelligently and efficiently.
About the Writer
Jenny Maclay enjoys a diverse career as a soloist, recitalist, orchestral player, chamber musician, educator and blogger. She is a Vandoren Artist-Clinician and has performed throughout Europe and North America. She welcomes an international audience of clarinet enthusiasts on her award-winning blog Jenny Clarinet.