Conn-Selmer Factory Tour

Selmer Clarinet Factory in Elkhart, Indiana

I had the opoportinity to visit the Conn-Selmer headquarters in Elkhart, Indiana. It was a fantastic day to meet the people at Conn-Selmer and see how the beginning clarinets are manuafactured at the Factory there in Elkhart, and to try out the latest professional line clarinets from Selmer Paris.

The factory in Elkhart has two main buildings; a brass building, and a woodwind building. We were able to tour the woodwind facility where they manufacture beginning level flutes, clarinets, oboes, saxophones, and bassoons. The factory has been in place since the early 1900s. We met some remarkable individuals who assemble these instruments by hand. These families have passed down this tradition from generation to generation and perform painstaking workmanship that can only be done by hand, one key at a time.

I was also fortunate to be able to spend an afternoon trying out the latest professional clarinets from Selmer Paris. These instruments come in the following lines:

  • Privilege

  • Presence

  • Signature

  • Prologue (Intermediate)

I tried out each of the above clarinet models. All are excellent instruments, free-blowing, with consistent intonation. I was particularly impressed with the Prologue clarinet as an upgrade for a student looking to upgrade to a wood clarinet. The Prologue is an excellent instrument at a competitive price.

Below are some pictures from the factory with captions about the manufacturing process.

Wood is seasoned for several years before being made into top and bottom clarinet joints.

Wood is seasoned for several years before being made into top and bottom clarinet joints.

Wood joints are turned on a computerized lathe and then sit to acclimate to locale humidity conditions.

Wood joints are turned on a computerized lathe and then sit to acclimate to locale humidity conditions.

Plastic instruments are shaped using a water-cooled CNC machine. The water-cooling prevents the plastic from melting during the cutting-out process.

Plastic instruments are shaped using a water-cooled CNC machine. The water-cooling prevents the plastic from melting during the cutting-out process.

Plastic joints after they have come through the water-cooled CNC process.

Plastic joints after they have come through the water-cooled CNC process.

Plastic molds are made for each type of key. A “tree” of plastic molds is created for making a complete set of one type of key.

Plastic molds are made for each type of key. A “tree” of plastic molds is created for making a complete set of one type of key.

Key trees are the left. Each key must hand-cut off of the tree. The cutting machine is on the right.

Key trees are the left. Each key must hand-cut off of the tree. The cutting machine is on the right.

Bins of keys are organized and catalogued for each woodwind family.

Bins of keys are organized and catalogued for each woodwind family.

The keys float through these moving polishing rocks to refine the keys prior to assembly.

The keys float through these moving polishing rocks to refine the keys prior to assembly.

In order to work and hold the tiny key work, a custom vice is made for each type of key. This allows the key to be held precisely so that the technician can solder the springs onto each individual key.

In order to work and hold the tiny key work, a custom vice is made for each type of key. This allows the key to be held precisely so that the technician can solder the springs onto each individual key.

Example of a key being held by a custom vice.

Example of a key being held by a custom vice.

Technician soldering a spring onto an individual key.

Technician soldering a spring onto an individual key.

Each instrument is assembled by hand.

Each instrument is assembled by hand.

They also manufacture harmony clarinets; alto clarinet, bass clarinet, contrabass, etc…

They also manufacture harmony clarinets; alto clarinet, bass clarinet, contrabass, etc…

These are waiting to have tenon corks applied. Posts are installed, but no keys yet.

These are waiting to have tenon corks applied. Posts are installed, but no keys yet.

This machine puts on tenon corks in just a few seconds. If you have replaced tenon corks before, you would be jealous of this machine.

This machine puts on tenon corks in just a few seconds. If you have replaced tenon corks before, you would be jealous of this machine.

Lastly, each clarinet is play tested before it leaves the factory. Thank you to Conn-Selmer for inviting me out and giving me the opportunity to tour their incredible facility.

Prismatic Winds Recital

The Prismatic Winds with Andrew Todd

Development - Progression - Fusion

A concert celebrating the history and future of wind chamber music. The Prismatic Winds, BYU-Idaho’s Faculty Woodwind Quintet, will be joined by Andrew Todd, piano, to present a wonderfully varied program of wind chamber music. In addition to standard works by Mozart and Jacob, the Prismatic Winds will premiere a newly commissioned work by BYU-Idaho alumni David Jones, titled “Language Study: Nga naman pala po ba?” Using traditional and extended techniques, “Language Study” uses the unique colors, effects, and sounds of the woodwind quintet to represent the Filipino language.

We will present this recital at three separate venues

Idaho Falls - Carr Gallery, Thursday, May 23, 2019 at 7:00pm

BYU-Idaho - Snow Recital Hall, Friday, May 24, 2019 at 7:30pm

Jackson Hole, WY - Walk Festival Hall, Saturday, June 15, 2019 at 7:00pm

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BYU-Idaho Clarinet Studio Recital - Winter 2019

The BYU-Idaho Clarinet Studio will be giving a recital on Saturday March 23rd at 10:00am in the Barrus Concert Hall. The program will feature works by: Stamitz, Krommer, Kozeluch, Presser, Cavallini, Bozza, and more. In addition to solo repertoire, the studio will be performing works for clarinet choir, including a new composition by one of our clarinet majors, Ryan Terry.

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Using MIDI Files for Clarinet Practicing

MIDI files have been around since the 1980s for creating synthesized music. Technology changes so often, yet it is remarkable how MIDI files are still around and useful today. For clarinetists, MIDI files can be a wonderful practice tool for working with accompaniments. SmartMusic is great, but requires a subscription and doesn't always have the clarinet literature needed. I recently found a wonderful website, MUSIX4ME, containing a significant collection of MIDI files of clarinet accompaniments. They are all free to download. Here is how to use them with GarageBand for practicing and memorizing music.

MIDI File Workflow:

  • Download the complete collection via Google Drive
  • Open GarageBand and choose a Blank Session
  • Simply drag the MIDI file into the GarageBand window. It will ask you if you want to import the tempo. You do want to import the tempo.
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Many of the MIDI tracks include the clarinet part as well as the piano part. Here some advantages of doing this with GarageBand.

  • You can mute or solo any track.
  • You can change the tempo without affecting the pitch.
  • You can set loop points for practicing specific sections of music. GarageBand will automatically return to the beginning of the loop for playback with you having to interact with the computer.
  • You can also bounce the MIDI file to an audio file, for import to your iPhone for mobile playback and practicing.
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If you want a more simple approach from using GarageBand, you can download a small MIDI Player app. One nice option is MIDIPlayer X available on the Mac App Store. It is a lightweight app that does a few things well:

  • Drag any Standard MIDI File onto the App Window for Playback
  • Mute channels
  • Change Tempo

It doesn't allow for specific looped areas of playback like you can with GarageBand, or saving out audio file versions.

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Prismatic Winds Performance - May 31, 2018

BYU-ldaho‘s Faculty Woodwind Quintet, Prismatic Winds, will be joined by guest pianist Dr. Andrew Todd, CEO and President of the Grand Teton Music Festival, to perform works by Beethoven, Poulenc, and Shostakovich. The concert will take place in the Snow Recital Hall on Thursday, May 31, 2018 at 7:30pm. You can watch the recital live online at the following address: http://www.byui.edu/music/events/watch-live.

The performance will then be repeated in Jackson Hole, WY as a part of the Grand Teton Music Summer Festival on Friday, June 15, 2018 at 7:00pm in Walk Festival Hall.

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Faculty Chamber Recital - May 10, 2018 - 7:30pm, Snow Recital Hall

In March, we presented a chamber recital at the Carr Gallery in Idaho Falls, for the Idaho Falls Symphony Chamber Series. We are pleased to repeat this recital at BYU-Idaho on May 10th.

Performers are:

  • Emma Rubinstein, violin
  • Lisa McNiven, viola
  • Robert Tueller, cello
  • Adam Ballif, clarinet
  • Stephen Thomas, piano

This program has a wonderful collection of music from Darius Milhaud, Robert Schumann, Georgina Sanchez, and Johannes Brahms.

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Idaho Falls Symphony Concert - Beethoven 6

www.ifsymphony.org

www.ifsymphony.org

Concertmaster Emma Rubinstein performs the contemplative Kol Nidrei for solo violin and orchestra during the Jewish Holy Days. We will marvel at nature’s grandeur through the music of Alan Hovhannes, who quotes the songs of whales, and Beethoven’s “Pastoral Symphony” closes the program with a familiar and uniquely Classical celebration.

PROGRAM:

Idaho Falls Symphony Thomas Heuser, conductor Emma Rubinstein, violin soloist Saturday, October 14th, 7:30pm, Civic Auditorium

Der Freischütz Overture Carl Maria von Weber Kol Nidrei for Solo Violin Max Bruch "And God Created Great Whales" Alan Hovhaness Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 "Pastorale" Ludwig van Beethoven