Three New ClariNotes

Three New ClariNotes

I have added three new ClariNotes Newsletters to my website. This brings the newsletter up to 18 issues. I am pleased that Vandoren has also recently been linking to specific issues of ClariNotes for their new monthly WAVE Newsletter.

The three new issues are about:


I hope you will check out all 18 issues and find something that can help you improve your clarinet technique.

New ClariNotes Issue: SmartMusic Scales


SmartMusic is best known as accompaniment software, but I have found it useful for assessing scales. The following exercises may be downloaded from my website as SmartMusic Assessment Files. Students get instant feedback and teachers may assess their progress.

  • Baermann Scales (Scale, Broken Chords, Interrupted Scale, and Returning Scale)
  • Klose Scales
  • Klose Arpeggios
  • Klose Thirds

My ClariNotes Newsletter Issue Number 15 gives an overview for how I use this in my studio.

New ClariNotes Issue: Changing Registers


I have a new ClariNotes issue that provides tips for changing registers. Changing registers, or “crossing the break,” is a dreaded aspect of clarinet playing for most beginners. If fundamentals of hand position, embouchure and air aren’t taught from the beginnning, then changing registers smoothly is problematic at best.

Here are some tips for changing registers:

  • Keep the Right Hand Down
  • Rock the Index Finger on the Left Hand
  • Practice Specific Exercises for “Crossing the Break”

Read in more detail about these techniques with my latest issue of ClariNotes.

New ClariNotes Issue: Étude Books


I have a new ClariNotes Issue that focuses on Étude Books. Études are essential for all serious clarinetists and many students are familiar with names such as Rose and Klose. This issue outlines those standards as well as a few you may not be familiar with, including:

  • Cavallini
  • Uhl
  • Polatschek
  • Bitsch
  • Mandat

Knowing about lesser-known methods and new works can bring a new excitement to practicing études. Checkout more details about these books in this new ClariNotes Issue.

ClariNotes Issue Ten: So You Want To Glissando

Every clarinetist, one day will want to learn how to play the opening glissando from George Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue.[1] It is one of the most recognized clarinet solos in the repertoire. If you know how to perform a glissando, then you will look forward to the day when you can perform this with orchestra; however, if you can’t make the glissando work, you will be terrified if it shows up in your orchestra folder.

Contrary to popular belief, the glissando effect does not depend on sliding the fingers off of the clarinet, but instead relies on voicing and manipulating the tongue to bend the pitches. Sliding the fingers can help a little bit in the effect and give the impression that the fingers are producing the glissando, but you can definitely tell the difference between a performer who relies on fingers and one who can really pull it off.

I have used the following three steps in effectively teaching the glissando to my students:

  • Pitch Bending Exercise

The key to a smooth glissando is voicing and tongue position, not so much fingers. With step one, play the slurred notes as written to get these pitches in your ear. Then repeat those pitches while fingering high C. Change your voicing (tongue position) to bend the pitch down. It will feel like the middle to back of your tongue comes closer to the tip of the reed. Think about making your oral cavity smaller to bend the pitch. Keep the embouchure very firm and practice these at a loud dynamic.

  • One Step At A Time

For each measure, play the first pitch, bend it down as far as you can with voicing while still maintaining tone, then lift you fingers to high C, then bring your embouchure and voicing back to normal, thus glissing to high C. Repeat with each lower note until you can glissando an octave.

  • Rhapsody In Blue

The above steps will help in glissing smoothly from third space C to high C. For the opening, finger a rapid scale from low G until you are over the break.

The opening clarinet glissando came into being during rehearsal when; “…as a joke on Gershwin, Ross Gorman (Whiteman’s virtuoso clarinetist) played the opening measure with a noticeable glissando, adding what he considered a humorous touch to the passage. Reacting favorably to Gorman’s whimsy, Gershwin asked him to perform the opening measure that way at the concert and to add as much of a ‘wail’ as possible.”

Download ClariNotes Issue Ten: So You Want To Glissando

  1. We actually have Ferde Grofé to thank for orchestrating Rhapsody In Blue as we know it today and for giving the clarinet such a prominent and memorable opening solo.  ↩

ClariNotes Issue Nine: Metronome Work


I find that practicing with a metronome is challenging at first for most students. It seems like a simple and easy task: simply play with the click. For some reason, as hard as people try, that darn metronome seems to speed up and slow down. “Why can’t it stay steady?!?”

When it gets frustrating to play with your metronome, don’t succumb to the temptation of turning it off. Practicing effectively with a metronome is a mark of a true musician and in some ways will be one of the most important skills you develop.

Here are some principles to follow for effective metronome work:

Have Specific Tempos for Everything

  • Use a metronome for each part of your warmup
    • Long Tones (Quarter Note = 60)
    • Scales, Arpeggios, Thirds (Quarter Note = 88, 126)
    • Articulation, Langenus Pg. 22 (Quarter Note = 104, 112, 120, 132, 144, etc…)

Use Sudivisions

  • Use an 8th-note subdivision instead of a quarter-note pulse only. This will help you develop very even fingers and prevent you from rushing in between the beats.

Go Up 4 Clicks At A Time

  • Using a metronome is the key to speeding up technical passages. Don’t try to go too fast too soon. Increase the tempo by multiples of four. Each increase in tempo will not seem much faster than the one previous. Before you know it, you will be playing the passage at tempo.

Practicing Asymmetrical Meters (5/8, 7/8)

  • In order to practice asymmetrical meters, you need to use a constant subdivision. Put the metronome on 8th notes, or 16th notes if necessary. Don’t give up by turning the metronome off.

I am also a believer in foot tapping. The metronome can help you internalize the pulse. Tapping your foot correctly, in time, and with a metronome will help later when it is time to perform without the constant click.

Make sure you purchase a metronome that is loud enough to hear and has options for subdivisions, like the Dr. Beat above.

Remember, Don’t Keep The Doctor Away!

Download ClariNotes Issue Nine: Metronome Work