New Ballif Beats: Double Life, Eric Mandat

New Ballif Beats Added: Double Life, Eric Mandat

My custom metronomes allow me to practice complex pieces with assymetrical meters. I create these mp3 files in Pro Tools, where I have a lot of control over how the metronome performs. These audio files include:

  • accents on the downbeat of each measure
  • 8th note subdivision on simple meters
  • 16th note subdivision on complex meters

I can save each tempo as a new mp3 file and sync them to my phone for practicing. The third movement of Double Life by Eric Mandat, titled To Be Continued…, is a perfect piece for practicing with a custom metronome.

Feel free to download the files on my Ballif Beats page.

Liked: Top 20 Reasons for Using A Metronome

Here is an article giving the The Top 20 Reasons to use a Metronome. I didn’t really know how to practice until I learned how to practice with a metronome. Here are some of the points from the article that I agree with most:

  • It improves your rhythm
  • It makes your practicing more consistent
  • It forces you to listen to something other than your own playing
  • It’s a qualitative way to track your improvement over time
  • It makes you aware of timing issues throughout the song
  • It simplifies challenging rhythms
  • It keeps you from slowing down when you play quiet sections in your song
  • It keeps you from speeding up during loud sections in your song
  • It makes you confident

I love the Dr. Beat metronome. It is loud enough for group practice sessions and easy to add subdivisions, which is vital to practicing with a metronome. I used mine so much that the play/pause button no longer works. I now use an app on my iPhone for all of my metronome practice. It isn’t as loud as my Dr. Beat, but it is loud enough for personal practice. It has subdivisions and also playlists, so I can setup my warmup routine playlist and my favorite tempos are just a finger tap away. The app is Tempo Advance by Frozen Ape software. Many iPhone app metronomes do not keep a steady pulse. I tried many of them and found Tempo Advance to be the most reliable.

Clarinet Tech: Performing with iPad and iPhone

Clarinet Tech: Performing with iPad and iPhone

Having an iPad since its launch in 2010 has changed many things about the way that I work.[1] From the way that I take attendance in class, notes in meetings, reading on the go, and leaving my MacBook behind, the iPad has become an integral part of my work. Many of these tasks are administrative related, but the iPad has also influenced the way that I practice and perform.




Soon after getting the iPad, I realized its potential as a sheet music storage device. I spent the next several months scanning all of my clarinet repertoire so that I could have all of my music with me, all of the time. ForScore was one of the first sheet music apps for the iPad and luckily it has been continually updated with great features. I still think that it is the best sheet music reader for the iPad for classical musicians.[2] I have all of my clarinet solo parts saved as PDF documents in ForScore. I can make markings as annotations, create set lists, email, print, and the page turns are faster than other readers that I have tried.



AirTurn Bluetooth Foot Pedal

Following the popularity of using an iPad for sheet music, a Colorado-based company came out with a wireless foot pedal for turning pages handsfree. AirTurn foot pedals are small devices that fit in my backpack, and can be quickly paired with my iPad for turning pages. Since the iPad screen is only big enough to show one page at a time, have a wireless foot pedal becomes critical for certain pieces. After having used this in practice and performance, I purchased a second foot pedal, and a small dock to house the two foot pedals and the wireless receiver. The second foot pedal is used for turning pages backward, which is useful for when the piece has a DC or DS repeat. It takes some practice to coordinate turning pages with your foot while playing, but once you get used to it, it is very slick. w


Bose SoundLink

Bose SoundLink - Bluetooth Speaker

The most recent addition to my clarinet tech arsenal is the Bose SoundLink. This compact speaker connects wireless to my iPhone over Bluetooth and I am able to perform with accompaniments or play-along recordings.[3] The SoundLink sounds great for its size; it is plenty loud and rich. With this connection in place, I can perform with anything that is loaded into the iPod app on my iPhone.

Paperless Clarinet Performance

With the above three devices, the pieces have fallen into place for me to perform with accompaniment with very little setup and equipment. A couple of months back, I was invited to give a clarinet presentation for some middle school students. I took my clarinet, iPad, iPhone, and Bose speaker. I had all of my sheet music on hand. I performed movements from the following pieces with accompaniment: Brahms Second Sonata, Poulenc Sonata, Guisganderie by JeanJean, and Gershwin’s American in Paris. The sheet music and accompaniments worked flawlessly and the students were genuinely interested in the setup. Later that same week, my wife and I performed for a wedding reception using the same setup.

At first, I only viewed these options as wonderful practice tools, but over time they have evolved into viable performance tools. It has been three short years since iPad 1 came out. I can’t wait to see what the tech future holds for the next three years.

  1. I still have a 1st generation iPad. It works fine, but is showing its age. It feels slow sometimes, but the battery life is still amazing. I plan on finally upgrading to an iPad 5 when it is announced this Fall.  ↩
  2. Another sheet music reader that I have used is GigBook. GigBook is better suited for jazz musicians because of its design for quickly creating set lists for gigs.  ↩
  3. I create some of the accompaniments using Sibelius and others I record out of SmartMusic. With SmartMusic and MIDI files, most of the piano parts are accessible for the clarinet masterworks.  ↩

New Ballif Beats: Leonard Bernstein Sonata

I have added a new Ballif Beats Custom Metronome: The final movement from Leonard Bernstein's Clarinet Sonata. This is the fast 5/8 section that has mixed meter and can be tricky to line up with the accompaniment. There are two sets of files. The "BernsteinA" files are for the 5/8 section preceding the Lento Molto (Rehearsal Marking A to J). The "BernsteinB" files are for after the Lento Molto (Rehearsal Marking P to the end). You may demo the metronome on the Ballif Beats page, as well as download the .zip file containing all of the .mp3 files at the following tempos: 112, 120, 126, 132, 138, 144, 152.

Click here to access my Ballif Beats.