No clarinet exams!

29 May

 Perfecting your clarinet practice time

It was bound to happen.

My lack of consistent, quality practice, my dodgy scales and my focus on perfecting my exam pieces means that I am having trouble playing any new material.

My clarinet teacher broke the news to me in a gently firm and forthright manner: taking my Grade 3 exam in June would not be a good idea.

I was almost relieved because a slow but steady panic had started to build. And my panic levels threatened to rise steeply after I failed to name a dotted minim, or say anything even vaguely intelligent about key signatures in my lesson a couple of weeks ago.

Curiously, since my moment of music knowledge shame a fortnight ago, I have been steadily doing more work on my overall playing during practice sessions – i.e. the technical side as well as the repertoire, in the hope that my progress will not continue to be so lop-sided.

I have also made an effort to practice more regularly, and to do so earlier in the day (the 11pm/midnight approach was failing miserably).

Playing the clarinet with pleasure

Despite my many failings, I do enjoy playing, but in the spirit of being able to smile (or laugh!) at oneself, I’ve compiled a list of the top ten music knowledge gaps that I’ve uncovered (my own) over the last year or so.

I’ve plugged many of these gaps, but others still need more work. Perhaps naming them in such a public way will give me the impetus I need to sort them all out once and for all:

My top 10 musical/clarinet playing knowledge gaps

  1. Scales take their name from the note they begin with e.g. F major begins with F, A minor begins with A and so on.
  2. The key signature tells you which notes are to be played as sharps or flats.
  3. The key signature can be cancelled out by a natural or sharp sign.
  4. E flat is the same as D sharp.
  5. The better your knowledge of your scales, the better your music playing.
  6. Reed quality does matter; very cheap reeds don’t produce a good sound.
  7. Covering some of the lower holes can be beneficial – e.g. enhancing the sound of Bb.
  8. DC al Fine means ‘play again from the beginning to the point marked Fine’ (pronounced fee-nay)
  9. Crescendo means getting louder.
  10. Never take two clarinet music exams on the same day!

More clarinet playing triumphs next week.

Image by: Patryk Specjal

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