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Key Signature Conundrum

17 Jun

 Unveiling the mysteries of the key signature Every week brings new challenges – and new musical knowledge, and the other week, my music teacher revealed to me the mystery of the key signature.

It wasn’t that I hadn’t noticed the key signature. I have come across it before, but never really looked at it or thought about how it related to my playing.

I wouldn’t call myself an expert by any means, but slowly but surely the scales (no pun intended!) are falling from my eyes and it is all starting to make much more sense. If only I had known this stuff from day one!

The Mercedes-Benz factor

Before I go on I must admit that I actually started writing this post two weeks ago, but due to a combination of being busy, slightly lazy, working on another new blog and taking up another new hobby (cycling), it was not completed at that time.

I am returning to this topic with a fresh new approach, and reading the beginning of the post again reminded me of my third car purchase. I traded in my troublesome decade-old Corsa in August 2009 for a two-year-old Mercedes-Benz B Class.

I had only stopped by the dealership to ‘look around’ but before long, I was test driving the car and my daughter and the car dealer were soon looking expectantly at me while I toyed with the idea of buying the car or not.

At the time, one of the things I remember the salesman said to me was that the car had many features, and that he would only show me a selection of them because the beauty of the features was in the discovery.

Sure enough, two years on, I keep discovering new things including, more recently a concealed panel in the arm rest which is now used as a handy and capacious pencil case.

Key signature and the meaning of clarinet scales

But getting back to clarinets, the ‘unveiling’ of the key signature has been a delight – and helped me understand what I am doing with my scales.

I’ve found a very handy chart on Wikipedia that shows – in a circular diagram of Circle of Fifths showing major (in red) and minor keys (in green) and their signatures – genius!

While I personally wouldn’t get into the mathematical side of things, the Circle of Fifths is a very useful aide-memoire for key signatures.

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 (more…)

Should you aim for quality or quantity in your clarinet playing?

21 May

 Should clarinet practice be about quality or quantity?
Last week’s posts plus this week’s Twitter activity have got me thinking more and more about quality versus quantity when it comes to learning or perfecting the clarinet.

While personal preference (more…)

On joining an orchestra

4 May

 Finding the right orchestra for your clarinet playing

Last week on this blog I mentioned that I would talk about playing in an orchestra, and as promised, here are my thoughts…

Around July 2010, I decided to supplement my weekly one-to-one clarinet lessons with orchestral sessions. 

(more…)

Sight unseen

26 Apr

 Playing new music as part of your regular clarinet practice

I have decided to set myself a new challenge.  A practice challenge.

For the best part of a year, my practice sessions have consisted of me doing a brief warm-up (when I remember), my scales, and then one or more of my exam pieces.  That’s it. (more…)

Are you getting in enough practice?

13 Apr

 The little and often approach to clarinet practice
During last weekend’s warm weather spell, my daughter and I were sunning ourselves in the garden when a sound grabbed our attention.

It was the sound of scales being played on a woodwind instrument; an oboe.

(more…)