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 â€“ 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, Iâ€™ve compiled a list of the top ten music knowledge gaps that Iâ€™ve uncovered (my own) over the last year or so.
Iâ€™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
- 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.
- The key signature tells you which notes are to be played as sharps or flats.
- The key signature can be cancelled out by a natural or sharp sign.
- E flat is the same as D sharp.
- The better your knowledge of your scales, the better your music playing.
- Reed quality does matter; very cheap reeds donâ€™t produce a good sound.
- Covering some of the lower holes can be beneficial â€“ e.g. enhancing the sound of Bb.
- DC al Fine means â€˜play again from the beginning to the point marked Fineâ€™ (pronounced fee-nay)
- Crescendo means getting louder.
- Never take two clarinet music exams on the same day!
More clarinet playing triumphs next week.
Vibrating Reed – for adult learners of the clarinet