Why Warming-Up is Important (or, How an Elementary School Band Concert Kicked Me in the Face)

I've never been a morning person, but I can manage if I must (thanks, in recent years, to developing a taste for coffee). That said, playing clarinet at 9am has never been appealing to me. So over the past few weeks, I've been sitting in with a few small elementary/middle school bands to fill in/support parts. And some of these concerts have been in the morning, and 9am. Wooo, okay, let's go.

But the music isn't hard, right? No, in fact, it's sight-readable. These are young kids, after all. So there's that. Well, imagine my surprise when after four easy band songs, my face felt like I had been playing a 2 hour rehearsal after not playing for 2 weeks! Ugh! My best guess: I didn't warm up.

I've noticed, as I've gotten older, or maybe I've become more dialed in to what I want my sound and playing to be, that a good warm up is essential to me making it though a long rehearsal and actually enjoying it. I need to play some long tones and scales with different speeds and articulations to fully feel like my fingers and face are ready for the music ahead. It's something I learned though years of experience. If you don't have a warm up routine that makes you feel ready, may I recommend you do something of the same? Start with long tones to get your air moving, and then add scales to get your fingers and tongue going too. Find what works for you, but I like starting with one aspect of playing (air) and adding others to it (fingers, articulation).

Oh, and if it's 9am, you may want to drink some coffee beforehand. 

Clarinet Expo Recap

Last Saturday was the Clarinet Expo at Rick's. And I'm still recovering from it. one crazy busy day of all clarinet. Here's a picture of my D'Addario table, taken before people started to arrive:

 Nice, huh? Look how I fanned out those reed boxes. Later on, people knocked them over like dominoes when they put their cases down on the table.

Nice, huh? Look how I fanned out those reed boxes. Later on, people knocked them over like dominoes when they put their cases down on the table.

Along with the table, I taught four 10-minute trial lessons, and tried to catch the other clinician's talks.  It wasn't easy, but I really have to thank Martha and Bill from Rick's for watching the table when I needed to be away! I met so many cool people, played a beautiful low C bass clarinet from Buffet (that was played by a musician form the London Symphony just a few days prior!) and a carbon fiber Bacun Bb clarinet that cost more then twice my car did. So, a very good day. I have so many things that I want to do now, clarinet-wise, that I should probably make a list. 

1. Learn scales with the intention of using them for jazz

2. Learn circular breathing

Okay, that wasn't much of a list.  No worries, I'm sure those two things will take me a while.  No need to load up, I've also got music to practice (I'm looking at you, Shostakovich Violin Concerto mvt 2).

It's Getting Kinda Busy Around Here

I always felt like May and June are months when everything happens all at once. School Musicals, end of the year concerts, recitals, it all happens in these last few weeks before summer vacation. For me, a freelance musician and teacher, it's like getting swallowed into a tornado, and then spat out after the storm. It's crazy, sometimes I don't know what's happening, and I'm holding on one day at a time, but then it's over, and things are eerily calm.

So, here's what's up for May and June: I'm currently playing clarinet and alto sax in the pit for Mt. Hope High School's (Bristol, RI) production of Curtains. It's a fun murder mystery musical comedy, and that runs through Sunday. Then next Saturday (May 12) is the Clarinet Expo at Rick's Musical Instruments (Cumberland, RI), which is akin to Comicon for Clarinets (Clarinetcon?). It's a fun day, I'll be talking mouthpieces for D'Addario Woodwinds, along with playing some tunes with the other special clarinet guests.  So, there's some music to learn.  There are a few more clinics (well, more than there should be. I got behind on my count.) between May and June, as well as some school concerts for Paul Effman.  Along with my schools (which between then have 3 concerts, all on the SAME DAY!), I'll be sitting in and covering a few parts for some of the other bands. Let's throw in weekly private lessons and rehearsals for NABSCO (concert on June 10) and The American Band, and I've got quite the full calendar. So its kinda funny that I'm not really too stressed out (yet). Everything has luckily not conflicted with each other, and hopefully not much else will get added.

Usually I host a private studio recital around this time of year, but between my schedule and some renovations going on at the usual venue, that's getting postponed.  Which is good.  

Here's the flyer for the Clarinet Expo, in case you're in the Southern New England area and would like to join us. It runs 10-4, with talks and demonstrations throughout the day. Bring your clarinet, because at 12:30 there's an all ages clarinet choir, and everyone can join!



I might not be so good at blogging, if my posts are about 2 years apart. Eh, pick up with now.  Things have been busy. I started an awesome job as a clinician with D’Addario woodwinds in fall of 2016, and I’ve been giving clinics on reeds and mouthpieces in schools and music stores locally.  It’s been great! I love talking with kids about clarinet and saxophone things, and being a geek about reeds and mouthpieces. I’ve started teaching beginner saxophone lessons, and that’s been going well too.  I’m teaching from home, and also at Rick’s Musical Instruments in Cumberland, RI. I’m doing some teaching for Paul Effman Music in a few schools around here. Teaching everything - winds, percussion, and brass (I know - how the heck did that happen?). I considered simply deleting this blog since it’s been so long, but maybe I’ll give it another go.  Let’s start with one blog post per week, and see how we do, shall we?


Recital Recap

I realized that I haven't written a blog post in over a month.  Ugh.  Planning and preparing for the recital and playing a show the week before definitely made things crazy.  But the recital was a success, and I think everyone who played was happy, and everyone who came enjoyed it very much.  I still have some video/audio editing to do, but I'm pretty happy.  So now onto the next projects: learning the Reed 1 book for Drowsy Chaperone (which is really doing wonders for my flute/sax chops - hooray!) and preparing to make an audition recording for an orchestra sub list. Maybe that will be the topic of my next blog post.  That's not a bad idea... :)



Announcing Our Studio Recital!

I love planning recitals.  I love picking the music, setting the date, and putting together a reception (cupcakes, people!).  So I love spring, because it’s studio recital season!

This is the second year RI Clarinet School will host a studio recital in the auditorium of the Providence Public Library.  Last year I had three students play solos with piano, and I played a solo as well.  This year, we’re expanding a bit.  Four students will be playing solos as well as duets with me, and we’ll be ending the program with a few clarinet trios.  I’m looking forward to it very much, and I hope my students are too.  Here are the details, if you’d like to attend.  

Date: April 10

Time: 1pm

Place: Providence Public Library, 150 Empire Street, Providence, RI (use that entrance, and you’ll take the elevators to the auditorium on the third floor)

Admission: FREE!  There’s plenty of seats, so bring everyone and anyone you want. The auditorium seats 300, we need no where near that, but we use the room because it has a tuned piano.


Here's the highlight reel from last year's recital.  We (meaning mostly Jay) will be recording again this year.


Office Transformation

We have an office in our apartment.  We call it an office, but really it’s more of a room where everything that doesn’t have a place somewhere else goes that also happens to have a desk in it.  When we first moved into our current house/apartment, one of the two bedrooms became our office.  Along with the desk, it also had my old futon, so we could occasionally have houseguests, and our wardrobe, because it didn’t fit in the bedroom. Rooms are small when you live on the third floor of a victorian house.


Anyway, the office space became a wasted space, and in a small apartment, you really can’t have wasted space.  We decided the office should be a room where we could work, and I could practice and teach.  So we sold the futon (we’ve got a nice air mattress for the very occasional houseguest), sold the wardrobe (got a dresser that fits in our bedroom), and now the office is gradually turning into a useable practice space.  It’s not done yet, but I’ve got a digital piano in there and a good corner of it dedicated to music.

 I usually have to bring Jack's bed in and put it next to me.  Otherwise, he wants to sit on my lap while I play.

I usually have to bring Jack's bed in and put it next to me.  Otherwise, he wants to sit on my lap while I play.

It's still got a lot of things that don't have a home anywhere else (knitting supplies, soldering iron, gift wrapping), but it's a start.  I would like to get a rug for the floor to help muffle the sound a bit.  Still, it's awesome to have the space become useable!