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Mediocre 2nd-year clarinet player here. Was wondering about a list of exercises to perform on a daily basis to generally improve. At the moment, I'm trying long tones, intervals, and chromatic practice, but nothing's really "sticking". I can play my band music consistently, but feel relatively stagnant otherwise despite practicing for several hours a day. My tone continues to suck and my finger speed has largely hit a wall. Where do I go from here, and how do I go about improving at this stage?

  • How long have you been doing these current exercises, and do you anything to switch up or take a break from that particular routine? – Michael Curtis Feb 22 at 14:50
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As a 'retired' clarinetist, I can offer a couple suggestions.

Daily: long tones, for breath control and accuracy of pitch.
Daily: a variety of scale studies. One of my favorites is Stievenard, because it combines straight scales with interval studies, rhythms, and more. Rotate thru the book to stay invigorated.

As to finger speed: there are several approaches, and your teacher should be able to help. Pick any short passage, and play it very slowly until it's perfect. Move the metronome up a couple notches. Play until perfect. Repeat until MM = 240 :-) . This will not be a linear process, meaning there will be times when you can't do as well as you did the day or week before. Be patient, and be diligent.

Most important rule, and I'm quoting a great teacher I know.

Most people practice until they get it right. You need to practice until you can't get it wrong.

What this means: the temptation is to play a passage until you do it right, and then move on. You have to play it until you get it right maybe 10 times in a row, so that your "muscle memory" remembers the right way, not the wrong way.

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