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As a high school clarinetist, I have showed skill and potential. I play a Buffet E12F, with a Vandoren Black Diamond mouthpiece, and use 3 1/2 strength V12 Vandoren reeds. I made all-state this past year as a sophomore, but mostly because of raw talent and a week's worth of cram practice before auditions. I do not currently take private lessons and am wondering what I need to focus on during practice time to make it more efficient so that I am able to benefit and grow as a player. As of late I do not know what to focus on in practicing. Some of my biggest downfalls are as follows:

• My tone (I feel that it is bright and weak, failing to embody a full and round signature clarinet tone you may hear from more experienced players like Corrado Giuffredi). My tone also weakens as I play through a variety of dynamics (ex: flat during pianos and long sustain notes like in the ending of Lux Aurumque by Eric Whitacre) and it suffers greatly as I move up the register. I also cannot maintain a full tone in faster pieces, usually giving it up as I focus on note accuracy instead. Recommendations for exercises or anything to better improve this would be helpful.

• My tonguing is very heavy. Something that you can hear during my playing during accidentals like stacattos. My band director pointed out that my playing is often very tongue heavy and reedy. I do not know what I need to do to improve this area of my playing. Any tips on this would help.

• My tonguing is slow and I have a hard time playing faster pieces. My fingers and tongue are often not in synch and I cannot tongue fast. I do not now how to double tongue and cannot tongue a fast string of notes well. I am not sure what needs to be done to improve this aspect of my playing.

• When I am faced with faster moving pieces and larger gaps in between notes that are far apart in the staff, I often am unable to play it. I generally have to fake it even during concerts. Tips for how to sight read would be helpful since I lack heavily in this area. Exercise recommendations that will help improve my ability to play faster and cleaner would also be appreciated.

Even if you have read this far, but are not inclined to answer, I thank you for taking the time to read this. Since we are going through quarantine I have decided to make good use of the vast amounts of free time I have at my disposal. I wish to grow overall as a player and want to return to school better than when I had left it before. Any comments and criticism would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

LeNitro

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    Can't see how tonguing and accidentals are related. Do not play continuously for hours! Maybe 30 mins with a 30 min break gives your mouth chance to recover. – Tim Mar 26 at 8:06
  • Accidentals now that I look back on it shouldn't be an issue. I think I generally tongue heavy so that it affects my playing, but I am not sure what I can do to improve it so that it doesn't impact my overall tone. Staccatos do not get the light unweighted sound usually since my heavy tonguing cancels it out. Thank you for the response on the overall practice length! Whenever I used to practice it was for over an hour. This feedback helps! – LeNitro Mar 26 at 8:43
  • Sadly, the truth is: get lessons or risk continuing to develop bad habits that will be very hard to break. From your descriptions, you don't currently have proper diaphragmatic breath control working, nor are you tonguing properly. Scales & speed depend on good practice methodologies, which take up several books. – Carl Witthoft Mar 26 at 13:45
  • Ah, alright. My parents will not get me lessons because I do not usually practice at the house. I think that if I practice more I will be able to get lessons. Thanks for the feedback though. – LeNitro Mar 26 at 20:12
  • Concerning the point double tonguing: on brass we play “ taka”. Clarinetists seem to do different. Have you seen this article: woodwind.org/clarinet/Study/DoubleTonguing.html – Albrecht Hügli Apr 2 at 5:18
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When I am faced with faster moving pieces and larger gaps in between notes that are far apart in the staff, I often am unable to play it. I generally have to fake it even during concerts. Tips for how to sight read would be helpful since I lack heavily in this area. Exercise recommendations that will help improve my ability to play faster and cleaner would also be appreciated.

My advice:

Notate the certain passages in a staff with lines and ledger lines but in stead of dots write the note names tight in the system at the place of the note heads. Then read and play these notes. If you practice this exercise you will be able to read the notes quite soon.

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  • Thanks so much! I do not think I have ever thought about it from this approach. I will try to use it next time! – LeNitro Apr 2 at 5:06

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