Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Kalmen Opperman

Kalmen Opperman, one of the great American clarinetists and teachers, passed away on June 18th 2010.  He is well-known for his career performing for Broadway musicals, dedication to teaching, and publications such as the Handbook for Making and Adjusting Single Reeds, Modern Daily Studies, and Velocity Studies Opperman's teachers included Simeon Bellison and Ralph McLane, and his students carry on his legacy in playing and teaching positions around the world.

New York Times has a wonderful write-up by Charles Strum about Opperman's life and teaching.

A thread on the Clarinet BBoard is dedicated to Opperman and includes remembrances from his acquaintances, students, and friends.

Opperman's website features remembrances by family and friends, biography, and audio.  Particularly moving is a recording of Opperman's piece En Seul as performed by Richard Stoltzman, perhaps his most famous student.

Friday, June 18, 2010

To Oil or Not to Oil?

The age-old question of whether or not to oil the bore of your clarinet is still debated today. Every clarinetist seems to have formulated their own opinion based on their personal experiences, but many aren't familiar with the scientific details as to how oil affects wooden instruments. Although his website is centered around his commercial instrument repair services, Larry Naylor proves to be an expert on the subject, and on his site you can find a handful of articles dedicated to the explanation of how the grenadilla wood is cut and cured, how and why wood changes and cracks, and tips on protecting your clarinet against cracking. His articles include solutions for "blown-out" instruments, effects of organic oil on the bore, and he also presents a blind survey on preferences for oil-soaked clarinets versus non-oiled clarinets. The results from his experiment are interesting, and may change your mind about whether or not to oil your instrument.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Designed as a companion site to the 2009 book The Musician's Way by Gerald Klickstein, stands alone as a great resource for musicians. It is organized into five main subject areas (practice, performance, wellness, creativity, and music careers), each containing a wealth of information and links to primary sources such as scholarly articles, YouTube videos of master teachers, photos, and more. Any instrumentalist or vocalist has much to gain by exploring this site - find employment statistics, memorization strategies, scholarly articles on musician injuries, and everything in between. Resources for specific instruments include a List of clarinet links. Also, the Musicians Way blog offers weekly posts on classical music and a variety of aspects of performance. Check it out!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Clarinet YouTube Channels

It has only been five years since the creation of YouTube in 2005, but in this short time the site has become the primary way to share and watch videos online. YouTube is now an incredible resource for musicians; many clarinetists now turn to YouTube to hear a recording of a piece they are unfamiliar with, find teaching tips, or watch videos of a particular performer.

The explosion of popularity of YouTube has caused a new problem: how do you sift through all the videos to find those of particular interest and good quality? A YouTube search for a particular piece might turn up a live performance by a top-quality professional player right next to a video of a high-school student learning a piece for the first time in their bedroom. Since many of our readers may use YouTube for reference purposes (or have students who do), we wanted to take a look at some of the best YouTube video streams about clarinet.

Currently, one of the exciting innovations in online media is the ability for an individual to "subscribe" to content of particular interest, such as creating a queue of movies in Netflix or using Google Reader to follow the RSS feeds of selected blogs. Similarly, users can personalize their YouTube experience by subscribing to YouTube "channels." Each username on YouTube has a "channel," and any registered user can subscribe to receive notification when the user posts new videos. Essentially, you can create a personalized stream of content of the quality you desire, and on the subjects in which you are most interested.

The following are a few YouTube users we have noticed as posting good-quality videos of interest to clarinetists.
Perusing these videos is a great way to discover new clarinet works, hear performances by a variety of jazz and classical clarinetists, and get ideas for teaching.

"DavidGarnet" is the username of David H. Thomas, principal clarinetist of the Columbus Symphony and author of The Buzzing Reed blog. He has posted many videos of live performances, practice sessions, rehearsals, and lessons. Thomas has recorded and posted many of the Jeanjean etudes, as well as the Muczynski Time Pieces and movements from Mozart's "Kegelstatt" Trio and Quintet K. 581. He refers to the videos in some of his blog posts, so it may be interesting to view the videos in context on his blog.

A young Russian clarinetist named Grigory Wewer, "klarnetchik", has posted his excellent performances of Weber's Concerto No. 1 and the Rossini Theme and Variations, among others. All performances feature Wewer with the Omsk Symphony Orchestra.

Jazz clarinetist Jim Valentine, posting as "JimV33", has uploaded many jazz videos of Pete Fountain. Some of the videos feature Valentine and Fountain playing together, while others are just Fountain performing with his ensemble.
"clarinetmusicvideos" has posted several videos of Julian Bliss playing clarinet in his very young years (ages 4-10). It is quite entertaining to see the evolution of the playing of this budding young virtuoso.

Italian clarinetist Sergio Bosi ("clarinoprimo") has uploaded many videos of his playing. Some are live performances (including solo works with clarinet and orchestra or piano), and others are recordings set to collages of photographs. Bosi is a proponent of lesser-known Italian clarinet works, and listening to these recordings is a great way to get to know some of that literature. His live performances include the Busoni Elegie, the Castelnuovo-Tedesco Sonata, and the Debussy Rhapsodie.

Another Italian player, Corrado Giuffredi ("ulukay1981") has posted some fun videos of works by Piazzolla and others. Most of the videos are live performances of chamber works, including several for the unusual instrumentation of saxophone quartet and clarinet.

Belgian clarinetist Bob Van de Velde ("bobvandevelde") posts videos of his live performances, such as the Baermann Adagio with clarinet choir and Backofen's Thema con Variazioni for basset horn and string quartet. One highlight is his performance of the Mendelssohn Konzertstück No. 2 with a clarinet choir conducted by Eddy Vanoosthuyse.

Also based in Belgium, the Gent Clarinet Quartet ("rokquartet") has used YouTube for an interesting project called "TRY THIS AT HOME." Marco Mazzini, bass clarinetist for the group and founder of the Clariperu blog, has created several clarinet quartet arrangements of works like Rossini's Barber of Seville and Brahms' Hungarian Dance No. 5. The quartet posts videos of their street performances of these arrangements, along with the sheet music for the arrangement; they encourage viewers to download the music, create a video of their own performance, and upload it as a "video response" on YouTube.

We have written about Mazzini's blog Clariperu in a previous column, but we should mention the YouTube channel under the user name "clariperu." It features over 30 videos of various performers and is definitely worth subscribing to.

"SUclarinets" features videos by the Shenandoah Conservatory Clarinet Choir and their conductor/professor Garrick Zoeter. Also included are videos of works for clarinet quartet, and Zoeter performing Takemitsu's Waves for solo clarinet, two trombones, horn, and bass drum. This channel is a great example of how teachers can use YouTube to feature the activities of their studio.

American clarinetist Jonathan Cohler ("cohler59") has posted some videos of his performances of works for clarinet and piano, including works by Brahms, Bernstein, Bliss, and D'Rivera.

Always entertaining, Tom Ridenour's videos (under the username "billyboy647") cover topics as diverse as repair and maintenance, long tones, barrel dimensions, and double-lip embouchure. He has uploaded about 70 videos containing a wealth of information about the clarinet and ideas for teaching, along with a large dose of Ridenour's unique sense of humor.

Visit the clarinetcache YouTube page to view all of our subscriptions. While we did quite a bit of searching, we have probably missed some great clarinet YouTube channels. If you have ideas for additions to the list, e-mail us or comment below!