Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Clarinet Blogs

Our readers probably recall the clarinet blogs we have written about in the past: David H. Thomas’ The Buzzing Reed, Sherman Friedland’s Clarinet Corner, Marco Mazzini’s ClariPeru.  We’d like to mention a few blogs that have caught our attention recently and made it into posts on our Clarinet Cache blog.  

Back in August, we posted about Marion Harrington’s Clarinet Blog.  Marion Harrington is a clarinetist living in the Spain who began a clarinet performance degree, but before graduating she decided to quit playing and pursue other career options.  After over 20 years in a variety of other fields, Harrington decided to return to the clarinet and dedicate herself to returning to practicing and performing at a professional level.  Her blog therefore has the fresh perspective of someone who has returned to the clarinet "fold" later in life - passionately and systematically.  She posts her thoughts on practicing, interpretation, and clarinet equipment, along with other subjects such as business and marketing, and the future of classical music in general.  

Another new addition to our blogroll is the Musician’s Way Blog.  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. was created by Christopher Jones, a clarinetist in the Greater Hudson Valley area of New York State and student of Kalmen Opperman. The site has many inspirational strategies and tips for sight-reading, scales, crossing the break, and more, with great photos of correct and incorrect embouchure and hand position.  Clarinet-Now also offers a selection of items including a Richard Mühlfeld/Brahms T-shirt and clarinet high-top shoes!  The numerous ads are somewhat distracting, but the content of the site is useful, especially for beginners (and their parents), and teachers looking for a new way to explain specific aspects of clarinet technique. Keep up with the latest on the Clarinet-Now blog.   

Many other clarinetists are blogging about practicing, performing, and their lives as clarinetists, including Anthony McGill, Jean-Francois Charles, Joar Klæboe Henriksen, Margaret Donaghue Flavin, and Bret Pimentel

YouTube Clarinet Commercials (Dec 2010 column)

Television plays a major part in the American lifestyle, and before the era of TiVo, audiences had to sit through countless commercials. Now, many of those commercials are posted on YouTube for people to watch voluntarily! We were curious to find out how many of those commercials feature the clarinet. After an exhaustive search, we compiled a list of commercials--some of which you may remember seeing. Ranging from large corporation productions to local advertisements, our list includes new and out-dated commercials, with some that are sure to make you laugh. Our top four favorites begin with a Doritos commercial, mis-appropriately titled “Clarinet Virtuoso.” I guess that goes with the saying that eating and playing don’t mix.

Next on the list is one of the most recognizable videos produced by MasterCard. Their catchy slogan of comparing the costs of objects to what is priceless could not be better portrayed than with a beginner’s first attempt at the clarinet. MasterCard suggests that parents could avoid headaches caused by the inevitable honks and squeaks by purchasing their child a tambourine instead!

A video featuring a local advertisement by Ray’s Midbell Music is funny not only because of the actors (they must have been store employees), but also because of the rap song they sing to encourage kids to play in the band.

Last but not least, Benny Goodman is featured in a Geico commercial. This vintage footage shows the legendary Goodman endorsing the insurance company with clarinet in hand.

Check out our YouTube Clarinet Commercials playlist for more.  The remaining commercials were chosen for their accompanying clarinet music, and the products advertised make us wonder about the associations the general public has with the clarinet. The videos include promotion of cat litter and anti-depressant drugs--as most of us clarinetists know, playing makes us happy and has natural mood-lifting abilities. One related commercial has nothing to do with the clarinet, but fits in the woodwind category. A Super Bowl commercial featuring NFL player Chester Pitts shows that one doesn’t always have to choose between music and athletics. This large linebacker also plays the oboe off the field--even in the locker room.