Monday, September 3, 2012

Website Watch (Sept 2012 Column)

In recent years the websites of clarinet companies have shifted focus from their products to their sponsored clarinetists by incorporating interviews, videos, and biographies. Although many web sites contain peripheral artist rosters, we have come across a handful of sites that take artist endorsements to the next level.  Clarinet Cache does not endorse any particular equipment or brand; web sites discussed in this column were chosen for their attention to the artists and the resources they provide to clarinetists of all levels.
Backun has created an Artist Community where clarinetists who play on Backun instruments or equipment can create and submit their own artist profile. Launched in April 2012, the community directory currently has over 100 artist profiles containing biographies, current positions held, equipment used, and links to related web sites. Backun also has numerous videos posted on their YouTube channel “backunmusical.”  In addition to the “Tech Tips” and “Backun Studio Series” video segments, videos of Backun Artists such as Ricardo Morales, Jose Franch-Ballester, Jessica Phillips, and Eddie Daniels offer mini-master classes and discussions on various topics.
On the homepage for Rico Reeds, large, colorful photos of Martin Fröst and other Rico artists rotate in a slideshow.  Even the Rico “Products” section is connected with the artists by showing a picture of a famous artist that plays on each type of Rico reeds.  The Rico web site also has a blog with frequent contributions by saxophonist Tim Price, who writes mostly about jazz and improvisation.

Another feature of the Rico page is a link to (run by the D’Addario company, distributor of Rico reeds).  This useful site has resources including videos, articles, interactive elements, and sheet music.  These can be sorted by category of instrument (e.g. “wind instruments”), but not by specific instrument.  The clarinet videos include lessons by esteemed clarinetists and teachers like Michael Norsworthy, Michele Gingras, Mark Nuccio, Richie Hawley, and the late, great David Etheridge. The articles are mostly aimed at beginner to intermediate students and address topics such as intonation and purchasing a clarinet, while the interactive elements offer drills for learning different clefs and rhythmic dictation. The sheet music section only has full band scores. also has a private teacher directory, searchable by location, with a rating system to allow feedback about the instructors.
Like Rico, the Vandoren company caters to both clarinetists and saxophonists. With artists categorized under the labels of classical, jazz, and ensembles, this site has an extensive index of performers.  Entries for each Vandoren artist vary in length and depth of information; however, the most informative content is found in the videos accessed through “Vandoren TV” on the homepage. Here viewers are directed to several different channels containing videos broadcasted in eleven different languages.  A majority of these short videos feature clarinetists and several of the videos are overdubbed in multiple languages.  Performers such as Philippe Cuper, Paul Meyer, Victoria Luperi, and Giora Feidman step in front of the camera to talk about their own equipment setup and express opinions on how various Vandoren products facilitate their playing.

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