Sunday, June 16, 2013

Website Watch (June 2013 Column)

Paula Corley’s Clarinet City
Educator and performer Paula Corley has a personal website designed to help students and teachers alike. Easy to navigate and filled with bright and colorful photographs, this site is a wonderful resource with numerous educational materials available in various formats. Not only is Corley an author of two great method books geared towards the beginner player, but she is also an artist clinician and clarinet professor at Texas Lutheran University in Seguin, Texas.

All of the articles found on the site are beneficial to teachers, students, and performers. In her article “Why Johnny Can’t Play: Expanding the Master/Apprentice Model” from her presentation at the 2010 ClarinetFest, Corley outlines how to devise lesson plans and assess a student’s level of learning and progress. Here she gives valuable advice on how to improve the dynamic involved in the teacher/student relationship. Both her middle school and high school master class articles include technical exercises that focus on long tones and articulations exercises appropriate for each age group.

Offering advice to her readers, the site also has an “Ask Paula” section where Corley gives in-depth answers to readers’ questions on topics such as tone quality, intonation, articulation, and technique. In her responses to readers’ inquiries, you can get a feel for her teaching style and her knowledgeable approach to tackling tough issues.  We look forward to reading more of her advice posts in the future!

Teaching blogs
Many clarinet teachers now have basic websites with biographical info, photos, audio or video recordings, and a few links to resources for their students. Others go a bit further using their websites as blogs to communicate information, resources, or thoughts to their students.  

Alice Gallagher, a Juilliard graduate who teaches in the San Diego area, has a blog that pulls together items like videos of performances (both historical and modern players), excerpts from her own practice journal, and her own writings on clarinet playing and clarinet history.  Chastine Hofmeister, who studied at the University of North Texas and now teaches and performs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, uses her blog to post inspirational messages, thoughts on books about practice and performance, clarinet events such as the Texas Clarinet Colloquium, and glimpses into the life of a freelance clarinetist.  

Both of these are great examples of the use of a personal website to enhance the work teachers do in the studio. Private teaching can be a lonely affair; long hours spent in small rooms teaching one-on-one can make one long for other forms of communication and higher-level discourse.  A clarinet blog can be a great way for the private teacher to reach out not only to his or her students, but to the larger clarinet community.