Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Website Watch (March 2014 column)

The Vintage Clarinet Doctor
Jeremy Soule runs a vintage clarinet repair business out of Staunton, Virginia, and his website is a great resource for lovers of vintage horns. TheVintageClarinetDoctor.com offers information on vintage instrument history, makers, different fingering systems, and historical background on obscure instrument brands.  An overview of the different types of systems is a great tool for understanding the evolution and innovations made to the clarinet over the decades. High-quality photographs accompany the various systems listed and make it easy to visualize and compare the differences between each type of key system.  


You can also purchase vintage clarinets and mouthpieces directly on Soule’s site or send in your antique instrument for repair. The “before and after” pictures offer a close-up view of rare instruments and reveal how the instruments are brought back to life after being overhauled. The instruments pictured include a rare piccolo clarinet in A-flat and a 1928 Kohlert silver sax oboe.


For those interested in the restoration, construction, or the technical side of instrument repair be sure to visit Soule’s blog, The Licorice Shtick Blog, accessible through the home page. Here Soule covers general topics as well as matters pertinent to instrument repair. The entry on swedging and countersinking is particularly enlightening to those interested in the mechanics of woodwind repair.


The Discerning Clarinetist
DiscerningClarinetist.com is a newly designed website by Tyler Zey where you can purchase and sell lightly-used clarinet equipment at discounted prices. Products for sale include mouthpieces, cases, instruments, and barrels with a return policy that gives customers a trial period to test out equipment. Similar to the return policies of larger commercial retailers, returned merchandise is accepted with a return shipping fee and restocking fee paid by the customer. In each product entry, Zey includes a brief description of the product with multiple close-up photographs for closer inspection. All mouthpieces sold on the website have undergone a screening process to ensure that they play well.


An additional component to the site is an active blog with daily entries, many of which center around mouthpieces. Here, you can find useful information on mouthpiece resurfacing, blanks, how to select a mouthpiece, and even a link to a comprehensive article written by Clark Fobes comparing molded mouthpieces to rod rubber mouthpieces.


This winter, Zey offered a clarinet mouthpiece grant to students age 16-25 in need of a new mouthpiece. The grant application required applicants to submit a YouTube video of their playing, along with a recommendation letter and personal statement regarding their goals as a clarinetist. The winner chooses from a handful a mouthpieces shipped to them, or in the event no mouthpiece is selected, they are awarded a cash prize of $125. We hope to see more innovative grant programs like this in the future from DiscerningClarinetist.com!


Robert Marcellus Master Class Files

*** Since the March 2014 Clarinet Cache column has gone to print, we have received notification that some of the information taken from the web regarding this project and the performers involved are incorrect. We thank Steve Cohen, associate professor of clarinet at Northwestern, for bringing this to our attention and for giving us with background information on the project.***

As we posted in an October 2013 Clarinet Cache blog entry, access to hundreds of hours of master classes taught by legendary clarinetist Robert Marcellus is now open to the public through the Northwestern University's Audio + Video Repository which is powered by Avalon Media System, found at http://media.northwestern.edu/. Formerly Variations on Video, Avalon Media System is an open source project that Northwestern, in partnership with Indiana University and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, is developing to manage large university collections of digital audio and video files. The system is slated to be in production as early as Spring 2014.

Sixty-four different recordings of his master classes from 1977 to 1990 are now cataloged on this website. In these master classes, Marcellus coaches various students on fundamentals such as phrasing, air support, and voicing, and imparts his pedagogical wisdom in discussion of repertoire and sequencing of study materials. These newly released archived recordings allow modern-day students and teachers to continue learning from one of the greatest and most influential clarinet teachers of all time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog and as a 7 year clarinet player, I find this blog and community really down to earth and well written. This has opened my eyes to the clarinet world. Thank you!