Monday, June 29, 2015

New Clarinet Blogs

In this column, we explore several interesting clarinet blogs that have emerged in the past year or so. But first, we want to acknowledge the retirement of our editor and teacher James Gillespie, known to us now and forever as “Dr. Gillespie.” His talent as an editor lies not just in his vast understanding of clarinet history, but also his ability to look ahead to the future. It was back in 2008 that he had the foresight to envision a column about internet resources for clarinet, and offered advice and support as we designed the Clarinet Cache blog and worked on those first few columns. As clarinetists, scholars and writers, Dr. Gillespie has influenced both of us immeasurably. We join in with the rest of the clarinet community in thanking him for his dedicated work to advance our profession through the written word.
One of our new discoveries is a popular blog by Heather Roche, a clarinetist originally from Canada, now living in Germany and specializing in contemporary music. Her posts on extended techniques go well beyond the material found in many textbooks. She explores specific types of multiphonics, prepared bass clarinet (modifying the instrument for unusual effects), slap tonguing, and other techniques, all with helpful videos and audio examples. Roche recently held a composition competition, financed by a crowdfunding campaign (see our December 2014 column on crowdfunding initiatives by other clarinetists) and publicized via her blog. Since then, she’s published a couple articles giving valuable advice to composers. Roche is not afraid to branch off from contemporary music to explore other subjects; her "Collaborative History of the Clarinet" series provides thoughtful commentary on Mozart/Stadler, Spohr/Hermstedt and other famous composer/clarinetist pairs.
In her budding blog "Music1oh1," Mary Alice Druhan reaches out to musicians, teachers and students alike with her insightful posts aimed to help readers cope with the various challenges of learning and playing the clarinet. As associate professor of clarinet at Texas A&M University-Commerce and an active performer, her perspective on topics like facing performance-based challenges, correcting technique, and understanding how to set practice rooms expectations and goals comes from years of experience. 

In her "Branching Out" blog post, Druhan gives a guide to high school solo repertoire and discusses the advantages to assigning multiple works from different musical periods over the course of one year. Her lists of works within each period could serve as a starting point for teachers looking to keep their students interested and engaged in the learning process while covering significant works within the repertoire. The post on practice room expectations gives students advice on how to start enjoying their time in the practice room and how to get more out of each practice session, something most students struggle with. Druhan created Music1oh1 in September 2014, and it has already become an appealing resource for clarinetists. We hope that she will continue with her inspirational postings in the future!
Clarinetist Richard Stoltzman needs little introduction to our readers, who may be interested to know about a new blog on his website at A fairly recent initiative, the blog has a handful of posts including answers to frequently asked questions about Stoltzman’s equipment and practice habits, a remembrance of Benny Goodman, and links to recent performances.