Andrew Lowy Visiting the Studio in Los Angeles
Hi everybody, my name’s Andrew Lowy and I play clarinet and Eb clarinet in the Los Angeles Philharmonic. I’ve been a member of the LA Phil for a little over two years now and before I was part of the Phil, I played as principal clarinet of the North Carolina Symphony for four seasons.
I’ve played on Vandoren products since I started the clarinet in fifth grade, and I was lucky to have teachers, from an early age, recommend to use Vandoren. Right now, I’m playing on the BD5 Mouthpiece, with a silver MO Ligature, and V12 reeds. Before I started playing the BD5 Mouthpiece I was using the M13 Lyre for the first five, or so, years that I was working professionally. What I like about the BD5 mouthpiece is that I find that it’s perfect for orchestral playing. It has a lot of power and projection so that if you’re in an orchestra and you need to project a solo line over one hundred other people on stage it does the job very well with a warm sound that doesn’t ever get forced or harsh sounding. At the same time, I think that the mouthpiece has a lot of flexibility in the sound and a lot of intimacy so that you can still draw from a wide color palette, even though you also have that power in a large ensemble.
Right now, I play primarily on V12 reeds, strengths kind of vary between 3.5, 3.5+, and 4 depending on the season. I’ve also used Blue Box Traditional Reeds as well. The strength sort of depends on the season, even here in sunny Los Angeles, we have some variation in temperature and humidity so I find myself playing a slightly lighter setup in the summer and then in our California “winters” we also need to use a slightly heavier setup.
Most teachers will recommend that you use a metronome when you practice, and I’m certainly one of those teachers. But I think there’s a danger for a lot of students to become very passive when you’re using the metronome to practice and to not become fully engaged rhythmically with what you’re doing. So I wanted to show you a few ways that I like to force my brain to be a little more engaged in the practicing. When most people are playing an excerpt, which requires a lot of rhythmic stability, they’ll usually set the metronome on a tempo. I was thinking about Ravel’s Bolero, we play that about every six months to a year here in the LA Phil, so it’s always on my brain. If you think about this as the quarter note (sets metronome and loosely conducts one bar) it’s how most people would practice it at first.
Plays melody from Ravel’s Bolero
I don’t think that’s a bad way to practice Bolero but I think there are ways that you can increase your engagement as a practice-r when you’re doing this excerpt. So what I like to do, with this excerpt, is to have the beats on the metronome correspond to the off beats as opposed to the downbeats. So I have to rhythmically recalibrate what the metronome is. So, instead of ONE and TWO and THREE and, it becomes, AND one AND two AND three AND one AND two AND three AND.
Plays melody from Ravel’s Bolero, metronome is now emitting off beats
What I like about practicing with the metronome on the off beat, is that it forces you to be much more active in doing your subdivision with your brain. Whereas when the metronome is beating on the downbeat, you have a tendency to go on autopilot and not be subdividing quite as actively, but it’s much harder when the metronome is beating on the off beat to be playing exactly at the downbeat. So that’s why I like to mix it up with the metronome and you can apply this in myriad ways, you can have the metronome beat every dotted quarter note, or every half note, or every dotted half note and when you do that you’re just building layers upon layers of rhythmic stability that you can draw upon when you’re actually in an audition or playing the piece in an ensemble setting.