I have been a bookworm ever since I first started reading. Combine
my love of books with my passion for clarinet, and you’ve created
nirvana. In the age of the Internet, there are a multitude of resources
for recordings, sheet music, and information readily available for any
musical queries. Having the world at your fingertips is an amazing
thing, but for me, there is nothing quite like the feel of a sturdy book
in your hands (it’s even better if accompanied by coffee or tea). For
those of you who share these sentiments, I have compiled a list of my
favorite books on everything clarinet. Certain items on this list may be
available for digital download, but some only exist non-digitally.
There are several books on every aspect of the clarinet, from its history, repertoire, performance practices, and everything else. Some are light reading, while others are more dense research materials. Besides clarinet-specific books, there is a plethora of books on classical music, jazz, and other genres. For all my fellow bookworm musicians out there, I have compiled the following list for anyone interested in the clarinet or classical music. My list is in no particular order and is tailored towards clarinetists, but some are interesting reads for musicians and non-musicians alike.
Clarinet Virtuosi of the Past by Pamela Weston – Perhaps my favorite book on this list, this book examines famous clarinetists of the past, including Anton Stadler, Heinrich Baermann, and Richard Mühlfeld. Pamela Weston is a brilliant writer and scholar, and she wrote other clarinet books, including The Clarinet Teacher’s Companion, More Clarinet Virtuosi of the Past, Clarinet Virtuosi of Today, and Yesterday’s Clarinettists: A Sequel.
The Clarinet: Some Notes upon Its History and Construction by Francis Geoffrey Rendall – Another great resource on clarinet history and development throughout the years. This book is more technical than other books in terms of describing the clarinet’s technical, mechanical, and acoustical properties.
Clarinet by Jack Brymer – While there are several general clarinet books, this one is written in a way so that clarinet connoisseurs and non-musicians alike can easily understand its content. This would be a great book for those wishing to learn more about the instrument who might not be familiar with clarinet terminology.
The Clarinet by Eric Hoeprich – This is another history on the development and evolution of the clarinet. Hoeprich includes an intensive examination of early clarinets along with other members of the clarinet family.
The Clarinet by Oskar Kroll – Kroll includes a detailed history of the history and development of the modern-day clarinet, from innovations in technology to the evolution of the instrument’s repertoire. A must-read for any serious clarinetist.
The Clarinet and Clarinet Playing by David Pino – Pino thoroughly covers all aspects of the clarinet, from choosing the right equipment to learning proper fundamentals (embouchure, technique, musicality). It also includes a section on teaching other clarinetists.
New Directions for Clarinet by Phillip Rehfeldt – This is the authority on clarinet extended techniques. It includes everything – glissandi, slap-tonguing, quarter-tones, mutes – this book will assist the clarinetist who wishes to learn about the arsenal of modern clarinet techniques.
The Art of Wind Playing by Arthur Weisberg – Written by renowned bassoonist Arthur Weisberg, this book dispels myths about what woodwind instruments can accomplish. It offers woodwind-specific advice for attacks and releases, among many other musical suggestions.
Principles of Violin Playing and Teaching by Ivan Galamian – Broaden your musical horizon by reading other instrumental books. This book, written by renowned violinist and teacher Galamian, discusses violin-specific techniques but also musicality and several other topics universal to all musicians. I highly recommend this book for any music educators to understand the success of Galamian’s teaching methods.
Violin Playing as I Teach It by Leopold Auer – Also written by a renowned violinist and teacher, this book focuses on methods for teaching and practicing effectively. It offers advice on violin fundamentals, but many of the musical concepts are applicable to all instruments.
The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey – Don’t let the title fool you – this is a groundbreaking book examining the roles of confidence, focus, and self-doubt in regards to winning. This information is relevant to any field, and is especially pertinent to musicians, whose livelihood is often based on winning auditions.
The Inner Game of Music by Barry Green and W. Timothy Gallwey – Inspired by The Inner Game of Tennis, this book is tailored towards musicians and focuses on musicianship, improvisation, and other aspects of music.
Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks – Renowned neurologist Oliver Sacks examines the correlation between music and the brain in this book of medical diagnoses and scenarios. This book is equally fascinating for clarinetists, musicians, and non-musicians alike in examining human nature’s relationship with music.
This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel Levithin – Music and science collide in this informative examination of how the brain processes and compartmentalizes music. Filled with statistics and scientific studies, Oliver Sacks explains why music is so pervasive and important in society.
A Dictionary of Music by Christine Ammer – This is a comprehensive dictionary of common musical terminology with historical background and information.
The Harvard Dictionary of Music – In this age of technology, it is so easy to Google (or Yahoo, or Bing, or other search engine of your choice) a musical term you don’t know. Having an actual music dictionary is worth it (and you will look very scholarly when your musician friends admire your book collection).
By no means is the above list a comprehensive collection of clarinet books. My reading list is constantly growing as I hear of new books. You should not limit yourself solely to clarinet books – there exists a wealth of information to be found in other instrumental books (I am particularly interested in books on the violin). So many topics, such as musicality, stage performance, and general music history are relevant to every instrumentalist, so keep an open mind as you peruse your library (or Amazon). Happy reading!
For more on Jenny Maclay visit her website here.