Gina Scheer is the director of the Lone Star Clarinet Camp, which has become the largest summer clarinet camp in Texas since its founding in 2013. Based in the Dallas area, the camp serves students entering 7th, 8th and 9th grades.
Can you tell us a little bit about your clarinet camp?
Each summer we bring in new artists, masterclass teachers, and music to deliver a fresh and unique experience. This camp is a great supplement to a summer band camp, allowing students to perform in a special ensemble, the clarinet choir, and to focus on clarinet specific fundamental development and technique building. We are expanding to the North Austin area!
What are your thoughts on equipment for students?
As a clarinet teacher and former band director, I know students can either experience fast success or feel trapped and frustrated depending on their equipment. A quality instrument is a requirement for an excited child who wants to sound like they know they should, and that quality instrument begins where the sound is produced - with the reed and mouthpiece. We can do our best to teach them how to form an embouchure and use their air, but until they are playing on a high quality mouthpiece and reed suited for them, they will not get the desired sound.
What products do you recommend for your students?
For beginners, I recommend the Vandoren M13 Lyre mouthpiece and V12 reeds. I love the focus and warmness my students get in all registers while still being able to blow freely as a young player. There is just enough resistance that requires the students to have strength in their embouchure as they develop. Once students reach 8th grade and are entering high school, many continue playing on the M13 Lyre, and some find another mouthpiece that is better suited for them like the M15 or M30.
I love the new Black Diamond Ebonite (BD5) mouthpiece for my most advanced students who play with a lot of air. The best thing about it is the darkness and beauty in the sound even at the softest dynamic and in the highest register. With the right student, the BD5 checks all the boxes!
Of course, you can’t forget about the ligature! Sometimes this important part of the sound production puzzle gets left out, and students have a great reed and mouthpiece only to have their articulation sounding muddy and their reed not responding as it could. I prefer all my students to play with the gold-plated M|O ligature. As a Vandoren Regional Artist, it has been fun to witness the many gasps and ‘WOW’ moments when students try this ligature!