During these unprecedented times, we are wisely being advised by the global experts to stay at home until further notice. Our regular daily activities have come to a grinding halt and, although for the best, the stay at home order can be very difficult to endure.
We are all doing the best we can to occupy our time with enjoyable, productive, and educational activities to regain some structure and meaning to our lives, but it is easy to become unmotivated and uninspired due to the realities of the current global pandemic.
So why not immerse yourself in the things you love the most: music and the clarinet. Dwelling on the positive, it is certainly easier to find the time to practice. It is also a great opportunity to learn and increase your knowledge about music and the clarinet.
Here are ten enjoyable and rewarding activities that clarinetists can enjoy while at home and will hopefully help to fill the void that many of us are feeling.
1. Find Free New Music Online
Here are a few good resources to search:
2. Listen To Music
YouTube is an incredible source for listening and watching videos of your favorite artists and finding some new favorites too. Thousands of new videos are being posted daily, so search the archives to expand your repertoire knowledge and to hear performances from around the world.
3. Watch Free Concerts
You can listen to and watch some of the greatest ensembles in the world through Classic FM.
4. Study Scores
Scores hold all of the musical answers. Score study is a very critical part of music education that is too often overlooked. The best method to learn score study is just to do it! IMSLP has an immense database of scores for most of the standard repertoire in all genres.
Mozart and Beethoven symphonies are a great way to start. Helpful hint for clarinetists: the only Mozart symphonies that include clarinets are numbers 31, 35, 39, and 40 (there is also a version of 40 without clarinets –so choose your score accordingly).
My personal favorite with clarinet is number 39. Here are links to the score and a wonderful recording with the Cleveland Orchestra conducted by George Szell from 1960. Score here.
5. Practice Articulation
There is no longer any reason to procrastinate. Now is the time to focus on articulation.
First, focus on quality and symmetry of articulation and then work up your speed.
Use a metronome and gradually work towards your dream speed.
Check out this video by clarinet master Robert Spring to hear what I mean about dream speed. The articulation section will start at 5:54.
Here is one of my favorite books to practice articulation.
6. Create or Update Your Personal Music Collection Database
There a number of programs you can purchase to database your music, but I utilize Excel. Many people already have this versatile program, it is easy to use, and will be easy to find for years to come. Here is a sample page from the Excel database that I created for my clarinet choir music.
7. Play Music with Yourself or With Friends (Virtually)
There are a number of very good platforms to create multitracks. One of the most popular is the free app Acapella.
8. Learn a New Piece
It’s time to start tackling a piece that you have always wanted to play, but could never find the time to learn. Or just be whimsical and pick a random piece to learn.
9. Update Your Résumé
Why wait until you actually need to send out your résumé– take the time now to update and clean up your résumé. Here is a useful article for musicians.
10. Take Some Time to Relax and Just Live in the Moment
I hope you find some joy and productivity from the activities I have suggested. Take care of yourself and let’s all hope for brighter days ahead soon.
About the Author
Mitchell Estrin is Professor of Clarinet at the University of Florida and Music Director and Conductor of the University of Florida Clarinet Ensemble. He is President of the International Clarinet Association and author of the biography Stanley Drucker Clarinet Master published by Carl Fischer. Estrin performed as a clarinetist with the New York Philharmonic for over twenty years in hundreds of concerts and on 19 tours. As an international concert artist, he has performed in 37 countries on 4 continents. As a studio musician, Estrin has recorded dozens of motion picture soundtracks for Columbia Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures, Paramount Pictures, MGM, 20th Century Fox, United Artists, and Warner Brothers on feature films. They include Fargo, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Interview With a Vampire, Home Alone 2, Pocahontas, Doc Hollywood, Regarding Henry, The Untouchables, and more. His television credits include recordings for ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, HBO, TBS, and ESPN.