Lately its been hard to motivate myself to practice clarinet. Its not that I don’t want to play, its that I have so many other things that I have to do. Like work…I’ve been working about 50 hours a week lately and it doesn’t leave much time to do anything else. Unfortunately, I really don’t have a choice about the work thing because I need to pay my bills! And until that day when I have enough private students to sustain a living or a win a full time performance job, I will have to accept the fact that I need to manage a 9-5 job. Also, I’m trying to be more committed to exercise. I feel (and play) so much better when I am in shape (ish), so I’m trying to put in the time. But it is so tough! I am trying to squeeze in an half hour workout, at least 2 hours of practice, lessons, AND work every day, while trying not to totally depriving myself of sleep. Oh yeah, and I have a husband that I want to spend time with too! Needless to say, sometimes things that I want to do don’t happen.
When I do get into the practice room, its been good. (If you don’t want to hear about my daily practice routine, you can skip down a couple paragraphs – I won’t be offended!) I’ve been really focusing on fundamentals. I do about a half hour of long tones everyday, focusing on different aspects like sound, fingers, breath, etc. I then do a key out of the Didier scale book, which focuses a lot on scales in 3rds, 4ths, 5ths, 6ths, 7ths, and octaves in addition to various types of arpeggios. I’ve been doing them slowly (eighth note = 72) with a focus on air support and relaxed fingers (especially that “pop” sound that us clarinetists sometimes get when we are going from little to no fingers to all or many fingers! So hard not to do!!) Last “required” thing that I do is what I call the “articulation scrubber”. I base it on a practice technique that my teacher at CSU introduced me called “the scrubber”:
I adapted it by playing it tongued, in a “key of the day” in all registers. I repeat each part 3 times before holding the last note in a femata. I focus on light tongue with fast air, which is hard, especially when you get to the altissimo register!! Hellooooooooooo scheherezade practice LOL. (most clarinetists will know what I’m talking about there) Recently I’ve gotten to quarter=55, the 32nd notes are little bit of a struggle at this tempo, but I can do it…most days.
After I’ve done this, I usually do some sight reading (I have been taking music off of free-scores.com
, not always the best music, but its something), and then I’ve been practicing the Neilsen concerto, or Weber concerto No. 1. Which one I do depends on which clarinet I’m playing that day. Depending on what I have planned for the day, I sometimes don’t even get to this part, unfortunatley. I’ve been trying to get my Eb chops back into shape, so sometimes I just move on to Eb practice after the scrubber. I do about 15 minutes of long tones on Eb, the articulation scrubber, and then usually I’ll do a few excercises in the Kroepsch scale book. Then I usually work on the Bolero excerpt for as long as I can stand….usually only 5 to 10 minutes haha.
(for folks who skipped my boring play by play of my daily practice routine, you can start reading here)
Some developments have transpired in the last few days…last Friday I got a call from my best friend who just got out of the Navy. She ran into the assistant director of the Southwest Navy Band in San Diego, and mentioned that I am a clarinet player from Eastman blah blah blah, and he ended up giving her his contact info to pass on to me. The regional bands are a little different from the premiere bands, in that you don’t get permanent assignment in the regionals like you do in one of the premiere bands. Also, where you end up is not guaranteed. I want to be able to live with Ben, so probably the only way that would work out is if he went to UCLA and I was in the band in San Diego. I did contact him, and he really wants me to audition for him. I need to talk it over with Ben (and we need to figure out his school situation also – we haven’t heard from anyone yet!!), and talk it over with some other people – get some advice. The prospect of music being the focus of my life is extremely tempting! Even if it is in the military.
I’ve been really depressed lately, and I think its because for the first time in many years music is not the primary focus in my life. I really thought that I would be doing something by now, but I’m not and that is extremely disheartening. But this whole Navy thing has given me a little bit of hope for my future. Someone’s gotta want me to play clarinet!! I think I have mad skills, its just hard getting people to notice.