Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Farewell 2013

It has been a little while since I have updated because we have been on the road pretty consistently.  Christmas gigs and trips to Tennessee, Mississippi, and Georgia have kept us busy!

Clarinet Poster on the wall at Corky's in Memphis.

Christmas was great, we were able to go see our families and have been enjoying a little time off.  I was thrilled to receive a lot of musical gifts for Christmas including some clarinet books and new recordings for my collection.

My mother also adopted a bird for me for Christmas.  My sweet bird, Robert “The Wonder Chicken,” passed away very recently.  He was around 23 years old so he lived a long, wonderful life but it was still a difficult loss.  My new bird’s name is Gustav and he is around a year old.  He has some trust issues because his first owner did not treat him well but he is already coming out of the cage, accepting treats, and letting me pet him so he is making great progress already!  Thankfully, he enjoys music and has been singing along.

I am also thrilled that I achieved my big non-musical goal for the year and completed the Route 66 Marathon complete with the “Center of the Universe Detour” that made the race a total of 26.5 miles!  It was such a great experience and I can’t wait to run another marathon.  I am going to run the Dallas Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon in March to focus on improving my running times and look at running another full in the fall or winter.

Happy New Year to you all, I hope that it is filled with good reeds and great music!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Robert Marcellus Master Classes

While I was at ClarinetFest in Nebraska, it was announced that there were plans to release recordings of some of the master classes given by Robert Marcellus. They’re available now! Click the link to go directly to the site. This is going to be a really great resource.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Onward to the next project!

I love playing Eb clarinet and I do not get to do it often enough!  I am looking forward to playing a concert with the Midland-Odessa Symphony in a few weeks with Bernstein, Ewazen, Higdon, and Copland on the program.

We had a great time playing with the Monroe Symphony last week.  The concert went well and we found plenty of great things to eat as usual, including a delicious turtle mocha from The Coffee Bean and a really tasty crawfish po boy from The Pickle Barrel.  We ended up going for a run on the levee afterwards since I am still working towards my marathon. 

Unfortunately, I have a mild knee injury so I am taking a few days off from running hoping that it will heal.  This is my first experience with knee problems and it is obviously terrible timing!  I ended up changing to the Route 66 Marathon instead of the Fort Worth Marathon because of a gig conflict (musician life!).  Cross your fingers for me that a little rest is all I need!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Tonight’s program!

Monday, October 14, 2013

What a Wonderful Long Weekend

The weekend started off with an excellent All-Region master class on Friday afternoon, it is really great to hear so many students already so well prepared this far in advance.  I also received a really great surprise because I am now booked as a guest artist for next April the 17th at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.  This is really exciting, I am going to work with the students there in a master class and play a recital.  The event is still a long way off but I am going to go ahead and start looking at some solo pieces for the program.  I also got to spend some time with my SAI sisters working on a few upcoming service projects and our annual benefit musicale.  I’m feeling refreshed and ready for another week of teaching and rehearsals with the Monroe Symphony!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Our next concert is in less than a few weeks on October 19th!  If you are in the area, please join us for Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, Kabalevsky’s Cello Concerto No. 1 (played by this year’s winner of the Marjorie Stricklin Emerging Artists Competition, Neil Nathan), Ibert’s Suite Symphonique, and Sibelius Symphony No. 1 E minor, Op. 39.

If you are interested in competing in the 2014 Marjorie Stricklin Emerging Artists Competition, the application was recently posted on the Monroe Symphony Facebook page.  Happy practicing!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

When on a tight deadline, it helps to have the right shoes! Wish me luck, I’m putting the final touches on a recording.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Practice without purpose, however, is nothing more than exercise. Too many people practice what they’re already good at and neglect the skills that need more work. It’s pleasant to repeat the things we do well, while it’s frustrating to deal with repeated failure. I see this all the time with dancers. If they have great leg extension but deficient arms, they will spend more time working on leg extension (because the effort is more rewarding - it looks good and feels good) and less time on their arms. Common sense should tell them the process ought to be reversed. That’s what the great ones do.” 
A little mid-week practice inspiration from Twyla Tharp’s book, The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it for Life

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Lifelong Learners

What if you could take a free online class from the Curtis Institute of Music, would you go for it?  Now you can, thanks to Coursera!  I recently found out about these courses while reading an article in the New York Times about a class that the Curtis Institute had offered this summer that had attracted more than 25,000 people.  So I am enrolled for the next one that begins in a few days, “From the Repertoire: Western Music History through Performance.”  There are two tracks for the class, one for people who have little or no experience with music and another one for musicians.  Check it out if you are interested, there are also tons of other courses being offered on a variety of different topics and by other institutions. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Rachmaninoff and Beethoven with the Abilene Philharmonic

We are busy here in Abilene rehearsing for our concert tomorrow with the Abilene Philharmonic.  We will be performing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3.  It is going to be a great concert, please join us if you are in the area!

We enjoyed our breakfast with our colleagues this morning.  I do believe that Texas-shaped waffles taste better than normal waffles.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Everything is back in full swing!  The majority of my private lesson studio is scheduled and I have been busy teaching and meeting new students.  I have also been visiting a lot of sixth grade classes and introducing them to the clarinet.  They were really amazed by the opening solo in Rhapsody in Blue and it was fun to see their reactions!  I am also getting ready for a concert with the Abilene Philharmonic in a few weeks.  We will be performing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 so it should be a really great concert.  If you are in the Abilene area on September 21st, you should come and check it out.  Nothing beats hearing live music!

This last week, we also kicked off the school year with a luncheon of the Denton Alumnae Chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota.  We had a great turn out and it was wonderful to meet and socialize with some of my wonderful sisters, I don’t get to see them enough! 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Summer is coming to a close and we are back in town for the remainder of it.  While our travels have been really fun, it’s time for a little rest before the orchestra season and fall lessons start back.  This is the last week of summer lessons and it is a busy time getting schedules together from our various schools in order to begin scheduling all of our students.

I am excited to start the season back up with the Monroe Symphony and I am also thrilled that my husband will be subbing with us for the entire season!  Our symphony is a finalist in a contest for free advertising for a year. If you have a spare moment, would you vote for us by clicking here and taking a very short survey?  It takes less than a minute and every little bit helps!

Aside from my musical endeavors, I am finishing up my fifth week of training for the Fort Worth Marathon in November.  Everything is going really well, despite the hot training conditions.  I am definitely thankful for the gym at this time of the year.

We had lots of fun visiting our family in Atlanta, Georgia.  We ended up going to a Braves game, the Atlanta Botanical Garden, and the Georgia Aquarium.  The Braves won and I got to pet some stingrays!  My husband insists that we started the Braves winning streak. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

It's Back...

For students who want to begin practicing the Texas All-State band music before marching season begins, the link to this year’s audition material can be found here.  Click on the “View Etudes” button.

As always, I encourage my students to continue practicing a variety of other repertoire over the coming months.  Practicing the same three etudes for half of the year can make your practice sessions stale so please feel free to mix it up with other etudes, solos, and of course fundamental exercises!  Happy practicing!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A tone comes from within yourself, from your heart. It is actually quite simple: if you cannot produce a beautiful tone with your mouthpiece attached to something as basic as a garden hose, then it is unlikely the finest materials will help you either. If you work at your long tones over and over again and keep listening with your heart and soul you will be repaid with beautiful tone. Equipment helps but ultimately it comes down to you as a musician to make a wonderful warm tone.” 
—  From Harry Sparnaay’s The Bass Clarinet: A Personal History

Friday, July 12, 2013

Friday Fun Post: The "Not-So-Lazy Summer" Edition

This has been a whirlwind of a summer!  I can thank my students for a lot of this because currently I have every spot on every day that I am teaching filled.  I also have a huge enrollment of beginning students who have not even begun band yet but are already taking private lessons.  Needless to say, it is going to be a competitive year.  I am so proud of them and their dedication!

I have also just begun my marathon training.  I am planning on running the Fort Worth Marathon in November.  My husband and I also finally took a real vacation to Galveston for a few days to celebrate our anniversary.  It was a really nice break.

And a trip to Memphis for my sister’s wedding.

I know that it is shocking that there are so many non-clarinet related events here!  But I have plenty to practice and the summer is a great time for me to explore new repertoire while I do not have any looming deadlines. Have a wonderful weekend everyone! 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I am extremely excited to see my first published article in this issue of Pan Pipes! Thank you to Sigma Alpha Iota for not only sponsoring my trip, but for also allowing me to share the experience with everyone in their publication.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I went to the repair shop for some adjustments and returned home with a new barrel, a book that a friend loaned me, and to a shipment of reeds waiting on the door step. That’s a good day !

Monday, June 17, 2013

OU Clarinet Symposium Part III

The second day of symposium was action packed and we were pretty exhausted, so the third and final day was made possible by coffee!

Charles Neidich’s master class was informative and focused on fundamentals.  He explained the harmonic series to a student and had them play some harmonic exercises.  Embouchure was also a big focal point.

After a quick and delicious lunch at Padthai, we attended Chad Burrow's recital.  I really enjoyed his Variations sur un air du Pays D’oc by Cahuzac and KlezMuzik by Simon Sargon.

We snuck away for one last run through the exhibits, where I bought way too much music and played with lots of accessories.  Here are some colorful ligatures from the Lomax booth.

I also thought that this Bass/Bb/A triple case was amazing.  It is pretty light but also has wheels as well. 

I also had a great time trying out equipment at Buffet, Muncy Winds, Vandoren, and Lisa’s Clarinet Shop to name a few.  It’s like Christmas in June for a clarinetist! 

We ended our stay at the symposium with Greg Raden’s master class which focused on orchestral excerpts.  He talked about the necessity of having the full part since many excerpt books are filled with errors and about how imperative it is to mindfully practice and make sure that you are making corrections.  The importance of knowing what each piece is about, especially in a programmatic piece such as Symphonie Fantastique was also discussed.  

OU Clarinet Symposium was a great experience and I am glad that it has returned!  It’s always great to get together with friends and to make new ones.  I have certainly returned home with a lot of new ideas and lots of inspiration.  Thanks to everyone who made this possible and for showing us a wonderful time.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

OU Clarinet Symposium Part II

The second day of the symposium ended up being even busier that the first!  We kicked the day off with a recital featuring Dawn Lindblade, Brad Behn, and Lee Livengood.  Dawn played Hovhaness’ Lake Samish for Violin, Clarinet, and Piano while Brad and Lee played both Glazunov’s Entr’acte from Raymonda and Bill Douglas’ Suite Cantando. The Bassoon part from the Suite was performed on bass clarinet.

Elsa Verdehr’s master class was immediately after.  She prefaced the class by talking about some of her goals, the main one being that she would like more of the repertoire that has been commissioned for the Verhehr Trio to be performed more often.  This was the idea behind her “Tasting Menu” program that was discussed in the previous post from yesterday.  You can check out their extensive repertoire on their website.  Her master class featured a variety of topics including edition preferences, tempo relationships, and incorporated some of the teaching styles of both Harold Wright and Stanley Hasty.  She also has an excellent sense of humor and was a delight to watch perform and teach.

After a nice lunch at Cafe Plaid, we resumed with a recital performed by Boris Allakhverdyan who recently won the Metropolitan Opera audition.  He’s a phenomenal performer and it was a fantastic recital.  On the program was Giampieri’s Carnival of Venice, Tchaikovsky’s Nocturne from Six Morceaux, Stravinsky’s Three Pieces, Debussy’s Premiere Rhapsodie, Gershwin’s Three Preludes, and Dinicu’s Hora Staccato.

David Etheridge’s tribute recital was extremely emotional.  Many of his former students and colleagues returned to reminisce about David and past symposiums and to also perform in his honor.  Francois Kloc from Buffet Crampon awarded a full scholarship to a deserving OU student in memorial of David.  Buffet also hosted the reception following the recital providing a wonderful dinner for everyone to socialize.

Following the reception, we were treated to a beautiful performance by Greg Raden who was assisted by Jared Davis.  On the program was Finiz’s Five Bagatelles, Karg-Elert’s Sonata, Widor’s Introduction and Rondo, Mendelssohn’s Konzertstucke No. 1, Schubert’s Wandrers Nachtlied and An den Mond, Weber’s Grand Duo Concertant, and an encore of Victor’s Tale from the movie The Terminal.  An exciting way to end a great second day!

This post ended up being much longer than intended so I’ll post part III tomorrow. 
I made it back home this evening from the OU Clarinet Symposium to find my copy of the June issue of The Clarinet waiting for me.  A special thank you to Clarinet Cache for mentioning my blog in this month’s article!

I will have a full report of the last two days of the symposium up tomorrow, but for now it is time to rest!  It has been an inspiring and fun last three days.  

Thursday, June 13, 2013

I was not quite sure what to expect from this year’s OU Clarinet Symposium. I have been to three of the past conferences and have always enjoyed going, but was a little concerned about this year since it is just starting back since losing David Etheridge and the schedule did not seem quite as full as it had been in the past.

It’s been absolutely perfect for this first day. Parking and registration were easy and we began our day with David Shifrin’s master class. Each of the four participants received about thirty minutes of coaching on topics that included ensemble balance, fundamentals, and phrasing. Next the Verdehr Trio presented a recital called “A Tasting Menu: A Retrospective of Verdehr Trio Repertoire.” As the title implies, the program was a sampling of several different pieces that had been commissioned for the trio, in most cases, only one or two movements were played. The performers talked to the audience and gave additional background information throughout the performance. This is the first time that I have been able to hear Elsa play live and I really enjoyed her performance!

Next, we visited the exhibits. Check out the neat cases pictured in the slideshow above, very unique! I bought some new music and really liked Buffet’s new barrel that I tried out.

After a delicious dinner at Blackbird Gastropub, we finished our night with David Shifrin’s recital. Chad Burrow also joined him for part of the recital.

Because the schedule does not overlap at the conference this year, it is actually a lot less overwhelming to try and make it to everything. I really do not feel like I am missing anything. Since the symposium is a little smaller, it’s also allowing a lot more time to be social with other clarinetists and the artists. Another full day awaits us tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


We made it back from Arizona late last night.  It was a really great trip and my horn playing hubby decided to join me since we are on a hiatus from lessons this week.  Summer lessons begin next week for us so we are catching up on a flurry of scheduling emails today in preparation for that!

While we were there, we visited the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson.  It was incredible, as was the heat!  Walking trails take you through parts of the desert where you can be up close to coyotes and javelina, an indoor aviary, a hummingbird house, and a fossil exhibit.

To give you an idea of how huge these cactus are, here’s my husband next to one.  He’s six feet, four inches tall.

Someone has a great sense of humor at this museum.  On the top is a diamondback snake (obviously identifiable by its accessories) and on the bottom is the habitat of a blue death feigning beetle.

We had some excellent fried ice cream and flautas from Teresa’s Mosaic Cafe

And a fun picture for the road!

Next week is OU Clarinet Symposium and I’m so excited that it’s back!  If you want updates throughout the conference, you can follow me on Twitter, my Twitter handle is @clarinotes.  I’ll post a recap on here as well.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Did you know that Beethoven took his coffee so seriously that he determined that 60 beans should go into each cup and he would even count them out?  I am a coffee fanatic, but he has me beat!  That’s one of the tidbits of curious information from Mason Curry’s book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work.  Lots of other musicians are represented in the book including Mozart, Chopin, Britten, Gershwin, Reich, and Shostakovich to name just a few.  Plenty of other occupations are included as well.  The book is an interesting and quick read. 

We’re off to Tucson tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

End of the Year Teaching Humor

I’m sure that we all have that special reed that we feel attached to and feel the need to mourn when it finally passes.  Well, one of the schools that I teach lessons at takes this to the next level and actually holds a reed funeral at the end of the year.  The brass players even play taps during the ceremony.

Monday, May 27, 2013

I made it back from Virginia yesterday, it’s definitely a trip that I will never forget.  My preparation for this audition had been the best that I had ever had and I had phenomenal reeds, then everything went completely wrong!  A three hours flight delay, two hours on the tarmac, another five hour flight delay on the connecting flight, and finally a cancelled flight at 9:30pm in New Jersey with an audition at 8am the next morning in Virginia.

Can we say worst case scenario?

Never one to be beaten, I rented a car and started to make the drive through the night in the rain.  Because I had not had any sleep due to the turbulence on the first flight, I finally had to pull off of the road at 1:30am and grab a hotel.  The orchestra’s personnel manager was extremely understanding and we managed to reschedule the audition for later in the day, so I got up early and started driving again.  Made it to the audition, felt ready to rock, then didn’t play to my potential.

C’est la vie.

An understandable outcome after all of that but I was still extremely disappointed.  After some sleep, I still had a really great time in Virginia.  I have always wanted to go to Colonial Williamsburg so I drove up there to explore the sights.  They happened to have a really great 18th century piano exhibit going on.


Also a lone clarinet, an unusual victrola, and some unique string instruments. 

I also explored the beautiful coastline.  After a full day, I met up with a friend from high school that I had not seen in 10 years at a really cool coffee house called Cafe Stella.  The journey home was a lot less eventful thankfully. 

Today, we’re enjoying the day off and found a great new place in Denton called Seven Mile Cafe.  Cinnamon roll and red velvet pancakes, oh my!  

Next week I’ll be journeying to Tucson, Oklahoma Clarinet Symposium the following week, and Galveston Beach for fun next month!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I just got soaked by another thunderstorm so I’m warming up with a good book, tea, and freshly baked cookie before returning to the cave of practice for another round of excerpts. Flying out to Virginia in a few days for an audition, wish me luck!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

OU Clarinet Symposium is back this year and I just registered.  I am definitely looking forward to hearing some great clarinet playing next month!  Hopefully it will be as great of a conference as it was in the past.  Who else is going?

Friday, May 3, 2013

Mental Practice

 "mental simulation of movements activates some of the same central neural structures required for the performance of the actual movements.  In so doing, mental practice alone seems to be sufficient to promote the modulation of neural circuits involved in the early stages of motor skill learning.  This modulation not only results in marked improvements in performance, but also seems to place the subjects at an advantage for further skill learning with minimal physical practice.  The combination of mental and physical practice leads to greater performance improvement than does physical practice alone, a phenomenon for which our findings provide a physiological explanation."
From Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks

An excellent reminder that practicing is not about wiggling our fingers for a set amount of time, but about being mindful.  During his residency last month, Mark Nuccio talked about how he was practicing for 10 hours a day in grad school but that all of this practice was not necessarily with the instrument.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

There’s always room for more pops concerts, especially with instructions like these!  I’m getting ready for a concert with the Abilene Philharmonic this weekend, and you should definitely check it out if you are in the area. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Teaching, Special Guests, and Long Distance Running

Another very busy week here.  Many of my beginning clarinet students had their first solo contests and did very well, while my high school students had their band UIL contests with many of the bands earning straight ones.  So proud of everyone and all of their hard work!

Mark Nuccio’s residency here last week was amazing!  I saw him teach a fabulous master class and give a recital last month during Texas Clarinet Colloquium and these events were just as wonderful and inspiring.  This time he gave a lecture along with Eugene Corporon called How I Got There, Not Alone where he answered questions about his career, practicing, and audition preparation.  It was a very down to earth talk with a touch of humor and I thought that his honesty about the process was really refreshing.  I also watched the concert that he played with the University of North Texas Wind Symphony.  Scott McAllister’s Black Dog and the Artie Shaw Concerto were on the program.  Wow!

I also finished the Big D Half Marathon this week!  Originally this was supposed to be my first full marathon but I cut back to the half since the really bad flu season messed up my training.  In hindsight, I’m glad that I did because there was an error during the full marathon and the course ended up being about 27.3 miles instead of 26.2!  That would have been a rough first marathon. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Mark Nuccio Residency

Mark Nuccio is going to be in Denton this week for a residency at the University of North Texas.  Even if you are not in the area, the Thursday night concert will be broadcast live on the internet at http://recording.music.unt.edu/live.  I really enjoyed his master class and performance at Texas Clarinet Colloquium last month so I am going to try to catch a few of the events.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Busy Doesn't Even Begin to Describe It

In the life of a musician, this is a really good thing though.  I finished up a week long hiatus from teaching lessons due to spring break with the Dallas Art District’s block party.  They always have some great events, live music, food trucks, and all of the museums were open until midnight.

Since Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra auditions were the following week, I taught a whole lot of lessons in a very short time period (twenty in twenty-four hours, no joke) before my husband and I went to play Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances, and Prokofiev’s Lieutenant Kije Suite with the Monroe Symphony.  I’m a happy clarinetist because it was an awesome concert and we had a good time while we were there.  We found plenty of good places to eat of course.

After we returned home, I was excited to find out that an article I wrote is being published!  This will be my first publication and it will appear in Pan PIpes.  My husband also got his horn that he has been on a waiting list to buy for five and a half years!  And I thought that purchasing clarinets was a hard enough task…

Thursday, March 14, 2013

We have an epic program planned for next week at the Monroe Symphony: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances, and Prokofiev’s Lieutenant Kijé Suite.  There are some good clarinet parts in here and it makes me smile just thinking about how much fun this will be!  If you’re in the area please come out.

I’m enjoying a very rare week off.  My clarinet students are on spring break and I don’t have a gig this week; I can’t remember this last time this happened!  It’s given me time to catch up on my reading and running since the Big D Half Marathon is next month.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Texas Clarinet Colloquium 2013

This year’s Texas Clarinet Colloquium was wonderful and it left me inspired and full of new ideas.  The Friday afternoon session started with Jose Franch-Ballester’s master class. 

He had been extremely ill and had to cancel some performances prior to this so I was glad that he still was able to teach and perform at the conference.  He focused a lot on support and air production and he had some of the participants lay down and play with their legs up to build up their abdominal muscles.  Needless to say, it was an entertaining and exciting master class.

He also played a fantastic recital the next day.  His performance was full of personality and gusto!  The program included Bassi’s Rigoletto Fantasy and Poulenc’s Sonata. He also played along with a silent Charlie Chaplin movie as his encore, which I thought was a really great idea!

Mark Nuccio also coached a master class and played an outstanding recital which included Kovac’s After You, Mr. Gershwin, Lutoslawski’s Dance Preludes, and Copland’s Concerto.  I bought the part to the Kovac piece a few years ago and never performed it, I think that I need to find an occasion to do so as soon as possible!  Dr. Mary Alice Druhan also performed a great piece for clarinet, percussion, and tape called Plastmusikk by Fredrik Högberg.  Dr. Jody Webb performed an unaccompanied piece, Sirène by Edward Yadzinski.

And of course, no conference is complete until you get to go play with all of the clarinet toys!  Heather’s blue and clear clarinets made a guest appearance. 

There were of course lots of other workshops and recitals going on.  I dropped in on a improvisation class, a class dealing with performance psychology, and a repair class.  We’re really lucky to have this fun and free conference so close to home!