Magazine article The Canadian Music Educator

Precise Advantages of Studying the B Flat Clarinet

Magazine article The Canadian Music Educator

Precise Advantages of Studying the B Flat Clarinet

Article excerpt

A sightless student may study the B flat clarinet in various music teaching contexts. Specific advantages of learning this instrument as the pupil works with a private studio instructor will be discussed herein. A sighted private teacher must pay attention to topics and themes that are addressed as these are primary ways through which the sightless pupil needs to learn and progress as a clarinet player when studying classical music.

The clarinet is a challenging woodwind instrument for a sightless beginner to embrace in order to advance as a classical player. Therefore, the student may encounter struggles while striving to advance with his/her studies. The instructor must ensure that the teaching and learning methods which are used make the experience accessible for the player. This means that the instructor needs to use positive strategies that will enhance the pupil's studies in beneficial ways.

First of all, the learner will require help from the teacher so that he/she may assemble the instrument properly. This will involve speaking with the student and directing his/her hands with respect to how to put the clarinet together before playing it. Then, the student should be shown how to clean, and disassemble the instrument and put it in its case so that this is done correctly after each lesson or practice session when he/she is finished playing. The pupil who is learning the clarinet also needs the following during lesson times: clear verbal descriptions of how to shape his/her embouchure, the correct right and left hand positions to use to hold the clarinet firmly, and the proper finger placements on the open tone holes and keys. The placement and choice of a responsive reed must be explained in detail along with the role of the ligature and how it is tightened enough to be effective. Appropriate deep breathing techniques must also be discussed by the educator in order to introduce this essential action to the pupil. Then, these breathing strategies need to be demonstrated by the instructor and imitated by the student in order to ensure the understanding of breathing methods by the beginner. These vital components of clarinet playing may then be effectively improved. Furthermore, the beginning student should have rote teaching of musical patterns and pieces to use in order to advance his/her progress with slurring and tonguing techniques.

The study of Music Braille must also be discussed with the student and the teacher should take online courses in this code (see www.hadley.edu and www.mohawkcollege.ca/continuingeducation.html) in order to work with the student to develop skills with reading this challenging code (as explained in my previous column in this journal). Score reading, and memorizing of pieces should be the next aim that the player strives for in order to become increasingly knowledgeable of suitable repertoire to practice and perform. The combination of these skills with those described in the first section will then enable the player to begin enjoying the sound of the clarinet as he/she controls it and moves forward into the stages of a competent, proficient, and excellent performer who commands the audience's attention with his/her tone, articulation and expression.

The player should be given the advantage of playing at differing music events. These opportunities will enable the student to thrive as a clarinettist. Such events could include festivals, Royal Conservatory examinations and appearances within his/her community or church. …

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