“On YOUR Path in Music”
My clarinet teaching approach is a blend of traditional and modern methods and my own techniques, intended to help students acquire the skills they need to reach their individual goals.
Whether it is honing skills to become a professional performer or teacher, to prepare for an ensemble audition, or to get towards greater expression and enjoyment in playing, my idea is to help “say what you want to say” on your instrument.
Depending on the time available and on context, I am introducing improvisation exercises, new techniques, and lesser-known compositions to broaden the students’ perspective and help them explore and find new routes for themselves.
Having “met” a chalumeau and knowing about the different clarinet systems (Boehm and Oehler) is typically on the menu, and I regularly create opportunities for students to learn playing on auxiliary clarinets in ensembles.
Like every teacher, I have some favorite exercises that I deem particularly efficient. Please see a few of them below.
Long Tone Patterns
This exercise isolates the tone production and air dosage element.
I have written down these different patterns so the students have a visual reference. In my lessons, I still write many exercises down by hand or use drawings to make concepts clearer.
The idea is for students to play these on all tones, with all possible articulations to start the tone, in all dynamics (o – ffff), and with metronome and tuner.
Intonation Exercise #3 by Kelly Burke
This exercise can be used in various ways to customize it to what is targeted.
Students can play it either tongued or slurred.
With a gradual increase of leap sizes, the exercise helps build a foundation in tone production, voicing, and efficient finger-air-tongue combinations.
I sometimes use the exercise before working on Brahms, but it is generally an excellent tool for foundational skills. This also works well for group-warm ups.
It can be played in all dynamics and should be played with a tuner.
Articulation Exercise #1 by Kelly Burke
This exercise can be played at any suitable tempo and should be practiced in all dynamics and with different types of articulation.
Besides the articulation element, it is an great tool for practicing and developing rhythmic skills.
I am grateful for the wonderful teachers who have shared their knowledge and inspiration with me. One of them was the iconic clarinetist Gary Gray https://garygrayclarinet.com/ He came to visit the Portland State University Clarinet Studio in 2008.
Other guest clarinetists in the studio include Rolf Weber, Jose Kotar, Sean Osborn, Frank Kowalsky, Virginia Figuereido, and Gregory Barrett.