A Look into the Professional Life of Wesley Ferreira
Each Tuesday, Clarinetist Wesley Ferreira posts a new tip for musicians and clarinetists. The following are the archieved "Musician Survival Tips" and "Clarinet Survival Tips" that appeared on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Clarinet Survival Tip #24
Contact your local orchestral clarinetist or university professor for their recommendations on a trusted repair person. There are many instrument repair technicians of varying levels and abilities, and who use a variety of materials and techniques. Only trust your clarinet to the right person.
Clarinet Survival Tip #23
Don’t just practice on the clarinet. Always practice HOW you play on the clarinet.
Clarinet Survival Tip #22
A sure way to improve technical facility is to ensure that your hands are relaxed and that your fingers remain in their natural curved position. Finger motion on the clarinet should lift and lower effortlessly from the back knuckle.
Clarinet Survival Tip #21
When you feel that you’re hitting a roadblock, change things up. Play on new reeds, practice in a more resonant space, go back to playing something that you love, etc. Don’t become a victim, but rather think of ways to break out of that funk.
Clarinet Survival Tip #20
Use a silk swab or other comparable textured material to reduce the probability of your swab getting stuck on the register key tube. Due to the greater friction of these materials, chamois and cotton swabs have a higher probability of getting stuck. Also, make sure that you are using a swab with a coated or cloth covered weight to reduce the wear and tear in the bore of your clarinet.
Clarinet Survival Tip #19
To help you better play in tune, create a "tuning chart" of your clarinet. After warming up and then adjusting the horn against your regular tuning notes, play each note as a long tone with a tuner. Without making any adjustments while playing, watch the tuner for the natural pitch tendency of each note and write this information down on a chart. Use this information to make the necessary adjustments to your playing and/or to where you pull and push in.
Clarinet Survival Tip #18
Check to make sure that you are not closing off or clenching your throat each time you tongue. This creates tension and adversely affects tone.
Clarinet Survival Tip #17
Consider how much you tighten your ligature screw. My preference is to seat the reed firmly but not to tighten the screw too much, allowing the reed the freedom to vibrate. However, different ligatures may require something different so experiment to find the response that you’re looking for.
Clarinet Survival Tip #16
Keep a small screw driver in your clarinet case. They're really inexpensive. One day you'll be thankful you did!
Clarinet Survival Tip #15
When playing the clarinet it is important to be aware of the 3 parts of your tongue and their function:
The TIP of the tongue touches the reed to stop it from vibrating momentarily. When the reed begins to vibrate again, this creates an articulation sound. The MIDDLE of the tongue should be arched in an “ee” or “ou” position in order to focus the air stream and focus tone. The BACK of the tongue area is used for “voicing” and control of register. Playing in the correct voicing position allows notes to sound with more resonance. Coupled with fast air speed and relaxation, correct voicing position allows for the elimination of undertones in the high clarion and altissimo registers.
Clarinet Survival Tip #14
Determine at what dynamic level you play with your best tone. Expand from there. Concentrate, listen, and aim for that same quality of tone and feeling in your body when playing at louder and softer dynamic levels.
Clarinet Survival Tip #13
To clean your clarinet mouthpiece and remove the white calcium buildup, place the tip carefully in a small cup of lemon juice for 1 minute. Remove and clean carefully.
Clarinet Survival Tip #12
Oil the bore of your clarinet every 4 - 6 months on average to keep it in good playing shape and to extend its playing life. No synthetic oil, nothing vegetable based.
Clarinet Survival Tip #11:
Keep tone holes clean by using a cue tip or small brush. Gunk in tone holes will bring your pitch down.
Clarinet Survival Tip #10
It’s important to have many reeds available to you in your reed cases, and to rotate playing them during your practice sessions. Because each reed is different from the next, by rotating you will get used to playing well on a variety of reed conditions, you will preserve their life, and you will also get to know each reed in your case intimately (making it easy to find the exact reed that you need in any situation).
Clarinet Survival Tip #9
Preventing cracks - Cracks occur on wooden clarinets when the humidity level of the wood inside the clarinet (humid when playing) is vastly different than the humidity level on the outside of the horn (dryer). It’s important then to keep some humidity inside of your case especially during the late fall and winter seasons!
Clarinet Survival Tip #8
Make sure that you can play your tonguing exercises at EVERY tempo, even slower ones. If you can't control your tongue then it ends up controlling you.
Clarinet Survival Tip #7
You can make many small adjustments WHILE PLAYING to better play in tune:
1. When you play softer on the clarinet the pitch goes sharp, and when played louder it goes flat.
2. When you bring the clarinet angle closer to your body the pitch goes sharp, and when you move it further out it goes flat.
3. You can also open up tone holes to raise the pitch and place fingers over tone holes to shadow and lower pitch.
Clarinet Survival Tip #6
Use resonance fingerings when playing throat tone notes, but be selective. Not every fingering works and there are many to choose from depending on the context (playing with one homogeneous color, playing in tune between specific intervals, etc.)
Clarinet Survival Tip #5
A quick and reliable solution to sticky pads is to use powder paper. It helps prevent sticky pads by leaving behind a thin layer of a non-stick powder on the surface of the pad that acts as a dry lubricant.
Clarinet Survival Tip #4
Raising your reed higher on the mouthpiece will make it feel harder, while lowering will make it feel softer. You can also move your reed slightly left or right on the mouthpiece to determine where that reed plays best. Small adjustments can make a big difference with reeds, so experiment!
Clarinet Survival Tip #3
In ensemble, when not in use, keep your horn angled to the left so that the condensation stream inside the clarinet flows to the left side of the instrument and not the right side. This avoids water from getting into your Eb/Bb tone hole and avoids the dreaded gargle sound!
Clarinet Survival Tip #2
When pulling the swab through your horn, make sure not to pull it over the mouthpiece tip. Doing this repeatedly will wear down the tip edge, altering its shape and your sound.
Clarinet Survival Tip #1
Embouchure check: remember to use your upper lip muscles, bringing them towards the clarinet mouthpiece. A good clarinet embouchure requires a seal and pressure from the muscular structure around your mouth.
Musician's' Tip #24
Always play with musical intention. If the music doesn’t mean anything to you or if it doesn’t come from some part of you, then it won’t you’re doing both a disservice to your listeners and to the music itself.
Musician's' Tip #23
There is no substitute for dedication and hard work on your path towards musical growth. Not only will you be rewarded with improvement, but remember that people always notice, trust, and respect a musician with a good work ethic.
Musician's' Tip #22
Hone your ability to figure things out quickly. A strong foundation on your instrument is vital to having a great career, but the most important tool in your toolbox will become your ability to apply yourself quickly by adapting to any situation.
Musician's Survival Tip #21
Focus on the music, your relationship to the music, and how you want the music to feel to you. If you are always in service of the music, then you will do whatever is within your control and abilities in practice and then in performance. Further, consider that the performance is not about you. By changing this mindset you will find that the outside world's influence on you diminishes, and you can begin to ease performance nerves.
Musician's Survival Tip #20
It's a great idea to attend a summer music program. Consider how much you will learn from other teachers, by interacting with other students, and from being in other musical environments.
Musician's Survival Tip #19
Consider your hearing health when playing in large ensembles and keep a pair of earplugs in your case in the event that you might ever need them.
Musician’s Survival Tip #18
As a young musician, the most valuable currency that you have is time. Make smart choices and invest your time wisely. If you do, you will reap the benefits in your future.
Musician's Survival Tip #17
Patience is one of the most important ingredients for improved practicing. Whenever you find yourself frustrated in the practice room, take it as a sign that you are no longer practicing well. Reevaluate and find a better and more efficient way to proceed with what you are working on.
Musician’s Survival Tip #16
Make sure to follow all musical terms and stylistic indications in your music. Investigate these terms before you begin to learn a new piece. This is your road map, and it allows you to better execute the composer’s intention.
Musician’s Survival Tip #15
When practicing any technical passage, practice SLOWLY, and make sure not to make too many movements. These body motions will likely get in the way when you play it up to tempo. The key is to practice slowly the way you want to play it fast.
Musician’s Survival Tip #14
Keep a wire music stand in the trunk of your car. You never know when you'll need it in an emergency. I needed and had one ready last week!
Musician’s Survival Tip #13
Practice in different rooms so that your concept of sound does not become attached to one room. Listen and shape your tone to sound similar in many different spaces.
Musician’s Survival Tip # 12
Although it’s very easy to record and post videos on social media of the concerts you attend, remember to respect the performers/arts organization and only do so with their permission. They don’t know that you’re recording, and you don’t how they feel about that.
Musician’s Survival Tip #11
Strive to be an artist! It requires bravery, being open and reflective of your personal experiences and the experiences of others. It is striving to be completely awake and mindful. It’s a personal quest of discovery, a desire to improve and evolve, to take risks. It’s a constant and beautiful process. The world needs more artists.
Musician’s Survival Tip #10
When you don't feel like practicing, instead of thinking about how much you have to work on, simply convince yourself to start. Tell yourself that you'll only practice one scale slowly, or that you will only practice for 5 minutes. When you're feeling unmotivated getting started is the biggest obstacle. Once you've started, you can then decide if want to continue. Chances are that you will and you’ll be happy that you did!
Musician's Survival Tip #9
When you feel like you are struggling, remember that someone out there may be in need of what you’re creating,
the way we need oxygen. Believe in that.
Musician’s Survival Tip #8
Before beginning to practice a piece, listen to many recordings. This will give you an overall view of the work and different interpretations will spark your own creativity!
Musician’s Survival Tip #7
A wise man once told me… don’t enter musical competitions for the purpose of winning. Enter into competitions for the experience and to get noticed. The line between “winning" and not is subjective and can be influenced by so much that is out of your control (based on the judges experience, mood that day, etc.)
Musician's Survival Tip #6
Top athletes rarely set personal bests during practice sessions. Instead, they usually turn the nervousness and adrenaline that they feel at major international events into personal bests and by setting new records.
Similarly, a musician feeling nerves before and during a performance can also turn in their best performances. So long as you’ve prepared the right way, think of nerves and adrenaline as your body’s way of preparing you to perform your best. Thanks for the tip Christine Carter!
Musician’s Survival Tip #5
Improve your technique over time by fixing bad finger habits and learning to play with even greater relaxation. If you’re working efficiently and comfortably, speed is not an obstacle.
Musician's Survival Tip #4
Introduce yourself to the other musicians in your ensembles if you don't know them. Building your community makes what we do more fulfilling and creates opportunities for you!
Musician's Survival Tip #3
Tearing others down will not lift you up, and negative emotions like envy, worry, and fear will only suppress your best self from emerging. Instead, exude positivity, support your colleagues’ projects, share information, attend concerts, and purchase recordings. As musicians and artists we NEED to support one another. Each of us has an individual artistic voice that is worthy of being shared with the world. As a wise mentor once told me… “There will always be room in the world for a good musician”
Musician's Survival Tip #3
Keep extra batteries in your instrument case for your metronome. You’ll thank yourself when they run out! (even if you regularly use a metronome on your phone, you’ll be able give them to a friend in need).
Musician's Survival Tip #2
Musicians... have a clear vision of how you want your music to sound before you touch your horn. Our instruments are only vehicles by which we express our musical ideas. They are simply mechanical devices. Don’t be a “button pusher."
Musician's Survival tip #1
Woodwind players, keep your instrument in good working order. Rather than getting it repaired only when something isn’t working right, bring it in for regular check-ups. This keeps you playing on an instrument that’s working… allowing you to play your best and it will save you money in the long run! #TipTuesday
Copyright 2019 - Wesley Ferreira. All Rights Reserved