Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Slicing Your Loaf of Bread

What should your playing have in common with a loaf of bread? Answer: all the notes have the same quality regardless of how thinly sliced they are. Thin slivers taste as good as thick slices because they are cut from the same loaf. Your long tone is your loaf of fresh bread, and no matter how you slice it you should still have that same great sound.

Short notes deserve to have good tone too! Make sure they get a fair hearing. Just because they are short doesn't mean they should get pinched, chewed or swallowed. "Stop the tape" on all short notes for a quality check. Sometimes right hand finger pokes can be too aggressive and interrupt your evenness and tone quality. Regardless of how gnarly the phrase, steady air must keep all notes fed. Consider the organ. Sound quality remains the same regardless of length of notes.

Smooth air flow makes for smooth musical lines. Slurring an absolutely smooth half step interval is the standard for perfect legato. Copy that as more challenging intervals come at you. The clarinet seems to be a natural at being a legato machine. Observe your clarinet colleagues playing the big solo in Pines of Rome. You might as well take a free lesson while you are sitting there.

Reckon your air to be "dumb" rather than musical. Your air stream is merely your servant directing air onto all of your notes. Don't be doing hiccups with your air stream just because the music is nasty angular. You can be a jerk all you please, but don't do that to your neck, jaw, lips, shoulders and especially your playing! May all of your notes be swheat.

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