Practicing scales and technical exercises is a great way to improve your skills on the clarinet. Following these suggestions and tips will give you the tools to help you become a much better musician.
The metronome is one of the most effective tools that musicians have. Practicing carefully with a metronome will help us develop a steady sense of rhythm and tempo. When you use a metronome, listen carefully to it, and make sure that you can hear both the metronome and the sound coming out of your clarinet.
If you don’t have a metronome, visit visit www.MetronomeBot.com for free online metronomes. The talking metronomes are a great place to start. They are easy to hear and easy to play with.
Start everything you play at a very slow tempo. When you begin any piece or exercise, set the metronome at a tempo at which you can play effortlessly and accurately. Practicing at tempos that are too fast will lead to bad finger technique and habits of inaccuracy. Play everything correctly from the start.
This idea is connected to the tempo suggestion above. If you are playing too fast, your fingers will become tense and rigid, and your playing will sound agitated.
Before you play a note, count into the scale and breathe on the beat before you begin. For example, if your scale is in 2/4 time, count “one - two - one” - breathe. Doing so will help you establish a steady tempo.
A “half-scale” is simply the first half of a major, minor, or other scale. Practicing half-scales is a great way to focus on smaller ranges of the clarinet and improve technique while listening closely to yourself and the metronome.
Playing a scale accurately one time does not mean that you have mastered it. Use accurate repetition to master any scale or technical exercise or passage of music. Doing so will engrain the finger patterns in your mind and your muscles, and it will make playing the clarinet easier.
When you can play a scale effortlessly and accurately at a specific tempo, take the metronome up one notch at a time. Avoid playing too fast, too soon!
Learn all about rhythm and improve your sight reading. Rhythm-In-Music.com is an interactive website that teaches all of the fundamental aspects of rhythm, covering beat, tempo, meter, time-signature, and all note values. It accompanies the book The Fundamentals of Rhythm, by Kyle Coughlin, featuring over 450 different rhythm patterns for practice.